• Tahlia Asinate

Questions You Shouldn't Ask Sober People

Committing to sobriety was an easy decision for me. By that point, I’d taken a year-long break from alcohol, and the few times I drank after that only served to support my decision. However, where it became difficult was during social situations. Because, although sobriety is a remarkable thing, it’s considered somewhat taboo.

If you don’t believe me, go to a party and tell people you don’t drink. Chances are you will be looked at like you’re crazy. Yet, tell someone about the stupid drunk decisions you’ve made, and they’ll laugh it off as a bit of fun. What’s more peculiar is the responses people share when finding out you abstain from alcohol. Which, when you first choose sobriety, can be quite daunting.

Which begs the question, what should/shouldn’t we say to someone who has chosen sobriety? Let’s take a look …

Don’t — Did you have a problem? Regardless of a persons' relationship with alcohol, whether or not they had a problem is none of your business. Depending on their history, discussing one's experience can be particularly uncomfortable for some, making it best to avoid this question.

Do — Good on you! This is the best response you can give as it shows you respect both the person and their decision. Also, that their value isn't determined by their choice of beverage.

Don’t — One drink won’t hurt. The fact is, you don’t know this as each of us reacts to alcohol differently. Personally, after my initial year of not drinking, processing alcohol became difficult for my body. Anytime I drank, my head would spin, and I’d become flustered.

Clearly, this is on the low end of responses to alcohol. However, the reactions both physically and mentally can vary enormously. Meaning, you will never know how alcohol affects someone, so don’t assume you do.

Do — Awesome, can I get you something else? Obviously, this is only suitable if you’re hosting or getting someone a drink. Yet, this is an as normal response as you would give to someone who does drink. Plus, it doesn’t make anyone feel excluded because they don’t drink.

Don’t — Just drink in moderation. To be frank, this has an underlying tone that you think the person doesn’t know how to moderate themselves. Yet, they actually do — where in this instance, their moderation is to not engage with something that doesn’t serve them.

Do — Good on you, how’s it going? Asking this is a remarkable way to show respect for their decision while also providing space for them to share their journey. How this conversation evolves will depend on their willingness to share. However, this shows respectful interest in wanting to know more about their experience.

Don’t — Oh, why? In certain circumstances, why someone has chosen sobriety can be particularly personal. And while some will be happy to share their reasoning, others may be uncomfortable doing so. Generally, you won’t always know which is the case, so it’s best to tread lightly into this question.

Do — Well done, do you mind if I ask why? Asking why should always be done in a considerate manner. And doing so will be appropriate depending on the situation and your relationship with said person. Personally, if someone respectfully asks me why, I’m more than happy to share. In doing so, I could be helping someone considering a break from alcohol. Plus, in sharing my story, I’m reaffirming my decision and the benefits I’ve experienced.

The fact is, each person’s relationship with alcohol is different, and whether or not you drink doesn’t make you any more or less of a person. When it comes to those who have chosen sobriety, it’s important to remember that this has been a huge lifestyle change for them. Meaning, any time someone shares their decision to quit drinking, be sure you’re mindful of your response and ensure it’s supportive and respectful.


Tahlia X

Now, I'd like to hear from you! Have you or a loved one chosen sobriety? If so, what's your experience been like? Let me know in the comments below.