You are all wonderful and I am so glad to have you in my life. However, there is just one problem – I need to stop drinking for a while, and I am having a hard time explaining it to you. So, I have put together some expected questions and responses that might make this a bit easier:
Why aren’t you drinking?! What’s going on?
I am not drinking because the negatives of drinking are outweighing the positives. Negatives (weight gain, low energy, anxiety hangovers, spending money, risky situations, lack of motivation) versus positives (relaxing and unwinding, socialising, feeling glamorous, tasty beer). Most people go through this decision at some point in their life and decide to either cut back or stop for a while, as the negatives are outweighing the positives.
Is this forever? Are you ever going to be able to have fun again?
This is not forever but it is something I am trying for a while. In the meantime, there are lots of other things that I enjoy – and lots of them are much more manageable than drinking (for example, exercise, hobbies, meals out and sober dancing).
Are you going to judge me if we go out together and I’m still drinking?
Definitely not! This is a personal decision and I would be insane if I suddenly decided that everyone in my life needs to stop drinking or change their relationship with alcohol.
Generally, a person decides to stop drinking for a while when it is no longer working for them and they want to try something different – which is the case for me. However, I know that for a lot of people, alcohol is not an issue, and it is something that they enjoy and can have in their lives permanently.
So, you have some issues with alcohol. Does that mean you are an alcoholic?
You don’t have to define yourself as ‘alcoholic’ to want to change your relationship with alcohol. All you need is to identify that alcohol is affecting your life or you are finding that your life is better without it. Depending on your genetics, personality, and everything else going on in your life, some people are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol, and particularly when they are stressed. We all have an ‘off’ button, and for some people, it works better than for others. For some people, it is possible to have two drinks and stop, while for others it will be much more of a challenge.
It is just like when someone is sensitive to dairy products. They have to be mindful of whether they have these in their diet at all, how they are going to manage their body’s response to them and whether it is worth having them at all.
Okay, I get it. How can I help you do this?
Social support is really important, particularly having people respect the decision not to drink or to drink less. Try suggesting some activities that don’t necessarily involve alcohol, like exercise or coffee, to make things easier for everyone.
This is a really personal, individual decision. So you probably won’t need to do much as a friend, as a lot of the change comes from the person. However, it is good to consider what kind of support you might like from a friend if you were working towards something important.