- Don’t try to rationalize their definition of alcoholism.
- Don’t drive him to the bar with you.
- Don’t bad mouth AA meetings.
- Don’t mention willpower to your friend.
- Don’t give your friend a non-alcoholic beer.
- Don’t micro-manage your friend’s feelings.
- Don’t cook anything with wine or beer for your recovering alcoholic friend.
If you are friends with a person who is trying to overcome alcoholism, then you should know that the way to his recovery is filled with a lot of pitfalls. You may not realize it but you could, in fact, be pushing your friend back into a relapse. So, we’ll talk about what you could do to avoid this.
Don’t try to rationalize their definition of alcoholism.
First off, remember that your friend’s decision to quit drinking must have made him feel bad about it. For sure your friend already feels bewildered and dreadful. There’s never one recovering alcoholic that comes to their AA meetings for the first time with a happy tune.
Of the many bewildering things, the fact is that the disease can make the person suffering think that they do not really have the dreaded addiction. The journey from doubting your alcoholic problem to realizing it is a very difficult one and that a lot of people die before they even come to the point of realization.
So, do not try to minimize the problem by glamorizing it saying that his drinking habits were not all that bad or that you try to help cover up the disease by telling your friend that he must not really be an alcoholic. Doing so can just lead your friend out of his sobriety and push him back into denial, back into heavy drinking once again.
Moreover, a lot of individuals have no certain idea as to what an alcoholic exactly feels. Hence, never try to assume that you will be able to diagnose an alcoholic the moment you see them. It is always better if you support them through their AA meetings and treatment until they are able to reach and keep their sobriety.
Don’t drive him to the bar with you.
It takes years for an alcoholic to recover and it is not at all easy to be near alcohol. There are cravings for it, but the bar is just filled with lots of temptations that your friend may have an even more difficult time recovering.
Know that it is a big thing for someone who’s used to drinking to stop drinking, completely. In fact, just the smell of booze can be enough to leave your friend at a discomfort he would not be able to take. Your friend will most likely be leaving the bar feeling out of place.
Therefore, be patient. Eventually, you may be able to go to gigs, bars, festivals, and restaurants where alcohol is served and it would not be a problem anymore. Recovery is different for everyone and the length of time needed to recover also varies. However, watching you slug those drinks or talk about your hangover will only make your friend feel so bad about his situation. Instead, you can take a walk, hit the gym, go to a coffee shop or a cinema and still have fun without alcohol.
Don’t bad mouth AA meetings.
It is already weird enough for your friend to be going to AA meetings so neither assume nor say negative things about it. Also, do not act like you are sorry that your friend cannot drink and needs to be going to these meetings. Most importantly, never say that they are in some cult, brainwashed, or something.
Don’t mention willpower to your friend.
The truth is, willpower has nothing to do with alcoholism. The symptoms of alcoholism are all really the symptoms of a mental illness. You do not tell them that they must have had a lot of willpower to resist alcohol and that it must be difficult because instead of complimenting your friend, the person might end up feeling bad. The changes in a person who quits drinking alcohol also do not mean he has a lot of willpower.
The whole process of recovery is more complicated than just that. Also, relapse does not mean they lack willpower, this is just a symptom of the illness itself. If you are quitting booze just for a season like just for the new year or for Lent, do not tell your friend about it because they are not the same thing as what they are going through in recovery.
Don’t give your friend a non-alcoholic beer.
People who have problems with alcoholism no longer drink it for its taste. They drink alcohol for its effect. Do not make them drink wine or nonalcoholic beer as they both contain a bit of alcohol. Your friend may reminisce the times when he was still drinking and attempt to binge or have a craving for alcohol, which most possibly, they wouldn’t be able to resist.
Don’t micro-manage your friend’s feelings.
It’s actually possible to be over-considerate about your friend’s recovery from alcoholism. Take a look at this scenario:
You get ready to meet old college friends at a restaurant and you find all of them already there drinking a bottle of red wine and they say something apologetic like, “Sorry, we really tried to finish this before you’d arrive.”
You may think you are being considerate and saving your friend some discomfort, but it may just make your friend feel like an outsider or a freak. The fuss might actually make your friend feel as if he’s controlled so don’t make a big deal out of everything. He is going through something difficult so just let him.
Don’t cook anything with wine or beer for your recovering alcoholic friend.
There are a handful of these recovering alcoholics who are fine with eating a well-cooked Coq au vin believing that alcohol has already evaporated while it was cooking. However, there are really plenty of those who can be triggered into a relapse should they be able to taste some beer or red wine in the meal. So skip the liquor on your dessert or main meal and keep your friend safely out of relapse.