Considering your options
This is a difficult question to answer, and is one that is personal to your circumstances when it comes to alcoholism and addiction. The simple answer is that the more people that know about your issue with alcohol and or drugs, the easier it should be. Those around you should stop offering you alcoholic drinks so you no longer need to refuse. However, if there are some people who have not been informed about your addiction, and it could affect your future prospects and opportunities. You may want to think twice before being completely honest with them.
The varying responses
Another point to bear in mind is that you should not place too high an expectation on people’s reaction to your recovery. Some people will not appreciate how much of an achievement it is for you. They will not understand the difficulty in getting through half a day or a day without a drink – and the now the achievement of getting through each day without one. To them it may be a bit of a “so what?” scenario. They cannot understand why you cannot just cut down or stop, so they do not appreciate the magnitude of your achievement. Others may not understand how critical it is for you to not have even one drink (or drug). “Surely just one will not hurt?” they might say.
The need to tell people
These people need to be informed about your problems with alcohol or drugs and in time they may come to understand how much you have achieved and how continuing to drink or use could kill you. Not having a drink or drug will not harm you or them – but having one will. If they are your true friends, they will support you with your alcoholism and addiction. If they do not, and continue to try to persuade you to drink or use, then perhaps they need to look at their own reasons and drinking habits. And are they really your friends?
Something that still irritates me to this day is when the people close to me consider me ‘cured’ or ‘fixed’. I tell my family I am not an ex-alcoholic, I am recovering on a daily basis. Years ago, when my aim was to control my drinking, I would have loved them to think me cured and to sanction my drinking again. Now I need them to understand that it is recovery on a daily basis. Any recovering alcoholic or addict lives constantly wary of relapse.
Should you tell your employers if they do not know? I cannot give you a cut and dried answer to that. After telling my boss about my alcoholism and addiction, I regretted it as I felt from then on I was viewed slightly differently. I was viewed as unreliable and I believe it did damage my career. I later proved them right by relapsing and doing a good job of damaging future prospects for myself. It may be a good idea to tell them that you do not drink any more as it does not agree with you. I would never encourage dishonesty but would give a broad rather than precise definition of the truth if in doubt.
In summary, tell your family and friends but look after your recovery and don’t put great store by their reactions; do not be dishonest with others but a version of the truth will suffice if appropriate.
If you or a loved one have a drink or drug related problem, please call 01462 851 414 for confidential help and advice