..to think my friends could be functioning alcoholics?

(97 Posts)
StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 26-Jul-16 11:43:44

A couple. Her mother is an alcoholic. He 42, she is 37. Part of a small social group and they are lovely people, never nasty or inappropriate. But I am more concerned than ever about their drinking and would appreciate advice especially from those who have been there.

We went for a weekend away 18 months ago, organised by them. Mid-afternoon onwards, all three days sat in pubs drinking. Another one organised next month, three of us aren't going because if we go away we want to do things, not just drink. But that's what will happen.

Went to a cider and cheese festival where I might have had three pints over 6 hours. They had loads. Mutual friend who doesn't drink much got a bit maudlin, I got her a cup of tea, female of the pair concerned went and got her another pint. Same friend three weeks ago twice asked for cider shandy when this couple were getting rounds and twice they brought back a pint of cider and it was clearly not a case of being misheard as evidenced by their reaction. Another friend going through bad time, they invited him round to their place and the two blokes got through three bottles of wine and passed out on the sofas. As friend is depressive (I think bipolar) and I have told this couple that drink will not help him, I was not pleased and told them they were actually doing harm not good. Even depressed friend met them at a sausage and ale festival at 5 pm and remarked that they were already pissed having been there since 2 pm.

Suggestion we meet up for a meal tonight to avoid the whole weekend thing and going to a pub. They've said yes but are going straight from work to a pub before meeting us at 7. Three weeks ago, he went out for a quiet pint with two friends and had 5 or 6 pints and the next day he and she drank a lot of wine. By my reckoning they will both generally drink the weekly recommended safe number of units most Friday or Saturday nights, as he will easily drink between 5-8 pints in four hours.

They don't drink every day but at the very least I think this is borderline functioning alcoholism in that it doesn't affect their daily routine or work, but basically it is accepted that most Fridays and Saturdays they will get pissed.

Although I find it boring, I'm more concerned than anything and have suggested to mutual friends we should do more "things" and not just agree with them when they say most weekends "let's go to the pub". We used to do more things, but I'm noticing it's more drink based than before. I've also noticed as a result another friend who didn't used to drink that much is certainly drinking quite a bit more and more often, but not approaching this sort of level.

Both have health problems and weight gain and have decided to join a gym to lose weight. While exercise would help, I think much of their weight and health problems are due to their alcohol intake. Last week they skipped the gym one night to have a BBQ in the nice weather and of course consumed alcohol (no, I didn't go).

Am I being unreasonable in being concerned? I appreciate they may not choose to cut down but am I right to try and get them to do more stuff where they can't drink at weekends, and try to get our other friends to do similar, to minimise any sort of enabling (even if not intended that way)? I feel I need to do something rather than just express concern (which has been done, albeit of the non-lecture kind).

I think they are alcohol dependent
www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/drinking-habits-and-behaviours/am-i-alcohol-dependent/

I don't think you can do much to change what they are doing. You can try to organise things that don't revolve around alcohol but I wouldn't be surprised if they drag it back to booze somehow. The only thing you and your friends can do is model normal drinking behaviour and make it clear that you won't be spending all your time in a pub.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 26-Jul-16 11:57:46

That sounds about right - they can quite happily go mid-week without drinking generally, and on a Sunday night, but Friday and Saturday nights (or daytimes, on occasion) seem very much geared around huge quantities of alcohol.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Tue 26-Jul-16 11:59:47

They sound like heavy drinkers but not like they're dependent. I think it's a bit weird that you go to booze festivals and complain about drinking. That's kind of what booze festivals are about...

BastardDailyMail Tue 26-Jul-16 12:07:50

That's what I thought Iwasjust - you don't go to a cider festival and drink tea. I assume you're not with them every weekend so you don't know they're drinking when you're not with them.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 26-Jul-16 12:07:52

Iwas We went to a cider and cheese festival two summers ago. I went for the cheese but had 3 pints over six hours. Most of our group had maybe 2 pints in 4 hours. Most of us went there for the cheese. It was more the fact that I used that as an example of them trying to get others to drink more alcohol. I didn't go the sausage festival. That's two festivals that involve alcohol almost two years apart. You know, an awful lot of people can go and enjoy a festival and drink very little...

SomeDaysIDontGiveAMonkeys Tue 26-Jul-16 12:10:27

There is a saying 'Addicts like company' and it's very true. They do sound like functioning alcoholics and are likely co-dependent. Other than raising your concerns with them, there is very little you can do if they don't want to stop drinking yet.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 26-Jul-16 12:11:20

Bastard No, I am not with them every weekend. But thanks to the joys of FB, and their habit of "checking in" or posting photos and their status comments, that most of their weekends revolve solely around alcohol. Last weekend, they went to visit friends and spent Friday night getting pissed at a BBQ, then after a lie-in, went to five different pubs/beer gardens starting at lunchtime on Saturday and did the same on Sunday. That's just an example.

Thefitfatty Tue 26-Jul-16 12:13:24

They certainly sound like they like booze. On the other hand, they are adults, and if they're happy I'm not sure why you feel the need to step in? If you don't want to drink that much, just say no. Or don't hang out with them if it bothers you.

OhNoNotMyBaby Tue 26-Jul-16 12:13:53

It's none of your business really. If you don't like the drinking, don't go to the respective occasions. If you feel that you've outgrown them, start making new friends.

You're being very judgy - don't interfere.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 26-Jul-16 12:15:35

Actually, I don't mean to be judgey at all. I am concerned for their health - they have both been diagnosed with other health problems, at least one of which would be severely acerbated by his continual alcohol use. I am trying to understand how best to try and help, if at all possible.

SaucyJack Tue 26-Jul-16 12:16:38

These people are adults, non?

YANBU to not want to drink that much yourself. YANevenBU to label them as functional alcoholics.

I absolutely to not think it is your place to make their lifestyle decisions for them tho. Lots of people drink a LOT. It's really none of your business whether a friend wants to sack off the gym and have a beer in their own back garden.

finefinefodder Tue 26-Jul-16 12:16:56

They sound ace grin

Leave them be

Thefitfatty Tue 26-Jul-16 12:17:34

I am trying to understand how best to try and help, if at all possible.

Not your place to. They're adults and capable of making their own lifestyle decisions.

Roussette Tue 26-Jul-16 12:28:26

Hmmm... if a friend of mine felt "concerned" like this I would be a bit fed up. You said they don't drink during the week, perhaps they just like to cut loose and have a blast at the weekend. Lots of people do. me and DH included. We went to a 2-3 day festival recently and were a bit wasted

I'm not sure they want your 'help'

Helloitsme88 Tue 26-Jul-16 12:32:53

Yes people can go to festivals and not drink. But it's a cider fest- tbh I think cheese is just as bad as alcohol for health concerns. Everything in moderation. I drink alcohol a couple of times a week and if I go to a festival I will have a few. Up to me how many is a few. I try and cut down my cheese and dairy to once a week also but may indulge once in a while. They clearly are enjoying themselves. It might be other factors including alcohol that is leading to these health problems. That being said- how do you know they don't drink during the week?

myownprivateidaho Tue 26-Jul-16 12:35:45

Yeah I agree that it sounds a lot, but I don't know what you can do. A few years ago I plucked up the courage to talk to a dear friend about her drinking - she could sink 2-3 pints an hour on an ordinary evening in the pub and alcohol was a huge part of her life - and it basically soured our friendship permanently. But if you act like it's normal you feel like an enabler. On balance I think it is better to point out that it might be problematic even if it has a detrimental effect on the friendship. I recently lost a friend to drug addiction and wish that I had been more vocal about my disapproval in the earlier stages of his addiction, when the drug use was still pretty social.

MammouthTask Tue 26-Jul-16 12:40:45

I really don't agree it's not your place to be worried and to want to thelp them.
However, I'm not sure you can do a lot. They will only change if it comes from them and as they seem to be functioning like this as a couple, they are probably supporting each other drinking in some ways.

Apart from proposing days out that don't involve alcohol (bearing in mind they will still find a way to go to the opub) and behaving in a different way (eg with the shandy, refusing to drink said the cider and going to get a shandy and explaining why - eg you don't want more alcohol, you've drunk enough..., there isn't a lot else you can do.

MammouthTask Tue 26-Jul-16 12:42:45

Btw I agree they fit the 'functioning alcoholic' definition as they are binge drinking every weekend. They also seem to be able to consume hige amount of alcohol wo a lot of visible effects which shows how 'used' to it they are.
An alcoholic doesn't have to be drinking everyday. That's a big nmisconception.

LoreleiGilmoreIsMyBFF Tue 26-Jul-16 12:50:58

While I appreciate your concern, OP, I don't really think there is much point in 'diagnosing' alcoholism in others - unless an individual recognises they have an addiction, they are unlikely to seek help anyway. There are many, many people who enjoy alcohol without 'needing' it to get through their day. I think your friends probably do drink excessively, but only they will know if they have a problem.

My personal experience is that I could no longer function without having a drink. As soon as I woke up, I needed at least a small amount of alcohol to feel 'normal'. If you drink too much, for too long, you actually train your brain into thinking it is essential for survival, and it can take over other needs, e.g food, socialisation etc.

I'm not an expert, and therefore am hesitant giving advice. I also dislike the term 'functioning alcoholic'. I probably appeared to 'function' because I rarely got drunk any more - my alcohol tolerance was incredibly high. They may just enjoy drinking, they may have a problem. Rather than judge, be a good enough friend so that IF they did have a problem, they know you are a trusted confidante.

LobsterQuadrille Tue 26-Jul-16 12:51:01

I remember being at the stage of your friends - a long time ago. It's a slippery slope that some can tread down OK and not fall all the way to the bottom - some people are just heavy drinkers and don't "drink alcoholically" even though the quantities may be over the recommended guidelines etc. many people in AA have underlying MH issues and used alcohol to self medicate - as you say, it exacerbates the problem but that's their choice.

Nobody stops drinking successfully until such point as they truly want to stop. Your friends will be unlikely to thank you for pointing out what they probably already know - if they are asking for advice, that's different.

LobsterQuadrille Tue 26-Jul-16 12:55:04

Good post Lorelei - agree with your points - like you, I needed alcohol to feel normal and was at the stage where I'd have DTs and hallucinations if I stopped suddenly without Diazepam. Yet to the outside world I was still "functioning" and would have looked a whole lot less functioning without my constant top-ups.

BaldBaby1970 Tue 26-Jul-16 13:00:30

I come from a long line of alcoholics and have a few issues myself. To be honest no matter what you think or say or do, you won't change anything. It's up to them to define themselves as alcoholics and then reach a point where they want to do something about it.

Nice that you care.

horseygeorgie1 Tue 26-Jul-16 13:01:04

Hmm I'm not entirely sure it is actually your business! They obviously like a few drinks but some people do. They are adults, it is up to them how much they drink. They know the risks and even if they are functioning alcoholics, what could you actually do about it? I think I would be very pissed off and hurt if a 'friend' of mine posted this on a public forum about me instead of talking to me.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 26-Jul-16 13:01:18

Hello "Everything in moderation"

Yes. This is it. I just don't think this level of drinking is "in moderation". Drinking up to eight pints every Friday and Saturday is surely not "in moderation" - that's way over the "safe" limits according to the NHS for a weekly intake done in one or two nights on an almost weekly basis.

Rousette I guess it is perception. A bit wasted (as you say you were) every now and again isn't the same thing as getting totally wasted every single weekend, especially if you have health problems.

One of them has been told they have developed a severe kidney problem and they're potentially talking transplant. The alcohol cannot possibly help, as I've read up on it since.

I'm sorry to come across as judgey to the extent people think what they are doing is fine and that I should keep my nose out. But these are my friends and I am worried about them.

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