Sobriety is a wonderful way of life and can be the most important change you make. For me, sobriety brought on a lot of emotions and at first, I had to work through the shame, guilt, remorse, and fear surrounding alcoholism. To me that word was scary and even more so was saying, “I’m an alcoholic.” Getting sober requires us to think about sharing about our addictions with close friends and family. In an effort to be rigorously honest, we have to think about how to share this fact. Luckily, telling your friends and family that you’re an alcoholic doesn’t have to be upsetting or scary, it can be courageous, honest, and relieving. Here are some ways you can tell your friends and family that you’re an alcoholic.
If you’re comfortable with using the words alcoholic and alcoholism, a great way to tell your friends and family about this, is to be straightforward and honest. It’s like taking off a Band-Aid, quick and painless might be the best way to go about it. Supportive family and friends may not be surprised; in fact, they might be happy that you’re telling them this news. If they have watched you suffer, hearing you own your disease and move forward might be comforting and provide a sense of relief for them. When I finally told my mom I had a problem, she comforted me and said that I wasn’t a bad person, that I was an alcoholic and needed help. It was good to know I didn’t have to hide behind a façade anymore.
Call a Family Meeting
If you haven’t spoken to your friends and family about your alcohol issues, it might be best to address your loved ones at a family meeting. You can sit down with your family and friends and speak with them all at the same time. Be honest, be yourself, and ask for the support you need. It may take your loved ones a little bit of time to digest the information, but your goal will be accomplished. It’s better to be honest about your struggles, admit you are looking for, or are in the process of, getting help. It might also help to go into the meeting with a few things written down that you want to say and any questions you might want to ask your family. Be prepared for them to ask you questions as well.
Write Them a Letter
When I got sober in May of 2013, I felt like I had to tell my close friends who I had just traveled with on my last drinking binge trip. I chose to send them a group email letting them know that I was sorry for the way I had acted on the trip and that I was embarking on a journey of sobriety. The response I got was great and they all chose to understand and support me. At the time I didn’t go into depth talking about alcoholism or addiction because I barely understood it myself. If this is the case for you, I recommend writing an honest letter or email and explain how you feel. My friends were grateful I let them know what was going on with me and were better able to understand how I was feeling. When you come out to your friends you might not always know what you want to say, which is why writing is a great option.
Start a Conversation With a Question
Addiction can be taboo, especially amongst our family and friends. In getting sober, many of us realize that we haven’t hid our addictions as well as we thought. If you’re looking for an ice breaker to bring it up, you can ask, “[Insert family member’s name], have you been worrying about my relationship with alcohol?” Depending on how they answer you can respond, “Well I’ve been wanting to talk to you about that.” Take the opportunity to be open and honest about how you feel. Let your loved ones ask you questions if need be.
Share Your Personal Feelings
Addiction is complicated, emotional, and can have a profound effect on anyone. Instead of pushing these feelings down, you can share these personal reflections with your loved ones. Your family and friends will respect your decision to be forthcoming and honest. After all, sobriety is about being true to ourselves, living authentically, and being the best people we can be. Sharing these personal feelings with your loved ones is the perfect place to start.
Use the Language You Are Comfortable With
Like I mentioned before, “alcoholic” can be an intimidating word. If you’re not ready, or don’t feel like alcoholic is something you identify as, you should use the language you are comfortable with. It might be “in recovery,” “sober,” “just quit drinking,” “addict,” or “someone with alcohol issues.” It took me over a year in recovery to actually say the words, “I’m Kelly and I’m an alcoholic.” We all reach these revelations at different points and it’s possible we’ll never identify as an alcoholic at all. That’s why it’s imperative to use the type of language you’re comfortable with.
Telling your friends and family you’re an alcoholic, or someone with alcohol issues, doesn’t have to be hard. It can be liberating. With these tools and recommendations, you’ll be better equipped to take on this task if the situation arises. Remember, you should always be proud that you’re in recovery.