Ask an Addict: Partying Post Relapse

For Paste

Addiction is an issue that impacts almost everyone in some way. I’ve been in recovery from alcoholism/addiction since January 2008. During that time, I’ve gone through ups and downs but have fortunately managed to stay sober. I’m not an expert or mental health professional, just a sober person offering advice based on my experience. This week, I’m talking about how to handle a party invitation from someone who was recently hospitalized because of alcohol use.

Hi Katie,

My friend “Bob” (who is married to my very close friend “Kim”) has been sober for like 10 years—as long as we’ve known him. From what he’s told me, if he drinks ANY amount of alcohol, he could get very sick and die. But last week they went to a party where he started drinking and he ended up in the ICU as a result. Bob missed Kim’s birthday because of it and now wants to throw her a surprise party to make up for it. But he’s telling us all to feel free to bring alcohol to their house and that she’s got a ton of beer there, etc.

This just seems like such a bad idea. I don’t know how she’d feel about drinking around him, about us drinking around him, about him encouraging us to drink around him, and I can’t ask her because it’s supposed to be a surprise. And I know in this group there will be at least one stupid person who will go ahead and drink around him. I do not plan to drink at all at this party, but should I even go? I’m afraid things are still really raw between them and I don’t want to contribute to an awkward/painful situation. But I also don’t want to hurt his feelings by not trusting him. Should people be around alcohol so soon after having a relapse? I’m also sort of afraid my friend Kim plans to continue drinking around her husband, especially if she really does still have beer at her house after this happened. Is it none of my business?

Worried Friend

Hi Worried Friend,

Well, I can definitely understand your concern. From what you’ve described, I would be concerned, too.

I’m assuming the reason “Bob” can’t drink now without getting sick (potentially fatally ill) is because he did so much damage to his liver by drinking before he quit. Although I suppose the reason he can’t drink without getting super sick doesn’t really matter. The fact is he’s been told it’s dangerous, he did anyway, and the consequences were bad. Which leads us to your question about the party.
Yes, to be blunt, I do think this party is a terrible idea, for all the reasons you outlined. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can actually do about it—if he’s set on having this party and having people bring alcohol, that’s probably going to be what happens. Do I personally think it’s unwise for him to be around alcohol so soon after a major incident involving alcohol? Especially considering he drank at a party presumably not unlike the one he’ll be throwing for Kim? Yes. Although just because I think it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean he will definitely drink or the party will end in medical disaster. It might be fine. But as a sober person concerned about not drinking, that’s not a situation I would put myself inContinued

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