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by Abigail Van Buren

Non Drinker Doesn't Want a Party Pooper Reputation

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 22-year-old senior in college. Much of college social life revolves around alcohol. I have no problem drinking responsibly, but I take medication that prohibits me from imbibing alcohol.

Strangers and friends often ask, "Why aren't you drinking?" They either assume it's for religious reasons or I'm uptight. Saying I'm on meds seems like a bit of a buzz-kill.

This is particularly troublesome when I'm invited "out for drinks" at a bar. I never know what to order or say. I hate feeling like I'm obligated to drink, but I don't want to pass on events because of the awkward questions.

What's a quick reply I can give to those who ask why I don't drink? And how can I go out for drinks without actually drinking? -- STILL SOCIABLE AT STANFORD

DEAR STILL SOCIABLE: Order a "virgin" whatever you're being offered. There are many reasons why people don't drink. Among them: They don't like the taste, they don't like the buzz, the empty calories, they're allergic, they don't want to risk a traffic violation with alcohol in their system, or they never started drinking in the first place. To imbibe or not is a personal choice. It's OK to be different. And if you're challenged, it's perfectly fine to just say, "No thanks!"