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Is it Okay to Drink Alcohol Around Someone Who is in Recovery?

Alcoholism is a serious and complex condition that can be very difficult to overcome. Many people who live with alcohol abuse or addiction require professional intervention and treatment to learn how to live a healthy, sober lifestyle. 

The support of friends and family is key to helping a person recover from alcoholism. Since the condition is never cured, people with alcoholism must find ways to stay committed to sobriety. At times, this is very challenging. After the structure and routine of rehab, many people feel overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing sobriety every day. 

If you have a friend who is newly sober or in recovery, you may wonder how to support them. There are many things you can do to show them you are on their side. You can help them with practical things like giving them rides to appointments and helping them find work. You can support them emotionally by listening to them without judgment. You can simply be their friend.

Part of being a friend might be going out and socializing together. Sometimes, going to events or parties together might be uncomfortable if alcohol is being served. Should you drink around a sober friend, or is it better to avoid it?

Just asking this question shows a lot of care for a friend in recovery. Overcoming addiction is challenging and your friendship and support can be really valuable. We’ll explore the question of if it’s okay to drink around someone in recovery, including how to talk to your friend about this subject.

Understanding Triggers

Addiction changes the way a person’s brain and body function. When a person stops drinking alcohol, they often experience withdrawal symptoms. One of the most difficult symptoms to overcome is cravings for alcohol. 

The reason it can be extremely difficult for people in recovery to be around people who are drinking is that seeing and smelling alcohol can trigger cravings. A trigger is an event, place, person, date, or something else that can make it hard for people to resist drinking. Some triggers include:

  • Seeing or smelling alcohol
  • Certain foods
  • Parties
  • Spending time with certain friends
  • Certain times of the day
  • A familiar location
  • Holidays
  • Strong emotions
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom

But anything associated with drinking may be a trigger. If your friend is surrounded by people who are drinking alcohol, it is likely that they may feel triggered. They may also feel unsupported or left out.

Is it Ever Okay to Drink Around a Sober Friend?

The short answer is: it depends. It may be acceptable to drink around a sober friend who has been in recovery for a long time. Someone who is new to sobriety may be more vulnerable to being triggered.

So, how can you best support a friend in recovery? The best idea is simply not to drink around a sober friend. If you choose to drink around someone in recovery, you can still be supportive of your friend’s sobriety by:

  • Make sure there are good, non-alcoholic drinks available for your friend
  • Taking the focus of the event away from drinking
  • Inviting a mix of sober and non-sober people to the event
  • Checking in with your friend regularly
  • Supporting your friend if they want to leave–or better yet, leave with them

Recovery is hard. If you do choose to drink around a sober friend, you can support them by making sure they are comfortable with your decision to drink and respecting their boundaries.

How Should I Ask if It’s Okay to Drink Around Someone in Recovery?

This can feel like a sensitive subject, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. If you are close with this friend, it’s okay to simply ask about their preferences. Avoid shaming or judging your friend if they say they’re uncomfortable with you drinking around them. Don’t argue with them or try to convince them it would be OK. Respect their wishes.

If you are not close to this person and don’t feel comfortable asking them, it is best to simply not drink around them. Keep in mind, though, that most people in recovery would appreciate your thoughtfulness about this.

Alcoholism is a serious condition. It can be life-threatening. Be respectful of your friend’s boundaries and the life-saving work they are doing in recovery. 

Learn More About Supporting a Friend in Recovery at the Mandala Healing Center

At the Mandala Healing Center, we believe that anyone can recover from substance abuse and addiction if they get the right treatment and the support they need. Our alcohol rehab programs in West Palm Beach are designed to help people heal from addiction and learn how to live a healthy, fulfilling life. 

We also know how important friends and family members are in a person’s recovery journey. If you or someone you love needs support in addiction recovery, reach out to the caring specialists at the Mandala Healing Center today.