How to Tell Your Friends You are Sober

There’s no denying that a sober lifestyle is a radical choice these days, especially for young adults. Living sober often means answering many prying questions and learning to take criticism about your choices with a grain of salt. For young adults, sobriety can be even more difficult to navigate, especially during college. The pressure to conform, the desire for new friends, and a need to relieve stress can all lead to circumstances that make it hard to decline drugs and alcohol. This is especially true for alcohol which is often considered a culturally acceptable form of stress relief and a necessary step in the social bonding process. For those with addictions, or even those who simply wish to omit drugs and alcohol from their lives, learning to effectively talk to friends about your sobriety is a crucial skill that will prevent unwanted pressure and safeguard against relapse. There are several approaches that can be used when declaring your sobriety in social circles, and the method you choose will depend entirely on your own preference as well as where you are in your recovery journey. Follow your intuition when deciding how and when to disclose personal information, and always make your sobriety a priority.

Keep it Casual

While there is definite value in being entirely upfront and honest about your sobriety, especially if you are in recovery from addiction, sometimes you simply aren’t ready for that. Or in some cases, you may feel comfortable talking to your close friends about your choice to stay sober, but you may not want to announce it in a room full of acquaintances. It is up to you how much you choose to share with your social circle, and getting by with a little white lie in certain circumstances is fine if it helps you protect your sobriety. You can tell people you are on a cleanse, taking a medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol, or that you have an important appointment early the next morning. If you want to take it a step further, you can let people know that you have committed to staying sober for a month, or even a year. Telling people you are choosing sobriety for your health may cause them to pressure you further, mostly because people are insecure about the way they are treating their own body and may try to make themselves feel better by getting others to join in unhealthy behavior. Let your friends know that this commitment is important to you, and eventually, those who care about you will understand when to back off.

Help End the Stigma

The hardest part about letting people know you have an addiction is usually the stigma that comes along with that word. Most people are still very misinformed about addiction and how recovery happens on a physical and psychological level. Friends may mistakenly think of you as weak, flawed, or somehow innately different than themselves when it comes to drug and alcohol use. The truth is that anyone can develop an addiction, and the difference between an active user and a recovering addict is often only self-awareness. Help to end this stigma by being willing to educate your friends about addiction and recovery. Be willing to answer questions, and let your friends know that you are still the same person while sober, you are just healthier and happier without substance use.  

Focus on the Positive

Many people think telling friends and loved ones that they are sober is going to be like breaking bad news. If you have a social group that regularly uses alcohol, for example, you may worry that they will feel sorry for you because you can no longer drink. However, the reality of sobriety is far more cheerful than that! Let people know you are sober along with the many benefits you are looking forward to enjoying in your sobriety. This will turn the label on its head before anyone has a chance to have a negative thought about it. You can do this by talking about what you have already gained from sobriety, such as better sleep, increased energy, improved mental health, and a life without hangovers.

Find Sober Friends

It is unrealistic to expect that everyone who chooses to live a sober lifestyle will only ever have sober friends, especially in college. However, having a few close sober friends is a great way to offset the pressure and lack of understanding you may encounter in the early days of sobriety. There are many ways to find sober friends including support group meetings, online sober networks, and subgroups on social media. You may also find friends who abstain from drugs and alcohol by getting involved in health-centered hobbies like hiking or yoga. At the end of the day, whether your friends are sober or not, those who truly care about you will support your sobriety and encourage you to do whatever it takes to achieve physical and mental wellness. 

If you believe you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree West, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals who specialize in helping young adults struggling with addiction and their families. Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives in a way that fosters lasting sobriety. We believe that practicing recovery doesn’t have to mean an end to educational or career goals, but instead can become a fundamental part of a successful and fulfilling life. For more information on how we can help, call us now at 972-962-7374