Advice from Amy: Alcoholic Friend Is Out of Control

By Amy Dickinson | January 4th, 2022

‘I love our friendship, but I have reached my limit’

sad woman with alcohol Photo by Ocusfocus Dreamstime. For article, Advice from Amy: Alcoholic Friend Is Out of Control

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson addresses a woman whose alcoholic friend is out of control. The writer values the friendship, but her patience has worn thin. In fact, she is “Disgusted.”

Dear Amy:

My friend is a drunk. This is disgusting to watch.

At several points over the years, when I have traveled with her, she has found ways to drink while a passenger in my car – often from a “water bottle” that has vodka in it.

If I were stopped by police and they found open liquor within reach inside my car, I would be immediately fired from my job.

I have discussed this with my friend, but she has still violated my trust.

She has gone to rehab, tried cold turkey, and been hospitalized. She lost her job due to her alcoholism.

She is an educated, vivacious, loving, caring friend who stood at my side when life kicked me in the head and heart as I dealt with the loss of my mother, and as other friends backed away.

I love our friendship.

I recently hosted a holiday celebration. I thought I was on alert, but I didn’t notice how much she was drinking.

I looked across the table and saw (once again) the half-mast eyes, mouth agape with food dribbling out, down her dress, and onto the floor. Her face was almost in her plate. She spent the night passed out on my couch.

I have reached my limit. I spoke with her the next morning. She apologized profusely, but I realize that means nothing.

I would be mortified to be in that state of inebriation, but she doesn’t seem to have any shame at all.

I want to include her when I entertain or go out with other friends, but I don’t want to watch her get drunk or have to take care of a drunk.

I don’t want to have to lock up my liquor when she is at my home.

I shouldn’t have to be the “liquor police” with her.

What is there left to do?

– Disgusted

Dear Disgusted:

You say that your friend has no shame, and yet you seem determined to shame her.

Think of her as an addict, not a “drunk.” Shelve your disgust and replace it with compassion for someone who has a disorder which is currently raging out of control. Look at all she has lost!

Yes, you should lock up your liquor when she is at your home. You should not drink in front of her or with her. You should not serve alcohol to her, or have it accessible, and expect her to be able to control her drinking. Because she obviously cannot.

You cannot save her from her addiction. But you needn’t enable it, either.

More from Ask Amy: Spouse considers leaving alcoholic wife

Stop chastising her. Tell her that you love her and that you value the gift of her friendship, but that she has relapsed, and you are worried about her. (Relapse is extremely common).

She needs professional help and rehab, as well as your ongoing compassion. Offer to research options with her and encourage her to enter a program.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from when an alcoholic friend is out of control to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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