I wrote this months ago about a former friend. I decided to not publish it because I worried that this former friend might see this and freak out. At this point I doubt she reads my blog or cares what I have to say. I don’t drink alcohol often, usually only a few times a year on special occasions. I don’t drink because my extended family has not had the best history with addiction or alcohol use. I have seen far too many dark examples of what happens when people let substances take over their lives, so I chose to not make substances a part of my life. It is not easy, as most adult social situations center around alcohol and it is assumed by some that anyone who doesn’t partake is unusual, uptight or anti-social. With the recent passing of Whitney Houston (probably drug related) it made me want to publish this. The rich and famous have handlers who will enable them all they way to the grave. When an addict has so much money and people hired to please their every whim, it takes an extremely long time before they reach their rock bottom and get help. It is why so many celebrities die from the disease, no one is there to stop them before they fall.
I don’t know who will read this but my depression entry gets tons of traffic so maybe an alcoholic seeking recovery or someone dealing with an alcoholic will stumble on this and it will help. To protect this person’s identity I won’t reveal her name but for privacy purposes of this blog I refer to this friend as simply D.
I met D at a horrible time in my life, dealing with a rough divorce and an extremely painful depression that followed it. Throughout my recovery our friendship grew and I thought of D as one of my closest friends. We started to work together and that is when the problems started. On more than one occasion something I did seemed to upset D and she would completely react towards me in an irrational way. Everything became blown out of proportion and several angry phone calls or emails would follow, but then D would eventually apologize or at least partly apologize. It was exhausting. D also admitted to me that she had a drinking problem, or that she thought she had a drinking problem. She confided to me that she would drink alone by herself until the point of being intoxicated nearly every night. She also thought her spouse also was an alcoholic. She strung me and another sober friend along for weeks with promises of getting help and going to Alcoholics Anonymous. She never went to a meeting, she never sought help of any kind other than to call both of us repeatedly.
Then she finally decided to quit drinking for thirty days. She did this without therapy, going to an AA meeting or rehab. About a week shy of her goal she called me to tell me she was about to relapse. I was actually on the phone with her as she walked into a bar and started drinking again. I didn’t know what to tell her, as I am not an addict and I had no idea what to say to her that might stop her from drinking. But it was heartbreaking on my end. It was late at night and she was several miles from me, I don’t know if she expected me to jump in a cab and try to physically stop her, but I couldn’t afford to blow money on a cab, especially since I didn’t think it would do any good.
After her relapse she never again brought up her drinking problem. Our relationship definitely changed after that as I felt I didn’t know how to bring up that topic, because I definitely thought she still had a problem. Months later she lashed out at me while she was visibly intoxicated. After much back and forth between the two of us I finally brought up that her drinking might have something to do with these erratic mood swings and her self-destructive behavior. She had told me on multiple occasions that she had problems with feelings of paranoia especially when drunk. So I didn’t think much of bringing up both to her because I had hit my breaking point. Her reaction of course was to deny everything and then to attack me for every flaw she could find. Somehow after telling me for months that she_thought_she had a drinking problem, then showing up drunk and becoming emotional I wasn’t supposed to even dare bring up the obvious. I was supposed to suddenly develop amnesia about all the times previous she had gone on in detail about her problems with booze.
I am far from perfect, I have horrible demons in my past and bad habits and I make mistakes all the time when dealing with interpersonal communication. I know this, but I don’t feel bad telling an alcoholic that they are an alcoholic and they need help. I don’t regret losing a friend over this. Because otherwise I would have slowly drifted away from her. Eventually eroding my ties to her and she would never know why. I would be yet another friend who cut her off without confronting her about her very real and serious problem. She attacked me for being self-involved, yet I was the one who picked up the phone time after time with her breaking down on the other end about her addiction.
To any addict the whole world seems self-involved, because anyone who knows an addict knows that they view themselves as the center of the universe. No one understands their pain except for them, no one is as tortured, as despondent, as complicated and as misunderstood. When in reality the addict is like every other addict, sick, scared and in need of help. And if she sought professional help she would find out that simple truth, that addicts are more alike than they are different and that they are all battling a difficult disease. If left untreated they will take down everyone within their path until they get that help. I chose to take a step back and get out of her way. I am not going to get pulled down into her personal hell because she feels like taking spectators with her. She can only cry out for help so many times and then slap me in the face for trying before I just give up.
If you have an addict in your life who is repeatedly begging for help but not changing their behavior. Make the difficult choice and stop enabling them otherwise you will only get blamed for their mistakes and tragedies the alcohol has caused. No one is perfect and everyone deals with their own hang-ups and flawed ways of dealing and coping. But addiction is a real disease and sometimes the best thing you can do for a friend in crisis is to confront them with their problem. I probably permanently destroyed my friendship with D, but I would have felt worse placating her and pretending to not see what was right in front of my face. If had just smoothed things over and ignored her real crisis I wouldn’t have been much of a friend to her anyway. I am fairly certain that she is still drinking to the point of intoxication nightly and that she will eventually destroy herself if she doesn’t get help. My heart is still a little broken from the experience but I don’t regret my attempt at an intervention.
- Tough to Love (realtimerecovery.wordpress.com)
- Children Of Alcoholics Face Ongoing Struggle (news.sky.com)
- Drinking diagnosed as addiction or Preference (fashionlover891.wordpress.com)
- Aa (lawpractitioner.me)
- Stop Making Fun Of Addicts (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Living in the grip of alcohol (bbc.co.uk)
- On a sober note (thehindu.com)
- My Alcoholism – Avoid it, Live Longer. A True Story. (bobsnewheart.wordpress.com)