Do You Have Friends Who Drink Too Much?
One of the biggest worries we have, when we decide to change our drinking habits, is figuring out how our drinking friends will react to the news. Will she make fun of me? Will he assume I’m weak? Will they stop inviting me out altogether?
Oh, girl, I get it!
Once we get our sober legs beneath us the benefits of drinking less become crystal clear. We look better, have more energy, make better decisions, save money and experience a host of other benefits. It is only natural to want our closest friends to live better, too, right? But how? How do you help friends who drink too much?
There is only one solid piece of advice I can give for helping your friends, and that is to let them come to you. Lead by example, not by giving out unsolicited advice.
Why, you ask?
Because you are at huge risk of damaging your friendship, otherwise.
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Drawbacks Of Giving Unsolicited Advice To Friends Who Drink Too Much
They Think You’re Judging Them
Even when you don’t intend to, some who drink too much and are aware of their own flawed relationships with alcohol become immediately offended when they find out you have quit. One of the responses I’ve received when telling someone I don’t drink (other than “not even wine”?) is “oh, so does that mean you don’t want me to drink too”?
If they drink too much, they probably know it. If you start preaching to them about how they should really slow down, they won’t take that too kindly. They’ll feel judged, attacked and will distance themselves from you.
You Look Like A Hypocrite
Depending on how long it’s been since you made the decision to reduce your drinking, they may view you as a hypocrite. If just a month ago they had to recount to you (yet again) the events of the previous night, yet today you’re telling them how concerned you are for their health and that they should consider slowing down, you’ll look foolish.
They Don’t Believe You Or View You As Credible
Again, depending on how long it has been, they may not take your new change as seriously as you do. They may anticipate you’ll eventually start drinking again. This is doubly so if you’re moderating and haven’t fully quit.
If you’re still going out and drinking on occasion – just a little bit less – the difference between your former habits and your current habits isn’t that great. And if you just quit altogether, they may not see you as really knowing what you’re talking about. Coming at them with your opinion when they don’t fully believe in your change will seem extremely premature. And it will backfire.
They See You As A Buzzkill
When you’re concerned about how people will react to your newfound sobriety, you worry that they’ll stop inviting you to hang out, period. There is no faster way to make this happen than to start pointing fingers.
It’s one thing to change your own drinking habits for you, but you have to let your friends be your friends. You’ve got to let them make their own decisions.
If you make them feel like something is wrong with how they’ve been since you’ve known them, there will be a huge disconnect. They’ll feel bad about themselves when hanging out with you, and to them, it just won’t be the same. And you don’t really want to make your friends feel bad about themselves, do you?
How To Silently Encourage Your Friends To Drink Less Alcohol
The benefits of moderation and sobriety become apparent early on. It all starts to speak for itself pretty quickly. When I went from drinking too much to moderating, I began to look better, got healthier and became more interesting. People noticed and started to like me more.
Since making the jump from moderation to total sobriety, these effects have only magnified. Now I’m getting asked, “what are you doing differently, why are you glowing”? And I tell.
Lead By Example
Leading by example is the number one way to draw people to you. Seriously. It works!
Showing that you still live a fun, happy life without alcohol (while looking better, being healthier and having deeper pockets) is outstanding. Additional benefits of extended breaks from drinking like increased creativity, starting a side business, or having time and energy to do way more interesting things only helps. When your friends see you glow up, they’ll be trying to learn how you did it, so they can get their glow up too!
Stick To Your Guns
Sometimes it can be tricky if you choose to continue going to the same drinking locations and doing the same drinking activities with the same people as before. But if you do, staying on track and being pleasant to be around will speak volumes.
Sometimes when we make a new change it’s just not clear that we’re serious.
How many times have you started a new diet, told everyone you were finally going to hit the gym 5x/week, eat clean and drink only water – only to wind up at Buffalo Wild Wings that very next weekend?
Old habits die hard. Sticking to new ones will show your friends that this thing is real.
Them seeing you rocking it – and loving it – will pique their curiosity.
Food For Thought…
While I don’t suggest you replace your drinking friends with new ones, I think it’s important to consider adding new experiences and people to your life. You will need things to do and people to see who are automatically more aligned with your new lifestyle.
If you choose to avoid AA or other groups and meeting-based programs, you could very well wind up being the only sober person you know. While that isn’t the end of the world, it can make things very difficult.
The truth is you have no control over how your friends will react to your new lifestyle. It may help motivate them to change, they may not care one way or another, they could support you 100% but continue their own unhealthy drinking patterns, or you might become an outcast.
If you really want to put your health and your sobriety first, you need to be prepared for any outcome. You do this by finding interesting people, places and things to fill up your time. You grow strong enough to stand on your own two feet and rock it on out, no matter who is or is not on your side.
The best part about it is that these don’t need to be designated sober activities. They just need to be things where drinking isn’t expected.
As a quick example, taking up a new sport is a great idea. Drinking isn’t expected, you’ll meet tons of new people who share a similar interest and it takes up some of that extra time you have from not drinking or being hungover.
You can still keep your old friends and do some of the same things, but sobriety is so much more than just “not drinking”. It involves a whole mindset shift and an overall lifestyle change. Treating it as such is imperative to your success. And the best chance you have of encouraging those drinking friends you already have to level-up comes only when you are happy and successful yourself.
Can You Help Your Friends Who Drink Too Much?
In conclusion, I hope this article gave you a little help and insight on if and how best to help friends who drink too much. You’re a great friend for worrying about your love ones’ health. Keep up the good work.