The most difficult part of sobriety can be all the social functions or events where alcohol or substances may be present. This is not an option for you in sobriety but it does not stop people from asking you questions you may not be prepared to answer.
Your recovery is yours alone. Make the choice about whether to tell people about it when you’re ready and it feels safe to do so. Doing this at a party where some people may already be drinking or taking drugs might heighten their reaction to this news so do what feels right in the moment. Some people choose to tell friends or loved ones outside these types of events. If it is not someone you will likely see again anytime soon, don’t hesitate to tell them it’s not open for discussion and change the subject.
Some who know you are sober may still make remarks to you about drinking or doing drugs. Certain comments such as ‘it’s just one drink’ or ‘you used to be able to handle so much more,’ can feel like a challenge, as if you are not the life of the party you once were. Cravings can be triggered by just one drink, one hit, or even a contact high by being around those using. In sobriety, you know your limit (zero), so stick to it or find a nice way to leave the situation.
At weddings and sometimes other big social events (such as New Year’s and birthdays) it is customary to raise a glass or toast. Do not feel it is disrespectful if you decline a sip. Simply raise your glass and put it back down again. Another option is to empty the glass, fill it up with a water or sparkling water and sip that instead. It is OK to simply say ‘no.’
Another comment you might encounter is that you don’t have the ‘look of an alcoholic.’ The image that many have in their minds is of someone who is destitute, homeless, and drinking from a brown paper bag. Addiction comes in many shapes and sizes. A few responses could be ‘what do you think one looks like’ or ‘what do you picture when you think of an alcoholic?’
A common misconception is that addiction can be ‘cured.’ If someone says this to you or comments on how well you seem to be doing, simply smile and tell them you are doing fine, thank you but you are not cured. You do not owe anybody any explanations of what the process of recovery is like.
The people who seem to have the biggest problem with your sobriety are likely ones needing help themselves. It is your responsibility to take ownership of your own sobriety and nobody else’s. You cannot change someone’s attitude but you can make a positive impact by choosing to walk away or not be around them if they insist on questioning you about sobriety or making comments. In these moments it is important to keep a sober friend’s number available just in case. Never take your sobriety lightly. You can, and will, live a life without drink and drugs and still be able to experience social events by remaining focused on your goal of sobriety, one event at a time.
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