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to want to say something about alcohol to a friend (but not know what to say)

(13 Posts)
Anna1976 Sat 30-Mar-13 02:38:48

What do I say? Can anyone help?

I have a friend aged 30, who drinks 2-4 pints of beer most nights, drinks wine at home, adds cocktails or spirits to that on nights out every few weeks, and goes on benders every once in a while, a few times a year. He has been in this pattern since his teens, and is from a culture where this is to some degree regarded as normal. He also doesn't eat properly - chips at the pub or a late kebab most nights, or tinned sausages if he's run out of money for expensive chips/kebabs.

Obviously it's way too much booze, and I think he knows it is way too much from the number of stories he tells about the time he saw a doctor who referred him to AA for young professionals, or the comments about looking like an alcoholic because of the number of beer and wine bottles he has stacked up in his recycling, or the backhanded "boasts" about how many days he's gone without eating lunch or breakfast.

However, he's also from the kind of culture who sees alcoholism as the province of people less fortunate than himself. Somehow his excellent professional career (one that isolates him a bit because of its solitary nature and extreme time committment) means he's not the kind of person who needs help with alcohol. So gentle suggestions from other friends have not been taken seriously, and those friends have stepped back a bit. His girlfriend may or may not be saying anything - it's hard to tell, and I don't want to tread on her toes. But she does do a lot of the nights out with copious spirits too...

Obviously it's his problem to fix, not mine. But other cases of this peculiar "I can't possibly be an alcoholic, i'm a successful white-collar professional" that I've seen have successfully been dealt with by structured career-based help - suspensions from work or bollockings from respected senior professionals.
This friend isn't in a career path where that will easily work. NHS leaflets also don't work.

Anyone got some experience that could help?

Tortington Sat 30-Mar-13 02:40:39

how is this friends alcoholism affecting other people?

Anna1976 Sat 30-Mar-13 02:57:51

It isn't in any obvious way. So by behavioural definitions of alcoholism, he doesn't have a massive problem. He is very disciplined about his work, and works extremely hard with excellent results

But 15 years of drinking that much is very, very unhealthy indeed in the long term, particularly with the poor eating habits as well; and in the short term, he is often clearly hung over and feeling very unwell, and sometimes complains of heartburn.

He needs help, but he (and the people we have in common) isn't sufficiently scientifically literate to realise that a normal liver enzyme test is not a green light to keep drinking because the liver's clearly fine. Liver enzyme tests typically show bugger all until an advanced stage of cirrhosis.

He may well also be drinking away some set of demons that I don't know about. In which case he needs even more help.

Fairyloo Sat 30-Mar-13 03:13:01

I don't think it's anything to do with you to be honest.

It's up to him, if he wants to stop or cut down and I wouldn't have thought any 'advice' from well meaning friends would make a difference.

Is there any consequences, drink driving? Ect

Anna1976 Sat 30-Mar-13 03:28:55

You're right it isn't really anything to do with me. I feel a bit responsible as almost the only one in his circle with the medical or scientific knowledge to understand what he's doing to himself. The other medics in this circle are students or very recently qualified, and are often more interested in getting drunk with him than seeing him behave in a way where he'll still be alive at 50.

There are very few consequences other than him feeling hungover, and frequently getting bugs that may be extended hangover symptoms, may be food poisoning, or may be liver-abuse-related. But he just doses up on imodium, or gets a friend to prescribe metaclopramide, and keeps on working.
He doesn't drive, and he doesn't do much other than work, go to the pub, go clubbing with his girlfriend, and sometimes go jogging (when not too hungover).

Anna1976 Sat 30-Mar-13 03:41:28

I should add that i'm not the only one in the circle with relevant knowledge of alcohol - others in the circle have first or secondhand knowledge of alcohol dependency. Some of them have tried to talk to this friend, but haven't got anywhere. So I can see that if he's not looking for advice, he's hardly likely to take it from me.

Emilythornesbff Sat 30-Mar-13 06:09:45

Al anon?
Might have something useful to say.

Lovelygoldboots Sat 30-Mar-13 06:31:37

My brother is alcohol dependent and it has taken me years to accept that if he doesn't want to change, then he won't. It is so hard. You could try talking to him, directing him to support. But he has to want to help himself.

Anna1976 Sun 31-Mar-13 05:17:18

Yep - something has to be enough of a consequence for him to want to change. Wish i knew what.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sun 31-Mar-13 06:18:02

I am in a similar situation with a family member. She has mental health issues which seem to be getting worse (depression), and she is a very heavy drinker, although I'm not sure that she is physically dependent on alcohol- more a very very heavy social drinker with a busy social schedule. She rarely misses work and seems to do a good job when she's there, but I worry that the heavy drinking is making her depression worse and that she'll spiral. I kind of know it's got to be up to her, and when I've tried to raise the drinking with her (just in a "maybe cut out alcohol for a month and see if that makes you feel better" when she's been talking about her depression) I've been met with complete denial, so I think the posters above are right- they need to come to their own epiphany.

hwjm1945 Sun 31-Mar-13 07:38:39

V v hard and I talk as one who was a heavy "social" but with hindsight anti social drinker and whose brother died at 35 from alcoholic liver I drink maybe 2 glasses of vino per month but more importantly be never binge anymore.but I still sort of want to.but my dds are my priority so I will never again like a pissed,he does need help.straight him drunk?speak to girl friend? If they are serious and want kids then would that help clean up act?

hwjm1945 Sun 31-Mar-13 07:40:47

Actually pregnancy cleaned up my act....I ain't never going back to the merry go round of drinking hangover guilt worry about what I said or did followed by drinking etc

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 31-Mar-13 07:43:03

I would say it once, bluntly, then leave it. He is an adult. You can't make him change.

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