Audio: Do I Tell People I’ve Quit?

This is Sober Podcast Episode #175 for my weekly sober podcast series.

Thanks to listener ‘Out-of-the-Cab’ for submitting today’s question. She asks how to explain to people that we’ve quit drinking. So in my reply, I talk about who to tell, what to say, when to say it, and how to get support.

Do you tell your best drinking friend what you’re up to, and try to get her to understand? Do you tell everyone at family dinner that you’re going to the She Recovers conference?

Below i’ve posted a 2-minute extract from this longer audio (the complete podcast is about 20 minutes long).

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me


Download the audio podcast episode 175

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(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select 4 blog comments and each person will get access to a podcast of their choice from the archives.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • How to tell people. Yeah. I feel quite stuck in the shame/guilt place. I am about to enter rehab for the 2nd time, this time for a dual diagnosis of a booze/depression/anxiety and a little PTSD thrown in there for good measure. How do I tell people this? When I went “away” last time I said I was on a “mindfulness retreat”, Ha.

    I feel like I did when i was told I had breast cancer a few years ago (part of the ptsd).

    When enough really smart people tell you you have cancer and you have to have this insane surgery to fix it, you listen. You listen because if you don’t you will die, maybe. Or maybe you will live for a while but the conclusion of the experts is that you will die.

    So, enough people have told me that if I don’t stop drinking not only will I die, but first I will have to suffer the dissolution of my marriage, alienation of my children, loss of my house, my life as I know it.

    My surgeon told my that the mastectomy/reconstruction was like setting yourself up to get hit by a semi. Just stand there, yes, just there, and don’t move. We are going to run you over with this semi. But don’t worry. You will be ok, you will be better than ok! You will live. But first we have to run you over.

    That’s kind of where I am at right now. I really don’t want to go to rehab for 30 days, I am embarrassed and ashamed and worried that at the end of all this my husband won’t want to be there anyway because of all I have put him and our boys through. Oh, yeah and all our friends will know I have been “away”. So, yeah, how do I tell people this.

  • It’s so true. I never thought to try not to explain to those who side…but why would they understand? One person was ademant that I have a drink with the on NYE and really really pressed the point. I had to say ‘why does it worry you if I don’t have a drink when it doesn’t worry me?’ Even my kids didn’t get why she couldn’t let it go. She’s not a huge drinker either.

  • In the beginning I never went out, well in fact I still don’t because I don’t want to be around alcohol. Only one person has been really supportive and he gave up alcohol because he had cancer (he is now in remission) but some others make fun of me, i.e. how am I going to not drink at a reunion we are going to have shortly. So I am quite wary of telling anybody.
    What is nice is the pride that I feel when I meet new people who never knew that I drank before, and when invited for a drink I can say, thank you but I don’t drink.
    The downside is that I was slim when I drank, and now I have put on so much weight…. It’s horrible.
    Why are all the sober treats so fattening???

  • The fact that I now can eat pretty much anything, seriously. I used to watch what I ate because of all the calories I would be downing in wine, not now. I’ve always loved food, now I love it even more and look forward to my special treats everyday!

  • I don’t have a problem with honesty about my drinking. Some friends, in humor, will shout, “what?!!, and then the evening goes on. I have more difficulty with my husband.

  • A few days ago, a colleague I had never worked with overheard me and my friend talking about meat and how I’ve been a vegetarian for almost ten years. The guy raised his eyebrows, and told me how important proteins are for your body. I told him you could find lots and lots of proteins in cereals, nuts, soy (…). Time passed, he opened a huge bucket of rhum he had made as a surprise (it was mealtime), and offered a drink to everybody. I politely refused. He stared at me : you DO drink, though??, he said to me. As if it was an aberration not to eat meat and not to drink! I told him (part of) the truth : I’m at work, I can’t get distracted, so I won’t have it here because if I do, I’ll get wild. Truth is, I don’t have it anywhere, anytime, because it fucks with my life. But I didn’t tell him that. I guess you can say whatever you want to people : some people are more prone to hearing what you’ve got to say than others. That dude wasn’t one of them. I dropped it. I tell the friends I choose to tell, I tell Belle, I tell myself, and that’s it 🙂

  • I have shared with only a couple of people and they are supportive, but they also never bring it up. I find that others simply don’t care. I mostly don’t share because of how judgmental people are about drinking. I also have found that many become jealous when you get your shit together or good things happen to you. So for now, quiet and humble is comfortable for me.

  • Take ownersip and just do it.

    When I exercise I can feel me doing something for myself, doing something that nobody can do FOR me, something immediate and achieved and physical.

    So shouldn’t drinking my sober drink feel the same – my body, my decision, doesn’t matter what others are doing or thinking, no need for any fuss, just enjoying a chilled glass of tonic water because that happens to be what I chose to do today.

  • Wow this one little phrase has spoken volumes to me “You spend a lot of time trying to make people be what you need right now instead of turning and finding the thing that you need right now” Wow just wow

  • What resonated for me is that I’m ok. The wolfie part of my brain says that I’m different now because I don’t drink. So there’s that wierd “need” to make it right, to explain and be understood. But hey, it’s not necessary for me to do so. I don’t have to look for acceptance in a room of drinkers. I don’t feel alone in that room although I may be the only one sober. Thanks Belle, you freaking rock!

  • I like the idea that we don’t have to try to force someone to be what or who we need, that we can turn to others who can be that for us. This means branching out and embracing change and finding new support systems, which is challenging.

  • So true. Sometimes its the elephant in the room. And its the heaviest drinker-friends who steadfastly ignore that elephant sitting over there in the corner.

  • Very true for me… I think some of it is selfishly wanting my friends who are comfortable to change along with me, so I won’t have to go out and be uncomfortable and make new sober friends. Some of it is also that I want certain friends to stop telling me I don’t have a problem just because they don’t see it or want to acknowledge it for their own reasons… Point being: not my job to sobriety evangelize or to apologize for my decision.

  • It seems more and more lately, particularly in Hollywood, that sober is the new black. So it’s not frowned upon or given a second thought when a non-alcoholic drink is ordered. Early calls, long hours and being on top of your game… none mix to well with booze.

    People know something is up with me… I have so much positive energy and look good, healthy (I guess I didn’t realize how bad I was starting to look as a boozer). So do I go in depth with everyone? no… but a lot of people ask gueniune questions out of curiosity. I suppose some are wondering about their own drinking habits. A mirror of sorts?

    Anyway, I feel like all my friends are so supportive of me… and having them is an additional tool… on top of the “sober sober supports”. They all serve a different need and/or purpose. I’ve been lucky in this area. I’m blessed with amazing people and I’m now wide awake to experience each one of them!

  • How true is this!? My old drinking buddy doesn’t want to come and visit me until I am ‘drinking again, because it would be nice to have some beers’. The last time I saw her I spent 5 hours of a Sunday vomiting in her bathroom due to a hangover. I don’t think it would occur to most of my friends to support me in this, and you’re right, it is unfair of me to expect it.

  • Thanks for this, you said to me “just have a tonic – don’t stop going out” as being newly sober again I forget that I’m bigger than wolfie and can still have a great night out without being drunk. Plus I don’t have the mother of hangovers with all the sickness/shame/regret the next day. Being sober before my husband actually said to me “I prefer you when your not drinking” and he’s right….I’m me, a better person and I don’t need to tell anyone I’m not drinking as some people probably won’t notice anyway!!!

  • I have yet to encounter anyone who has said more than a few words about my “no thanks, I’m not having any wine right now” or whatever one sentence I say about not drinking. I don’t necessarily use the words “I quit”. Just a whole lot easier for me.

  • Belle, you are the fastest talker in the world! I had to listen to this at least ten times until I really heard and understood what you were saying. Yes, I am that thick.

    Thanks for the comments left behind. I got a lot out of reading them.

    It makes me sad that nobody really gives a damn about the journey. That it’s only important to me and no one wants to share a little piece of it. It kinda hurts.

    Time to put on my big girl pants and move past that. I am enough.

  • I had a friend actually want to do MORE with me now that I’m not drinking, but other than that it’s a blip in people’s radar. This weekend I am the designated driver for a friend’s birthday dinner. This is the first time that I haven’t gone alone so I can escape if needed. I let her know that I can’t stay late because I have an 8 a.m flight the next morning (truth) and she was happy to have the excuse to leave at a reasonable time. Should be an interesting evening…

    • It doesn’t make sense to expect someone to support me that is not sober. What makes sense is to reach out to a sober support for advice/support.