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Is he an alcoholic?

Old 12-28-2010, 03:11 PM
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Is he an alcoholic?

I have been struggling with a friend who doesn't drink everyday, goes to work and is fully functional. I always say "he has a drinking problem, because Im unsure if he is an alcoholic. Alcohol seems to be taking control of his life. He's 24 and is halfway out of the closet (he's come out to some people, sort of come out to others, and denies it completely to others). He's been binge drinking for as long as we've been friends (about five years). When I first became friends with him, he was the one who would always be throwing up at the end of the night. Now he rarely throws up, but blacks out regularly, and has a very high tolerance. I dont think him not throwing up is because he controls his intake better, however. And over the past year or so, his binge drinking results in him being very angry, aggressive, selfish and dramatic. He picks verbal fights with people, appears (from the little he will confirm) to be having unprotected sexual encounters with other men, uses and lies to everyone around him, etc.

He has two DUIs, and I believe the only reason he doesnt have more is because he finds friends to pick him up and drive him around. He has admitted to me he has a drinking problem and wants to stop drinking, but days later will be back at it. He says his problem isn't that he NEEDS to drink, it's that he over-drinks. Due to all of this, we no longer hang out.

Our group of friends is young and everyone's single so drinking is included in a lot of activities (good or bad, it is what it is). I know there are two reasons these friends don't want to stand up to him. One, they want to drink. And second, it's hard to stand up to someone. There also seems to be a lot of bonding with the morning-after hangovers, misery, etc. And while many of those in recovery on other posts have said blackouts are frightening to the person who has them, in this case its found as cool and humorous.

The other issue I have is I am close to his family. They go back and forth on whether he has a problem, and because of this, I can't even get backup or support from them in trying to convince him to make a change. They believe because he goes to work, is so young, and is able to explain it away that he doesn't have a problem. And maybe he doesn't. I know many young people do drink from high school until they settle down then are able to stop drinking. The things that worry me are his emotional state from being in the closet as well as the way his personality changes when he drinks.

He and I are supposed to get together and talk about our friendship (at this point the lack thereof). And I know I shouldn't give him an ultimatum or force him into treatment. What I'm looking for is some type of literature to create talking points about how he is a type of alcoholic, if in fact anyone thinks he is or soon will be one. Despite how he's treated me and everything involved as this disease is affecting him, I want better for him.

Any feedback?

PS- I just ordered "Under the Influence" today. But if there are other books, sites, etc. that help explain more than the most common form of alcoholism (where they're drinking everyday, and go into withdrawals without it), I'd love to read about that, or would buy other books I could share with him or potentially his family.
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Old 12-28-2010, 03:31 PM
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When I went to the work psychologist for help with my A, he gave me a checklist of things that he feels help determine if a person is an alcoholic. There were five questions, unfortunately I only remember three right now, I'll try to find the other two tomorrow.

1. Is drinking affecting his relationships?
2. Is drinking affecting his work?
3. Has drinking caused trouble with the police?

At any rate, judging by the things you have written, it looks to me as if alcohol is causing him bigger problems than it causes the average person. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a person's "drinking problem" has crossed the line into addiction, but if someone has a "drinking problem" that won't go away, they're certainly heading in the wrong direction.
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Old 12-28-2010, 05:56 PM
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Hi Kelly and welcome to SR!

IT's such a difficult time starting out in the recovery 'circles'
whether it's a friend, a partner, or other family member.

The point is,
you know there's a problem
and it's now interferring with YOUR life.

Maybe that's the starting point?

Because
I can tell you speaking as a recovering alcoholic
if your friend doesn't want help
he's not going to GET help.

So maybe it's time to take another approach?

Instead of focusing on what HE is doing...
(or not doing, causing or not causing)

stand tall within YOUR circle.

*I* can't watch this any more.
*I* am uncomfortable being around you when you're blacked out.
*I* am seeing this progress, and *I* don't know how to help you stop.

You're not 'wrong' in seeing the disease of alcoholism run its course.

They will try to make you feel like it's 'wrong' for you to notice it.

It is NOT wrong for you to notice it.

YOu do not require permission to step out
of the path of a burning oncoming train.

This reads more like you're wanting to stand up FOR yourself
rather than stand up TO someone else.

We can't control what someone else does...
but we CAN control whether we're a part of it.

I hope you'll read these stickies at the top of the forum
there's a tone of information there.
Maybe you'll find something that can help.

Welcome - you're not alone!
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:08 PM
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Thanks StarCat and Barb for your responses. I really have tried to say, "I'm not mad at you, but I want you to be happy. I don't expect you to change for me," and all of that stuff. It's causing enough friction between the family and other friends and me that I feel like the only answer is to separate myself totally from the family and friends because I can tell they think I'm attacking him or making it more dramatic.

I guess I was trying to find something he might read that would help him see he's putting himself in a bad situation and is displaying signs that he has a problem. I feel helpless watching him as he is now, and feeling like I'm a bad friend not saying or doing anything. And I feel like ignoring it like his family or continuing to drink with him or drive him places like our other friends is enabling it.

I know I can't expect him to change for anyone else, and he has to get there on his own time. I guess I was trying to help him get there faster simce he has admitted he can't stop drinking when he starts. But that's probably wishful thinking.

And I know a lot of friends/his family think I have gone overboard. They think I have made my point and should go back to the way things used to be. But I am done enabling it, and done putting up with emotional abuse that he doesn't remember so he can't change or apologize for.

Thanks again form the responses! Hopefully I will get that book before he and I sit down and talk!
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:41 PM
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I have had talks with my A regarding his problem, and he actually has read a ton of books himself on the subject.

I am going to say there's a good chance that the only thing this "talk" will accomplish is to sooth your conscience, because from what I've seen there's a very good chance that an A won't change until he's forced to do so.
Mine is in inpatient rehab, he's always talking about how he's doing it for me, and from what I understand he's convinced the staff that he's not an alcoholic, he was just drinking because one of his medications makes him a nervous wreck, and he just needs to have tranquilizers as well. He can say that all he wants, but the truth of the matter is that he had the tranquilizers before, he still drank, and nothing I ever said to him or did for him stopped that. He didn't even go to rehab until I disappeared and spent a night at work, then changed the locks myself as soon as I got home.

...I guess all I'm trying to say is, do what makes you feel like you did what you had to do, but please don't be hard on yourself if they don't work, because it's not your fault at all.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:51 PM
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hey, kelly, you have found some friends here. welcome to sober recovery.

right now i don't think the answer to your million dollar question is the right answer for you.

because it doesn't really matter if you got the answer (yes he is, no he isn't) anyway.

if he is not alcoholic, his behavior still leaves much to be desired, and is obviously causing harm.

if he is alcoholic, well, the other posters said it: you knowing that, and even telling him, instructing him, shining a light on the truth....will not cause him to stop drinking.

two things i believe are truths about alcoholism:
* denial is a strong and powerful thing
* he probably knows deep down what affliction he has anyway

good luck to you in finding some serenity, and letting this thing go as best you can
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:51 PM
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Honestly, the only reason I agreed to meet with him was to placate him one night when I ran into him and he was drunk, making a scene. He has almost everyone else either convinced he doesn't have a problem or willing to ignore it. It would be easiest for me if i did the same since he is so young and binge drinking is normal for a young, single male. At this point he blends in. And who knows, maybe how he is acting isn't the first big step toward a lifetime of the same.

The only reason I'm not ignoring it and staying around it is because it was making me miserable. As selfish as that sounds, my misery was my breaking point. And I'm happier with him out of my life. (That said, I'd be his friend again if he took steps beyond empty verbal promises to change.)
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by kelly1028 View Post
The only reason I'm not ignoring it and staying around it is because it was making me miserable. As selfish as that sounds, my misery was my breaking point. And I'm happier with him out of my life.
That's not selfishness, that's sanity.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:58 PM
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So the theme I keep hearing is it doesn't matter if there's a problem or not? I guess I'm trying to determine if I'm over-reacting and his drinking is normal, and I'm being unreasonable. He is begging me to talk to him. And I'm getting pressure from mutual friends and his family to talk to him. I honestly am leaning toward being very bottom line and saying, "you're disgusting when you drink and I can't handle it." Or should I be more compassionate, and try to really make him see the path he's going down. I feel like the answer is straight forward and walk away for good since it sounds like I'm complicating a simple issue: I'm unhappy, this is why we can't be friends...
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:02 PM
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And thanks again for the responses! This group is amazing!! So caring, open, and taking so much time to be supportive. My heart goes out to those who are recovering from this disease and those who have had close family and friend n a much more serious, day-to-day basis. I can't fathom.
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:55 PM
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kelly,
I am married to a very high functioning alcoholic.
I have gone around one million times about whether he IS or ISN'T an alcoholic.
Does it change a darn thing?
No.
So, I look at his behaviors.
Are they acceptable to me?
No.
Lying?
Nope.
Hiding drinking?
Nope.
Denial?
Nope.
Lack of communication?
Nope.
Unconscious behaviors?
Nope.
Defensive, mean, grumpiness when pressed?
Nope.
None of those are okay treatment of me.
So, regardless of what his deal is, I have set boundaries for myself to take care of myself.
I moved out and got a new job and a new home.
He may or may not (probably not) change and that is not my business or job.
My job is to take care of me.

Hope that helps. :P
Peace
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:58 PM
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I believe the real problem may be that you feel like it's your place to be involved, and are allowing him to draw you in. May I suggest looking into why you are engaged in this at all? SR is a good place to do that, and so are some Al-Anon meetings.

Take care,

Cyranoak
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:29 AM
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Cryanoak- I actually DON'T want to be involved. On three previous occasions when approached (via text), I told him I'd already said everything I needed to say and didn't see the point of going in circles. In this instance, I really do feel pressure from others in his life (mostly his sisters, who I'm also friends with).

I guess I need to be stronger at NOT pleasing everyone around me, and not making sure they know I've given this a lot of thought and have my reasons for not having him in my life. They honestly don't see what I see, and somehow are able to put up with and forgive his actions week after week after week. For me, it got old.

So, I guess the issue is with my strength with the others. I don't feel like I owe him anything. For some reason I feel compelled to make sure they understand my perspective, but I suppose they probably never will. And I've been trying really hard to preserve these friendships, but probably need to accept they're going to deteriorate with this decision.
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