“Are you sure you’re an alcoholic?”
We know our normal drinking friends and family members mean well, but sometimes their well-intentioned comments and questions can come off sounding anything but. In the name of a little good-natured fun, here is a list of questions we’d be happy to never hear again (and yes, for the millionth time: We’re not boring. We gave up alcohol—Not fun!). *
1. “But you don’t seem like an alcoholic!”
Um…Thank you? Would it be better if we went home and changed into a hobo costume? Reenacted a scene from one of the Hangover films? Just because we look put together and seem successful now doesn’t mean we didn’t have a scary and troubling relationship with alcohol in the past. Look, we know people mean well, but insinuating that we aren’t real alcoholics because we don’t resemble Nicolas Cage’s character in Leaving Las Vegas is just plain silly. And ignorant. And a little insensitive. Alcoholics come in all sizes, shapes and colors. And there’s no such thing as being too young, fun, smart or successful to be sober.’
2. “Does that mean you’re never going to drink again? Never ever?”
Who knows? We’re not psychic. While we’re not planning on it right now, we have no way of knowing what will happen in the future. What we choose or don’t choose to put in our bodies isn’t anyone’s business, however, and frankly, beside the point. We sober people like to take things one day at a time, and today, we’re not drinking. So please, enough with the incredulous looks. Let us drink our sodas without the third degree, mmmkay?
3. “Isn’t being sober boring?”
No, but you know what is boring? Spending your friend’s birthday party passed out in a toilet stall. Or wasting an entire Sunday at home in bed nursing the Hangover from Hell. Or hearing stories from friends of the “great time” you supposedly had last weekend that you don’t remember. While we might have to get a little creative these days when it comes to finding things to do that don’t involve the contents of a hotel minibar, our lives are far from boring. In fact, experiencing reality without the beer goggles and 48-hour hangovers means that when we do experience good days, we’re 100 percent present for them.
4. “I didn’t invite you because I know you don’t drink and I figured you’d be bored.”
Ugh. Here we go again with the “boring” thing. We thought we cleared this one up already. We stopped drinking; we didn’t stop being social human beings. While we may have avoided bars, nightclubs, parties and other potentially “triggering” social events when we were new to recovery, now that we’ve been sober for several years, an evening out with friends sounds like it’d be a lot of fun. So if you’re having a birthday party and you want to invite us, please do! Most of us sober people love birthdays and we love hanging out with friends, too. Just don’t count on us to stick around if someone starts chanting “Shots, shots, shots!” because, um, that’s obnoxious.
5. “You don’t want to drink even just one drink? Not even one?”’
Look, if we could have “just one drink”, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place. For whatever reason-be it genetics, brain chemistry or an early childhood alien abduction (okay, maybe not that last one)-we’re powerless over alcohol. This means that we cannot have just one drink—we can’t even have one sip. Not a one. So please stop asking us that! It’s awkward and it makes us uncomfortable.
6. “Aww! I feel so bad for you!”
We don’t feel bad for ourselves, so other people shouldn’t either! Deciding to get sober was the best decision we ever made and we’re extremely proud of our sobriety. While the concern is nice, we don’t need anyone’s pity. Life is good.
7. Are you sure you’re an alcoholic?”
Asking an alcoholic if he’s sure about his decision to abstain from drinking alcohol is like asking a diabetic if he’s sure about his decision to refrain from eating chocolate cake. Yes, we’re sure. Trust us. We’ve got the hospital bills, divorce papers and therapy session receipts to prove it.
8. “Are you going to judge me if I drink?”
Think of alcoholism as an allergy, or as actor Robert Downey Jr. once said, “I don’t drink these days. I am allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs.” Just as a lactose-intolerant wouldn’t judge someone for drinking milk, an alcoholic wouldn’t judge someone for drinking beer or wine. Our bodies simply can’t tolerate alcohol. Your body, on the other hand, can, and that’s awesome! We’ll toast to that!—With our lemon water, of course.
9. “No, but seriously…You don’t care if I get drunk?”
We’re not in the business of judging others. Those in glass houses, and all. So drink. Dance. Whoop. It. Up. Goodness knows we’ve done our fair share of cringe-worthy things while under the influence. No judgment here. Seriously.
10. “You’re cool with being the designated driver, yeah?”
Uh-uh. Nope. Not cool with that at all. While we’re happy to help out a friend in need every once in a while, we’re not down with being people’s permanent unpaid Uber driver. We’re your friends who don’t drink, not your resident Saturday night on-call chauffeurs.
11. “You’re in recovery?! Wow! Congratulations!”
Okay, we get it. We told you—a near stranger—that we’re in recovery from an alcohol addiction and now you don’t know what to say. You asked us for a drink order and we unleashed a deep, dark truth bomb and “congrats” is the first thing you could think of to say because, goodness gracious, this conversation suddenly got awkward. But let’s keep things in perspective. We found recovery, not a cure for cancer. Congratulating us for eliminating a harmful substance from our diet is like congratulating someone for running out of a burning building. We had a problem so we sought a solution. The end.
12. “You don’t drink…so that must mean you’re an alcoholic, right?”
While a certain percentage of nondrinkers are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, there are many of us who may choose not to drink for a myriad of other reasons including health, religion or personal preferences. Whatever our reasons, keep in mind that our personal decision to wake up each day hangover-free is just that: a personal decision. * To our “normie” friends reading this: We understand that these questions and comments come from a place of deep concern and empathy. You ask dumb questions because you care! (Kidding). And that’s awesome. So keep asking us questions, because we’re (mostly) happy to educate you. Just don’t ask us if we’re sure we’re alcoholics. Because then we might have to dump our $14 bottle of Perrier on your head. (Not kidding).
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