Why aren’t you drinking? That can be one of the most socially terrifying questions for someone in recovery. Social drinking is common in many cultures and environments. The scrutiny aimed toward those who do not drink can feel palpable, particularly if you formerly participated. Preparing to manage these questions in your own way is crucial for you as you seek to maintain your sobriety.
The Dreaded Questions
There are enough questions and anxieties surrounding social gatherings—what to wear, what to say, how to behave. When there is alcohol involved, and you are now sober, the anxiety about what people might ask you or say can be off the charts. This is especially true when you are newly sober or have not addressed your sobriety with family, co-workers or friends.
You have no control over what questions others will ask, when they will ask them, or who will ask questions about your lack of drinking. What you do have control over is your preparation for these dreaded situations and how you are able to respond when they happen.
Preparing for the Worst
When you have any type of anxiety about future events, a great exercise is to literally consider the very worst-case scenario. Imagine the worst person, the worst timing, and the worst question you could be asked about not drinking. What would the worst outcome be from that scenario? Would you survive? What would be the worst consequences?
Do not forget to consider that all of your worrying could be in vain. You should also consider the best possible scenario. What if no one says anything? What if no one even notices that you are not drinking? Reality will likely land somewhere between your worst and best-case scenarios, but thinking about the best and worst situations that could happen will help you be prepared for whatever comes.
Choosing Answers That Are Right for You
When it comes to knowing what to say if someone asks you questions about your sobriety, there are not really any specific right or wrong answers. Your sobriety is your business, and if you want to talk about it, great. If not, that is within your right, too. However, if the dreaded questions come, it is good to have some idea of how you want to answer them. Here are a few ideas about different approaches:
- Simple and polite – A simple, short, but not rude reply such as “I don’t feel like drinking tonight” can be an easy response that is easy to remember.
- Least informative – “I don’t drink anymore” does not lend itself to a lot of follow-up questions in moderately formal to formal situations, thus not requiring further disclosure.
- Humorous – “I thought I’d save more for you” or some other humorous response can lighten the mood and deflect the attention away from your personal business.
- Serious – “I am in recovery.” You never know who else may be in recovery in that same setting and may appreciate your simple honesty, if you so choose.
Knowing What Is Appropriate for the Situation
However you choose to respond to any questions that come your way is your choice, but these may differ based on where you are and who you are with. For example, if your boss asks you why you refused a glass of champagne at a company dinner or party, you may not want to go into details about your life of substance abuse, treatment, and recovery. There are plenty of people who do not drink alcohol, and simply replying that you do not drink is appropriate.
If you are in a more intimate setting with family or friends that you know well and trust, being asked about not drinking may give you the perfect opportunity to share with them your experiences. This can allow them the chance to offer support as well. How and where you choose to talk about your sobriety is based on many factors.
Being Comfortable With Your Choices
However and whatever you choose to answer about why you are no longer drinking, the most important factor is that you are comfortable. Do not allow others to pressure you to disclose more information than you want to, but do not be afraid to tell your story, either.
You being willing to open up about your sobriety may inspire someone else to enter into treatment or may encourage them to share their recovery story as well. Being comfortable with your disclosures will help you to be more comfortable with your recovery and help you avoid a relapse as well.
Questions surrounding your sobriety are likely to come up at some point, so it is best to prepare yourself for how you want to respond to them. Whether you give the least possible information, use humor, or are willing to share your story depends on you and also the situation you are in. Don’t be afraid to open up if you feel like you can because you could help others. At New Life, we have dedicated our lives to helping others recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Our staff offer services with compassion and experience. Our Maryland Outpatient Treatment Program offers treatment for substance abuse in both outpatient and intensive outpatient programs. We offer everything you need for treatment under one roof and work to connect you with the community to help your continued recovery process after initial treatment. Call us at (877) 929-2571 to learn more about the benefits of outpatient treatment for drugs and alcohol.