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Dear J: Serving Alcohol

dearj

Dear J,

The issue of drinkers versus nondrinkers came up during the holidays.

We have many friends and family who don’t drink alcohol. I worry that it’s insensitive for me to drink, or for me to serve alcohol to those who drink alcohol, in front of those who don’t. I don’t want to cause someone to fall off the wagon. What’s the best way to handle this?

It is commendable that you consider the sobriety of your non-partaking friends and family, but I believe this involves what 12-steppers would refer to as “staying in your own backyard.”

(Any AA folks in the readership please weigh in here).

If you are hosting an event, and would normally serve alcohol, which I presume you consume responsibly, by all means proceed. It is thoughtful to provide non-alcoholic alternatives, but unless abstaining is something you would normally do, it is generally not effective or particularly healthy to attempt to ‘manage’ another persons’ intake of most anything. If you have friends or family members who continually behave badly as a result of access to alcohol, then you might consider removing them from your guest list entirely as social contact is a privilege involving responsible behavior.

If an invitation to your home ’causes’ someone to fall off the wagon, it speaks to their tenuous hold on sobriety, rather than your hospitality. I would suggest that you help them get home safely, then reconsider whether their choices merit a return invitation.

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