Kate's Blog

How To Deal With People Who Want You To Keep Drinking

It can be really tough if your friends and family don’t understand why you want to quit, or worse still, they try and convince you not to bother. 
In early sobriety, mastering alcohol-free living is challenging enough without the added pressure of someone telling you that you’re ‘overreacting’ or being ‘boring’.
So how do you deal with negative attitudes and pressure to drink when you’re still trying to figure everything out yourself? 

black oneRemember that it’s not really about you.

The way people respond is very revealing. It says everything about them and very little about you. Some people might feel threatened by your decision; perhaps they’re uncomfortable with their own drinking, or they’re scared that your relationship will change. Whatever the reason, it’s beyond your control, so don’t waste your time and energy worrying about it. 

black twoBe compassionate. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt the hard way, it’s that people aren’t mind readers! If you’ve been a quiet, stay-at-home-drinker then the chances are they only know half the story. 
People tend to respond with doubt and negativity because of their own limited beliefs. If you’ve been working on your sobriety for a while, then you’ve had plenty of time to get your head around the idea that alcohol is not the magical wonder drug it’s billed as. You know that alcohol does not have the power to make an occasion more or less special. You know that sobriety does not mean you have to live like a nun for the rest of your life. You know that … but not everyone is going to be on that page yet. 

black threeLet them know the impact their negativity has.

People are clumsy sometimes; they may not realise the impact their words and actions are having. Let friends and family know that you’re not asking for their approval, you just want their love and support. It’s hardly a big ask.

black fourBe prepared for some changes.

Sobriety is a great filter for all the crap you’ve accidentally let into your world. It’s not always easy. You will almost certainly lose some people who were in your life solely because of alcohol; others may need some time to adjust. Maybe they’ll stick around, maybe they won’t. But the good news is that you’ll never lose your real friends. They will stay. Plus there’ll be all these other fantastic people who come into your life. You will meet new friends. (And the chances are, they’ll move in from the sidelines, where they’d been all along. You just hadn’t noticed them before.)

black fiveAccept that no one is really holding you back. 

This is the big one. At the end of the day, no one is pinning you down and forcing you to drink. You’re not a victim. You’re not controlled by other people’s actions, thoughts or judgements. Sure, it’s great when you have the support of those close to you, but if they don’t agree with your actions that doesn’t need to be a block for you. Sometimes we just need to get a bit of perspective on this stuff. You are in control and you get to set the tone. 

tinystarGot any tips to share?

I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with unsupportive friends. What’s been your experience? Please let us know your thoughts and advice in the comments below 🙂
Have a great week!

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


19 Responses

  1. My partner had consistently encouraged me to drink almost every night for the last 16 years. I’m surprised I haven’t caused serious damage to myself and others. I realise now it’s a total control thing and glad to say he’s now an ex. The habit hasn’t completely gone but so much better now. Xx

  2. I shared some thoughts about my sobriety with my husband, and he got defensive and stated that he felt I expected him to tea total. I am not certain where that all came from; so I gave him some time to mull it over and then I explained that just as I am free to choose not to drink he too is free to choose to continue to drink. My quitting alcohol is in no way a reflection of him or our relationship, it was all about making the right choice for myself. I’ve been sober 106 days and I’ve never felt better or stronger.

    1. Absolutely – quitting was the right choice for you, that’s what counts. Congratulations on your 106 days!

  3. I had a friend recently who while drunk said to me “come back”. It made me feel so sad, I’ve been sober for 14 months and thought this person understood what I have been through. I don’t want to ‘go back’, I’m far better and happier than before. I have really found out who my friends are and I have had to say goodbye to a few. Unfortunately they will never understand unless it happens to them, I hope for their sakes it never does.

  4. Whenever I’d bring up the subject of drinking too much, my husband, an alcoholic, would tell me “you’re fine you don’t drink that much. The truth is because he drinks so much in comparison to me he probably believes it.
    I never thought I’d be able to not drink while living with an active drinker, but I’m doing it and feel great!

    1. I can imagine that from his perspective your drinking might have seemed low level, but that doesn’t really matter – he’s not you! It’s you that counts and if alcohol was making you miserable than stopping is a fantastic move. Well done Kathy, keep up the great work! 🙂

  5. My husband imbibes alcohol daily and I got into it through him. (He never gets hangovers). He finds my quitting strange and curious, respects it but tries to pour me wine. I stand firm and refuse with a kiss and a smile. I drink tomato juice and hold true to the bargain I struck with myself. It is SO irritating of him, but he feels lonely. That´s the compassion..no-one can force you. But they CAN undermine how you have conditioned yourself to stop, so keep repeating motivational mottos and “mantras” you have adopted. I prayed and that worked 🙂

    1. Completely agree – the mottos and mantras can really help you stay in the right frame of mind. Congratulations on stopping! Well done 🙂

  6. The best thing I’ve done (100% based on a previous post of yours) is to adopt an “I-don’t-give-a-damn” attitude and show everyone how it’s done. As a lifelong follower and one terrified of the judgment of others this has been my road to freedom. The people in my life don’t have to agree, support or even get it but I don’t have to allow them to get in the way. Thankful for the support here. 🙂

    1. Thanks Annie, I’m so happy to hear that approach has made a difference for you! I know it’s not always easy. Sounds like you’re doing great 🙂

  7. I’ve been very open with telling friends, family and even colleagues that I’m stopping drinking because I think I drink too much. It’s amazing how quickly people then confide that THEY think they drink too much. So many of things I’ve been thinking and doing, they start saying that they’ve been thinking and doing. So many of the same concerns, fears, doubts around drinking. It makes me realise I’m not alone in this, that I’m proud to be doing something about this finally. And to show those friends, families and colleagues, that it IS possible to do it! And that I can support them if they decide to do the same.

  8. I have changed my circle of friends somewhat. That is ok. Who needs the negativity. I’ve been sober 245 days and about a month ago my husband quit hard liquor and drinks only 2 beers or so. He is amazed how much better he sleeps and feels. Sometimes lead by example works

  9. I recently quit drinking and have not faced any judgement from friends or family yet, but I have a good group of people that I know are going to help me through any issues that might arise. Also this site has given me a lot of really good information and can hopefully help me on my journey.

  10. Today is my first month of sobriety and happy to say I’ve never felt better. I love waking up fog free and looking forward to each day. I’ve always had a confidence issue, but making the commitment to not drink alcohol has changed that. I now feel I can do anything!
    Thank you Kate!

  11. This weekend I decided to give up drinking. I know that I am going to get some comments off friends/work colleagues. It helps to know that other people have dealt with this!

  12. I’ve been sober for over 1 year. I sometimes let others get in my way because my idea of sober is different than their ‘s. I’m successful, I’m sober. Good for me!

  13. I’ve been sober for 105 days & never felt better. Recently I’ve been confident enough to go out with my old drinking friends- my best friends. Now that I’ve accomplished my 100 day challenge they want,need & expect me to drink. It was so intimidating! I was making excuses on why I wasn’t drinking…. Surgery is a months time so I need to be well, I’m driving, I dont want to put on weight…… How do I over can me this?

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