Don't trust someone who doesn't drink

I’ve never quite understood this phrase. In my experience people who don’t drink tend to be far more trustworthy than those who do. If for no other reason than a non-drinker is more level headed and cautious than a drinker, even when the drinker is not drunk, because they view the risk of drinking to be unacceptably high.

I’ve never even heard this phrase. Source?

It’s hard to understand because, in my experience, people who use it can mean different things.

Some people mean: Don’t trust someone who’s afraid that alcohol will make them let down their guard. What do they have to hide?

Other people mean: Anyone who doesn’t drink is an uptight stick-in-the-mud who can never be a true mensch. It’s impossible to experience real friendship and conviviality without drinking together.

There is something there:

I’d always heard that there is a correlation between success and drinking…or a postitive correlation between student drinking and gradepoint average…(mostly just to show that correlations cannot be trusted for ‘cause and effect’)

The people you know, who don’t drink, are just a subset of the total-teetotalers. There are probably a lot of teetotalers out there who have social issues, or think you are going to hell, or talk about how terrible a person you are because you drink.

Or maybe, they are looking to get you drunk so they can take advantage of you in some way.

I’ve never heard it.

My best guess would be that it means that you don’t want to trust a former alcoholic to remain a former alcoholic (no offense to any former alcoholics on the site - I’m not advocating this position).

But some people have simply never taken to drink - it tastes bad, goes against their religion, etc. As an aphorism, I think it’s pretty lacking.

I’ve never heard it used in the sense that people who don’t drink might be alcoholics. It’s always in the sense that drinkers are more trustworthy and genuine people.

I have used that phrase mostly in a hyperbolic joking manner. The idea is that someone who has never drank, or tried it and didn’t take to it, doesn’t have the same thought processes as I do so it is harder to relate to them. The exception would be a former alchoholic, who knows all too well.

The actual (my) quote is: Never trust an adult man who doesn’t drink beer.

Take it for what you want.

I took it to mean that the non-drinker was uptight and unable to let loose with their true feelings. So the non-drinker might be holding something back while the drinker, freed of inhibitions, would let their true feeling/emotions be known.

“I never trust a fighting man who doesn’t smoke or drink.” - Admiral William “Bull” Halsey

It’s a pretty standard aphorism from the olden days. In the 1920s or 1940s teetotalers were pretty rare birds. And usually not “regular guys.” Anybody over 60 would recognize the phrase and the attitude instantly.

Compared to that, the advent of the concerns about addiction, recovery, and with healthy living are real recent. Modern non-drinkers are very different critters from 1950s or earlier non-drinkers.

Version from The Maltese Falcon (Gutman to Spade) : “I distrust a man who says “when.” If he’s got to be careful not to drink too much, it’s because he’s not to be trusted when he does.”

Hmm. I always understood it as “Don’t trust someone who [says he] doesn’t drink [ever],” because people who claim this are lying. People who admit to drinking, however much, are more trustworthy, whether they admit to drinking pretty much every day, or say they only drink on holidays. Drinking often or seldom are both possibilities, but no one never drinks.

The alcoholic in recovery is, of course, the exception, but they’ll admit to drinking in the past, so that counts.

With few exceptions, I have no idea which of my acquaintances drink and which don’t.

BTW, I never trust anyone who uses the word “never”.

What factors motivated 1950s and earlier non-drinkers?

Same things that do now. Religion and health concerns. Religion was a little more common as a motivator, and health consciousness usually took a different form, but there have been diet fads since the 1880s or so-- since just about as long as storage and transportation advances in first world countries gave people the luxury of being choosy about what they ate.

I’ll go along with that.
My father (died at 66 from multiple organ failure) and my stepfather (died at 76 from lung cancer, inoperable due to his heavy drinking) demonstrated their untrustworthiness. I am 67. Oddly, my Mom’s father, who was also a heavy drinker, died at 98. I have preferred to be a teetotaler.

I’ve heard that saying, but more often I hear the saying *“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they get up in the morning that’s the best they’re going to feel all day”.

I’ve always believed that people with alcohol on their breath lack credibility, even if it’s from only 1. Which is why when I’m out and about I won’t talk about anything even remotely debatable.

In the first decades following prohibition, lots of people looked at drinking sort of as a civic virtue, spitting in the face of the heavy handed authorities who’d temporarily banned it.

This went hand in hand with the quaint notion that being able to drink a lot and ‘hold one’s liquor’ was a sign of health and virility. Recall the exchange at the end of the movie Goldfinger, when James Bond is about to board his charter flight, and is told that the plane is stocked with “liquor for three”. When asked who else is traveling, he’s told, “Just you”. Back then, Bond was a “real man”; today, he’d be packed off to re-hab.