Entertaining an alcoholic?

teachblsNovember 13, 2007

Hi, all -

I have a close friend who has recently become involved in a relationship with an alcoholic-in-recovery (8 years sober). I wonder what the etiquette will be when I first host the couple for dinner. This is a new scenario for me. In other circumstances, I would very naturally offer my guests cocktails, a glass of wine, etc. and would enjoy one myself. In this situation, of course I'd have on hand non-alcoholic alternatives. I wonder, though, what would be the appropriate thing for me to drink. I'm a big girl, and and do enjoy wine with a meal, and so in one sense resent the thought that I might have to forgo this pleasure because somebody else has a problem with alcohol. On the other hand, I do wish to be a sensitive hostess...what to do, what to do? Looking forward to your input. I'm sure I've entertained many alcoholics over the years - just none that were sober!

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8 years sober....they know how to handle themselves.

Do as you would normally do ensuring that you have non alcoholic choices available, which I am sure you would do anyhow.

Serve wine at the table, and enjoy. I have an alcoholic relative and his greatest pleasure is to see everyone enjoy their wine etc. He would feel awful if the festivities were curtailed because of some worry about him.

Having said that it is important not to use alcohol in your cooking. I know you probably already knew that but maybe some others don't.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 3:21PM
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Beyond courteous provision of alternatives (which most people would provide as a matter of course) you need feel no obligation. Peoples' personal problems are their own. They don't (if they're rational) and shouldn't expect the rest of the world to modify normal conventions to accommodate whatever their personal issues may be.

If they're unable to control themselves and you know it, I wouldn't invite them at all. Likewise, if I was accepting an invitation to their place, I wouldn't expect alcohol to be served and I wouldn't feel slighted because of it. I wouldn't expect them to alter their normal behaviors to accommodate me.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 3:57PM
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Seconding what others have said...
If you knew someone who were gluten intolerant would you feel it necessary not to serve bread at the table?
Don't sweat it...one of the best bartenders I know is an alcoholic....he sniffs but doesn't taste!
Serve wine to all who choose to drink it but be sure to offer something like club soda with lime...and remember...fruit juice is not a substitute for wine.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 6:17PM
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Very helpful to have your input! Can I confess that I'm relieved; I think I worried that you were going to tell me that I couldn't have a drink, either! Again, though I've spent more than enough time in my life with "drinkers", I don't know that I've ever had much interaction with someone for whom the sobriety thing was such a central part of their life. Apparently, my friend's girlfriend is quite active in AA, has a sponsor, attends several meetings a week,the whole nine yards. It is kind of fascinating to me that there seems to be a whole 'culture' around alcoholism. My friend won't drink in front of her, nor even call her if we've been out together,and had a couple of glasses of wine...seems very extreme to me, but who am I to judge, I guess!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 9:07PM
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It would be helpful to know if the alcoholic friend is upfront about her alcoholism, or prefers to be silent about it. Some alcoholics are quite proud of their sobriety and glad to speak about it and about alcoholism. Others, because there is still some stigma attached to the disease, would rather not have people know they were once out of control. Speaking as an alcoholic myself, and one that does not announce it to new friends, I would suggest that you feign ignorance of her alcoholism, and let her choose her own approach to the situation. I always fear that someone will make a scene, insisting that I have a drink, or asking why I don't drink. I always appreciate it when a host acts matter of fact about my choosing a juice or sparkling mineral water. If your friend's friend goes to AA, you needn't worry that she'll be judgmental about other people drinking. She might be worried that you will think she's thinking poorly of you for drinking alcohol. The more casual you are about liquor being served, the better everyone will feel. Among AA members who have been sober for many years, some still avoid being in circumstances where they may begin drinking, and this could be the case here. But, as Chase said, 8 years sober, she'll have her coping mechanisms in place. Don't worry, and everyone will have fun.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 1:10AM
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I guess i have a different opinion. If this was a party setting with many couple attending then why not have drinks offered. However you stated that you would like to invite the couple over. You didnt mention other guest. If this man was a very strict vegetarian would you have lamb chops on the table? Probably not. Maybe after you have had the first dinner with him you can then have some wine with the next party. But the first dinner should be kept alcohol free. The wine will be waiting for you when your guest leave.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 7:19PM
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Half our family doesn't drink - either allergic, designated driver, or just don't care for it. Offering a non-alcoholic alternative is something we do automatically.

Sometimes I drink and sometimes I don't, although I adore wine. It doesn't bother me if others partake, any more than it would bother me if they were too full to eat dessert but I wasn't.

It's no different than meeting friends at a restaurant and choosing to turn your empty wineglass upside-down, which signals to the waitperson you don't wish to have any alcohol. I can't imagine one's friends would even find it worthy of comment. I think you'll be fine enjoying the wine you choose to open, and shouldn't hesitate over it.

Have a wonderful time with your friends!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 8:20PM
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I'm a vegetarian and I would be embarassed if meat-eaters were uncomfortable eating meat because I was there. I want them to eat what they want!

If she has been sober for 8 years, trust me that she has been around other people drinking many times. If your friend did not specifically ask you to not serve alcohol, then serve both alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages and she will be fine.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 4:01PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

A good hostess would provide something nice for her to drink though.

A great punch, in a pitcher, so others can share and perhaps iced tea.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 5:59PM
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I think it depends on the event. If you were having an intimate dinner with just the new couple, I would skip the alcohol.

For a larger gathering with additional guests, I'd serve alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks per your usual practice.

Much as if I were having 2 guests for dinner and 1 were a vegetarian, I'd prepare a vegetarian main meal. But if I were having a large Thanksgiving or whatever, I would still serve turkey, but also provide something the vegetarian could eat.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 10:03AM
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I am LDS, never tasted the stuff - Here's my take. My neighbors all have parties, and when we're invited, I hate it when the minute I walk in the door people start telling me where the "NONALCOHOLIC" drinks are - they are way WAY more uptight about it than I am, but I do appreciate the fact that they are concerned about making sure I'm comfortable.

I am most comfortable when my hostess is comfortable, drinking or not in her own home, and when nonalcoholic drinks are made available to me without much of a fuss.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 4:42PM
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My brother is an ongoing alcoholic, still not sober and never will be, after repeated tries of everyone trying to get him on the right track.

How do you know for sure this person is 8 years sober? I think out of courtesy, I would not serve alcohol at the first invite. There are many other beverage options.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 11:49PM
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We have a few good friends who are recovered alcoholics. One is open about it (wears his bracelet that indicates days sober), the other doesn't keep it a secret, but he doesn't talk about it. IMO, they are adults, as are the other guests. I would never offer an alcoholic drink to an alcoholic (yes, some people do this, "one drink won't hurt"), but I wouldn't withhold alcohol from everyone else either. And I don't come to this as a drinker, because I rarely, rarely drink. I have a food problem, but I don't expect hosts to withhold high calorie food from everyone at the table. I am responsible for my own willpower (or lack thereof).

Find out what the person's drink of choice is and have it available. Rather than think of the person as a potential time bomb, think of them as someone with an allergy (the reason I don't drink, I turn red and my face burns with one sip).

Eight years is a long time.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 10:31PM
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Not offering alcohol at your house won't prevent an alcoholic from drinking, and it won't be your fault if s/he does drink. As downsouth says, they've tried repeatedly to help her brother and it doesn't work. The alcoholic has to be able to be sober. I disagree that it is courteous not to serve alcohol; it points out the problem and makes an issue of it.

Just be yourself and let the alcoholic take care of herself.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 10:39AM
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