When Friends and Family Downplay Your Addiction

Navigating the well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning responses to sobriety.

Benya Clark
Exploring Sobriety

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This essay originally appeared in the Exploring Sobriety newsletter.

Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

Strange Reactions to Sobriety

At first, I was reluctant to tell anyone that I had gotten sober.

To tell someone that I was sober required telling them that I was an alcoholic — something of which, in the beginning, I was deeply ashamed.

I was worried about how people would react, and I was afraid that by going public with my sobriety, I would “trap” myself into it. If I told all of my friends and family that I had a drinking problem, then I wouldn’t be able to go back to drinking without facing their judgment.

However, I also thought that social pressure might be a good thing, for exactly that reason. If I was afraid to let people down, maybe I would be more likely to stick with sobriety.

I decided to start by telling just a handful of the people closest to me, including my parents. I was especially concerned about how my mom and dad would react to the fact that I had quit drinking. I ran through endless scenarios in my head. Would they be proud? Angry? Worried about me? Would they insist on me going to…

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Benya Clark
Exploring Sobriety

I’m a lawyer turned writer from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, and more. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter at exploringsobriety.com.