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kayyyyleigh's avatar

How do you show someone that they have a "problem"?

Asked by kayyyyleigh (404points) December 28th, 2009

one of my very close friends, i think is an alcoholic..

he drinks every single day, and gets completely drunk, way beyond what he calls just for fun. he tends to call me at these times, four in the morning and i have been given the nickname “kayleigh bug” because he likes to bug me.

last night he called me BEFORE he went out, and said that he was tiered and was going to take a shower and i suggested that he stay home, and get some sleep. he then proceeded to lecture me about how if he skipped that night, it would be one day less of his life that he could have been drunk.. we then argued about him being tiered and i tried to convince him to stay home and sleep, but he went out last night still.

we got on the topic of alcoholism and he said “I am not an alcoholic. we aren’t even going to go there. I may have an addiction to like captain crunch, yes I’m a Cheetos addict, but no NOT drinking.”

he doesn’t see it as a problem, but i do. he makes horrible decisions and has driven after he had been drinking. I just dont want anything horrible to happen to him, or anyone else, so how do i convince him that he should change his ways before he gets hurt, hurts someone else, or gets in a lot of trouble?

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40 Answers

troubleinharlem's avatar

They have to want to change themselves. Maybe it’ll take an accident to shake him up a little bit.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

He should be in “trouble”. If he drinks as much as you say, and as often, and while he’s driving, then it’s just a matter of time before he kills or maims himself, or someone else. If you know where he drinks, you may suggest to the police in that area that they would be doing everyone a favor if they pick him up and charge him with DUI as soon as possible to prevent what you know is coming. You could remain anonymous or not, as you wish.

That may not help him to change his mind right away, but given time—and the ensuing legal difficulty—it might.

kayyyyleigh's avatar

@troubleinharlem i know they have to want to, but I will feel guilty if I don’t show them the harm they are/could cause.

sallycinnamon's avatar

that’s ashame. there’s not alot people can do, they’ve got to realise on their own.
even tho it hurts you, just try to be there for him whatever happens.

troubleinharlem's avatar

If you show him, then you’ve done what you can do, right? No need to feel guilty. (I mean, if he knows what he’s doing then he’s responsible.) D:

Talimze's avatar

Heh, well, you’re definitely right about him being an alcoholic, because someone who gets completely plastered everyday probably has little time for anything but drinking.

But really (and I know this is not the answer you’re looking for) the only way he’s ever going to cooperate with you in trying to help himself is after he does something while drunk that wakes him up, and yeah, it’s probably going to be something bad, especially for him. It doesn’t always have to be that way, but the way you describe him, I don’t expect it to happen any other way.

butterflykisses's avatar

I am dealing with something so close to what you are. I love my friend so very much but there comes a time when you have to step back. Until they are ready to admit they have a problem and do something about it there really is nothing you can do. It is the hardest thing to do. I am wrestleing with this very thing and have been all day. The last thing she said to me while she was drunk hurt so very badly. It gets abusive. I have to save myself because she is not able to do it for me.

I will be here for her when she is ready and I am composing a letter to her, to tell her just that and I am walking away for now. It is hard, but watching her do this to herself and being abused by her is even harder. She won’t admit there is a problem…even when she was provided evidence…2 gallons of Vodka, a fifth of crown and a half a case of beer in 9 days. She said….” It’s the holidays…last time it was..I am on vacation…the time before that it was ..“it’s my Birthday week…time before that…I’m just having a bad week…=(

I don’t know if walking away is the right thing…but like you I have tried everything and it’s the only thing left to do… until she gets help.

Sorry you are going throiugh this too. I’m here if you need an ear.

Val123's avatar

Quit being his friend, or at least quit making yourself available to him. If he starts to realize how much he’s losing because of his drinking, maybe he’ll reconsider. Just tell him you don’t want him to call you any more until he decides to quit drinking. And stick with it.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

People with addictions cannot be helped until they want the help. The only thing we can do is to NOT enable their behavior. That’s not easy, but tough “love” is what is needed. Just do not allow yourself to be dragged down with this person. Sometimes they need to really hit bottom before they realize they need to stop and get help.

mrentropy's avatar

@kayyyyleigh Don’t feel guilty. You can’t control this and you sure can’t fix it, even if you think you can and want to. I don’t necessarily agree with them but you may want to check out a couple of Al-Anon meetings.

If you stay in this persons life you should get ready for a sleigh ride through Hell.

Mavericksjustdoinganotherflyby's avatar

Something horrible is going to happen to him before he realizes he has a problem and it might be a good idea to not be around watching it happen. You cannot change / fix him.
You have already expressed your concern towards him and that’s all you can do.
Let him know that you will not be there to watch him destroy himself, but also let him know if he figures out that he does have a problem and wants to be sober that you will be an ear to bend if and when that happens.
This is the best thing you can do, for him and yourself. I know it is hard to let someone go like this but it is part of a process that he needs to go through in order to find his rock bottom and get into recovery mode.
Good luck.

StupidGirl's avatar

@kayyyyleigh One way is: first you establish rapport. Then you can start to steer left and right. Maybe he’ll even want you to quit when he sees how terrible it is to be drunk day after day.

mrentropy's avatar

Good luck steering an alcoholic anywhere. They do what they’re driven to do, regardless of consequences or logic. Trying to control it, or steer it, leads to frustration and anger to everyone involved.

AnnieB's avatar

I dated a man with an alcohol AND anger problem….he’s 52, and still blames everyone else for his issues…until he realizes these are “problems”, and these problems are HIS creation, and HIS to repair….there’s no showing him.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’ve read that alcoholics/ addicts have to “hit bottom” before they realize that they have a problem and need help.

mrentropy's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land That may be true. Unfortunately, sometimes “bottom” is so far down you never know when they’ll hit. They’ll go through crap that would make you give up, but they’ll keep plugging along.

Buttonstc's avatar

Denial on the part of the addict is an essential part of the package. Denial is what enables them to continue in such self destructive behavior.

I have gone through this with two family members and have found that there are only two things which can cut through the denial.

The first is the cumulative effects of all the consequences of their addiction. These can be medical, legal, and personal as they continually alienate those close to them. That’s basically what others have mentioned as “hitting bottom”

Unfortunately some reach the ultimate bottom (death) before they ever seek help and die in their disease and, worse yet, take others with them by driving impaired.

The only other thing that helps cut through the denial is a well-organized intervention. This is where family and close friends gather together for the express purpose of confronting this together. All of you have told him separately at various times but there is a different impact if it’s done in a united way.

Just recently, we had another thread about this which you might want to read. Just put the word intervention into the search.

I don’t know how well you know his family or even if you do. But if this is not a possibility, you need to extricate yourself. Let him know in no uncertain terms why you are doing this and then stick to it. No more emotional support for drunken late night calls etc.

This is just another one of the consequences of his addiction. You will certainly not be the only one who refuses to enable him any longer. Perhaps putting it in writing would be best. He will most likely keep it and perhaps even re-read it numerous times. You never know what may propel change, but don’t get your hopes too high.

You seemed rather surprised that he refused to listen to you, but those of us who have been through this are quite familiar with the amazing amount of denial that is there. The bottom line is that you can’t change him. The only person you can change is yourself.

The only thing you can do is try to create some consequences for him and make it clear that you will no longer participate in his denial of the problem.

Beyond that, it’s up to him.

Btw. If you would be interested in seeing how interventions are done and what is involved, there is a documentary type program on A&E network which will start the new season sometime in January. You can go to the website for more info and resources.

They present a pretty accurate picture of what dealing with addicts is like.

I choose to use the term addict rather than alcoholic mainly because it is too limiting a term There are so many people nowadays who are cross-addicted to booze, pills, or whatever they can get their hands on. The disease process is exactly the same regardless of the substance so for me I just say addict and it covers the whole spectrum.

TheHaight's avatar

Sadly, I was the way from about five month ago until now. I started to push away my friends and family, I was the girl at the party or club that got way too fucked up to the point of passing out. Things have been rough for me, and all I can tell you is to just be there..because your friend will realize one day that he has a problem. He has to do it on his own. I had to realize it the hard way- a pretty disastrous thing happened to me that change my life forever, and woke me up back into reality. I wish I didn’t have to experience it but at the same time something had to stop me. Good luck to your friend and he should be lucky to have such a concerned friend like yourself.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m sorry to say that there is nothing you can say to convince an alcoholic of his problem. He has to see it for himself. It may take a truly horrendous problem to come along to do the trick. All you can do is take care of yourself.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@hawaii_jake, @TheHaight, @Buttonstc, @mrentropy, @stranger_in_a_strange_land and others who say “he has to hit bottom first”, this is why I say that you may as well call the cops on this guy so that “bottom” can be a controllable and workable “legal only” problem.

It will be much easier for the guy to be brought up short by being arrested for DUI than it will be for him to find his “bottom” by killing or maiming himself or someone else. (And it would help to put the bar owner on notice, too, that if he’s serving a patron past the point of inebriation, then he bears liability, too.)

YCLYHO's avatar

leave the phone number for AA lying around, before you go, he may well give em a ring…...... other than that, you must just be honest with him, and patient, wait until he is ready to admit, whilst keeping yourself safe ie like refusing to get in the car if he is driving under the influence

mrentropy's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Believe it or not, sometimes calling the police just doesn’t work.

Cotton101's avatar

Wow, that is a very sensitive issue! Just tell that person, from the heart, what you see! Being a friend, is telling your friend, what they don’t want to hear! Lay on the line…you are doing it for their benefit. Just tell that person the “110 percent truth!”

NUNYA's avatar

That is a real tough question. Because most alcoholics will not admit to being an alcoholic. You have voiced your opinion and as the old saying goes “You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink.” I do agree with @CyanoticWasp about calling the law on him and get them to pick him up for a DUI. But I do know of one friend of mine that would blow that off and actually make him more defiant and get a “Well I will show them” attitude and continue on the path of destruction. I do not know if your friend has the same attitude or not but if you think that him getting a DUI and having to attend AA classes might help him out then that is where I would start. You have already tried it in the nice friendly “friend to friend” manner and that did not work.
Once an alcoholic starts drinking and the alcohol becomes part of his day to day life, they really do not think they can function without it. Their body tells them that they need it to survive. He doesn’t want to stop because this is how he get to have a “happy feeling” going on. Honestly they just do not know how to function without it Sometimes it is the only way they know how to be happy. So this month he drinks 4 beers to feel the happy feeling that he is searching for. But as the tolerance builds up and then next month he needs 6 beers to get that same happy feeling. And pretty soon it is 10 beers and several shots to get that happy feeling. Next thing they know they are drinking a 12 pack of beer and a bottle of whatever a night. Then sometimes they really think that they need it just to get started and wake up in the mornings and then sometimes it flows into they need it at work. They learn to live on little to no sleep because the alcohol consumes their entire life! They start plotting trying to figure out how they can sneak in a little drink here and there. All they think about is getting another drink. Then their preformace at work goes down hill and sometimes loose a really good paying job because of the alcohol.
ALL of this information comes from someone directly related to me and this is how she ended up. She was drinking to start her day, gnerally a few shots of Jack Daniels. Then she started drinking at work. She would use cough medicine bottles filled with Jack Daniels so nobody would suspect. Next thing she did was to start drinking vodka on her lunch breaks. When the work day was over she went directly to the bar and drank 12–16 beers until closing time and then woke up and did it all over again. A sad but true story!
So by hearing the story of what happened to this very important person in my life I hope it will help you to decide what you should do to help your friend. His life may or not get so far out of whack. But there is a chance it might. So maybe the police and him getting a DUI would be an eye opener for him. Sometimes they need a good shake to get them to see the path they are taking is not a smart path. If he is still quite young it might just be the “thing” to do right now. I do not know how others feel but when I turned of age I really wanted to try it out. But if he is old enough to know better and still chooses to do this. The police might be the way to go.
I really wish you the best in trying to help your friend. He might not know it now but you are really a good friend. And keep on talkin’ to him about it. Never hurts to throw a little encouragement his way. I know that this person in my life thanked me and still does for saving her life. She was spinning out of control and had it not been for intervention she might not be here today. Good Luck and don’t give up on him! You might be saving his life in the long run!
A little side not… cousin was killed by a drunk driver. And the kicker? It was the day of his wedding and his wife to be was pregnant! Drinking and Driving is a bad choice!

mass_pike4's avatar

unfortunately man your friend has to learn on his own. What you could do is go to his/her parents and tell them that you have a concern about the situation. You could try to get him/her enrolled into a drug/alcohol rehab or substance abuse education program.

Personally, I am an alcoholic. I did not realize it and i just went about my business even though I knew that alcohol was bad for my body. It took two DUIs and a potential fatal accident for me to change my ways. I was enrolled into a substance abuse program and this helped me out a lot.

It sounds like your friend is worse off than I was, especially since he/she believe they do not have a problem. This is why I think he/she should get educated and learn to except that they have a problem.

Put things in perspective for him/her. Tell them that alcohol is a drug and no matter how many drinks you have had (even after 1 drink) you are impaired. Why? Because even after 1, you tell yourself that you want another. You want to get a better feeling off of it. Now lets change this situation around and pretend that he/she just drank a 12 oz water. If your friend drinks 12 beers in a night, that is like he/she just drank 12 waters in a night. It is stupid because that is a lot of liquid and he/she only continues to drink more because they want more of an effect from the drug.

An alcoholic, and your friend certainly is one, is very stubborn as you have realized by now. You have to find a way to get to them because they have a false sense of reality. This is why I strongly suggest you have him/her recommended into a substance abuse education program. The professionals in these fields do a really good job and they have seen every type of drug addict and understand all their ways of false reasoning and reality. They will turn him/her around. However, he/she can take all the information in, but whether they live by it and apply it is key. It always comes down to the individual, but he/she cannot do it alone. So, this is when you come in. Support them whenever they need it. Hope this helps and if you need any more help I will be willing to

NUNYA's avatar

@mass_pike4 Well said!! +Great Answer!

butterflykisses's avatar

I am writing a letter but now I am second guessing myself. I know in my heart she is one, but how do you really know for sure? She is going to deny it I know she will. I’m scared I just may be judging her? Should I start a new thread? or is it ok to continue to talk about the same topic in someone elses Q? Since it deals with the same thing?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Be a friend, tell them what you see. Avoid being an enabler. Be there when they hit bottom or ask for help. You have received lots of other sound advice from others. You have support here.

AnnieB's avatar

@mrentropy That’s the truth. The man I dated had 6 DUIs. All during his first marriage. He had court ordered anger management counseling. Do you know who’s fault the 6 DUIs were? His first wife, for being such a greedy bitch. She’s long gone, and he’s still drinking. HIs second wife cheated on him, so if she hadn’t been such a whore….(he didn’t bother to mention the verbal, and possibly physical abuse he graced her with. I saw that for myself, with me.) I broke up with him because of his uncontrollable anger flare ups…I was married to an abusive, alcoholic. I was also the step daughter of an abusive, alcoholic. I know the behavior. Of course, if you ask them, neither of them had a problem either…

You can’t help fix their “problem” if they don’t have one.

mrentropy's avatar

@AnnieB I feel for you. I know someone who has DUI’s, jail time, losing their children to the county, many hospital ER trips, time in psychiatric hospitals, raped, and God knows what else.

Not their fault, though. It’s the state, the county, the police, doctors, and my fault for all of it.

UScitizen's avatar

Simply show him his marriage license and his check book.

Val123's avatar

@mrentropy Yeah. “Well, if they hadn’t arrested me, none of this would have happened!”

mrentropy's avatar

@Val123 I deal with that one on an almost daily basis and that’s not an exaggeration. I finally gave up my answer to that (“What the hell did you think was going to happen?”) because it wasn’t making an impact.

These days, however, I see that everything is actually my fault.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Having a drinking problem does not mean that a person is alcoholic, or addicted to alcohol. The person may only need to cut down rather than abstain. Many find the idea of drinking in moderation more acceptable and achievable than abstaining entirely from alcohol.

The decision whether to reduce drinking to moderate levels or abstain entirely from alcohol is best made after consulting with a doctor.

Helping a person who drinks too much takes knowledge, compassion and patience. Some actions are helpful and others are not.

• Try to remain calm, unemotional and factually honest about how the person’s drinking abuse hurts you and others.
• Discuss the problem with someone you trust – a friend, clergy person, social worker, or someone who has experienced alcohol abuse or alcoholism either personally or as a family member.
• Try to maintain a healthy, normal atmosphere in the home and try to include the alcoholic or problem drinker in family life.
• Encourage new interests and participate in leisure activities that the problem drinker enjoys and encourage the person to see old friends in non-drinking situations.
• Be patient and live one day at a time. Changing behavior is difficult, as dieters and those attempting to stop smoking know. Setbacks and relapses are to be expected. Try to accept them with calm understanding and don’t become discouraged.

• Punish, threaten, bribe, preach, or try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase the problem drinker’s feelings of guilt and compulsion to drink.
• Cover up or make excuses for an alcoholic or shield a person from the consequences of alcohol abuse.
• Take over the responsibilities of an abuser of alcohol.
• Hide or dump bottles of alcohol, or shelter a problem drinker from situations where alcohol is present.
• Argue with a person who is intoxicated.
• Drink with an alcohol abuser.
• Accept guilt for the behavior of a problem drinker.

Remember that changing behavior, especially becoming an abstainer, is very difficult. Be understanding and patient, but don’t accept any responsibility or guilt for the behavior of another person. You are responsible only for your own behavior.

Buttonstc's avatar

Much of what you just wrote is very true but I think there is one thing which could be a very dangerous recommendation.

You mentioned moderation. This is not recommended for alcoholics. It doesn’t work for them.

Anyone who doubts that statement needs to find out for themselves. Audrey Kishline is the founder of the Moderation Management movement.

For anyone who doubts my statement regarding the futility of the MM approach when dealing with alcoholics, just put her name into Google to find out for yourself.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Audrey Kishline of Moderation Management had given up moderation and had gone back to trying abstinence but couldn’t maintain it.

According to the U.S. federal government’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a very large number of alcoholics are now drinking in moderation. Although this is inconsistent with AA’s non-scientific teachings, it has repeatedly been demonstrated. The NIAAA’s nation-wide sample of people in the U.S. simply adds more scientific evidence that many alcoholics can and do drink in moderation.

More than one-third (35.9 percent) of U.S. adults with alcohol dependence (alcoholism) that began more than one year ago are now in full recovery, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

The fully recovered individuals show symptoms of neither alcohol dependence nor alcohol abuse. They either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk. They include roughly equal proportions of abstainers (18.2 percent) and low-risk drinkers (17.7 percent).

The analysis is based on data from the 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of NIAAA. Based on a representative sample of 43,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, the NESARC is the largest survey ever conducted of the co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use disorders and related psychiatric conditions. The NESARC defines alcohol use disorders and their remission according to the most recent clinical criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association.

One-quarter (25.0 percent) of individuals with alcohol dependence that began more than one year ago now are still dependent and 27.3 percent are in partial remission (that is, exhibit some symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse). About twelve percent (11.8%) are drinkers with no symptoms but whose consumption increases their chances of relapse (for men, more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks on any day; for women, more than 7 drinks per week or more than three drinks on any day).

I know that this sounds like heresy, but there is overwhelming evidence that a substantial proportion of diagnosed alcoholics can and do drink in moderation.

deepdivercwa55m's avatar

just use your friendship. Looks like you are very close to him. So tell him that you won’t speak to him again if he continues to drink. If he does, stay away. Tell him to call you if he change his mind. I don’t think he will choose a liquid instead of your friendship..

fluthertapthecollectivedotcom's avatar

You can’t change people. Alcoholics tend to take advantage of people. It is easy to be a codependent and make yourself feel better by “helping” him, but the only person who can help him, as everyone above has mentioned, is himself. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom for people to wake up (although my father doesn’t seem to have any “bottom”” to how he will allow his addictions to pull him). At least that is what they say in the alanon meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for the family and friends of alcoholics—you should have lots of local meetings in your area, just search on your browser).

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