Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bianca Knows Best … And Helps a Bad Influence

Posted on Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Dear Bianca,

I think my friend might be an alcoholic. He always seems depressed or down when he's sober. But he cheers up when he starts sipping his whiskey cocktails each night.

Some particularly hard times fell on him recently, and the drinking got worse. I've stopped by his apartment on weekday mornings (we live a few blocks away from one another) and found him sitting on the patio with a cocktail in his hand. And this was right before he was supposed to going to work!

On weekend nights when we go out, he always drinks way too much and does something embarrassing. We've been kicked out of more than one bar together. I'd like to talk to him about it, but I'm a pretty heaver drinker too. I don't drink before nightfall or anything, but I've been known to get out of hand on a weekend binge.

How can I convince my friend that he needs help when I'm not the best influence? Should I use the "do as I say not as I do" line?

— The Hypocrite Friend

Dear Hypocrite,

Drinking is fun, but it shouldn't rule your life. When imbibing moves from a fun weekend game to a way to mask your problems, it's time to look into treatment.

As a weekend binge drinker, you may not have a problem but if you're drinking with your leaning-toward-alcoholic friend, you're making his problem worse. The first thing you have to do is stop drinking around him. It might seem lame, but if you truly care about his health and mental stability, you'll put him over your need for drunken debauchery.

Instead of going to bars, suggest alcohol-free weekend fun like movies or coffee shops. You might just find that you can have fun sans booze. Save your desire to drink for other occasions ... when the alcoholic isn't around.

Once you've stopped being a bad influence, then you can sit the friend down and give him the talk. Tell him you've noticed his mood changes and pre-work cocktails, and suggest he get some help. Make sure he knows you're concerned because you care and not because you're trying to act like a nagging mom.

Twelve step programs work for many people, but he really has to want help before any treatment will take. If he doesn't agree to Alcoholics Anonymous, you should step back and just try to remain a good influence by sticking to your goal of not drinking around him. In the end, you may find you'll feel healthier too.

Got a problem? Send your questions to Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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