Dear Annie: I am a recovering alcoholic with six months’ sobriety. Recently, I was hired at a new company. The job is everything I dreamed of, and my bosses and co-workers are great. The problem is, every Friday after work, they go to a bar to socialize.
I am always invited to join them, but since bars were where I did most of my drinking, it is essential to my recovery that I stay out of them. So far, I have politely excused myself from attending these gatherings, saying I have a previous commitment or an errand to run, but it is beginning to get awkward. I am aware that socializing outside of work can be an important part of an employee’s success. I don’t want to come across as standoffish or not a team player. But I also don’t want to jeopardize my sobriety.
Some people have suggested I sit in the bar and sip a soft drink. I tried it once and was so uncomfortable (and tempted to drink) that I had to leave. My AA sponsor thinks I should tell my co-workers the truth, but I’m afraid if I do, they might think poorly of me. Or worse, I might get fired. Any suggestions? – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Dear Between: It is no one’s business that you are a recovering alcoholic. If you think your lack of socialization is a problem, consider telling your co-workers that you are a nondrinker and would love it if they could mix it up and go to a cafe or restaurant instead of the bar once in a while. You might also bring up this topic at your next AA meeting. Many of your fellow nondrinkers have lived through similar situations and may have some good suggestions.