My best friend

Old 10-07-2014, 06:36 AM
  # 1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Sydney
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Unhappy My best friend

Hi All,

So I'm not really sure where to start, except that I joined this forum specifically to ask people who have been through the same issues for some advice and support.

My best friend is an alcoholic. We used to live together I have seen him at his lowest, and he has done some pretty awful things to me while under the influence. When he's sober he's a lot of fun, and has been a great support and friend to me over the many years we've known each other... he's like the brother I never had and I really love him. Ultimately I couldn't live with him, for my own sanity and for the sake of such a significant friendship... So we've lived apart for 2 years now, but see each other weekly and make a point of having boys nights to catch up and hang out. We're both in our early 30s.

In the time I've known him, over about 5 years or so, he's tried to cut down drinking a few times, and inevitably begins with just one, then just two, and the time between gets shorter and he's drinking a lot again. I recognise the cycle so well I could time a clock to it! The problem is, of course, that the time is getting shorter between the cycles now (the last one was three months from 'just one drink' to getting very drunk most nights).

The most recent crash-and-burn occured in April, so 6 months ago, when his flatmate (a friend of mine too) called me at 1130pm on a Sunday saying he'd come home totally drunk talking about jumping in front of cars... It was the first time she'd dealt with that (but it was very familiar to me) and she was understandably very upset. I spoke to him the next day and he said he'd called in to a therapist (who'd been recommended 6 months earlier when a similar incident had happened) and stopped drinking straight away - cold turkey - with the support of me and his flatmate, and the psychologist.

All was going well until he attended a wedding in July and was given a beer - which he accepted and drank cos he didn't want to appear rude. He very sheepishly told me a week later and I said, it's cool man, people slip up, you're doing so well... Then tonight, I was at a pub with another mate (the pub where my best mate and I used to drink all the time, so everyone knows us!) and the manager said "Oh it's been ages! Hey I saw your mate just last Friday! How are you all going?"

I asked the manager if my mate had been drinking, he said yes... He explained that my mate had told him that he'd been staying away to avoid drinking cos he was hitting it really hard, but it was good to see him back...

So I don't know if this is an isolated incident. I don't know if it's been habitual (the April incident had been part of a larger habit that he completely kept form me - because I had called him out on his poor behaviour towards me while he's drunk in the past and told him I won't put up with it).

And I really really don't know what to do... Or what to think... I don't want to confront him and make him hide things from me, but I don't want to have to deal with his alcoholism again, especially as we're planning a month-long trip in December - just the two of us.

This is a super long post - and barely covers the detail of his journey, and of my part in it, but for now... For those who have been here... What can I do at this point?

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Old 10-07-2014, 08:07 AM
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Hi DJ --

Well -- the hard truth is: Not much. He's an adult, if he chooses to drink, he will drink. And in my experience, an alcoholic who just "stays away" from drinking for periods or time usually falls into the pattern of your friend: They stay away for a while, then they get cocky and think they can handle it, and then they're back drinking full force again.

It's hell to deal with when you love someone like that.

What you can do is take care of yourself. I know it's counter-intuitive, but that's really the only thing you have any control over. You can't be his babysitter and make sure he doesn't drink. What you can do is set boundaries for what you are willing to accept -- without expecting that it will change his behavior.

For example -- you could say "I won't hang out with him when he's drinking" and "If he calls me when he's drunk, I will hang up." I also think you could say "If he is not sober, I won't go on that vacation trip in December with him." You can tell him all these things.

I'm coming from the point of view of having been married to an alcoholic for 2 decades. I tried everything to get him to stop drinking. Even when I left him, he only stopped for a few months. He has lost absolutely everything in his life -- family, friends, job, home -- and he's still drinking.

It's heartbreaking -- but you have no control over his drinking. The only thing I would say is that if he ever again mentions suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately. An alcoholic who threatens suicide to get attention and coddling will stop doing that when the cops and medics show up. An alcoholic who really is suicidal will get help.
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Old 10-08-2014, 12:23 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
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Hi Amy - this is a pretty perfect description of what has always happened...

Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
They stay away for a while, then they get cocky and think they can handle it, and then they're back drinking full force again.
I have set boundaries... And going on experience I'm reasonably sure he won't break them either, until it gets to that end-stage part where he doesn't care any more.

I suppose yesterday I was just very anxious as the memories of all the horrible episodes came flooding back - after a really great 6 months where we could focus on hanging out and playing video games, watching TV, going out (dry), talking about love and life and sex and all the things that mates do, rather than having to deal with booze and poor behaviour. I think perhaps that that's an important thing to tell him...

I'm very very aware that while I rely on him for support in a lot of ways, he can't help me through this aspect of my life (given its related to his recovery, I mean) because I really don't want to make him feel bad for me being anxious about things that I have forgiven him for, but which are painful to think about nonetheless.

With a little more distance today, I feel better able to step back a bit and reflect that I don't have all the facts... So I can't go in and make accusations, but I will try to talk to him about his progress when it comes up naturally. If it was a slip up and he's committed to his sobriety, then awesome! If he's back on then I can't do much about it. When I'm not around, I can't control his behaviour or drinking. And when I am around, I can leave if I am uncomfortable.

It is heartbreaking, though.... Sigh.

Anyway, thank you for your lovely reply :-)
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Old 10-08-2014, 03:09 AM
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It is a roller coaster , you have to get OFF the roller coaster so you are not 'involved' with his drinking at all , hearing things from others is upsetting , there you were having a nice evening and a few words from the barman I bet your mood dropped and the worrying set in again

It is heart breaking to watch even if you are not ON the roller coaster itself , you can distance yourself but it is hard for his journey not to affect you at all because of COURSE you want him off the drink permanently but we have no control over their drinking , we cannot make them stop , it is their journey and ours is ours , recovering from the impact their drinking has had on our own lives but distance is a good thing , getting too involved is not , you have your own health and own life to think of , whatever happens in the future xx

My own flesh and blood ( daughter ) is an alcoholic , so we understand your pain on here , so keep sharing and getting support if needed as everyone has a wealth of experience and we all have something in common we love or have loved someone with alcoholism
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Old 10-08-2014, 05:06 AM
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Welcome! Youve gotten some great information here! You do sound like you have put some boundaries in place! Heartbreaking isn't it?
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:57 AM
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I have similar frustrations with my father and siblings.

Serenity to accept the things I can't change
Courage to change the things I can
Wisdom to know the difference

I've been working everyday to find that wisdom. It doesn't come instantly. I also wish sometimes that I could sit with my father, talk about my sobriety, and he would, all of a sudden, decide that he wants to be sober too. Life just isn't magical like that - that is, I don't have that kind of power. I can't lift my father's disease away - Heck, I can't lift my own. I'm constantly seeking the higher power to help me out with it (go to meetings, talk to other sober people, attend counseling).

I can set boundaries and make choices in my own life but I can't make choices for other people. I can't coerce my father into seeking a doctor, going to counseling, attending 12-step meetings, etc. I can only do that for myself. I can seek help for me in dealing with the painful experience of watching my loved ones die. Can I stop the world's pain? Like tsunami's and earthquakes and murders and etc? Nope. Yet, when it's so close to home and in front of my face - I so wish that I could. But I can't - I don't have the power to do it.

Letting go of the possibility that I could FIX the problem in such a bad-a** way (like in the movies) is a DAILY struggle for me. I put the focus on myself in figuring out - how do I cope with this? how do I live a happy life? how do I maintain my own sobriety?

One day at a time.

Have you considered 12-step meetings? such as Al-Anon? Just hearing other people's stories helped me personally quite a bit. This forum has been awesome as well.

Best of luck!
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:01 AM
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Hi All,

Thanks so much for all your replies!

I feel much more "distanced" now, given a week has passed, so I realise that his drinking is his thing, and my not being involved is mine... I always knew this of course, but when confronted with it, it takes some time to overcome that gut reaction of jumping in and saving the day lol

I'm sure we'll have a chat soon, we always tend to check in with each other and ask "how are you really doing?" as a matter of course. I'm not sure if I want to bring up what I know or not... I'll play it by ear... I guess it depends on what I want to get out of telling him I know he was there. Like, if it';s just to hurt him or make him feel bad then why would I do that? I think I what I want is an explanation - like was he drinking? was he just there with mates drinking a coke? Maybe knowing for sure will make it easier, but then what if the answer is not what I want to hear?? It won't make me love him any less, and I know of course that relapse is part of recovery, but I can't deny I'll be a bit disappointed.

The other thing that's on my mind this week is that his flatmate is back in town - he is in town like 3-4 weeks out of the year (the rest of the time in HK) and he also drinks a lot. They met at a pub and i've never seen him sober. Ever. He rubs me up the wrong way, apart from my concerns for his influence on my mate, and both of them know I don't like the guy and we're all cool to just avoid each other and keep things separate. I mean I know that like the sitauation last week, there's nothing i can (or should) do about this, and i'm actually pretty good at not dwelling on it I think ... But it's in the back of my mind, i have to admit.

It's just really frustrating that I have to put this much thought into things, know what I mean?
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