Don’t Drink? You’re Not Alone
People choose not to drink for a variety of reasons—be it religion, health, dependency, or otherwise. In fact, about 20 per cent of Canadians do not drink. Yet, when someone who chooses not to drink conveys that to a friend, co-worker, or family member, the response is often met with incredulity and insensitivity. Here are some examples from real people of what people have said, how those statements can be harmful, and what to do instead.
1. “Come On, Just One!”
“The worst thing you can say is ‘Come on, just one!’ That was the sentence that took my aunt from sobriety back to dependency,” says Carry S. While a non-dependent person may be capable of stopping at just one, people with addictions often can’t. For people with alcohol dependency issues, “the executive decision making processes have been compromised beyond their ability to ‘just have one,'” says Brent Canode, the executive director of the Alano Club of Portland, who also serves on the Action Network Advisory Council for Facing Addiction. Comments like this show a lack of understanding and empathy about possible underlying issues, and can ultimately cause a painful and dangerous relapse.
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2. “You’re Missing Out!”
“I always get comments like ‘you’re missing out,’ ‘don’t be such a prude,’ or ‘you’re no fun,'” says Krissy P., a sentiment expressed by many others who choose not to drink. Says Sheila A., “It almost implies that in no way possible could I ever have fun if I’m sober.'” In cultures where there is a strong emphasis on social drinking, statements like these are common. However, they can be offensive and also untrue. Says Canode, for people who choose not to drink because of addiction, the ramifications of drinking—including stress, drama, and misery—are what’s “no fun.”
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