going out with coworkers when you're sober

What to Do When All Your Coworkers Drink

going out with coworkers when you're sober

Feeling as though you have camaraderie with your colleagues is an important aspect involved in whether or not you feel as though you have job satisfaction. According to a study, job satisfaction plays a huge role in workplace productivity.

If you want to be the best you can be in your workplace, you need to find common ground with your colleagues. This can be tricky for people who are sober because sometimes the common ground colleagues typically find in one another involves drinking or another type of substance use.

The following tips can help you create and maintain a positive space for yourself in your workplace without compromising your values and commitment to sobriety.

Alcohol takes the cake in this discussion, however. From happy hour drinks with your buds from the office to booze-fueled holiday parties, it can seem difficult to fit in with the others if you don’t drink.

To take the dilemma even further, a number of “edgy” workplaces these days even allow drinking in the office on non-holidays – as a way to celebrate, end the day, or simply “get creative juices” flowing. While this strategy may work well for some, it can further alienate those who are sober.

If you fall into the latter category, you probably find that navigating your addiction in the workplace isn’t always easy, because—well—it isn’t. However, the following tips can help you create and maintain a positive space for yourself in your workplace and with your colleagues without compromising on your values or sober commitments.

1. Be clear.

Clearly let your colleague know that you are sober. The sooner you make this knowledge commonplace, the less it feel like a secret or something you should be ashamed of. Wear your sobriety badge proudly and immediately so that you can save yourself from the countless drink offers you would otherwise have to awkwardly turn down.

2. Be cool.

Communicating your sobriety to your colleagues doesn’t have to be a big deal, even if your sobriety is a big deal to you. If you want to foster a positive and close working relationship with your colleagues, it’s important that the drunkey don’t feel as though you are judging them for their choice to drink or use. The best thing to do is to talk about your sobriety casually and to expressly let your colleagues know that you don’t judge them for their choices.

3. Be concise.

Letting your colleagues know clearly that you are sober and intend to stay that way is one thing. It’s an entirely other thing to delve into long and potentially humiliating stories about things you did or said while drinking or using back in the day that led up to your decision to embrace sobriety. Revealing too much personal information about your sobriety might make your colleagues (or employer) feel awkward. Everyone can know you are clean, but leave the harrowing details for your closest friends (some of whom might be your colleagues, in which case, they are the exception).

4. Be confident.

Don’t let anyone make you second-guess your decision to be sober. Know in the deepest part of your heart that this choice is the right one for you and don’t be shaken by the fact that sobriety is not the right or necessary choice for other people. Trust yourself to do what’s best for your life, your mind, and your body. And if you want to set boundaries with your colleagues about your willingness to be in the presence of alcohol, be clear, cool, concise, and confident in that conversation.

5. Be colorful.

Although drinking vs. sobriety is a black and white issue, the way it defines your personality and who you are is not black and white, so don't think of yourself as one end of an extreme or the other. Although your drinking colleagues might not share that specific activity with you, be sure to show all of your colors so that your colleagues have a chance to connect with all of the other parts of you. Talk about your interest in music or movies, invite friends from the office out for a hike, pin a photo of your dog near your desk – whatever your interests are, let them shine! Alcohol and drugs are only defining interests for addicts. Most people who drink without addiction in the picture will have no issue engaging in a booze-free activity with you if they share the interest.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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