Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

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Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby bbqking » Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:54 pm

Hi everyone, I wanted to find out how others handle discussing their past related to alcohol, AA meetings, and what they are doing now with people outside of the recovery community.

I'll have 3 years sober tomorrow but I've been having some difficulties with the topic over the course of my sobriety and it has been bothering me lately. I never become friends or get close to coworkers outside of work because I'm worried my past could become an issue if people were to find out. My career path has frowned on those with alcohol and legal issues, and luckily I've been able to keep that under wraps with a good lawyer.

This extends to my personal life as well. I'm 41 and back in school switching careers and met a classmate who was interested in being more than friends. We talked and had lunch a few times and I was very interested in her, but she is very strait laced, never drank, never been in any trouble, and very responsible. That has not been my past at all. I blew her off because I didn't want to have to explain my past to her at some point, which if we started seeing each other and things went well it would come up.

My life is very different now than how it was when I was drinking, I don't know how I would explain that life to someone who doesn't have any experience with it. Another example, a woman in my class who is getting a divorce from her husband because of his drinking and behaviors was talking about it after class one day and the responses from some of the others after class just cemented my sense that I should keep quiet about my past.

At a meeting, with my sponsor or sponsees, or with others in the recovery community I have no problem talking about anything, but outside of those areas I really struggle to let anyone get close or know anything about me.

I know not everyone is going to be judgmental and it's not appropriate to discuss it with everyone but sometime it's going to come up, be it professionally or personally.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby positrac » Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:21 am

just cemented my sense that I should keep quiet about my past.


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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby Brock » Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:13 am

Welcome to e-AA bbqking, we come up with the most interesting names on this forum.

I don't discuss my past with those outside of AA as a rule, people don't need to know. Now and then a person might ask why I don't drink, and I see nothing wrong with just saying it doesn’t agree with me, but if pressed and if I like the person I might say drinking got me in a lot of trouble, caused me do things I wouldn’t normally do, if they press further then they are just being busy bodies of the type I have no use for.

People like you in their 40's all have skeletons in the closet, AA asked me to take them out dust them off then forget them, we told our worse stuff to someone we trusted in step 5. I have been living with the same lady for 27 years, she knew me while I was drinking, but still doesn’t know all the things I got up to before (and after) I met her. I don't know everything she might have done either, nor do I wish or have the right to know.

In my experience if someone can't take me as I am now, and even hearing that I had a past life of drinking and doing some stupid things, if they can't say well done for turning your life around, and accept me as I am now, then that person is not worthy of my friendship.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby bbqking » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:49 am

positrac wrote:
just cemented my sense that I should keep quiet about my past.


You've got a point.



I spoke to my sponsor and some others they seem to also take the stance that if it could affect employment or school in a negative way it's probably better to play it safe and maintain my privacy. I do like some of my coworkers and classmates and they seem like nice people, but you never know exactly how people will react i guess.

Brock wrote:Welcome to e-AA bbqking, we come up with the most interesting names on this forum.

I don't discuss my past with those outside of AA as a rule, people don't need to know. Now and then a person might ask why I don't drink, and I see nothing wrong with just saying it doesn’t agree with me, but if pressed and if I like the person I might say drinking got me in a lot of trouble, caused me do things I wouldn’t normally do, if they press further then they are just being busy bodies of the type I have no use for.

In my experience if someone can't take me as I am now, and even hearing that I had a past life of drinking and doing some stupid things, if they can't say well done for turning your life around, and accept me as I am now, then that person is not worthy of my friendship.


Yea, I think the next time I meet someone as far as dating is concerned, as long as I don't have to see them professionally or in school, I could just give them a nicer / cleaner version of what led me to AA when they ask. I suppose I wouldn't want to be with someone who is really judgmental anyway if they can't see me for who I am now.

Thank you for the replies.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby Roberth » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:51 am

Hello bbgking, My name is Robert and I am a Los Angeles Area Alcoholic. As far as work goes when I am asked about drinking a simply state I no longer do. That is usually all that needs to be said. But if I am ask why I just tell them it’s a life choice. You would be surprised how little people care whether I drink or not.
I work at a very large corporation and maybe a dozen people know don’t drink anymore. And less the half of those know I am in AA which includes a person in our Human Resource department. HR knows not because I when to them for help but to let them know I am available if someone need to talk about an alcohol problem like the book says.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby Spirit Flower » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:06 pm

I keep private about alcoholism at work. Cuz.... lets say I'm having a bad day, I'd don't want them thinking, " well she is an alcoholic, thats why she is that way." I haven't drank for more than 30 years. Its none of their business.

If I was dating someone, I'd wait until I was sure that the relationship was a thing before having the talk.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby avaneesh912 » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:17 pm

I break my anonymity if its a threat to my sobriety. There some obnoxious drunks that insist I have a drink. Then I tell them, if I were to drink, they wouldn't have enough. LOL.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby ezdzit247 » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:43 pm

Hi bbqking and welcome.

Congratulations on 3 years of sobriety!

I spoke to my sponsor and some others they seem to also take the stance that if it could affect employment or school in a negative way it's probably better to play it safe and maintain my privacy.


I agree with your sponsor. It's smarter to play it safe and maintain your privacy with outsiders you really don't know.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby Blue Moon » Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:46 pm

bbqking wrote:I didn't want to have to explain my past to her at some point, which if we started seeing each other and things went well it would come up.


IMO there is a fundamental difference between platonic friends, and someone you're looking for a closer relationship with. Platonic friends don't need to know any more than you're comfortable telling them. Most wouldn't be bothered either way, and would give kudos to a person who has overcome their demons.

For closer intimacy, I would be honest up-front. Sure, you don't need to walk around with a big badge pronouncing your life-story. But a prospective close companion deserves to know some things, and you need to know how they react. IMO it's best to learn this before the relationship gets too serious. If someone is going to react badly to something that shouldn't even affect them in the here-and-now, I would rather know quickly rather than after I've invested a lot of time and effort.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby bbqking » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:30 pm

Blue Moon wrote:
bbqking wrote:I didn't want to have to explain my past to her at some point, which if we started seeing each other and things went well it would come up.


IMO there is a fundamental difference between platonic friends, and someone you're looking for a closer relationship with. Platonic friends don't need to know any more than you're comfortable telling them. Most wouldn't be bothered either way, and would give kudos to a person who has overcome their demons.

For closer intimacy, I would be honest up-front. Sure, you don't need to walk around with a big badge pronouncing your life-story. But a prospective close companion deserves to know some things, and you need to know how they react. IMO it's best to learn this before the relationship gets too serious. If someone is going to react badly to something that shouldn't even affect them in the here-and-now, I would rather know quickly rather than after I've invested a lot of time and effort.


Yea, I agree with that Blue Moon. Had it been someone I didn't have to see in school or professionally I would have pursued it, but felt discretion was safer in this case. I do agree with you though about being upfront with people as far as intimacy is concerned when it comes up. I just haven't developed many new relationships, friends or otherwise outside of the recovery community since coming to AA. Not that I don't meet people I like, I'm get apprehensive about it though.

Thank you for the replies everyone. It's been a pretty good 3 years so far.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby clouds » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:13 am

When I dated for the first time in sobriety, on a dinner date for example, if my refusal of drinks seemed to be an issue I just explained my reason for sobriety. If it didn't get received well, then I took it as a huge road sign saying ' Don't go Down This Path with This Person'.
I'd do the same if I was continuously pressed to drink in a work situation by a manager etc. Nothing is more important to me than sobriety, for without it, I've got nothing left at all.

Best wishes, congrats on the three years and wishing you many more contented years. :)
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby positrac » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:35 am

I waited on this to see what came out and in my experience if you want to be plagued then tell your story. if you are dating someone and they ask why you don't drink then you again have a choice. if they don't like it then maybe it is for the best because you are number one and it is your duty to stay sober for your quality of life.

Sometimes less is more and so just use the Brock line: Doesn't agree with me. Simple and normally only those drunks wanna keep prying to lessen the guilt they harbor over being a drunk......

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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby Nellie » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:13 am

I started a new job last year and within my first month and with just four months sobriety under my belt I attended an NA meeting with a client in a neighbouring city. Where I live we have some crossover between NA and AA (alcoholics are welcome at NA meetings and vice versa for the most part) and many are cross-addicted so I immediately recognised several people in the meeting and of course they recognised me although they picked up on the fact that I was there for work and didn't 'out' me to my client. When it came to the introductions I realised I couldn't, in good conscience, introduce myself as an observer when a huge part of my job is helping those in recovery and reducing the stigma around addictions. The look on my client's face when I said "Nellie, alcoholic" was a picture and after the meeting he was at pains to tell me that he would not tell any of my colleagues that I was also in the program and to this date he hasn't said a word. The whole thing actually improved our rapport as he found me easier to relate to after that. Fast forward five months and I made the decision to out myself to the world for the same reasons as I spoke up in the meeting. I've always been a huge advocate for people with addictions/mental health problems, long before I realised my own issues, and in my heart I felt like a hypocrite by hiding those issues and basically adding to the stigma. I was also becoming frustrated with people I hadn't seen in a while asking me to go for drinks (no fault of theirs but I always felt awkward saying no and having to explain why each time). So, I posted a picture of my nine month chip on Facebook for all my friends and colleagues to see. The reaction was heartwarming, although I was a little surprised that it came as a shock to literally no one, since I always believed my problem was only obvious to those who I was very close to. My colleagues were very supportive and treat me no differently other than they now know they can come to me with any AA related questions, and my friends, well they're still my friends. I realise I'm lucky to work in an field where people are generally non-judgemental and supportive towards those with addiction so I wouldn't necessarily advise everyone to shout it from the rooftops, I just wanted to share a positive result :)

Bottom line (the TL/DR version): If it feels right, do it. If not, you are under no obligation to tell anyone, ever.
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Re: Discussing AA / Alcoholism with people outside AA

Postby kdub720 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:44 pm

Great advice crew.
I always keep quiet about my past misfourtunes until I can be assured of their acceptence of past mistakes and focuss on the future. Great topic.
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