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How Do You Tell People You're Sober?

Old 08-28-2017, 12:32 PM
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How Do You Tell People You're Sober?

I don't know why this has been such a big thing for me over the years, but coming out and telling people about my drinking problem has always been a struggle.

I have a problem with the labels.

I don't like referring to myself as an alcoholic. (Who would, right??)
But really, it just doesn't feel authentic to me.

I've slowly become more comfortable opening up about my drinking issues and saying that I abused and misused alcohol and that is why I stopped.


Buuut there's still some people that I have a hard time explaining it to. For example, do husband's friends who are just sort of my casual acquaintances really need to know the whole story?

And for my in-laws- if I go into too many details my mother in law (who works in a methadone clinic and deals with addicts day in-day out) will worry and try to "help".

I have always been a high-functioning alcohol mis-user; never showed too many signs of struggling with this...I am educated, well put together and I feel like some people will just stigmatize the whole "you don't look like someone with an alcohol problem" thing!

I would appreciate any feedback about how you guys handled the almost inevitable conversations that will arise when people notice that you aren't drinking.

Maybe I'm overthinking and just nervous about the judgement that I really don't want to deal with while I'm so proud of how far I've come already!!!

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Old 08-28-2017, 12:38 PM
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I know when I stopped drinking first time round it worried me too. As time went on I realised that I didn't have to explain myself to anyone. I just said I don't drink and left it at that . For most people it's no big deal and they really weren't that interested.

People who were interested and probed further often had their own issues with alcohol. I've learned that I don't have to explain myself to anyone. Most people would be embarrassed or really not interested with too much information or long explanations.

I don't drink is enough
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:38 PM
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"I don't drink." should be sufficient. Last week I was hosting a party for some of my wife's out of town relatives that we don't know well. It was noticed by one of them that I was only having sparkling water as my beverage and was asked if I drank. I said, "No." and that was the end of it. No big deal and no explanation necessary.
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:40 PM
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I agree that, "No, thanks," is all that is needed. For those who knew me as a drinker:


"It just wasn't helping me in any way in my life."

"I feel so much better without it."

"I've outgrown my partying days."

"I've decided to focus on my health and fitness," (of course, then there's health and fitness to focus on...)

"I'm taking a break from it to see how I like a completely alcohol-free life." You could use that for the next 40 years - "Oh, yeah, I'm still taking a break."

"I don't like how I feel when I drink," or, "I don't like the day-after feeling."


I don't talk to people about the "why." They are free to think what they like. I give them whatever suitable answer comes to mind at the moment, but I don't use the word alcoholic anywhere except here.
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:42 PM
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Do not be afraid to talk about it with close people. With others it is better not worth it, they can condemn you or make fun of you and it will hurt you.
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:43 PM
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Loving these answers so far!

It's true that we don't "owe" anyone an explanation!
Will practice just saying "no thank you" and see how that goes!
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Old 08-28-2017, 01:12 PM
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I don't feel I need to share it either. It's my personal thing, and I'm kind of a private person anyway.

I also think we are much more focused on drinking/not drinking/who is/who isn't than most people. Most people don't care. I've never had anyone press me or ask reasons. If I"m offered alcohol, I just decline it. When asked what I'd like, I request seltzer or whatever other non alcoholic options there are. I don't need to go into a big explanation.

Close friends know I"m not drinking wine anymore, but I haven't even gotten into details with them. Another friend now is not eating gluten (celiac diagnosis), but I don't feel the need to grill or challenge her.

I'm a word person.. so I get what you mean about the labels. I'm more comfortable saying I"m not drinking anymore rather even than "sober". I like to put it more on the action that became problematic, than my identity.

I have a someone close to me with type 1 diabetes, and I HATE the phrase he or she "is a diabetic". I prefer "has diabetes". I know this may sound silly or even in denial, but it's what works for me.

Maybe because of that, I'm not personally comfortable with the identifier of she is or I am "an alcoholic". I am still me, who for many years didn't drink at all. I prefer "I used to drink alcohol, but I don't anymore." Simply, "I don't drink." I know a lot of people might disagree with me on this.. but I don't think I'm in denial.. it's just my preference for wording and what I am more comfortable with.

So, "I have had 97 days without alcohol".
"I don't drink."
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Old 08-28-2017, 01:51 PM
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I didnt have the guts to tell anyone but my closest ones that i quit drinking and i think that played a role in my recent relapse, as i was around too many drinking people and old friends i used to party with. I ordered non alcoholic drinks but got a lot of stupid comments about why i wasnt drinking and i was a bore for not partying as i used to. I felt i wasnt ready for that, i had planned for going with the "No thanks" and hoping it would be enough, but i felt bad getting those silly comments - made me think i was a bore to be around when sober.
I managed for a good while as i was there with my GF who knows and respects my situation, but i wasn't man to handle it once i didnt have someone close to me around and relapsed. So this is an issue i need to work on.

A nice experience i had, though, was when i was at an event with a lot of drinking (where i felt quite left out being the only non drinker around) and i randomly spoke with a stranger who noticed my non-alcoholic drink and just commented "Oh, you dont drink?" I said "no, not al all" "Oh well, i'm don't eat meat" he said, and went on with whatever topic we were on about. That felt really nice and accepting to hear from a drinker, and those few words really upped my confidence that evening.
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Old 08-28-2017, 01:55 PM
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I was known as the party animal.
The marathon beer drinker.
The social butterfuly.
Most of my posts on FB were about beer, beer memes, you name it.
Now that I am sober, I find it difficult to leave it at
"I don't drink" or "I'm taking a break"
People who know me laugh at that.
So these answers are really fabulous!
I especially love
"I feel so much better without it"
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Old 08-28-2017, 03:39 PM
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I thought everyone attached the same importance to drinking as I did - they don't.

No thanks is pretty much all the 99.99% of the population need to hear

D
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Old 08-28-2017, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Gonnachange View Post
"I don't drink." should be sufficient. Last week I was hosting a party for some of my wife's out of town relatives that we don't know well. It was noticed by one of them that I was only having sparkling water as my beverage and was asked if I drank. I said, "No." and that was the end of it. No big deal and no explanation necessary.
My first sponsor told me "no is a complete sentence" and we never owe anyone an explanation. Works for me.

I personally don't mind the term alcoholic- I'm a recovering one. I am also at ease saying different variations of my story depending on the audience- no, your husband's acquaintances or those kind of folks do not need to hear my (your) whole story! Plus.....most people don't care.

Really- most people don't care if we drink or not. If they do- they might likely have a problem themselves or some other reason ABOUT THEMSELVES that is what's really going on.

Do you- do what's comfortable - and know that it is quite possible that will change with time.
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Old 08-28-2017, 04:16 PM
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Straight up...no/ no thanks! With a smile of course while raising a cool glass of water! :-)
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Old 08-28-2017, 04:22 PM
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"not worth the hangover"
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Old 08-28-2017, 04:40 PM
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I have always found 'No, thanks' to be sufficient. I never tell people that I'm an alcoholic and I don't really see any reason to do so. It's SO important to remember that you don't owe anyone an explanation.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:01 AM
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Such a great post!
Alcoholism has such a stigma. Being labeled as an alcoholic still brings such negative thoughts to people's minds. People feel differently about you knowing you are an alcoholic. It's just they way people are.
Out of control.
Weak willed.
Character flaw.
Who likes to think of themselves as flawed? Who likes to admit it?
"No thanks" works for the majority of situations, but for those who have known us to be drinkers, they want more of an explanation. And sometimes they can be quite persistent until they get one.
There are some great responses here. I love these...

"It just wasn't helping me in any way in my life."

"I feel so much better without it."

"I've outgrown my partying days."

"I've decided to focus on my health and fitness," (of course, then there's health and fitness to focus on...)

"I'm taking a break from it to see how I like a completely alcohol-free life." You could use that for the next 40 years - "Oh, yeah, I'm still taking a break."

"I don't like how I feel when I drink," or, "I don't like the day-after feeling."

The one I just used was, "It's toxic. Britain has just reduced the daily number of drinks for men from 2 down to 1. I don't know why the U.S. hasn't done that. It's a poisonous substance. And I really don't think there is a safe amount. What word is in the middle of "intoxication"? And let's be honest, who stops at one? How much fun is that?"

I'm facing a trip next month to see my in-laws. Big drinkers who know me to be one as well. This is a very timely post indeed.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by SoberBlondie View Post

I don't like referring to myself as an alcoholic. (Who would, right??)


Buuut there's still some people that I have a hard time explaining it to.


personally i dont have one single problem with the label of alcoholic, because now it is RECOVERED alcoholic. while i was working at changing me i was a RECOVERING alcoholic.

i dont have to explain anything about it to anyone. If people want to try and push for more, i simply say,"why do you need to know?"
or
"theres a lot of info on the WWW."

its not important for people to know and understand. the only one that has to understand is ME.

when im somewhere and offered a drink, a simple,"no thank you" has sufficed.
if they wana ask as to why:
"you aint got enough."
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by SoberBlondie View Post
I don't like referring to myself as an alcoholic. (Who would, right??)
But really, it just doesn't feel authentic to me.
I imagine at two, two and a half weeks sober that sobriety doesn't feel authentic either. It will. Give it time.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:29 AM
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No thanks.

I'm taking my Buddhist practice more seriously and have taken the Precepts.

TO those I'm close to, I'm in recovery.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:36 AM
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Thanks for all the great feedback!

I am already super inspired by all of your ideas and personal experiences.

Definitely love the recurring theme that we don't owe anyone an explanation and that most people are not really that concerned with our drinking.

Like doggonecarl pointed out, this is early sobriety for me, so I can attest that I still feel like a real "newbie".

The more and more I enjoy the benefits of a sober life, the more comfortable I am getting with talking about it (if need be) so that's a positive sign!

I am self-publishing a book on my history of binge drinking, so I think that process will help me to really embrace the full evolution from party girl to sober and fabulous momma!
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Old 08-30-2017, 12:00 PM
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From what you write, you and I were similar drinkers. When I tell people I don't drink, I just say that the older I get, the more I felt sick from alcohol, so I decided to cut it out and now I feel better. No one can argue with that. I have had one or two ask why I don't just have one or two and I just answer, "for me it was easier to just avoid it all together."

Really, no one but a complete ass will push it farther than that.
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