While in treatment, you find yourself saying the words, “I am an alcoholic”, for the first time. For many these words don’t have a good ring to it. But the truth is, that the bottle dictated your life and you needed to admit it. Your life had become unmanageable and drinking was no longer fun, but it was the only way you could feel “normal”. Now you have put the plug in the jug and have started a new way of life. Treatment centers will recommend attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to help you maintain sobriety. So, you take the advice and start attending AA meetings regularly.
Outside of the meetings, however, life goes on. Most people in recovery are now met with social challenges involving co-workers, friends and even family members who will kindly offer them a drink. Their intention is good as they may have no idea that you have had a problem with drinking. How do you handle these situations?
It is not easy, especially in a work situation. Most recovering alcoholics early in sobriety struggle with what to do and what to say when offered a drink. It can be an awkward moment as the person often has a million thoughts about what their co-worker might think when they turn down that drink. The air of suspicion and questions might be fired your way as to why are you not drinking. Do you have a problem with drinking? Are you an alcoholic? How to answer can be so difficult!! Most people in early recovery are working on being honest. But if this is a professional setting, it might be more beneficial to be discreet about being in recovery. Sometimes you may feel that you could be helpful to someone in the company who has a drinking problem if you are open about it.
One former client in long-term sobriety used to socialize with a co-worker who constantly offered him a beer. He would always politely respond with a “no thank you I like my water” when offered alcohol. There really is no need to give an explanation why you do not drink. If someone pushes the issue, they may have issues of their own! A simple “I just don’t drink” is a reasonable explanation. Some people may feel comfortable discussing why they don’t drink. It really is up to the individual, but a word of caution: Not everyone will understand. Some might even be judgmental. Another good tip is to do some role playing with your sponsor or other supportive person who is respectful of your sobriety. It’s always good to be prepared for the unknown and role playing can be of great use.
Remember be confident as you are living a better life without alcohol and good luck the next time you are out socializing!