Dear Rae: I have a friend I am very concerned about…

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… During the week she holds down a very good job, works out regularly, cooks healthy meals for herself, and even spends time volunteering. She appears enviably happy.

 

As soon as the weekend hits…

As soon as the weekend hits, however, it is like a different person emerges. She often combines prescription medications with alcohol causing her to black out. She often drinks the next day to ease her hangover. I have picked her up from strangers’ houses, bars, and even random street corners only to have her wake up on my couch the next morning with scant memories of the night before. She has very few friends that will go out with her because it inevitably turns into babysitting a belligerent, foul mouthed, 30 year old. I’ve tried several times to approach her with my concerns, only to be shot down and reminded of her weekday successes. She believes that because she\’s sober 5 nights out of the week that she doesn’t have a problem, but her binging is out of control. Lauren

 

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Dear Lauren:

Let’s start with the weekend and work backwards. A blackout is caused by drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Your friend may abstain during the week, but she is exhibiting dangerous behavior on the weekends. Binging and mixing alcohol and prescription medications, blacking out and drinking to lessen a hangover are all symptoms of the disease of alcoholism. If your friend continues on this narrowing path, she will eventually lose her ability to control herself during the week.

 

I am going to say something you may not want to hear… When you pick her up from compromising situations, allow her to crash on your couch and rationalize her behavior, you are allowing the negative behavior to continue. I know how difficult it is to approach someone you care about, to talk about their drinking problem. But the issue is not how often your friend drinks (although weekend binges are problematic). It’s the fact that her drinking is causing problems in her personal life that she is unwilling to address. Even if they only occur on the weekends.

 

The components of life are varied – work, interpersonal relationships, physical health…Your friend’s most visible activities are managed, but her personal life, safety and health are being impacted. In addiction, social, occupational and recreational activities are neglected or abandoned. It is almost certain that, even though she says her life is not impacted by alcohol during the week, her weekend behavior is spilling over into her weekdays. How do you think she feels on Monday mornings? How productive do you think she is on Friday afternoons?

 

The best thing you can do, is to sit her down and tell her that you care about her and want to remain her friend, but not while she’s drinking. Rae