When announcing your sobriety people are going to say stupid shit to you. It’s going to happen. Be prepared for it. You’ll hear things like:
- Why don’t you just moderate your drinking?
- Come on man, you can have just a few.
- How can you be an alcoholic? Your life looks pretty together.
- People get DUIs all the time- it’s not that big of a deal.
The stupid shit I hear on a weekly basis is sometimes astounding to me but it’s honestly not the fault of the person saying it to you- they are just not educated on the subject. And why should they be? It’s not something that is really a part of their lives so they have limited knowledge or experience with it. To put it into perspective, I can assist and empathize with alcoholics all day but if I were to talk to an over-eater I would have no ability to relate or offer any advice of any value. I’m just not an over-eater. Not because of any effort or thought on my part- I just got lucky and it’s not an issue for me. Same for the people that make erroneous and ludicrous statements to you- they are just trying to help but they have difficulty relating to your addiction problem.
take someone close to me who has been a HUGE supporter of my sobriety. On my 28th day of sobriety, while enjoying cigars together on his porch, he asked me if cravings were still an issue for me. He simply thought that after a week or two of not drinking that I would no longer desire alcohol. As many people know- you can have cravings for years after becoming sober. Yes, they get less frequent and far less potent but they still come.
What he said really bugged me. I felt it was demeaning to the struggle I was going through and under-appreciative of just how hard it was to quit. But he didn’t mean anything by it- it was just a question. My friend was (and still is) one of my biggest supporters in changing my life around but he simply just could not relate to what having an alcohol addiction was like. Now I could let this get to me, and even give me a really shitty excuse to relapse, or I could educate.
That is, in fact, what you need to do. Educate. Be honest and upfront with people about your addiction. Provide them insight into what it is like to have an addiction. There are many great resources, published by many great people and organizations that help with insight for both the newly sober addict and friends/family of the addict. Some basics are:
- Why can’t alcoholics drink in moderation?
- Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- What happens when you stop drinking alcohol.
and many more can be found with a quick google search.
Lack of education, and ignorance, on the subject of addiction is a major issue in almost all of society. Even addicts themselves rarely know much about their own addiction. I spent years trying to stop drinking only to fall short when things got most difficult. I attribute a lot of my success to, in a fit of determination of unwillingness to continue life as I was living it, becoming further educated on my addiction and what to expect in the first few stages of sobriety. For years I didn’t know anything about my own addiction and it crippled my sobriety.
Lack of education also leads to lack of support and empathy from friends & loved ones. They simply just have a hard time being able to relate- because they haven’t walked a mile in the shoes of an addict- just as you have not walked a mile in their shoes. Educating them can only help you, them and your relationship with them. This seems to be even more prevalent with your younger peers but there are people from all age groups and walks of life that fall into this category. So if someone says something off-putting or in your mind stupid, don’t write them off. Educate.