What to do when you see a recovering friend drinking?

Old 12-08-2008, 11:03 PM
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What to do when you see a recovering friend drinking?

I have a question:

What do you do if you see your recovering alcoholic friend drinking? I have been told by my friend that he is no longer sober, but I have yet to see this with my own eyes. My question is, what is the correct protocol when I see him drinking? Do I leave and say I do not approve, and potentially make him more angry/guilty/etc. or do I stay, essentially reinforcing that his behavior is okay because I tolerate it. He has expressed that he is concerned with this behaviour, and wants to be sober.

This is a really sticky situation for me, and I would really, really love some comments from people who have dealt with it.

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Old 12-08-2008, 11:37 PM
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I'm alcoholic, so picture me with an open beer and the rest of the six pack sitting in front of me.

A friend would sit down and join me.

A true friend would knock mine over and shove the rest of the six pack up my A#$.

Simple as that for me.
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Old 12-09-2008, 01:16 AM
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Well my partner has tipped a whole bottle of vodka down the sink in front of me (he is a lot stronger than me, trust me I was fighting for it). God, I just remembered that episode *sigh* But anyway, I was very bitter & if I was honest....I still am.......yes, even though I am a week sober!! Totally irrational I know, but thats me.

I have appreciated MUCH more the times my partner has told me he loves me & I can do it ...or the times my best friend has just listened to me......... about my problem.

Support and understanding win out for me.
Ring him up, or when you see him tell him you are concerned/worried for him, does he need any help? I'd say it would be best to do alone and when he/she is sober.
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Old 12-09-2008, 02:24 AM
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Much as I appreciate Omega Man's sentiments here, in reality I'd strongly suggest you don't try to get between an actively drinking alcoholic and their next drink. I made that mistake, once, and the reaction was violent.

Instead, I'd walk away. There's no point whatsoever talking to an alcoholic about their drinking while they're drinking. Depending on who it is I might bide my time and wait until they're sober before asking about it, or I might just leave them to it until I hear that they're really taking steps to help themselves.

Mr B.
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Old 12-09-2008, 02:44 AM
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Don't judge, help him if he asks, and simply say a prayer for him and move on.

I work with addiction and see this more often than I care to. Saying the prayer takes it from my hands to God's ear.

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:38 AM
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"...what is the correct protocol when I see him drinking?..."

As you can see from the responses here, there is NO 'correct' protocol (besides which, isn't 'correct protol' a bit redundant, anyway? LOLOL); in fact, for me, I don't see any 'protocol' at all.

"...Do I leave and say I do not approve, and potentially make him more angry/guilty/etc. or do I stay, essentially reinforcing that his behavior is okay because I tolerate it..."

As many of the responses seem to mirror, you seem to see this as an 'either/or' proposition. For me, I guess, I see it depends on where you may be when you do see him...this could be on the street, at your place, at his place, in a club.....lots of different places, which could mean lots of different reactions, and also it depends on your comfort level of being around folks who are drinking, and your recovery.

I believe you stated that your friend has said to you that he is concerned with his behavior and that he wants to be sober, therefore I might let this be my guide. Depending on how 'into' his drinking he may be at the time of your 'connection' might guide you on whether to speak to him at length, but for me, just turning and leaving might just reinforce a feeling that nobody cares (for him, or what happens to him) any more. A few choice words with a promise that you're there for him if he wants to put down the drink and get sober; that you're willing to help all you can.

As for getting between an active alcoholic and his drink, no, I would not do that (as Omega Man has suggested); not due to any 'safety' issues. It's just NOT my business, and I certainly wouldn't let anyone put me in that position either. If someone wants to drink, to me, that's their business, definitely not mine to control; my recovery is strong enough to allow others to be however they want to be at any given time, and if that means they're drinking, then I guess that's what they'll do.

In your friend's more sober moments, if I were in your shoes, I might tell him that if he were to be at my house, there's a 'no drinking rule' there. I might also tell him that I can't be around someone while they're drinking, therefore I couldn't be at his house while he's drinking, and this might include any other places (clubs obviously excepted) where we might meet; I might have to leave him to his drinking as I just can't be around it, at least not at this time in my recovery (unless of course at this time in your recovery it doesn't bother you to be around folks who are drinking).

All this can, and probably should, be done at a time when your friend is not drinking, and so hopefully he'll remember (mebbe?) at times when he to your friend; you might be surprised by his response, and you may be able to help.....who knows....?


P.S. You know the ole 'love and tolerance' saying. For me, there are some things that are just intollerable. When it comes to folks drinking, it just comes down to what am I willing to tolerate; it's totally subjective.
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:50 AM
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Being in recovery from Alcoholism for many years now I can tell you, that:

I do not attempt to talk to a former 'sober' friend while they are drinking, I will only be talking to the bottle.

I tell them to give me a call when they are sober if they would like to talk.

And I walk away.

Then as I walk away I say a prayer for them.

It is sad when this happens, but it does happen, more than most of us care to know. The person who has had some recovery, KNOWS where to go to get help, I cannot help them. I cannot fix them. and I sure as hell can't cure them.

Detachment can be very hard.

Best of luck to you and your friend.

Love and hugs,
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:23 AM
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I guess my confusion comes from the fact he told you he is no longer sober. Then your question is what do you do when you see him drinking?

What was his purpose in telling you he's no longer sober? Is he planning on drinking in front of you?

What kind of 'recovery' plan did he have in place when he was sober? Was he attending AA, just abstaining?
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for all the fantastic responses.

Sorry for the use of the word "protocol" (lol) I was trying to be very careful in my word choice for some odd reason.

My friend was in AA and NA - and he had huge problems with both alcohol and cocaine. He was 200 days sober, and apparently one day realized he was "too young to be so restrictive" and had a drink - and it went downhill from there. It's especially troubling as this was a young man (28) who has already suffered a heart attack due to cocaine use, and numerous incidents involving alcohol.

He mentioned all of this to me on the telephone, as I no longer live in the town he lives in. He was telling me as an update on his life I suppose. He told me he was confused, but wants to be sober, and isn't sure if AA and NA are the answer. I told him I'm concerned about him, I think he should return to his meetings, and that I will support him in any way possible.

I only assume I will see him drinking as I am returning home at Christmas, and friends of mine have mentioned that they have seen him drunk on many occasions. It's just so upsetting. I wanted to make sure if I see this that I say/do the absolutely best things possible for him.

Again, thank you so much for all your wisdom.
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Old 12-09-2008, 07:10 PM
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Ohhh, okay, now it all makes sense to me! Thanks for answering my questions!

I will keep your friend in my prayers, and I'm sorry he's relapsed in spite of the serious consequences he's already had! :ghug
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:02 PM
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I have a couple of friends "in" the program that this reminded me of.

One just keeps going out and wonders why their life is so insane. They only hang out with people who just dont seem to want to get sober. I just got finished helping them get their things in order to get their liscense back. After about an hour we discovered that she had just recieved a letter from the RMV last October that said her liscense was revolked for 4 additional years. I felt like my best intentions were just crap. Her life seems so insane ! Was I really like that - even at the end ????
Im not even sure that she will remember the steps she needs to follow to find out if she is still unable to get a restricted liscense.

I have another friend who was around when I started going to meetings who now refuses to go to meetings, is taking ALOT of pain medication every day and is just as scattered as the other one. I was trying to help her w her computer and she refuses to pay attention, even attempt to learn anything whatsoever about what is needed to upgrade and keeps asking more and more people for advice. Every time I have what I think is the right solution or a place to buy the hardware/software she needs; she comes up w a statement like, "Well, so and so said that it could be done this way or that; but I cant do any of it myself because I dont understand all of this." They cannot figure out how to work the cable remote or even how to use voicemail on their home phone !

We had aggreed that I was going to help her and she was not going to ask the same person that screwed up her system originally. She keeps forgetting that she needs to upgrade her MAC operating system just to get her printer (that she just blindly went out and bought) working in any other manner other than an overpriced copier. I nearly snapped today and basically referred her to some place that would charge her $80/ hour rather than $20. I have spent hours looking into an operating system and hardware which is new to some degree -basically, teaching myself about it.

Is this what they mean about active alcoholics and addicts and the insanity ?
Was I like this ??
It has been mentioned to both people that they may want to consider a little thinking about what they are doing. It gets to be an uncomfortable situation every time.
They keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. They get extremely defensive. I find it so difficult to hang around them because it drives me crazy !!
I have been told that in some degrees that is a little bit of active addiction and that it is some degree of sobriety (rarely) and absolutely NO recovery.

Sorry, I probably look like a thread hijacker but I just needed to vent. Maybe this doesnt even belong on this thread. I wouldnt mind some feedback as to how to handle these situations.
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:14 PM
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I don't think there is a protocol, other than what your heart can take.

I've personally changed my social itinerary so that I didn't have to take a front-row seat to a friend's relapse/meltdown. I knew where I'd run into her, and I chose to go somewhere where I was sure I wouldn't.

That's for my own sanity. I know what a punch in the gut it would be to see her that way, and I'm not into drama any more (I used to be!)

Hugs to you and prayers for him
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:10 PM
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He's not "recovering" if he's drinking

I "went out" (drank) about 13 or 14 years ago, and I was on a 3 or 4 day bender, and I was out at a nightclub, zipperfaced on a cornucopia of hallucinogenics, bolivian marching powder, and Bombay Sapphire with a group of friends, covered with 'massage oil' so my clothes were sticking to me all short, I was a mess, all of the sudden I saw "Big Head Doug" from the program sitting with a bunch of sober people, I was like "oh snap!" and tried to sneak by him...he called me over, made me make eye contact with him, and said "Andrew, we love you, not because you were sober, but because you are Andrew" and gave me a huge hug (my clothes were sticking to everything at that point, I was a mess!!!

That moment will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I've since said that to scores of alcoholics who have "gone out" and many tracked me down to say how important that was to them

If someone I know starts drinking I let them know I can hang out with them when they are not drinking, if they can't honor that, I can't hang out with them, but I let them know I will be there for them if they decide to get sober, and I let them I love them.

A few of my friends got sober at anywhere from 16 to 19, and started drinking in their mid twenties, a few turned out not to be alcoholics, I have no worries about non alcoholics drinking around me, just not alcoholics.
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Old 12-10-2008, 02:03 PM
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Ummm. Is your friend over 18years? If so then they can drink as much and as often they want. End of story
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