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How to support a friend who has given up drinking

If your friend tells you that they have decided to give up drinking it is important to be supportive.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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For some people the decision to stop drinking can be a difficult one as they may be experiencing addiction issues. For others, it may be a lifestyle choice that is right for them as they do not enjoy being drunk or the side effects of alcohol. Regardless of their reasons it is important to be supportive of their choice in whatever way you can.

Ways to support your friend who has given up drinking

Let your friend know that you are there to support them and that you will try to help them to stick with their decision.

Respect their decision

If your friend has given up alcohol avoid trying to tempt them into drinking. You might just think you’re having a laugh but they might not see it that way. They will have their reasons for not drinking so respect that.

Talk to them about their reasons for giving up alcohol

There are many reasons someone might give up drinking such as the negative effects on their health or on their fitness. Talk to your friend about theirs. It might help you better understand where they are coming from. By talking to them about it, it shows you are interested in their decision. If they are giving up alcohol because they are experiencing a mental health illness or addiction they might be grateful to have someone to talk to about it. By starting the conversation you give them the opportunity to do this.

Go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with them

If your friend does think that they have a problem with addiction you could suggest that they attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is an international organisation where people who are addicted to alcohol can meet up regularly to support each other. There are open and closed meetings. Open meetings are open to everyone so you could go to one of these with your friend if they were nervous to go on their own. Closed meetings are just for alcoholics. Your friend might start going to these on their own when they are more comfortable there.

For more about what happens at an AA meeting, have a look at our article about it.

Look out for them so that they aren’t left out

Alcohol often plays a huge part in a lot of events. If you are at an event with your friend who has given up drinking try to be aware of them and make sure that they aren’t being left out. Get them a soft drink or alcohol free beer if you’re getting a round of drinks or check in and see if they are having a good time. If they experience social anxiety they might find it difficult to socialise without drinking. Knowing that you are there for them might really help.

Do things that don't involve alcohol with them

If you find that you only see your friends when there is alcohol involved get proactive and organise to do other things. Have a look online for ideas. Depending on where you live, you could go for a hike or another outdoor activity, organise a game of football or a round of pitch and putt, go to the cinema, go to an exercise class or even just go to someone's house for a movie or video games evening.

Have a look at this article for more alcohol free events and activities in Ireland.

Join them

After talking to your friend about why they gave up alcohol you might be feeling inspired. You don’t necessarily have to completely cut it out you could try to do a night out every now and again where you don’t drink, or try to give it up for a month. If you think strength in numbers would help you, you could do Dry January, Sober September or Go Sober for October or join one of the online communities aiming to change their relationship with alcohol, like Hello Sunday Morning or One Year, No Beer.

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Published Novem­ber 11th2019
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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