Will I Lose Friends When I Stop Drinking?

A Common Reservation in Addiction Recovery

Russ W


Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

Maybe. But only the ones worth losing.

People enter into addiction recovery with a lifetime supply of concerns and reservations about giving up drinking.

One of the biggest reservations is relationships.

It’s quite common for people in early recovery to hide their treatment and new-found abstinence from friends and family members. Why?

To avoid revealing they have a problem. Fear of judgment. To prevent special treatment. To avoid having relationships change. Fear of abandonment. To sidestep shame. Fear of letting loved ones down if they relapse.

All valid concerns; sometimes these fears are even accurate.

Years invested in my own recovery and work with hundreds of clients, however, prove the opposite is much more likely.

Not only are friends and family happy to hear about the decision to seek treatment, they are often supportive and willing to help however they can.

Being honest about something we’ve been hiding for years is no easy task. The decision of who to tell what is ultimately the choice of the individual.

But I’ve done the “research.” Even though sharing our sobriety might be make our skin crawl, openness and honesty creates accountability.

When we hide our attempts at recovery, we’re secretly giving ourselves an escape hatch.

Particularly if our close friends are drinkers, secrecy sets the chess pieces in motion for them to expect, tempt and possibly even pressure us into the same old behaviors.

Alcohol: A Reality Distortion Field

People mired in addiction often convince themselves that their actions and behavior were so stealthy and covert that no one knew they had a problem — until it became glaringly obvious and undeniable.

The reality, however, is quite different. In my therapy groups, clients often share that their addiction was, in fact, the world’s worst kept secret.

Others may not have confronted them about it or even given voice to their concerns, but they knew…



Russ W

Addiction therapist with an alphabet soup of degrees. Writer. Creative. Human. Hit me up: russ.w.medium@gmail.com