Helping Hands

Week of:
Jul 31, 2020

Help for friends who drink too much

Dear Alice,

I have two friends who I think are drinking too much. I don't know what to do. They are very defensive should anyone say anything to them about their excessive habit, and a lot of our friends are giving up on them. This has become a daily thing and their schoolwork and friendships are all suffering. They are both 21; one recently broke up with his girlfriend of several years and the other has been single for a while and he hates it. I know that has a lot to do with it. Please suggest some non-intrusive ways to help them. I'm really at a loss.

Thank you,
A concerned friend

How can I help my drunk friend?

Dear Alice,

Two questions on alcohol:

A friend has had a lot to drink, and they are on the verge of collapsing or throwing up, etc. I'm good at the emotional consolation stuff when people get upset, but what about what I should do physically?

Should they lie down, sit upon the floor, sit in a chair? Should they drink water? Should I get them to eat something? Should I take their wrists and make them wave their arms to keep blood rushing? Should I get them to walk? Should they be outside in the fresh air, or in the warmth? Where should I be, sitting side by side with them, sitting on the floor with my chest to their back?

Secondly, if I'm also drunk and I think that the atmosphere around me is getting aggressive, how can I accelerate sobering up to retain the role of a coordinator and get people sorted out?

Thanks if you can help.

Friend misusing alcohol

Dear Alice,

Last year, I became very good friends with a guy on my floor. He was a little out of the ordinary in the way he dressed, as well as in some of his opinions and habits. I had the feeling that he did drink more than he should, and he also did pot. I did not worry too much about it because it appeared to be more of a lifestyle choice than an addiction, and it did not cause him major troubles.

Unfortunately, he started to have academic problems. He did not do his work, missed classes, and eventually exams as well. I still did not relate these things to his alcohol and drug habits, and I hoped that once he got over the adjustment everyone needed to make in freshman year, he would be fine. Well, he wasn't. He did not come back to school this fall, and when I called him, I learned that he had gone through a lot that summer. He was diagnosed with depression and a cocaine addiction, put on Prozac, and sent to therapy. At that point, I thought that he was on the right track because he was also going to get a job and planning to take classes at a nearby college.

However, when he came to visit me a month later, he had already had two beers before he even came here and got more and more drunk as the evening progressed. I would not let him drive home, but he ignored my warnings and left anyway. I was very disturbed because a friend of his had just been in a drunk driving accident. I was very mad at him, told him clearly that I will always be his friend but prefer not to talk to him or see him if he showed up drunk again. He did not call for a while and neither did I. When he called me yesterday and I told him that I thought he should do something about his alcohol problem, he kept repeating his excuses, that he drinks because he is Irish, that he doesn't care if he dies early as long as he had fun in life, etc. On the other hand, he can't find a job and seems to be very depressed. I want to help him, but I don't know how. Any ideas?

— Concerned