Your good friend who works a cubicle over from you is in recovery. In fact, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 70% of the almost 15 million Americans who abuse substances are employed. And the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illegal drug by employees, followed by cocaine, with prescription drug use steadily increasing. Maintaining good relations that are both comfortable and welcoming with your coworkers that are recovering addicts is important.
That can prevent them from joining you (or joining in) at the beer-soaked Super Bowl party, after-work drinks, or even alcohol-laced Christmas parties – so what can you do to bond with them that doesn’t involve that social lubrication known as alcohol?
How do you know which of your workmates are in recovery if they haven’t actually told you? An article on Inc. discusses how to spot an addict.
Signs of Addiction
- Worsening personal hygiene, being disheveled
- Slurring speech
- Somnolence (that’s drowsiness for the non-medical among us)
- Being moody or irritable
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Spending time behind locked doors
- An alteration in the quality of work
- Asking for less work or special consideration much more than usual for unexplained reasons
- Unexplained absences
The first thing you should do, especially if you’re in management, is to set boundaries. They’ll be respected by the person in recovery and will set a baseline so that you’re not disappointed by, nor wind up, enabling the person in recovery
Steps Suggested by US News
Planning for Denial
Put Policies in Place
But what if you’re not in management? Setting boundaries is still a good idea but there are so many other things to do to bond with the person in recovery that doesn’t include alcohol.
Maybe you can throw an alcohol-free work party. How do you go about doing that?
Making a Welcoming Environment for Addicts
Make It Clear
Like any party, you want your guests to understand what they are coming to.
Pick a Theme
Whether it is White Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day lawn games or Roller Disco Party, have a theme and go all out with it. Having a holiday theme will help guide you as you plan your non-alcoholic evening.
Drinks for All!
Come up with a few mocktails that all guests will love; whether it’s a non-alcoholic blood orange mojito, a fresh hot apple cider, or a house made Pinata Surprise (recipes here!), make sure they look great and taste better.
Fill Their Stomachs
Depending on your theme, have a handful of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres like baked brie, mini latkes, or cold shrimp cocktail.
A self-made photo booth is always an exciting addition. If your party is outside, get your fire pit cranked up and build a s’mores station. It will make your guests feel like kids again.
The Memorable Moment
What sets a party apart from others is creating a memorable moment that no one will forget.
Have a Festive Blast
Alcohol is not what makes a party, it is the spirit of those who attend. Turn on some music, grab yourself a mocktail, and jump into a few Photo Booth pictures.
Maintaining Relations with Recovering Addicts
But you don’t have to focus on the bigger, “obvious” choices (like alcohol-free everything). As Carly Benson puts it, redefine what fun means to you:
“Taking the time to see what feels good and brings you joy will help you redefine how you view and have fun. When we take a step back from what we used to do for fun, we realize we can be entertained in healthier ways, which bring us more happiness and peace. Feeling peaceful is definitely the jam once you get sober and you’ll find there is truly nothing better.”
If you’re a good friend to a co-worker who’s in recovery do NOT:
Remind them of what they used to be
Engage in conflict
Instead, maintain a calm and professional demeanor throughout; treat your co-worker as you would have them treat you, and don’t worry about treading on thin ice. If you’re doing your best to understand, then they should accept that innocent mistakes will be made. And just like that, your work relations with a recovering addict will bloom.