What to do when you have friends who drink?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
rolling_boulder
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What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by rolling_boulder » Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:29 pm

Hi,

I have a small circle of friends who I love and admire, and who occasionally binge drink.
To preface, in my country it is part of "normal" culture to drink in a casual social setting and it is difficult to find even one person who does not drink heavily on the odd occasion, especially people my own age.

For an example of a predicament that can arise from this, I decided to have some friends over for a small get-together where I would cook dinner and we would play a board game. Some of them decided it would be a good idea to make a party of it and brought a bottle of vodka and a bunch of beer into my house. Suddenly, rather than playing host to dinner I was hosting a group of large, drunk grown men which is a very different experience to say the least. Luckily nothing bad happened, it was just unexpected. I wasn't about to step in and tell them I wouldn't tolerate drinking at my house or something like that because I would rather approach the issue with a longer term solution that doesn't involve alienating people from me, and more importantly from the idea of not drinking.

These friends of mine are generally pretty good people who I am grateful to have in my life, and I wouldn't really want to cut off contact with them just for being imperfect. Even my mother, one of the most generous and energetic people I know, drinks on occasion. It's simply not feasible to avoid all situations where people might drink alcohol. I no longer drink and my friends know and respect that, so it's not an issue there. Usually when I know there will be excessive drinking at an event I just avoid the event, but in this case things played out differently.

What do the members of this community do/recommend when it comes to this kind of situation? On the one hand I could just never host anything at my house again, which seems a little extreme. On the other hand, I could try to politely ask in future that people not bring booze to my house, but again, that seems a little Puritanical and a good way to give rise to a sense of disdain for people who don't drink.

Wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

Thanks
RB
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

dagon
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by dagon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:06 pm

rolling_boulder wrote:Hi,

I have a small circle of friends who I love and admire, and who occasionally binge drink.
To preface, in my country it is part of "normal" culture to drink in a casual social setting and it is difficult to find even one person who does not drink heavily on the odd occasion, especially people my own age.

For an example of a predicament that can arise from this, I decided to have some friends over for a small get-together where I would cook dinner and we would play a board game. Some of them decided it would be a good idea to make a party of it and brought a bottle of vodka and a bunch of beer into my house. Suddenly, rather than playing host to dinner I was hosting a group of large, drunk grown men which is a very different experience to say the least. Luckily nothing bad happened, it was just unexpected. I wasn't about to step in and tell them I wouldn't tolerate drinking at my house or something like that because I would rather approach the issue with a longer term solution that doesn't involve alienating people from me, and more importantly from the idea of not drinking.

These friends of mine are generally pretty good people who I am grateful to have in my life, and I wouldn't really want to cut off contact with them just for being imperfect. Even my mother, one of the most generous and energetic people I know, drinks on occasion. It's simply not feasible to avoid all situations where people might drink alcohol. I no longer drink and my friends know and respect that, so it's not an issue there. Usually when I know there will be excessive drinking at an event I just avoid the event, but in this case things played out differently.

What do the members of this community do/recommend when it comes to this kind of situation? On the one hand I could just never host anything at my house again, which seems a little extreme. On the other hand, I could try to politely ask in future that people not bring booze to my house, but again, that seems a little Puritanical and a good way to give rise to a sense of disdain for people who don't drink.

Wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

Thanks
RB
Don't drink your self
Don't supply the alcohol
Agree to be the designated driver (which will make you popular)
Reflect on the behaviours you see and how damaging they would be to your practise,

Being committed to your practise also includes being committed to having compassion and understanding for other people. Remember the precepts are some thing you have asked for as a gift.

metta
dagon

DC2R
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by DC2R » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:41 pm

dagon wrote:
rolling_boulder wrote:...
Agree to be the designated driver (which will make you popular)
This seems like an effective way to remain with the same group of friends, avoid drinking, and provide a valuable service to others.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:16 pm

Change your circle of friends so that you can invite them over for a group meditation session instead of frittering away your precious human life playing board games.

There's nothing "normal" about binge drinking. It destroys lives and families.

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samseva
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by samseva » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:56 pm

If you don't drink, it wasn't very respectful of them at all to turn your evening dinner into a party sustained with hard liquor.

Something that could work would be to ask them to only bring wine and no hard liquor or beer next time. "If you want to bring alcohol, please only bring wine. No hard liquor or 12-packs.", i.e., "If you are going to come eat dinner at my house again, I don't want you guys to turn it into a binge drinking party again, so please be reasonable with the amount of alcohol you bring." They should get the message.

Also, don't necessarily cut off your relationships with your friends, but do start looking for friends with similar values as you.

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Ben
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by Ben » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:36 pm

Don't encourage their drinking.
Don't socialise with them when they're drinking.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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Cormac Brown
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by Cormac Brown » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:18 am

Yes, do find some new friends who keep sila and support you in the same. The notion that taking a strong stance against drinking alcohol is somehow "Puritanical" is nonsense. The Buddha said that drinking leads one to a rebirth in the lower realms, or at best as a mentally deranged human being. Those who engage in such behaviour have little self-regard, and those who don't discourage others from doing so have little other-regard. It sounds like your "friends" have neither. The Buddha said that the superior person looks after both themselves and others - so actively discourage your friends, and especially your mother, from drinking. The Buddha said it's our duty to help establish our parents in morality. Consider it as more important than saving someone's life when you have the opportunity. It will provoke uncomfortable situations, but it's the only compassionate thing to do, and much more important than being popular.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Aloka
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by Aloka » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:01 am

rolling_boulder wrote:What do the members of this community do/recommend when it comes to this kind of situation? On the one hand I could just never host anything at my house again, which seems a little extreme. On the other hand, I could try to politely ask in future that people not bring booze to my house,
There's nothing wrong in telling your friends very gently that you're making your home a healthy alcohol and smoke free zone. if they value your friendship they'll not bring alcohol or cigarettes and will respect your views being different to theirs.
but again, that seems a little Puritanical and a good way to give rise to a sense of disdain for people who don't drink.
There are gentle, friendly ways of expressing one's wishes to others, without behaving like a cranky humourless fundamentalist.

Alternatively, one can always "wander alone like a rhinoceros"....

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


:anjali:

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The Thinker
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by The Thinker » Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:32 am

Set your example by drinking non- alcholic drinks when with those friends, it may just catch on.
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

dhammarelax
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by dhammarelax » Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:39 am

rolling_boulder wrote:Hi,

I have a small circle of friends who I love and admire, and who occasionally binge drink.
To preface, in my country it is part of "normal" culture to drink in a casual social setting and it is difficult to find even one person who does not drink heavily on the odd occasion, especially people my own age.

For an example of a predicament that can arise from this, I decided to have some friends over for a small get-together where I would cook dinner and we would play a board game. Some of them decided it would be a good idea to make a party of it and brought a bottle of vodka and a bunch of beer into my house. Suddenly, rather than playing host to dinner I was hosting a group of large, drunk grown men which is a very different experience to say the least. Luckily nothing bad happened, it was just unexpected. I wasn't about to step in and tell them I wouldn't tolerate drinking at my house or something like that because I would rather approach the issue with a longer term solution that doesn't involve alienating people from me, and more importantly from the idea of not drinking.

These friends of mine are generally pretty good people who I am grateful to have in my life, and I wouldn't really want to cut off contact with them just for being imperfect. Even my mother, one of the most generous and energetic people I know, drinks on occasion. It's simply not feasible to avoid all situations where people might drink alcohol. I no longer drink and my friends know and respect that, so it's not an issue there. Usually when I know there will be excessive drinking at an event I just avoid the event, but in this case things played out differently.

What do the members of this community do/recommend when it comes to this kind of situation? On the one hand I could just never host anything at my house again, which seems a little extreme. On the other hand, I could try to politely ask in future that people not bring booze to my house, but again, that seems a little Puritanical and a good way to give rise to a sense of disdain for people who don't drink.

Wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

Thanks
RB
I wonder how many monks out there that are living the holy life with the 200 + precepts and they have not really made any progress in the path, they are might be monks who as far as awakening goes are as far away from it as the day they ordained. Bhante Dhammavudho has a dhamma talk where he tells us of an ordained person who went abroad for nine years and because the country was foreign this person could not communicate well and all he did was to meditate. For nine years. Then he comes back and Bhante asked him: what progress have you made and the answer was none.

Bhante uses this exmaple as to how important is to read the suttas as well to meditate, I want to use it to create a sense of urgency, we think that we are fine and that we have plenty of time to practice but the reality is that tomorrow we can die and be reborn in hell, there is this possibility for some of us so evaluate the time you spend enjoying with your friends drinking or not drinking and if if its worth then do it if not use it to practice read the suttas, meditate, listen to dhammatalks.

smile
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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anthbrown84
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by anthbrown84 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:39 am

Hey OP :)
I have been in several positions like you were here. last night infact i went round a friends, mainly to see a female friend of mine who has been having a bit of a mental break down. I wanted to see if i could offer her any help or maybe just lend her an ear.

When i was there my one time dearest and best friends were all drinking, not to excess but being merry and acting daft. I just used this time to observe the suffering and stay in the now moment. I think as long as you do this and then reflect once you get home these ties will cut themselves naturally. I say this because having been through this a few times and reading the suttas on the importance of a human rebirth i see that its more important to practise diligently than it is to be popular and be the life and soul of the party.

I think next time im invited i would simply decline. Its obvious to me that the things I used to find funny arent so
funny anymore and that next time I'd be better off staying in on my own.

Wander alone like a rhinoceros and what have you....

its funny but previous times rhis has made me feel sad but it kinda feels a bit numb, not sure if thats good or not to be fair!

good luck :)
"Your job in practise is to know the difference between the heart and the activity of the heart, that is it, it is that simple" Ajahn Tate

rolling_boulder
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by rolling_boulder » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:59 am

Thanks all for the great responses.

Popularity isn't everything.
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

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mario92
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by mario92 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:56 am

Hi rollin boulder, i was in the same position of you, being surrounded by ignorant people, can cause brainwashing, seeing that it is the only way, the only scape, it is brainwashing,, i think the remedy in my life has been looking for a support in real life, when you can speak to a spiritual person, of any religion, it is good to see, that religious persons have some sense of suffering and to act with some sila, which is better than having friends that encourage drinking, if you cant find a buddhist friend, well, look for other spiritual friends, this can help you to feel confident and tranquil with yourself. i lasted for years to meet with this wisdom that now is supporting me and my practice.

Be well :hello:
Good morning, have a nice day

Kaneki
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by Kaneki » Wed Apr 27, 2016 8:36 pm

"The man who has evil comrades and friends is given to evil ways, to ruin does he fall in both worlds — here and the next."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nara.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Basically, as to my interpretation...stop spending time with them. DN 31 seems to express that having such people as your friends and/or companions is not skillful.

Evil is an extremely vague word though, technically, Buddhist monks are evil in that they also hold a level of ignorance and delusion that lead to dukkha, same as laypeople that do terrible things due to ignorance. You could take evil as being sinister, just a straight up EVIL evil person, but that person is still no different from a Buddhist monk other than in the depth of one's ignorance and what that ignorance causes. So I don't accept that definition, but then again the Buddha has told some people they are worthless in all his loving kindness (sorry, no reference), as in the full extent of the word, with honesty and genuine truth, because we know the Buddha never says anything untrue in the slightest degree, based on his word. So maybe he did mean evil people as wholly EVIL people. Translation can seem like a nightmare sometimes.

Anyway, in my personal experience: If you are taking the Dhamma seriously, don't look to spend time with anyone that commonly and actively chooses to do unskillful things. It only reinforces their behavior through your acceptance of it as being welcome in your life and also potentially influences your desire for such unskillful things. Maybe you could tell all of these friends about the dhamma, about the subtle stress caused by the underlying uncertainty one holds regarding the coming and going of one's attachments/cravings which gives rise to suffering when built up and apparent, agonizing suffering for one who knows the dukkha in it. About how in essence, they are doing little different from punching themselves in the faces by chasing after dukkha. But I'm currently not in the clearest of mind sets at the moment so I'd say take anything I say with a grain of salt. Good luck, consider what your attachment to these friends of yours offers you.

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clw_uk
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Re: What to do when you have friends who drink?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:04 pm

rolling_boulder wrote:Hi,

I have a small circle of friends who I love and admire, and who occasionally binge drink.
To preface, in my country it is part of "normal" culture to drink in a casual social setting and it is difficult to find even one person who does not drink heavily on the odd occasion, especially people my own age.

For an example of a predicament that can arise from this, I decided to have some friends over for a small get-together where I would cook dinner and we would play a board game. Some of them decided it would be a good idea to make a party of it and brought a bottle of vodka and a bunch of beer into my house. Suddenly, rather than playing host to dinner I was hosting a group of large, drunk grown men which is a very different experience to say the least. Luckily nothing bad happened, it was just unexpected. I wasn't about to step in and tell them I wouldn't tolerate drinking at my house or something like that because I would rather approach the issue with a longer term solution that doesn't involve alienating people from me, and more importantly from the idea of not drinking.

These friends of mine are generally pretty good people who I am grateful to have in my life, and I wouldn't really want to cut off contact with them just for being imperfect. Even my mother, one of the most generous and energetic people I know, drinks on occasion. It's simply not feasible to avoid all situations where people might drink alcohol. I no longer drink and my friends know and respect that, so it's not an issue there. Usually when I know there will be excessive drinking at an event I just avoid the event, but in this case things played out differently.

What do the members of this community do/recommend when it comes to this kind of situation? On the one hand I could just never host anything at my house again, which seems a little extreme. On the other hand, I could try to politely ask in future that people not bring booze to my house, but again, that seems a little Puritanical and a good way to give rise to a sense of disdain for people who don't drink.

Wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

Thanks
RB

I would say that you can still socialise with them and play host to them in your house. No need to ask them not to drink, just don't drink yourself.

My closest friends drink alcohol, yet they are some of the most admirable people that I know. True, drinking isn't wise but we all have our faults. Drinking alcohol isn't necessarily the worst one.

Of course I'm not encouraging you to drink. Abstinence is best and do keep at it, but allow that others may not be as wise as you in this regard and that your friends could be beneficial to your life in other ways.
Last edited by clw_uk on Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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