The Art of Disclosure: When is the Right Time to Share Your Sobriety?

When to share

Many times throughout my drinking career, I tried to sober up, and each time I had the dilemma of when to tell people. It was really nobody’s business but my own, but for whatever reason, I felt the need to tell people right away. Maybe I wanted to hold myself accountable, or perhaps it was to send out a warning: I am not drinking, so don’t tempt me.

Because I spent five years going back and forth between sobriety and drinking, I ended up making many announcements. This yo-yo relationship with alcohol  probably confused a lot of people as one minute I was declaring myself sober, and then showing up with a beer in hand just days later. 

Of course, it’s up to the individual to decide when they want to tell their loved ones they are off the sauce. But frankly, no one HAS to know. There’s also no right or wrong time to inform your people as your journey is purely your own, and it’s up to you. But, my biggest foible was going public anytime the thought of getting sober crossed my mind. 

Early on, I informed anyone that would listen that I was quitting drinking before I had any real intentions of actually stopping. I made this mistake a few times by telling friends, family and coworkers I was done with booze — especially after I had done something embarrassing or if I had made myself so sick that I couldn’t fathom the thought of another drink in the moment. However, once I felt better after a few days, or my embarrassment had worn off, I was back to the races.  This behavior likely trained my audience to not believe me when I made any grand declarations of quitting. 

When I started to get serious about stopping and could get a little time behind me (45 days here, a few months there), I again told the world I was done. One time, I even announced it on social media. This set me up for additional guilt and shame when I ultimately relapsed, and I subsequently had to answer a lot of inquisitive questions when I showed up drinking. In essence, each time I struggled with sobriety, I had given myself audience. 

But this last time, almost 900 days ago, I no longer wanted an audience peering into my struggle. I was much more careful about who I told, and when I told them. Other than trusted loved ones early on, I guarded my sobriety to protect myself while I adapted to recovery. Having made the mistake of erecting billboards each time prior, I didn’t want the world to know what I was going through because it had been so challenging for me to get sober in the past. So I waited till I had some more time before coming out with my sobriety. In fact, I waited six months. 

By waiting till I was stable to tell the world I was in recovery allowed me to privately go through the big, necessary changes in private without having to worry about people being witness to any setbacks or perceived failures I may have had.  

My foibles aside, ultimately the decision to disclose your sobriety is a personal one, and you should do so at a pace that feels right for you. It’s important to prioritize your own well-being and only share this information when you feel ready and comfortable doing so. Remember that disclosing your sobriety is a personal choice, and you have the right to share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. By surrounding  yourself with supportive individuals who respect your decision and offer encouragement on your journey to recovery, you can’t go wrong. So, whenever you decide to share your journey with others will be the right time. 


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