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If you’re living a sober lifestyle and your family members, haven’t made the same commitment, knowing how to handle their drinking can be difficult.

A woman understanding the importance of sobriety and boundaries, even in hard family situations.

A young woman maintains her sobriety amongst her family, who are drinking at a gathering.

Setting boundaries and respecting your sobriety while respecting their decisions is essential.

Here are some tips for setting boundaries with family members still drinking.


  1. Talk About Your Feelings: It’s essential to start by discussing your feelings about your family member’s drinking. Be honest and explain that you are trying to stay sober and that it can be difficult when they are drinking around you. This is an opportunity to let them know how their drinking affects you while respecting their decision to keep drinking if they choose to do so.
  2. Set Rules: Once you have talked about your feelings, it’s time to set some rules for yourself regarding being around drinking family members. Explain that you need specific rules in place for you to feel comfortable and safe when interacting with them. For example, you may not want them to drink around you or offer drinks when you visit their home. You may also want them to refrain from discussing alcohol topics or using alcohol-related language in your presence.
  3. Stay Firm: Once the rules have been established, both parties must always stick to them. If a family member tries to push the boundaries or break the rules, be sure not to engage in any further discussion or debate with them – instead, politely remind them of the agreed-upon boundaries and move on with the conversation as soon as possible. This will help ensure that both parties remain respectful of each other’s decisions regarding alcohol consumption or lack thereof.
  4. Avoid Triggers: It’s essential not just for your mental health but also for staying sober that you avoid situations involving alcohol as much as possible – especially if those situations involve close family members who still drink heavily or frequently imbibe in alcoholic beverages when together with other people (e.g., at gatherings/celebrations). You may need to make alternative arrangements if attending such events is unavoidable (e.g., having someone else drive) so that triggers don’t cause an urge for relapse or even just temptation in general, which could sabotage your sobriety journey over time if not avoided altogether whenever possible.
  5. Find Support: Finally, those trying to maintain sobriety must find a support system outside of their family circle; this could include friends, coworkers, mentors/therapists, support groups/forums, etc. Connecting with these individuals will provide invaluable guidance during times of stress and temptation; they can also serve as accountability partners/cheerleaders who will help keep one focused on their sobriety goals no matter how challenging things may get along the way! 
A woman, uncomfortable due to her family's drinking, at a gathering.

A young woman feels disconnected from her family as they enjoy drinks while she abstains.

Living a sober lifestyle surrounded by family members who still drink can feel impossible at times – but establishing clear boundaries and having a solid support system can make all the difference in staying focused on one’s sobriety goals! With some hard work and dedication, anyone can learn how to manage these tricky situations without compromising either party’s values – even if one does not agree with the choices made by others!

by Kevin K.

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