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Alcoholic Friends & Family
I am at my wit's end about the situation that I put myself and
my family. My girlfriend from NY (we I grew up together and
used to be like sisters) asked if she can come and stay with us
till she finds a job in Bay Area. She had a very abusive
relationship with her boyfriend of 6 years, no job, no money,
no health insurance, nowhere to go.... So I agreed for her to
stay for a couple of month. My husband didn't like that at all,
but I assured him that it's just for a month or so, till she
find a job...We are by no means rich, my husband is single
bread winner as I am at home with our small son.
Now I feel that I put myself and my family in a hole.
I didn't know that she was an alcoholic. She drinks every day,
can't function without a glass of wine, then becomes very
aggressive and combative, couple of time it's been really ugly.
She can't find a job, it's been almost 2 months, my husband
doesn't want her in our house, period. I just simply can't kick
her out on the street, she really has nowhere to go, she is
young too, 37, smart, pretty, professional, just can't function
without a bottle of wine a day.
At the same time I am concerned that my 4 year son sees her
drunk and incoherent almost every day and afraid that it will
cause him some psychological trauma later in life...
She really needs help, and I don't know what else I can do for
her, I also I feel that I am putting my own family at risk.
Do you know what services are available for alcoholics in Bay
Area? She tried AA on and off, but lacks discipline to attend
meeting. Can you recommend a good doctor? She doesn't have
insurance but I will have to pay for it. Can you recommend any
detox centers around Bay area free or low cost? What shall I
Thank you for any advice.
Bad situation!! Having known a few alcoholics in my past, I can
tell you that your friend will not budge till you kick her out.
Buy her a plane ticket to go back to NY if you need to and take
her to the airport. Get her out now or you'll still have this
problem in a year and it'll only get worse. Sorry to sound so
harsh, but it's true. And you won't be able to help her to stop
drinking unless she wants to stop.
You can get in touch with Alcoholics Anonymous for info, and
you might also go to an AlAnon meeting (friends and family of
alcoholics) for support and advice.
It must be really difficult to see your friend going through this,
being concerned with the impact on your own family. She needs help, she
this alone as you have probably figured out.
Options Recovery Services is a completely free program based in Berkeley.
have 12-step as well as classes in anger-management, relapse prevention,
Salvation Army also has a free live-in program in San Francisco.
you might want to attend some Al-Anon meetings yourself, helps with the
day of knowing an alcoholic.
Lola, Lola, Lola...wake up! First, get yourself a copy RIGHT
NOW of CODEPENDENT NO MORE by Melodie Beattie, as you're being
codependent to this woman. Secondly, she's 37 years old. I'm
sure she speaks English and is educated enough to speak up
seeking resources out there for herself. If there's a way, she
will find a way, even if it's in her drunken way. She needs to
get out of your house, NOW! Lastly, speaking from an alcoholic
point of view, going to AA is not a matter of ''discipline,''
really. By making that statement, it's obvious you're not an
alocholic, which is a great thing. But if you want to
participate and change your life, AA will provide those tools
once you find the conviction in yourself to change and the path
of kicking the habit one day at a time will follow, but that's
only a decision your friend can make, as you CANNOT make it for
her! Her lifestyle has been conveyed to you and the bottom
line is she doesn't want to stop what she's doing. Why would
she? She's living for free without a job and not being held
accountable for drinking everyday! What an ideal situation for
a drunk. Please read the book asap, go to Al-Anon if you have
to, and open the door and let her go. I'd also suggest you
rent the movie, Days of Wine and Roses with Jack Lemmon (an old
movie) and watch it with her just for the heck of it. Bottom
line is she's a drunk and drunks have a finicky way of making
people feel sorry for them because they're great manipulators.
I know because I'm a drunk and I am now a reformed AA drunk.
Good luck and take care of YOURSELF first! Your family will
thank you especially your little child who does not need to be
exposed to this woman's dark habits and do it for the sanctity
and sanity of your marriage! Good luck and hope you follow
through with my suggestions!
Hi Lola, I couldn't help but respond to your plea. I am a
person who has trouble saying no people in need and once found
myself helping a friend who was ''stuck'' like yours.It wound up
being 4 months instead of 1 and it also got ugly on occasion
but there was no alcohol and I wasn't yet a mother. My advice
is to get her out of your home as soon as possible. She doesn't
care much about you or your friendship if she is exposing your
child (not to mention you, your husband and your marriage)to
her alcoholism and abusive ways.I am trying not to speak too
strongly but it really isn't fair to anyone and she is taking
advantage of your generous spirit. Your child and your marriage
should come first. I apologize if I am being too forward but I
have learned things the hard way by being taken advantage of
and therapy has helped me to help myself. Your friend is acting
17 not 37. I wish I had a suggestion about where she could go
(besides a homeless shelter)because I wish I could help YOU
more. SHE has gotten help from you and hasn't done too much
with it. Good luck, Bridget
Dear friend of an alcoholic,
I'm sorry you're going through this. It sounds like your kindness
In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your friend is to
set boundaries. This might sound tough, but the more you caretake
her (by paying for a doctor for her or by allowing her to behave
this way with your family) the more you are disempowering her. I
know you mean well, and one thing you could do is to be honest
with her and tell her exactly how you feel with compassion and
from your heart. How hard her behavior is on your family and how
you feel you're really not helping her by supporting her this way
(if that's the truth for you). I would try to talk early in the
day, before she starts drinking.
A friend of mine was an alcoholic and worked for a friend of his.
He was often late and didn't work as expected because of his
drinking problem. To make a long story short, his friend (and
boss) gave him an ultimatum and said he would have to fire him if
this continued, and did. My alcoholic friend was very angry at
him at first. But a year later he went back to his old boss and
said he was so grateful because if he hadn't been fired he
wouldn't have hit rock bottom and would still be drinking.
So sometimes ''tough love'' is the best gift we can give someone we
I hope this helps.
Hang in there.
You CAN ''just kick her out.'' Yes, you can. She is an adult. She is
drink. She is choosing not to seek help. I hate this word, but you are
her by letting her stay. You are also putting your son at risk; children
violence in early childhood (and this includes drunk and combative
behavior as you
described) can suffer from PTSD, ADHD, higher violence in their own
other undesirable qualities.
You can no longer choose this woman, no matter how dear a friend, over
your husband and your marriage. What you CAN do is let her fall (and she
and offer support (but not in your home!) when she decides on her own to
Good luck--I know how painful this can be.
Tell your girlfriend that her drinking is a problem. Tell her
that she has one week to find alternate plans. That is it. You
cannot save her. The only person that can do this is your
My ex husband is a recovering alcoholic so I know a lot about
If she makes excuses etc you need to pack her stuff and have it
on the front porch once one week is up.
There is no other way to do this.
She has to figure it out on her own.
You need to focus on your husband and child.
ex wife of an alcoholic
Get her out of the house - right now. As much as she is a friend, and
has a bad drinking problem and is not in a good situation, you have an
a parent to not have your 4 year old live in under the daily stress of
That is asking way too much of your son and it's not ok.
You could offer her an ultimatum of getting help or leaving, but that's as
nice as you
need to be. If you wanted to be very nice, you could buy her a ticket
back to NYC,
where she has friends she can likely stay with.
Your son is learning from this situation how it's ok for alcoholics to act
That's not a good lesson. He'll still recover from this situation, but
get her out
quickly. You sound like a really nice person, and it's very unfortunate
that this is
happening, but your son needs you to act on his behalf.
Give her the boot!
This is a very difficult situation - I know, because I was
in your place a couple of years ago. In my case, she wasn't a
close friend, she was someone I had known for a long time but
didn't see often. But I was the only friend left who would take her
another friend called me about her, she was in the hospital
where she had been taken by ambulance
after being found by another friend passed out in his house.
I hadn't seen her in a few years. She was a gorgeous woman,
a head turner. Now
she was very, very ill, malnourished and yellow and bloated from liver damage.
She had no job left, no house, no friends.
The hospital was going to discharge her to a homeless
shelter, so I took her in. But our agreement was that she would
stay with me only until a spot opened up for her at a rehab
place, which was supposed to be a week or two. And in the meantime she agreed to attend AA meetings.
I had many conversations with friends and
family about what to do, and it was not an easy decision.
My husband and I have taken in many friends & family members
over the years, and we almost always have someone living in
our spare room who needs a bed for a day or a week or a month. But
I did not want to be the alcohol police for a grown person.
I didn't want to be looking under the bed and in the closet to
see if she was stashing alcohol. I also didn't want to give up
my wine and beer while she was here. Well, we stopped buying
alcohol while she was here, and I told her that no alcohol was
allowed and I could not be her mom, and she agreed.
She ended up being at our house
for a couple of months. Initially she was angry with
everyone, and in denial about her alcoholism,
and very disparaging of AA, which she was sure could not help her.
But she did find some AA meetings
in Berkeley that she was willing to go to,
and she did get into the rehab place that she wanted, after waiting for
a few weeks. She was in rehab for a couple months and it was life
changing for her.
She seems to be doing OK now, two years later, slowly building her
I don't think things would have worked out this happily if she
didn't have an ulimatum, though. By the time she came to stay with us,
she had two DUI arrests, and a court order to
either enter rehab or else go to jail. She only had a couple of
months left to enter rehab when she was discharged from the hospital.
She did put it off
until the very last possible day - she did not want to go into rehab even
though she had absolutely no other place to go. But in
the end she did not want to go to jail, so she went to rehab.
Rehab was the only thing that could have saved her, I think.
Your friend does not sound as far gone as mine was, but like me,
you have a friend living with you who has
pretty much ruined her life with alcohol,
and she is living with you because she has no other resources.
I think you are going to have to give her an ultimatum and be prepared to
follow through on it. There are resources, she can get help.
There are free and low-cost rehab centers.
My friend also had no money and no insurance, and she found more than
one place to help her. AA is free.
You can find out about them from AA if she won't do it herself. But
you can't help your friend just by yourself - if she won't take
the initiative herself then you will have to give her an ultimatum.
Are you willing to have her stay with you if she stops drinking and
goes to AA meetings every day? And are you willing to "police" her
to make sure she is living up to t he agreement? If not, give
her a deadline, and tell her about resources you know about.
And make a plan (and tell her the plan) for what happens when
the deadline comes up.
All the best to you and your friend.
We had a baby two months ago and my husbands parents who are
alcoholics came to see their new grandchild, while they were
here we told them that we do not want them to be intoxicated
around the baby, they agreed to our conviction, so they stayed
in a hotel and when they wanted to start drinking they would
just leave and go back to the hotel so it worked out fine, but
this December we are planning on going home to Arizona for the
Christmas break to see them and we do not know how to handle
the situation because we can not afford to stay in a hotel and
usually always stay with them because in the past it has only
been my husband and I and we can deal with their drunkenness,
but we now have a baby to think about. We do not feel we can
ask such demands on them not drinking in their own home and
even if we did make such a request we feel that they would not
be able to follow through in abstaining from get drunk while we
are there. So we are looking for advice on what to do? What
boundaries are ok to ask in wanting to protect our child yet
still respecting my husbands parents personal life and
We have had a similar experience in our family where we went
once to my parents' house in Florida and my mom went on one of
her obnoxious drunk spells. Thereafter, we only stay in a
nearby hotel. I do not want my three children going through
what I went through as a child. Anyway, with alcoholoics, the
holidays are always the worst as far as drinking goes. The
reason I like a hotel is you can leave the dinner table at any
time and just leave. We did this once and spent the rst of the
five day vacation in the hotel with just my immediate family. I
suggest you do not go to Arizona to visit them unless you have a
hotel to stay in. If the cost is not affordable, I think you
should stay here for the holidays. You also should not have to
go through the experience yourself let alone your children.
Been there , done that
It sounds like you can be upfront with your in-laws about
their drinking, so you might ask what is resonable to them?
Can they realistically not drink while the baby is up? Or is
this too much to ask? I, personally, would find a cheap hotel
or ask a friend nearby if you can stay a few nights. It would
take the pressure off all of you. Also, you won't have to be
around them when they are hitting the bottle.
Adult child of...
A good question to ask yourself is why you are going to visit
these people if you feel unsafe around them? Your job as a
parent is to keep your baby safe. Alcholics who are drinking
are not safe people, period. If you are unable to ask them to
stop drinking while you visit, and/or they are unable to stop
drinking while you visit, I don't think going is a wise idea.
My advice is stay home & let them come to you. Until they are
able to be sober, what sort of grandparents are they -
unpredicitable and unsafe. Maybe this seems harsh but I am in a
similar situation but have chosen to have quite firm
boundries. Maybe attending an ACOA meeting would help you and
your husband with your boundries around this issue.
The toughest thing about alcoholics is knowing that they're not
going to stop, not for you, your child, or anyone else. Without
specific information about their drunken behavior, I can't really
tell you what might be the best course of action. As the daughter
of an alcoholic, I will tell you that I have not visited my
mother's home is 15 years. She comes to visit us, and I can
control things better at my house, though she still drinks (hides
bottles, etc) but I would not take my child to her house because
the drunk behavior is disturbing, and cannot be concealed even
for a small child. If they're quiet drunks who have their
martinis and creep off to bed, then your baby will probably not
be disturbed, but if they get loud, argumentative, or are
otherwise belligerant, even a small baby will pick up on it.
Drunk behavior is weird, and babies and kids are the most
susceptible to picking up ''vibes'' -- weird or not. I'm sure your
baby would not be damaged for life, but I'd really guage what
their drinking behaviors are like, and work from there.
Also, many alcoholics smoke and have every rational why it's okay
to smoke in the house. Given your concerns, perhaps you should
just rethink your holiday plans. You certainly don't won't want
to get stuck at their house with no options.
My best suggestion is ALANON meetings for support and suggestions.
If you are not into the ''tough love'' approach of NOT interacting with family
members who are addicted to substance, then maybe friends and family could give
you early holiday gift of a donation towards a hotel room. It's what I often had to
when I had to visit dysfunctional family members and had no resources for a hotel
room on my own...many churches have a ''rector's/priest's/minister's/pastor's
discretionary fund''--i am sure all faiths have such a fund for their leaders--a fund
that allows that leader to give/donate funds that can help out in such situations; the
funding may not be enough for more than a day or even half a day, but it's a start
towards your much-needed independence.
Because you didn't give any specifics about your parents'
drinking problem, I'm going to assume what's going on is that
they down a few martinis and get loud, stupid and embarrassing,
rather than that they are getting out weapons, setting the house
on fire, or engaging in behavior that would endanger their house
guests. I'm also assuming this because it sounds like you
personally are willing to stay at their house rather than go to
a hotel, and I would assume if there were safety issues, the
wallet wouldn't be a consideration. It sounds like your concern
is whether it would affect your infant's safety and peace of
mind to be around drunk people. If there is really a lot of
yelling, I'd say don't stay there, although even that is
unlikely to bother an infant as young as yours. If it's just a
matter of alcohol on the breath and acting stupid, I don't think
this will affect your infant at all. A child would have to be
much older to even notice this. And I agree with you; I don't
think you can dictate their behavior in their own home. Of
course, don't let them drive any of you anywhere after they've
had even one drink, but as far as being under the same roof, I
can't see any problem.
My mother became an alcoholic in her later years, and I know how difficult it was to
visit her- my sympathies, and congratulations on being able to deal with it, and
your ability to still respect them as people. It sounds like your in-laws at least
acknowledge that they get drunk, which my mother didn't and which many
alcoloholics don't, so it wasn't exactly the same. Also, my mother often became
verbally abusive when she was drunk, which you don't mention as as a problem. The
only control I really had was insisting that I drive when we went out, which she went
along with, and refusing to buy her any alcohol. Also, I wasn't visiting with kids. My
sister was, and would cut the visit short if abuse began. Neither of us visited for
more than 2 or 3 days at a time- it was just too difficult.
In your situation, I would suggest making as short a visit as you feel can work for
you- make any excuses necessary. In terms of protecting your child while you are
there, I would think that close contact with, including any lifting and holding and
carrying, your baby should be very limited when they start to drink, and stopped
when they are actually drunk. This may hurt their feelings and frustrate them, but
since they acknowledge their drinking, it might not be too hard to accomplish.
If they are basically good people who love their grandchild, I do not see anything to
protect the baby from other than loud behaviour close to her- common when
anyone is drunk- and the possibility of dropping the baby.
Good luck to you.
I don't envy you; it's hard, and harder still with a baby. After trying to stay
with my alcoholic parents a few times and running into trouble, we try to
stay in a hotel or with other relatives. it just makes for more harmony
than trying to demand change for a short time.
I would strongly recommend that you find somewhere else to stay.
If this is not possible, don't go. Perhaps your in-laws will pay
for your hotel so that you can come for the holiday. There is no
other way to deal with their behavior.
My inlaws are not alcoholics but have their own set of problems we found
scary for our children. We stay at a hotel when visiting. There is comfort
having a place to "escape to".
I didn't see the original post, so I hope this is to the point --
I have an alcoholic grandmother, who I very much love and like
to visit. She did get rather drunk, and sometimes obnoxious, by
early evening, though. I grew up understanding that this was
just something she did; it was basically ok with me except for
the time period when she was mourning my grandfather's death,
and would get very weepy and sort of abusive towards my father
when she drank. It was actually most upsetting when I started
learning about alcoholism in school, and I realized that she had
a problem and wasn't getting help for it. My parents never
talked to me about it, so as a 10 or 12-year-old, I didn't
realize that they were aware of the problem. It was upsetting
to me that she had this problem and it appeared that no one
realized. Once I brought it up to my parents, and they
explained that she had had the problem for a very long time, and
that we couldn't make her get help, but she would probably be ok
anyway, I felt much calmer about it. We often just visited for
the day because evenings could be much less pleasant, but we did
sometimes stay over one night, with my parents and all 3 kids.
I can assure you it didn't do any damage to us, even if it was
sometimes unpleasant; actually, it kept the 3 of us kids away
from alcohol during high school and college, because we had a
very intimate understanding of the risk of alcoholism that ran
in our family.
I have come to the realization that several of my kid's friends
parents are alchoholics. My husband and I socialize with these
people on a semi-regular basis. Being with people who drink to
excess makes me uncomfortable, yet my husband and I always have a
good time when we're with this group. I don't know whether I'm
seeking specific advice or not, but I don't know what to do/or not
do about this situation. Can anyone share their thoughts on how
they have handled a similar situation?
anon on this one
Regarding alcoholic friends:
As a nurse who has worked in drug & alcohol treatment (New
Bridge in Berkeley & HAART, also Highland ER), I'd start here
by defining alcoholic. There may be cultural factors at play
too: some cultures, like European, drink wine with meals perhaps
daily, and would not be thought of as alcoholic, though
alcoholism is more prevalent in some countries with this daily
pattern. Ask yourself or observe if the imbibing interferes with
normal functioning. Can they NOT drink and still have a good
time? Is drinking a feature of EVERY event? When in the day does
drinking start? Are there blackouts? Are people driving after
drinking? (my kids would never ride in THAT parent's car!) Is
there a pattern of weekend bingeing, then non-drinking during
the work week (another cultural pattern which is still
alcoholism)? Sounds like some more homework may be in order.
And, even though you like the folks, the world is full of people
who do not drink at all, or drink less, and if it's not to your
liking, and makes you uncomfortable, I would start developing
other friends....Also, if you are very close to the people
involved, you may decide, as a friend, to question them about it
and reveal your concern. Many alcoholics are saved from death by
persistent friends who are supportive yet insistent that the
person get help. I know someone who was responsible for such a
save by encouraging the drinker to get help over a long period.
Your call, ultimately. Good luck to you!
The fact that you say ''several'' of your kids' friends seem to
be ''alcoholic'' makes me wonder a little. Is it more the kind
of thing where YOU are uncomfortable with the fact they drink,
than that their drinking is having any sort of negative
consequences to themselves or others? (I understand the
definition of alcholism is alcohol consumption -- in any
quantity -- that creates a problem of some sort in the drinker's
life.) If they don't meet this definition of alcoholism, it
doesn't mean that you can't speak up and say ''It bothers me
that you drink,'' but it casts a slightly different light on the
issue. I think you need to explain (or decide) what exactly is
bothering you about their behavior.
If the parents are truly alcoholics (and it was difficult to tell
from your post how you determined this), it is probable that their
behavior will veer from the ''fun'' to the inappropriate or even
dangerous at times. My father is a no-longer-drinking alcoholic,
and he is a social animal. He loves parties and is a great dancer
and story-teller. But people under the regular influence of
alcohol often go further than just losing inhibitions in order to
have a good time. They say hurtful things and forget that they
said them, they break/lose/forget their own and other peoples'
possessions, they make inappropriate and/or unwanted sexual
advances and liaisons, they get into cars and injure or kill
themselves and others. Remember that it is not always obvious
when an alcoholic has been drinking, for they sometimes seem
''sober'' when actually quite impaired. It is especially
devastating for children to be around alcoholics, because they do
not model responsible behavior, and they often disappoint, insult,
or hurt children. If you think that these people are really
alcoholics, it would be wisest for you to avoid their company and
certainly important for you to keep your child away from them.
That's painful, perhaps, but not as painful as being close to
alcoholism can be.
an alcoholic's daughter
I have not been in this situation, so I hope others will have
more specific advice for you, but something to think about is
that children learn by example. Hopefully these people stop
drinking and it will be a valuable lesson for all. I remember
thinking smoking was a great thing to do because my parents
smoked. Then one day they quit and explained about its dangers.
I don't think their words would have been as effective if they
had continued smoking. (I have never smoked.)
My advice comes from my experience as the wife of an alcoholic,
who has observed different friends' responses to my
husband's behavior. I think it's important for you to try to
understand what it is that's bothering you about given people's
drinking first. Then, if it's with people who are good friends,
it can be good for them and for your relationship with them to
let them know how their behavior bothers you. And make your own
decisions about whether you want to be around them and in what
circumstances. Some people you may not wish to confront at all.
I have seen several friends become very uncomfortable with my
husband's drinking and drift away from the friendship, without
my husband having any idea of why it is happening. A couple of
friends have talked to him about it. While it hasn't made a huge
difference in his behavior so far, I think it has been positive
for both these friends and for my family. It can be a difficult
subject to bring up, though, so you have to make your own
choice, and much depends on how close your relationships are
with these people. You don't have to stay quiet or put up with
behavior that makes you uncomfortable though. Good luck.
This is indeed a painful issue. I have no great advice, other
than facing up to reality at all times, especially as your
children get older and playdates become an issue. As much as you
like these friends, you are not going to be able to trust them to
look after your children.
All of my friends in college were alcoholics, so I went to Al-
Anon to learn about how to deal with them. Six months later I
realized that my problem with my friends drinking was actually
my own drinking problem. After more than a decade of AA and no
drinking, I have learned to look inside myself when others'
behavior bothers me and learned something about myself. Twelve
step programs help with a lot stuff besides dealing with
alcoholism and addiction. Consider it.
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