I’m in AA: How Do I Tell My Friends I Can’t Go to the Bar Anymore?

Because the very first step of Alcoholics Anonymous asks you to admit that you are “powerless over alcohol,” and therefore should not tempt yourself by going to a bar, you will need to avoid places where the substance is abundant (at least at first). If you and your friends were accustomed to going to a bar often––whether it was to look for potential dates, to chat, or just to blow off steam––it can be very difficult to prepare yourself to tell them that this is no longer an option for you.

Be Honest

Being honest about your decision to avoid alcohol and to abstain from its use is necessary to your overall recovery with AA. This is one of the most important parts of the practice. However, you will also need to be honest with your friends in other ways too. The tenth step asks members to “continue to take a personal inventory” and to “promptly admit it” when they are wrong (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). In order to get to this step, honesty must be something you practice from the very beginning, and this is a very good time to start being truthful with the people in your life.

Be Prepared for Questions

I'm in AA

It’s important to be honest with your friends about why you chose to join AA.

Your friends may be upset that you are not going to go to your favorite bar anymore. They may ask questions about why you decided to join AA in the first place, and even if they are supportive, they may still be confused or uncertain about your decision. It is important to be prepared for their questions and to give honest answers to those you are comfortable with. It is better to say, “I’m not quite comfortable explaining everything” than to lie, and honesty is always safer. Still, if your friend has questions about AA you cannot answer, you can always direct them to someone who has been in the program longer.

Plan a New Activity

It may be a good first step to plan a new activity that does not involve going to the bar. Ask yourself if there is something you all like doing together besides drinking and, if there isn’t a specific activity you can think of, show them one of your hobbies or try something new together. This way you can still see your friends and they can begin to support you in your alcohol-free life. This will help provide you with community, one of the “four major dimensions that supports a life in recovery” (SAMHSA). Remember, old friends can be just as important as the new friends you make in AA, as long as they are supportive of your sober lifestyle.

AA Can Help You Make a Change

It can be extremely difficult to start your life over after realizing that addiction has taken hold, but with AA and a strong, social support system, you can begin to live the life you desire. You may even want to take your friends to a meeting one day to show them what it’s all about. If you have more questions about AA or want to find a meeting near you, call 800-839-1686.

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