Social Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you drink alcohol if you are with a friend who has been sober for many years?

Asked by LuckyGuy (43814points) October 30th, 2023

A good friend of mine has been sober for decades. When we are together in a social situation I will not have anything alcoholic. To be honest that is not a big sacrifice for me. I feel it is a silent sign of respect and support. And now that I have hard data from my Garmin watch indicting the stress it places on my body, I have been avoiding it whenever possible without being rude to the host.
By avoiding alcohol am I showing support for my friend or can my action be seen as a sign that I think he cannot be trusted?

I really mean it as a sign of support and have no worries about trust. I feel it is about like walking across a well frozen pond. I know the ice is thick enough to support me so I will cross, but I am not going to jump up and down.

I was with a small group of friends doing some work at a cabin in an isolated area. Two of them brought beer and bourbon and partook in moderation. Three of us including my friend did not. There was never any mention or insistence to partake either way. The situation got me thinking – thus this question.

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29 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I haven’t been in that situation, so I can’t say for sure.

My gut feel is that it would be in bad taste to drink in his presence. But – why make assumptions? I would probably ask the guy directly if it will be a problem for him.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Honestly, if you want to drink a little, I would probably lean toward it being ok. Someone who is truly sober will not be affected by this. If they are, then they’re not really sober. I have been in this situation, and the recovered alcoholic still enjoys a non-alcoholic brew on these occasions. The last thing she wanted to be was a drag on everyone else. You have to know your friend and if they can handle this or not. I agree, it’s a bit of a delicate situation. I have given it up for the most part for the same reasons you mentioned, but I do miss pouring a couple fingers of bourbon and sitting down in front of my stereo system to finally relax in the evening.

Caravanfan's avatar

I ask him or her if they’re okay with it. If they are, then I do.

canidmajor's avatar

Pretty much not. It’s not a big deal to me, and I have had loved ones and friends who are alcoholics, so I tend to be hyper aware of who drinks and who doesn’t. Often for me it is less about Not Drinking than it is about context.

jca2's avatar

I’m not a big drinker and if I drink five times a year, that’s a lot. I’d be happy not to drink as I’m typically not drinking anyway. As for whether or not I should feel obliged not to drink, I think I would be unsure, but if there are other people drinking at the event, I don’t think whether or not I abstained would make a difference.

Forever_Free's avatar

I have been in this situation and also I refrain out of respect.
That said however, if they are an alcoholic, wants to handle the stress it induces, needs better sleep, everything is up to them on their refrain.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I worked with a guy that stopped drinking, we had a bunch of retirements dinners at a steakhouse. I’d go get my drink and bring him a ginger ale. He didn’t mind, but ask.

flutherother's avatar

If you ask he’s going to say it’s OK, but it’s not really his decision to make. Whatever you do is OK but I feel it shows respect to abstain. Nothing needs to be said.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I choose not to do anything that could trigger an addict, whether its drinking, smoking, poor food choices, etc… I want to help them and I have a lot of friends who truly appreciate ny flexibility.

SnipSnip's avatar

I don’t drink alcohol, so no.

janbb's avatar

It’s easy enough for me to refrain so I probably would.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ll wait to reply.

zenvelo's avatar

I have been sober a long time. In my first 60 days, I went to 7 weddings and did not drink. But many of the people at the weddings were close friends who were very supportive of my new sobriety and did their best to protect me.

One of the early things one learns in sobriety is how to be around drinking people, and know when to leave. I have been to [arties where people drink and I am among the last to leave (no one getting sloppy), and others where I did an Irish goodbye after an hour.

Those of us who are sober are very appreciative of people who don’t drink around us, but also want you to know for many of us it is not necessary, and we know to leave if t gets uncomfortable.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’ve been sober 24 years. I am a recovered alcoholic.

In early sobriety, I avoided bars and liquor stores. I would even go out of my way not to walk down the alcohol aisle in stores.

At about year 7 or 8, it ceased to matter.

These days, I go anywhere I want. Friday night, I met my boyfriend at a bar where he drank a beer, I had a root beer, and we ate delicious pizza. It does not phase me at all to be in bars. I am not tempted in the least. The obsession has been lifted.

Having said all that, I must say that not all alcoholics are the same. I agree with @Caravanfan. Ask him. I know alcoholics who have been sober longer than me, and they never go to bars. That’s completely fine.

In my life now, most people don’t know I’m recovered. It simply doesn’t come up. When I’m offered a drink, I decline. Only once in 24 years has someone pressed me to drink. I forcefully declined and left soon after. It made me angry, but that’s my responsibility and not the other person’s.

@LuckyGuy, it is very kind of you to refrain in your friend’s presence. I’m sure he appreciates it. I also appreciate it. Thank you.

seawulf575's avatar

In my mind it would depend on when they quit. I have a neighbor that “quit” 8 times so far this year. I don’t drink around him as it would be a trigger for him. However I have known several people that used to drink and have quit for several years. At that point it doesn’t seem to matter.

I used to smoke. I quit way back in the day and never went back. But I didn’t ask friends that smoked to refrain just because I was around. I kinda equate that to this question.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I had my last drink 50 years ago, so I wouldn’t have a problem. My ex was a raging alcoholic, so I deeply encourage your RESPECT for your friend!!! After decades, they should have it pretty much under control, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to tempt them off the wagon after ALL that work!!!

Zaku's avatar

“By avoiding alcohol am I showing support for my friend or can my action be seen as a sign that I think he cannot be trusted?”
– There are no absolute truths from the universe about such things. These are meanings we add to reality. You explained your thinking above. Your friend’s thinking about it, if the thinks about it at all, will be his thoughts, and could be practically anything or nothing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@seawulf575 He has not asked anyone to not drink around him, ever.. It is not mentioned at all.

@All I appreciate your answers. Basically, we seem to be in the same ball park.

I will continue to abstain as a courtesy – (and silently think the other two guys are either oblivious or jerks). ;-)

Caravanfan's avatar

I have one friend who is sober for many years. His wife drinks wine. I asked him about it and he said, “Oh, I don’t care one bit.”

gondwanalon's avatar

I never drank alcoholic beverages or used any other recreational drugs.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@LuckyGuy NO recovering alcoholic will ask you to abstain because they feel it makes them look weak & they feel that it is their problem…NOT yours. Still, I feel that you are being a good friend by NOT tempting them!!! I’ve NEVER known an alcoholic who felt that they couldn’t deal with it, but it only takes one to undo ALL that hard work!!! Most of their friends are telling them “One’s not going to hurt you” but that is just plain WRONG as 1 leads to 2 which leads to losing any self control!!!

zenvelo's avatar

@LadyMarissa There is a saying in the rooms, “One is too many and a thousands not enough”.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t drink in front of recovering alcoholics. It’s not just supportive, it’s also a slap in their face if I do.

smudges's avatar

omigawd…just realized it’s been 20 years this year since I quit!

I’ve had people ask me if it’s ok; decline even though I’ve said it’s ok; and not ask and go ahead and have a drink or beer. It doesn’t matter to me, but I will say that although I see the respect aspect, I tend to feel badly, guilty if they abstain because of me.

But like others have said, if unsure, ask. If they’re stable, they won’t mind; if they’re not, what are they doing around it anyway?

JLeslie's avatar

I usually don’t have any alcohol, so if I knew someone was an alcoholic I definitely would not drink, and that’s easy for me anyway.

When I was younger I sometimes had a drink if the person or people I was with were having one. In my late teens one of my friends had already been through rehab. She was talking to me about how I rarely drink, and I remember telling her in my family it was completely normal to go out to a party or dinner and not drink. That was completely foreign to her. In her world all adults drank unless they were trying to quit. They were all alcoholics or borderline alcoholics if there is such a thing.

I knew nothing about rehab at the time of that conversation, and I was just a teenager. I told her, “there are plenty of people who don’t drink, spend time with them.” I knew I would never drink around her.

smudges's avatar

That was completely foreign to her. In her world all adults drank unless they were trying to quit.

Same in my family. My folks had a drink or two every night before dinner, and often one before bed. But I’ve only seen my father ‘buzzed’ once or twice in my life.

I wonder if there’s a study that looks at whether kids who grew up with alcohol being normal or common in their childhood grow up to have problems with it. If not, it seems like it would be an enlightening study.

JLeslie's avatar

@smudges I would bet lots of money children who think drinking every night is normal adult behavior are much more likely to drink themselves and become alcoholics.

First, kids like to act adult. I never would have tried alcohol when I did except I already had friends who drank like fishes in junior high. It wasn’t my actual first time tasting alcohol, my parents let me try it before, but I mean the first time peers of mine wanting to get drunk. I had no curiosity about drinking and still don’t understand why people like it so much. I do understand once people are addicts they need their drug just to feel normal.

Second, those kids are more likely to have genes for addiction.

My first date with my husband I ordered first (of course) and ordered Coke no ice, and so did he! We knew we were meant to be. Lol. He commented that he thought it was unusual that an American didn’t order alcohol at dinner. His family is similar to mine, almost never has alcohol, not a regular thing at all, but it’s not that they never do. I didn’t realize how important that was to me when I was young and dating, but I’m so grateful the guy who I liked and his family was similar to me regarding alcohol.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@smudges I agree it would be interesting. My grands imbibed rarely, mostly just a nip of bourbon during cold seasons.
Of my mother and her siblings, three of six were alcoholics. Of the three nondrinkers- One died young, one was religious and the other a naturalist/hippie. All three with drinking problems had trauma, that is the only common denominator I’ve found.

smudges's avatar

@JLeslie I agree with your reasoning completely, especially the genetic component. I’m adopted, but my birth grandfather was an alcoholic who “took the cure” and quit. I suspect my birth father was also, but am not positive. So I had the genetics, the ‘leading by example’ from my adoptive parents, as well as the trauma contributors. I didn’t stand a chance! LOL

@KNOWITALL Interesting. Yes, I’d say trauma is a large contributor whether it’s as a child or even a young adult.

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