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Should I tell people I have an alcohol problem?

Updated: 6 days ago

Admitting to yourself that you have a drinking problem which has gotten the better of you is hard. Telling others about it is even more difficult. Often, we are ashamed of ourselves and embarrassed to admit how bad things have become.

The question is, when should you tell people you have an alcohol problem?

Whether you reveal your addiction will be different in each situation. If your problem has been widely obvious to friends, family and colleagues, sharing your admission in the context of stopping drinking for good is a positive thing to do. It not only allows people who know and care about you to provide support and encouragement, but it also keeps you accountable for your sobriety goals.

In telling the people you're close to, you're signalling that you are aware of the issue and want to get on top of it. They will respect your honesty and vulnerability and no doubt think you're brave and want to help.

They might have been waiting for you to bring it up, feel relieved, and will probably support you in taking action to try and stop. Telling these people is usually a valuable thing to do both for yourself, to get support, and for them, as your relationship can improve as you recover.

Man with head in hands
Should you tell someone you have an alcohol problem?

Should I tell other people I have an alcohol problem?

If you've tried to keep your drinking a secret, telling some people is not straightforward. If they weren't aware you've got a problem they will likely be surprised. Maybe they will feel differently towards you. They might not trust you with certain things.

This group of people will likely not know you that well in the first place, or you might have a professional or business relationship with them. Confiding in someone like this should be carefully considered. How important is it that they know? How does your drinking affect this relationship? How would your sobriety affect it? Is it crucial for your you recovery that they they know about your recovery from addiction?

If you have to take time away from work or your usual activities with this group of people - like getting sober at an alcohol rehab like Ocean Hills - it might pay to say you're dealing with a health problem, to protect yourself from unkind judgements or discrimination.

There is another group of people that you could call the 'don't know, don't care' crowd. People in this category are usually casual friends and you're usually not close. Ironically, people in addiction often drink or use with people that fit into this loose acquaintance group. We often will hang out with people who drink the way we do, without even really liking them.

The harsh truth is that you're going to have to distance yourself from this group, or avoid them completely, when you live a sober life.

Straight out telling them you've got a drinking problem can be complicated. They maybe triggered if they have a drinking problem themselves, and will try to convince you that you don't have an issue because they don't want to lose you as a drinking buddy. It's easy to risk your sobriety in this situation.

Or, they might congratulate you for admitting you have a problem and wish you well. However it's more likely they will just avoid you.

Either way, it's time to find some new, healthier friends, which will happen naturally when you start living sober.

If you're unsure of which people to confide in, take your time before you make a decision. Give yourself some space and if it's still unclear, talk about it with an addiction professional.

If you're looking for support to get sober for yourself or someone you love, give Elaine a call on 027 573 7744 for a confidential chat. Private, premium seaside rehab - fees apply.

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