Addiction recovery is certainly not an easy road, but it is worth it. That’s why it’s so essential that those recovering have a fantastic support system.
Alcoholics have not only a physical but a psychological dependence for alcohol which can be very difficult to ignore.
There are many situations that can be very triggering for someone recovering from addiction and a severe trigger may cause them to relapse.
Keep in mind that your friend or family member is probably trying to completely avoid a topic that seems almost unavoidable.
There are countless advertisements for booze no matter where you look and then there aren’t many social occasions that tend to leave out alcohol completely either.
There is temptation almost anywhere a recovering alcoholic looks, and this can be extremely problematic and triggering for them.
This is why support from others is so essential to try and help minimize the likelihood of a relapse. So what does this support look like? Can you have the odd drink around a recovering alcoholic? Can you carry on as normal?
The safest answer to this question is no. Although, that’s not to say it is never ever okay. Just that figuring out when it is okay can be a very complicated task which will depend on lots of different factors.
And of course there is never a guarantee that it won’t trigger them into wanting to try just even ‘one sip’ which can be one sip too much.
The Nature Of Your Relationship
As previously mentioned, support groups are vital for recovering addicts, it’s very unlikely that they will get through this alone.
Many recovery programmes actively encourage those recovering from addiction to have a support group to help them – the members of this support group should be non-drinkers.
However, the love and support of friends and family is also essential regardless of whether you tend to drink or not.
Depending on the nature of your relationship with the person in recovery, your choice to drink can affect and impact them at different levels.
We’ll have a further look into these relationships and the impact that drinking around the recovering alcoholic can have.
What exactly is friendship? It is a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two individuals.
So what do you do if a friend trusts you enough to confide in you and tell you about their recovery status?
First, it’s probably time to have an honest heart-to-heart conversation with them. The way you approach this conversation will be different from person to person.
But luckily, you should know this person better than anyone. Ensure that you are supportive and kind, it is likely they have just put themselves in a very vulnerable position with you.
Throughout this conversation, ask how best you can support and help them. If you are fond of a drink, now is the time to ask that question too.
See how they are feeling about being around someone drinking, and if they are struggling you should stop drinking around them.
And even if they say that it’ll be fine, you might want to consider still giving up the booze when you are in their presence, if for nothing other than support and solidarity.
Keep in mind that a recovering alcoholic may not want to let on just how much they are struggling, or they may feel anxious that they could lose a friendship if they outright request that you do not drink around them.
The best policy here is to try and have a totally honest and candid conversation. Make them aware that they wont lose you regardless of their answer.
Show them that your support to help them is your main concern.
Just as a family member in active addiction can completely change a family dynamic, so can a member in recovery.
Distant family members should follow advice similar to those of friends. But for parents and children things are a fair bit more complicated.
Parents In Recovery
If a parent has entered recovery, it is likely that as the child, you two have also experienced the negative effects of alcohol misuse.
A parent may feel embarrassed or even too guilty to actually ask you to make any more sacrifices.
But abstinence, especially in the home environment can be incredibly important and voluntarily abstaining from alcohol around them can be the ultimate show of support.
Children In Recovery
If it is your child that is recovering from alcoholism, you may want to try and open up a conversation as to what role you play in their addiction (see also ‘Addiction: Is It Hereditary Or Not?‘).
For example, if you have always had a tendency to drink quite a lot in the evening, this may be a habit or pattern that they have learned and lost control over.
If this is the case you should try not to drink around them anymore.
You’ll probably notice quite a large change in your partner as they move from active addiction to recovery (see also ‘How To Support Someone Recovering From Addiction‘).
And although it is a change for the better, it can sometimes still be somewhat of a struggle for a partner as the person they fell in love tends to become almost a new person.
If drinking is something you’ve often done together this can unsettle the dynamic even further.
Your partner is someone you are around frequently, arguably more than any friends or family, so your habits and actions are likely to have the most impact on the recovering alcoholic.
To be drinking constantly around someone who is trying to recover is really quite cruel and unfair and it is likely that you’ll cause them to fall back into old habits.
If you choose to drink when you are apart, try to avoid meeting up with them again until the alcohol is out of your system completely – even let the hangover fade first.
This can cause them to have a negative judgement of themselves and who they have become and it may cause them to spiral into relapse.
Really, if someone you know is putting in a lot of effort to stay sober, you should also be putting in some effort to help keep them sober. Love and support is essential.
If you go to restaurants and venues where alcohol is served, try not to be in the mindset of ‘there’s alcohol around anyway, so I might as well’ as there is something a lot more tempting about a drink right under your nose than there is from one a couple tables away.
Remember that open and honest conversations are the best way forward, every person is different and so the support they need could come in any shape or form.
Find out how they hope to be supported and stay as true to this as possible.