How to support your friend going sober

By | June 3, 2021

It’s no surprise that in 2020, many Australians saw their drinking creep to levels they were unhappy with. A survey from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation found one in five Australians regretted how much they drank in lockdown. A similar proportion thought about reducing their consumption but were yet to take steps to cut down.

Sobriety definitely looks like the new black right now, with more and more reasons to take a break-from booze, women sharing their stories about how they find magic in quitting booze and the alcohol-free drinks industry blowing up. Could 2021 be the year of the non-drinker?

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I went on my own journey of giving up drinking two and a half years ago and it was a pretty confusing time, with not much support out there for people like me who don’t feel like they fit in at AA or need rehab, but are so over the person they become when they drink.

I did it on my own while everyone around me kept drinking and it was tough. Seeing that gap, my business partner Jen Clements and I created our own online sober women’s platform Thrivalist, which offers a supportive community and programs to educate and empower women on this challenging journey.

Chances are we’ll all know someone who’s trying to kick the drink in 2021, and it might even be your BFF! So here are seven ways you can be a supportive side-kick, as they embark on what could possibly be a challenging journey.

1. The right questions to ask your newly sober pal

When your bestie first announces that they have decided to ditch the booze, it might feel like you’re losing a huge part of your friendship and you’ll probably have a million questions you want to ask.

Try to refrain from bombarding them and instead (after telling them you’re so proud of them) gently ask the following: “What can I do to support you and make this an easier process for you?”.

That’s it! So simple. As the journey unfolds, you can start to enquire a little more, but at the beginning, this is all about supporting them.

2. “No, I’m not judging you” – why this isn’t about you and your drinking

It may feel like your bestie going on the wagon is a subtle signal to reassess your own drinking habits, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Right now, they are focusing hard on their own personal development and don’t have the headspace to pass judgement on you or anyone else’s drinking. Their sobriety has nothing to do with you.

If their decision to go sober feels like a mirror is being held up to your own drinking, you’re most likely being guided by your own intuition! So why not join your bestie on the journey?

3. Why encouraging them to “just have one or two” is not being supportive

There is a reason why one or two never worked for your BFF. If she could have just one or two, she would most likely still be a drinker. For most sober people, moderation never worked, so abstinence is the easiest and most freeing option.

By encouraging them to just have one or two, you’re actually encouraging them to stay stuck in their self-destructive cycle, which I am so sure you don’t want to do.

4. What’s the etiquette on inviting your friend to events involving booze?

Never. Stop. Inviting. Them. Anywhere! Going sober can already be a lonely time. Right now your bestie needs to know you still love them and find them fun sans booze. If you invite them to a drinking event and they reject your invitation, don’t take it personally.

They are most likely working through a bunch of emotions and need to protect their sobriety like it’s their new-born baby. Keep inviting them; they will eventually say yes!

5. How to make your pal feel comfortable at social events

Socialising sober can be overwhelming, at least to begin with. The security blanket alcohol provides has gone, so expect your BFF to be feeling vulnerable. If you’re mindful of this it will be easy to pick up when they’re not feeling great.

Before you go out, ask them to keep you posted on how they are feeling during the event and to let you know if they need anything. Then show off your best-friend superpowers by following through and offer to take a time-out with them in the ladies room, or to get some fresh air outside and a change of scenery.

6. Find other ways to have fun and connect sans alcohol

There are so many ways to have an absolute blast, alcohol free. You can get your endorphins flowing by going for a hike, taking a yoga class or even attending a sound bath. There are now sober dance parties and raves plus bars serving only non-alcoholic options!

Why not do some research and put together a list of fun things you can do together that don’t involve drinking. This could possibly be one of the most beautiful ways to truly show your bestie you care.

7. Your relationship will most likely improve

It takes guts and strength to make this big life change, so you should be really proud of your bestie. Know that your relationship will only be improved if you can support them in the way that they need. The sober journey is full of challenging times as we re-learn to live, socialise and cope without alcohol.

Be patient and loving with your BFF and get excited to connect on an even deeper level. It’s likely your relationship is going to be the strongest it’s ever been.

Lucy Quick is a Life Coach who works with busy, over-stressed women helping them to live their most vibrant, healthy and rewarding lives. You can follow her on Instagram here @_LucyQuick. She is also the Co-Founder of Thrivalist where she and business partner Jen Clements support women from all over the world to change their relationship to alcohol in an empowered way. You can join the free Thrivalist Facebook Community here.

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