I don't drink. Abstaining from alcohol is a choice that I had to make when I started taking an aldosterone inhibitor for an endocrine condition.

In college, it's easy to feel like every social situation invariably involves alcohol. I've spoken to many a non-drinker who has felt left out when social situations revolve around bars, happy hours, or grabbing drinks, and I've been that left-out person on more than one occasion. Over time, though, I've learned to make the best of the situation and have found that you can, in fact, have a good time as a non-drinker with your friends who do drink. 

With that, here is my cheat sheet as to how to survive social situations and gatherings when you don't drink.

1. Know where you're going

exterior, alcohol, Restaurant, Bar, wine, beer, Drinking, Drinks
Denise Uy

When it comes to navigating social situations that may involve alcohol, location is the name of the game. For example, if you're going to a restaurant or an establishment where food is as heavily emphasized as drinks, it's likely that you'll have an easier time as a non-drinker than in a place where drinks are king.

2. Look at the menu ahead of time

wine, beer, Bar, wine menu, bar events, tables and chairs, Whole Foods Market, whole foods market inside bar
Shelby Cohron

If you're in an establishment that pushes alcoholic beverages, check their drinks menu and see if they offer any mocktails, if that's your thing. If you have additional restrictions on alcohol consumption, check their food menu and ask in advance about the preparation of any dishes that may catch your eye. However, know that you should not be pressured in any way to drink or to act like you drink; in other words, don't feel shy about asking for just water. Looking at the food menu can be particularly helpful here, as you can still eat what your friends are eating #inclusionFTW. If you're at a house party, offer to bring or make a nonalcoholic beverage or snack that everyone, drinkers and non-drinkers alike, can consume - your hosts will thank you for this.

Looking for a good mocktail? Use this elderflower cordial as a good place to start. I first tried this at a high school graduation party, and trust me when I say that combined with soda water, it actually tastes like you are drinking flowers. Plus, it's great as a mix-in for a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

3. Bring food and beverages if you can

tomato, canape, cheese, vegetable, bread, antipasto, sandwich, toast, lettuce, appetizer, Tapas
Amelia Hitchens

Crowd-pleasing favorites are the way to go. Finger foods are a great idea if you're short on time and want something easy to throw together. If you have time to make a main course-esque dish, my personal favorite for gatherings like this is a spaghettata, a big pot of pasta that's the absolute best comfort food to end a party with and is a great way to replenish the electrolytes you've spent after a long night out!

Here's one recipe for a spaghettata that is one of my preferred carb-laden recipes for an event like this and which may well stand up to a good penne alla vodka. I'm also a fan of this penne alla no vodka recipe because of how quickly you can put this together for a crowd.

4. Get ready for questions

wine, tea, alcohol, juice, sweet, cocktail, liquor, Sangria, Spain, Barcelona, red wine
Amelia Hitchens

Honestly, it's up to you as to how you respond to the usual questions about your non-drinker status. Your response can be as detailed or as brief as you would like. My usual response to questions like this is to say that I just prefer nonalcoholic beverages, with little to no explanation as to why I don't drink. However, be mindful about your response - it's never a pleasant situation when you judge others who choose to drink. In short, choose your words carefully, and make sure you respect others' choices the way you want them to respect yours.

5. Have an exit plan if you feel unsafe

coffee, cafe, Restaurant, exterior, exteriors, sidewalk, street, streets, Shanghai, China
Denise Uy

If you feel pressured to do something you really don't want to do, and if this makes you feel unsafe, make sure you have an emergency contact, like a trusted friend, significant other, or family member, who can help you leave the situation quickly. Trust your gut; you should not feel coerced to do anything you don't want to do.

6. Lastly - have fun!

wine, beer, meat, bacon, ham
Alex Vu

Being a non-drinker is no obstacle to a fun night. With the proper planning and situational awareness, you, too, can have just as enjoyable a night out as your friends.

Here's to a fun night out!