My Friend, the Drunk

22 Apr

Dear LetterBalm: A guy I worked with retired on disability a few years ago. He’s in his early 70s and does nothing but drink. He doesn’t have hobbies or interests, so alcohol is his preoccupation. His sister is a friend of mine, and she’s begging me not to give up on him – I’m one of his few friends who’s still talking to him. As the day goes on, he gets drunker and drunker and needier and needier. He calls me for help, to drive him to errands and doctor appointments, and he monopolizes my time. When I suggest (many times) that he get help, he gets defensive. He won’t listen. I have to pull away and stop this. What can I say?

–Had Enough

Alcohol could be making things worse if your friend is on medication for his disability. If you believe that could be a possibility, alert his doctors if you haven’t already. Ms. L.B. believes you must stop trying to convince him to turn his life around – he’s beyond your ability to help. Tell his sister you can only continue to be his friend if he gets sober, and you will not continue to drive him or otherwise help him until he does. Change your phone number, adopt a calm and reasonable demeanor every time and don’t be drawn into his demons. Say this to him:

Abner, you’re destroying your life, and I won’t be drawn into your drama anymore. Somewhere in there is a good and talented man, but you’ve lost sight of who you are in favor of the bottle. You don’t want to get rid of your demons. I’ve asked you so many times to get help, and you won’t. So, from now on, I will have nothing to do with you until you get sober. It makes me sad to say this, but it has to be. Our friendship is over unless you can turn yourself around.

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