What can you say to your friends who drink, if you’ve made a commitment not to?
It can be embarrassing to reveal that you’ve struggled with alcohol and with the consequences of your own drinking. People who drink socially may be ignorant of the depth and detail of how alcohol abuse and addiction have affected you. They may make insensitive comments or jokes that they don’t realize end up being at your expense. Even the places where you usually hang out with your friends who drink can sometimes be triggers to your own vulnerability to use alcohol.
All of this can make it harder to be around your friends, especially if they are drinking and invite you to join them. It may even be that they’re planning to go out to eat somewhere that alcohol is served, something that could cause you to struggle.
How can you keep a commitment to sobriety in these situations?
There are several things to consider. First, if you know that drinking is a problem for you then you may already have made sobriety a high priority. Though it may be difficult, you will be following this priority to ask yourself some questions:
1. Are my friends putting pressure on me to drink?
If this is the case, then ask you self whether these are friends who have your best interests in mind. If they don’t know you’ve identified sobriety as important to you, and you value the friendships, then telling them that you’ve made a decision to stay sober will give them and you more information—they’ll know more about what you need, and you’ll find out more about how much they respect your choices.
2. Will I be judged for staying sober?
Just like problem drinking, honesty can have consequences. It’s true that some will judge or even ridicule you for choosing sobriety. Keep in mind that people who do this may not be the “friends” you thought they were. They may also be uncomfortable with their own drinking behavior and take it out on you for what they can’t yet face in themselves.
3. Will I stop having a social life if I’m honest about my choice to stay sober?
No, you won’t stop having a social life. About 30% of young adults don’t drink alcohol. But you may have to make changes in your social life. Some friends, when they learn that staying away from alcohol is important to you, will honor your decision and be supportive by agreeing not to drink around you (if this is something you need) or joining you in sober activities. If you have trouble finding friends who can be this supportive, and you haven’t already done so, consider trying out an AA meeting or other 12-step activity or meeting. Alcoholics Anonymous is a group whose primary purpose is to support each other’s efforts to stay sober.
At Yellowbrick, our Addictions Specialty Program includes a weekly education group centered around learning about alcohol, other substances of abuse, and how to live a sober lifestyle. Contact us for more information by calling 847 869-1500 ext 233