Post # 1
Hey guys, FI and I have a bit of a weird situation with our friend and I was wondering if anyone could maybe shed some light on things…
FI’s friend is a hardcore partying-type of guy — and a binge drinker. He’s won’t ever just have one drink casually at dinner with friends. It’s all or nothing — he will drink for sometimes almost an entire weekend straight. Like, up all night drinking and partying, sleep through the morning, and drink some more during the day into the afternoon and evening. It’s sounds out of control, but at the same time, we really didn’t think that it was. He seemed to pull it together to work during the week and be semi-responsible about it.
Well, this guy is also someone FI works with, and today he ran into a situation that led him to believe this friend might actually be an alcoholic. They were working in a client’s home (FI is a contractor), and FI had to leave the job site for a while. When he came back, the friend was acting unmistakably under the infulence. Incapable of getting the work done, and acting all messed up like he does when he drinks. This client apparently is a bartender, and had loads of alcohol all around the area where they were working.
Now, I’m aware that at this point in the story, it seems painfully obvious that this guy has a drinking problem and is more than likely an alcoholic. But here’s my question — this friend, along with a handful of other friends in our circle, decided recently to go an entire month without drinking. They knew they were drinking too much, and just decided to sort of “detox” for an entire month. They all did it. Including this friend. (The no-drinking streak ended several weeks ago.)
Would a true alcoholic be capable of quitting cold-turkey for a month straight? It had crossed my mind that this guy could have a problem, but then I thought about the month of no drinking and immediately dismissed it. An addict usually can’t just up and quit like that. Or can they? What do you think we should do about this situation? FI plans on confronting him tomorrow morning but feels really uncomfortable about the whole thing and how to go about handling this the right way…
Post # 3
In my experience, stopping for a designated period of time does not mean someone can control their drinking long term. Think of AA, they acknowledge that members will fall off the wagon even after months or years of sobrierty. A freind of mine recently admitted to having an alcohol addiction but for years he gave up all alcohol for Lent sucessfully. He noted that he could get through 3-4 weeks before really feeling the need to drink so strongly. He also had no problem being the DD when out with friends. This also made him deny that he had a real problem for a long period of time.
Post # 4
My husband is an addict in recovery and I attend Nar-Anon so I have some experience with this.
I agree with the above poster in that quitting for a designated period of time doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have an addiction. Sometimes an addict will actually use the fact that they were able to quit for a designated period of time as fodder for their own denial of their addiction, or “proof” to others that they don’t have an addiction.
If my husband had not gone to detox, he would have gotten very sick had he quit using cold-turkey and the same could be true for an alcoholic. We have a friend who is an active alcoholic, and he starts shaking by a certain time of day if he doesn’t have a drink. However, if your friend is a binge alcoholic, he might have an easier time physically with not having alcohol in his system (he is more accustomed to that).
If the person is not willing to admit that they have a problem, there is not much you can do. The first step towards recovery is the desire to stop using. If he doesn’t want to stop, then no amount of asking, begging, or bargaining will make them get help. Having said that, when I finally suggested detox to my husband, he went very easily, so it was clear that he wanted to stop. If you talk to your friend about it, he may be ready to get help and surrender very easily. If that’s the case, I would highly recommend a 12-step program. AA meetings are everywhere, free, and “it works if you work it” as they say.
When your husband confronts him, I would just say to keep in mind that addiction is a disease. Just like you might have sympathy for someone with any other disease, the same should apply for someone with an addiction (in my opinion). So my suggestion is to confront him in a compassionate way rather than an attacking or accusational way. Good luck!
Post # 5
As a chemical dependency therapist, I can tell you that one of the core signs of addiction is failed attepmts to control use of a mood altering substnace. So it’s not just about weather he can stop (some people can and others can’t) but what he does afterwards. Has this attempt to stop drinking failed (did he go back to drinking)?
My best advice is to get yourself involved in an Al-Anon Family Group.
Post # 6
@phillygirl629: Well said.
He wont change until he is ready to change, but you can make it harder to “get away with it” if he knows you arent being fooled by anything.
Post # 7
Thanks everyone for your advice, I really appreciate it!
@slicey19: That’s a really good point. I guess that’s why the term “recovering alcoholic” is used even for someone who has not been drinking for a long time because the chance/risk of relapsing is always there. Your friend’s experience really puts that into perspective for me. Sounds so similar to our friend.
@phillygirl629: Hearing your and your husband’s experience is really helpful too. I doubt that our friend would be anywhere near as willing to admit he had a problem, but I guess it’s nice to know that there’s not a whole lot we can do until he reaches that point himself. I hope the confrontation goes okay, we’ll definitely keep in mind that this is potentially a true disease that he has, and maybe we can at least plant the seed that AA is an option for him and that we would support him in that.
@RachelD: He did go back to drinking, but the no-drinking phase was not done with any intention of putting an end to drinking entirely — it was just a few of his friends saying they weren’t going to drink at all for that month. So, I guess we really can’t call it a “failed attempt.” Are there significant differences in someone who needs to drink every day to function, and someone who binges off-and-on as our friend does, in how the addiction presents itself? I will check out the Al Anon site. Thank you.
@lefeymw: Good point, maybe if enough of our friends bring it up to him, it might make a difference. He lives in a house with several other people we know and are also friends with so we might talk to them.
Post # 8
I’m a binge drinker and well today I don’t drink anymore at all b/c I realized (after dealing with lots of other alcoholic & addicts) that even if it’s not a “daily” thing it was still adversly effecting my life enough to be a problem…. even if it was sporadically.
I could easily go months without drinking BUT had a VERY hard time not drinking the whole bottle once it was opened.
The biggest turning point for me was when I woke up one morning while in a binge and just “NEEDED” a drink.
I knew that if I continued then I’d definitely be dealing with bigger problems.
Your friend has to be the one that sees the problem BUT confrontation of those that love us often help us to see that we aren’t seeing/doing things right… and even if he doesn’t accept it right away, it may be the start to him being able to one day see it and him start recovering.
Post # 9
@runsyellowlites: Thank you so much for sharing your story. That is really helpful to me. What you described sounds just like our friend — it’s not a typical, can’t go a day without drinking type of addiciton. But not being able to stop himself from drinking the whole bottle? That’s him. And I’m starting to realize that it is starting to affect his life in a serious way. I mean, he drank while he was on the job! Not only is that a huge deal, but it’s dangerous. He works with power tools and could get injured. I really hope that this confrontation will be the start of him being able to see the problem, like you said. Thank you.
Post # 10
@littlemissmango: I think the biggest difference between someone’s drinking patterns is what role the mood altering substance plays and what the consequences are. Does having one glass of wine make someone more alcoholic than someone who goes out once a year and drinks then gets a DWI?