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Alcohol and friendship: Drinking friends

Published: February 26, 2017 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
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When you’re sober, it may be in your best interest to change some of your “drinking friends.”


Hi Dr. Levine,

My best friend and I used to drink and be silly every time we got together. For years, we got drunk and laughed or cried about our lives. We were never sober.

A year ago I quit drinking after alcohol poisoning and a trip to the ER. Since then I’ve been increasingly angry. My mom was ill and recently died. And since the presidential election I’ve given up trying to remain positive. My friend and I are opposites over politics. I’ve been able to be a good friend through a lot, but one of her comments on Facebook sent me over the edge and I broke up our friendship.

The drinking thing is a major issue for me, and she doesn’t get it. I don’t think we could ever enjoy a sober day together. I’d feel like she was waiting for me to leave so she could drink. I feel like I was unfair to her but am so disgusted by the new administration I don’t know if our friendship could ever survive. Should I have handled this differently?

Signed, Lori


Hi Lori,

Congratulations on your sobriety, especially in the face of your recent losses. When someone stops drinking, it usually isn’t prudent to place yourself in situations with triggers, either people or places you once associated with drinking.

It sounds like it may be hard to be with this friend, both because of her drinking and her politics, especially if you are feeling angry and off-kilter after your mom’s illness and the election.

Be kind to yourself and place yourself in healthy situations that are more likely to support your sobriety. Your friend’s political views may simply have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

If you feel uncomfortable about the way you broke up, you can tell your friend that you are working on your sobriety and don’t want to place yourself in compromising situations.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (7)

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  1. Josh says:

    Sounds like you were both just ‘drinking buddies’ you weren’t both real friends, Your relationship was based on the one common interest drinking, Congrats on being sober and staying off the drink & sorry to hear of your losses, Keep her as a friend on Facebook but just don’t follow her keep your distance from her, But remember she is still entitled to her opinion or views on politics, Sadly alcohol issues politics and all that mixed together can change or ruin friendships

  2. Donna says:

    Lori – congratulations for no longer drinking. You are a strong person for making that decision. And I am very sorry for your loss.

    Regarding your opposing political views with your friend, I think you both need to respect each other’s opposing political views. Having the freedom to make a choice in what you believe in is what makes this country so great. You may not agree with her views, but you need to respect the fact that she has the freedom to have those views…and vice versa.

    And in that same sense, she needs to respect and support your decision not to drink. That’s what a good friend does. So ask her to support you. And perhaps you need to stay away from political conversation when you are with your friend. Just go out and have a great time. Keep it light and fun.

    I wish you all the best.

    • Donna says:

      And let me say one more thing about Facebook. Having ‘friends’ on Facebook who post opposing political views can be very stressful. I feel that way as well. Maybe keep them as a ‘friend’ on Facebook, but unfollow their posts so you don’t have to look at the posts and get upset.

  3. Amy F says:

    Your friend isn’t healthy for you, nor just because of drinking, but because of her toxic politics. There are loads of local political activist Facebook groups. Just do some googling. You’ll be able to find one in your area and meet new people who share your values. You’ll also be able to channel your energies towards positive initiatives like exacting change. The groups I’m in meet once or twice a month, have daily call actions to representatives, get together for political rallies, town halls and marches. Drinking has never been involved. Additionally you’ll be part of the political solution.
    Have you heard the term dry drunk? That’s someone who stops drinking but doesn’t address the underlying behaviors that caused the drinking. Therapy or a self-help group like AA can help you develop the emotional tools yo stay sober.

  4. Sandra says:

    I can relate to this post in so many ways. On the night of the election, my husband and I were so upset that we drank A LOT more than one bottle of wine, and felt terrible the next day — in more ways than a hangover. Over the next week, we both decided to take better care of ourselves and to find healthier ways to cope with negative feelings.

    We decided togo on a cleanse diet — which meant no alcohol for a couple of weeks. After the initial phase of the “cleanse,” we both felt SO MUCH better that we decided to eliminate alcohol entirely, with the exception of ONE drink each for very special occasions and holidays.

    I haven’t had a drink since then. I’ve lost weight, look better, feel better, and think more clearly. I love feeling this way. I wasn’t a heavy drinker, but my husband and I would often finish a bottle of wine at dinner every night between the two of us. I didn’t realize how much alcohol was affecting my weight, skin, mood, and so many other factors until I stopped completely for a few weeks.

    I cannot control the atmosphere of political hate, division, fear, and anger that now pervades our country — but I can control what I put into my body and how I take care of myself.

    Luckily, my best friends are in my “camp” and they understand my choice to remain alcohol-free. Some are envious and many are attempting to drink less when they watch the example I am setting. I don’t mind if other people want to drink around me, and it doesn’t bother me if they do.

    That said, my husband and I are seeing less of a particular couple because of the drinking issue. The husband drinks all day and night — and when we would go out for social occasions, he would repeat all the same stories and get sloppy. His conservative (tea party) views have never been in alignment with our views, anyway, so we have no problem seeing much less of this couple. They are the only ones who seem baffled and annoyed by our sobriety and good health habits.

    Wishing you good luck with your continued sobriety. Good health and healthy friendships are choices we have a right to make.

  5. Kate says:

    Awesome .. keep up the good work !
    Everyone has those carefree times, more so in the 20’s and over into the early 30’s, then you turn a corner, for whatever reason to realize it’s time to grow up and stop.. We all had those drinking buddy friends, in my 50’s some of mine are still stalled out doing it ..
    Aline yourself with people that support the next chapter of your life, growth and change is good, it sounds like you’re moving forward,
    I”m in Canada , US politics is causing rift here too, I’ve actually stopped posting , I’ve run up against opposing views with certain friends.. better to back away and keep hushed , it’s a no win situation.

    I’ve lost my Mom too, hugz to you .. it’s hard . Anger is part of that process, let it come … and go … find things that bring you joy and keep doing them.. Think of what your Mom would like for you or a hobby that brings you closer to her memory that brings you comfort .

    But most of all .. try to keep strong .. everyone has good days and bad days no matter what our situations are .. it’s not always easy to make new friends, but if you put yourself (when you feel up to it) in places doing things you love.. they will find you ..

    Keep up the wonderful work, never feel bad for doing what is best for YOU !. you don’t owe anyone an explanation for living the life you want ..


  6. Jacqueline says:

    You should be very very proud of yourself for no longer drinking! Your friendship with this woman was based on getting drunk together. That is what the two of you had in common. So, of course she “doesn’t get it”. The alcohol poisoning was a wake-up call for you.

    Now that you are sober, you see life and HER differently. It is called reality.

    I am sorry your mother passed away. When you say that you are angry because of that (you are justified) and also about the political situation (I live in Canada and feel the same). But if the anger is affecting you more and more, and you are having difficulty, have you considered seeing a therapist, who can offer you support in dealing with all this?

    I wish you all the best.

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