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Supporting a friend dealing with alcoholism

(13 Posts)
Campari Tue 23-Oct-12 13:47:55

Not sure where to post this, but I'm looking for advice on how to support a friend who is struggling with alcoholism.

He is an old school friend who moved away a few months ago, tbh he has always had a drinking problem but I had no idea of the true extent until he confessed all to me recently. He has told me that because of alcoholism he has lost his job, partner, home, etc, now he is sleeping on friends floors, in hostels etc, and spending all his time and money on booze. He tells me he drinks around 18 pints a day, sometimes more, and he was arrested for assault recently.

I have listened patiently to everything he tells me, and told him I'm glad he is being honest and facing up to his problem, but I don't know what else to do..he is very, very depressed and says he can't see a way out. He has children who he has given up on, he can't face seeing them anymore. This saddens me, as a child of an alcoholic I know the pain they must be going through, losing their dad to alcoholism.

We email each other regularly, he tells me he has been going to the doctors, seeing councellors etc but nothing seems to be working for him, and he can't take it anymore. He confides everything in me....but I feel utterly powerless to do anything, I wish I could help but what can I do sad

I know that alcoholism is a disease, this is why I feel powerless to help him when I am so far away, and his family and the people close to him can't even get through to him. I know it sounds horrible but I am tired of his self-pity, the trouble with alcoholism is it makes people selfish, its all me, me, thought for kids or loved ones. On the one hand I want to be there to listen and support him, but on the other hand I can't help but feel angry for what he is putting his family through.

What can I do to help him get through this, and make him understand that he has a life worth living?

ClareMarriott Wed 24-Oct-12 09:48:34

Have you suggested to him that he speak to Alcoholics Anonymous and have you thought about speaking to another branch of it that helps people dealing with people who are alcoholics ? People start drinking for instance because they are unable to cope so there may be something with your friend that triggered his drinking Good luck

Campari Wed 24-Oct-12 13:33:56

Yes he attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and has also been in a rehab centre, but the problem is he lies to other people about how bad his problem is. He said he is only honest with me but can't tell his family hes struggling.

ClareMarriott Wed 24-Oct-12 15:39:48

Has he told you how many years he's been drinking ? How old is he now? lf he has now reached the stage where he is sleeping in hostels and spending ( it sounds ) about £50 per day on drink and feels he cannot cope with telling his family that he is struggling, what was the outcome of his AA meetings and did his time in rehab bring around any changes ? Are his family in one town and him in another ?

Campari Wed 24-Oct-12 15:48:46

His family are in the same town, I believe..but I've never been in touch with them. If I did know them, I would speak out on his behalf and tell them to keep an eye on where he is/what is he doing.

He is in his thirties, he was on a good run when he finished rehab, he got a girlfriend and job, but then it all came crashing down again. I have told him again and again that he must be honest with the doctors so he can get proper help, but he is ashamed and depressed. Its a very vicious circle he is in. If I was in the same location as him, I would be frogmarching him to his GP and make him tell them how much he really drinks, and the bad things he has done while drunk.

Sorry if I sound inconsiderate but he has been emailing a hell of a lot recently, I have tried all sorts of advice, been reading lots of info from AlAnon, but it is going round in circles. He just wants pity at the end of the day, and I dont think I can do it...

Floralnomad Wed 24-Oct-12 15:56:17

Unless he has stopped drinking there is nothing you can do to help him . I have experience with alcoholics ,through work and family, and all the time they are still drinking its a nightmare trying to help them. You will probably just drive yourself mad and he will still be drinking . The best thing you can do is to stick to the line of " get yourself help to stop" and IMO don't be too sympathetic it doesn't help. Sorry that's not much help ( and reading back sounds really uncharitable)

Campari Wed 24-Oct-12 16:15:44

Thanks, that has been a help to me.

I suppose if he's messaging me while drunk, he isnt going to be open to any reasoning.

He has been messaging me today asking if Im going to reply, and talk again later....I have deliberately left them unreplied for a while, and hoping that he realises I have other things in my life, especially in the evenings, I have a family of my own to look after and I can't always be there to jump straight on messenger whenever he wants to talk about how crap his day has been, or how much he has drunk already. I know he will probably say "I have no friends, your the only one I can confide in...' but I have already told him what I think, that he has to get help and stick with it. I can do nothing more.....

But at the same time, I feel like such a bitch. If that was me in his situation, I would be wanting friends to talk to aswell.

Campari Wed 24-Oct-12 16:21:23

Also, I think he is getting a little bit too attached to me.....

He has started referring to me as "gorgeous" and said that he wants to find another girlfriend, "someone just like you." Also "your DH is lucky to have a gorgeous wonderful girl like you, i think you are perfect,"

So I am definately starting to get a bit wary. Let me be clear I have totally ignored these comments as if I hadn't seen them. I know it is the drink talking but I am worried.

Snorbs Wed 24-Oct-12 16:42:47

So he's been to his doctor, counselling, AA and rehab and he's still drinking?

There is nothing you can do to help him

I'll repeat this because it's important:

There is nothing you can do to help him

I'm guessing you're not either an alcoholic in recovery or a trained addiction specialist. Hell, even if you were, he's seen people like that and learned absolutely nothing. You possess neither the knowledge, power nor influence over him to get him to change his life. Only he can do that and, quite simply, he doesn't want to. Or at least he doesn't want to enough.

What you are to him is an emotional crutch, someone to drain out over while he gets pissed out of his tiny mind. As you say what he wants is sympathy and an audience. He won't remember half of what you talk about and although he may tell you that you're the only person he can talk to, I would take that with a very large pinch of salt. He'll have drinking buddies he'll be able to blather on to. Or he can go to AA.

I know it's hard but I really would take steps to distance yourself from him somewhat. He doesn't care about how much of a burden this is on you because there are few things in the world more self-centred than a pissed alcoholic having their own personal pity-party. And you need to take those steps yourself as hoping that he'll get a subtle message by just increasing the amount of time it takes for you to respond is pointless.

Have you told your DH about the flirty messages? I would.

Floralnomad Wed 24-Oct-12 16:59:14

Definitely agree with Snorbs , you should distance yourself quickly and tell your DH , before this man causes any trouble for you , which he will.

ClareMarriott Wed 24-Oct-12 19:02:58

Yes, I agree with what Snorbs has said. It seems that it has come to a time when you need to distance yourself from him, because it is only him to get himself well - if he wants to

Campari Thu 25-Oct-12 00:54:31

Thanks snorbs, that all makes a hell of a lot of sense, especially about becoming an emotional crutch. You are right, he really doesn't care about what a burden he is on other people like me, he just wants attention. I see that now, and I'm glad other people here agree that I'm best off cutting contact.

I have blacklisted him on email contacts, but not before I did eventually tell him to back off because he was being inappropriate. I have shown DH the messages, he was absolutely flabbergasted, to say the least!!! He said I am too trusting of people and can't help all the waifs and strays in the world. Now Im beginning to agree.

Snorbs Thu 25-Oct-12 07:38:44

Expect him to step up the emotional blackmail for a while - suicide threats were my alcoholic ex's favourite. But one day, rather than going into a huge flap over such threats,I called an ambulance instead.

My ex turned away the ambulance and never made that threat to me again. She's still alive, but once she realised that I wasn't going to play that game anymore she just went and found someone else's life to blight.

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