Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When A Friend Has Lost Control

I have a problem. I have a friend whose alcoholism is spiraling out of control. The question becomes, as always, when is it appropriate to say something and when is it not?

My sponsor draws the line thus: "If it affects you, then it's your business. If not, it's nunya."

It hasn't directly affected me yet (in AA, we say that 'yet' means "YOU'RE ELIGIBLE TOO"), but it has recently impacted my wife, Chelle, and a good friend. It's just a matter of time until I'm next. This person does what all alcoholics do--I've said here before that we are amazingly predictable in our behaviors--she gets drunk, she gets enraged. She makes up shit. She feels victimized, judgmental, makes assumptions, leaps to conclusions, blows things way out of proportion. In short, she acts crazy. Of course, I know it's not HER: it's the booze.

The problem is getting her to see it's the booze.

Actually, that's not the problem. I feel pretty sure she'll agree it's the booze and that she has a problem. She's gotten at least one, maybe two DUIs, and comes from a family full of alcoholics. You know, just like a garden variety alcoholic. She'll probably readily admit alcohol is a problem or that she's a problem drinker.

What the real problem is boils down to making the BIG leap, the great plunge: admitting she's an alcoholic. Because doing that is tantamount to admitting you know damn well you shouldn't be drinking at all and will never be able to drink again. You can't control it; you are powerless over what booze does to you; stop thinking you can drink responsibly in moderation. You can't. Forget it. Stop kidding yourself.

You. Cannot. Drink. Ever. Again.

That's a big one, and it took me 47 years to get to myself.

But when she's going to start going on the rampage and ripping Chelle and my friends new assholes based on nonsense she's utterly made up, then she's messing with me. I cannot condone this behavior anymore because it's reached the point that if I don't say something, I'm implicitly saying she is okay, that nothing is wrong. I let it slide once, but this is twice (and I know of other occasions not impacting me), and I just can't ignore it.

Part of an alcoholic reaching bottom is understanding that there are consequences to actions. So, you stop enabling them by looking the other way. You stop wanting to be around them. You get tired of their litany of reasons their life is going all wrong when the OBVIOUS reason is staring them right in the face.

It's the alcohol, my friend.

You need to stop drinking.

You're going to lose all your friends unless you stop.

We will all support you in your recovery; I will go to meetings several times a day with you if that's what it will take. I'm still your friend, but I can't be your friend anymore while you're still using.

Please get some help. We care about you.

But I have to draw the line somewhere, hon. And so ... I'm drawing it, for my own peace of mind.

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