Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Do You Say?

What do you say when it becomes evident that someone you care about has a drinking problem? A bad drinking problem? It is two AM. Our guest has not yet arrived. He missed his exit, drove three hours out of his way before he noticed, called from a bar in Pittsburgh. Backtracking, he wound up in a ditch out in the middle of no where. He doesn't want us to worry. A tow truck is on its way. I am worried though. It seems to me that his car is not the only thing that has veered off into the ditch. If I knew where he was, I would go get him. Lord knows he should not be driving. He does not have a cell phone. Gees. What a mess.


Anonymous said...

Oh Deb, I do hope your guest can sort himself out and spare you! What a dilemma!

Also best wishes for good results for your tests. Didn't know you were up for more - what a bore! Hope the results are good news for you - you surely deserve it. Love Barb

Have also just checked out the Psalm verses - phew! The writer certainly didn't hold anything back did he? No swear words there though. Can't believe anyone would actually wear that around - but there are some wobbly minds out there. I can imagine it stretching a Sunday School class - never had that sort of discussion in my day. Might have kept the attendance up if we had though.

Karen said...

Debby, you might want to sit him down and gently talk to him about his drinking. Actually, his call to you might have been a "call for help." After all, he trusted you enough to call you from a bar and tell you what had happened. You could make a huge difference in his life, a well as in others' on the road!

Good luck with the results of the tests. :)

A Novel Woman said...

Well, I know this is going to sound harsh, but the first thing you might do is notify the authorities if you know he's out driving drunk, because next time it may not be a ditch in the middle of nowhere that he slams into, but innocent people.

You could try talking to him about his disease but it will most likely make him defensive and angry, or he'll try to wave you off as over-reacting. Part of the disease (and make no mistake, it's not a "drinking problem" but a disease of the brain) is denial and lying, not only to you, but to himself.

Going to pick him up will make YOU feel better, but it absolutely, unequivocably, won't HELP him. Our natural inclination - as a mom, as a friend - is to offer help like this. But it's enabling the behavior and will actually make things worse, because until he faces the consequences of his drinking, nothing will change and he won't seek treatment.

It's an insidious, body-and-soul-destroying disease. I know doctors use something called the CAGE questionnaire to screen patients for alcohol abuse. You can google it and give it to your friend.

Good luck, Debby. I hope I don't sound too bossy boots, but I've been where you are.

jeanie said...

Apparently the "wake up call" for Robin Williams on his drug abuse was his child saying "Daddy's stoned again" one morning.

You make the call - but what he does in response is entirely up to him.

If this happens to be his personal rock bottom, then he may well find help now - and if he does, assure him that people do find a whole lot of excellent life on the other side of that hurdle.

If it isn't, I just hope he has good enough friends around him when he does find the bottom who are honest enough to point him towards help.

Debby said...

NW ~ I didn't know where he was, to report him. He got here 17 hours later than he was expected. It was scary.

I am being very open about my concerns. He is spending too much time alone, grieving for his wife, and it is not healthy. I hope to make a difference.

BUSH BABE said...

My earlier reply got eaten apparently... I agreed with NW and jeanie. He cannot be allowed to endanger others, even in grief. Am sure you will be a wise counsel for him - perhaps with a spoonful of tough love?

A Novel Woman said...

Ah, he's grieving. Well, we have a friend who lost her husband to a heart attack in his early forties. She was left with their young children to raise alone, and she too drank away a lot of her pain. We all tended to excuse her drinking because she was a widow, poor thing, such a bad deal, etc. Of course she's drinking, who wouldn't be? we argued. Turns out she was a problem drinker for years before her husband died (you are born an alcoholic, it's just that you don't know it until you take your first drink) and while her grief was very real, she used his death and her grief to hide behind and enable her alcoholism. It worked very well and she abused it for years. Who was going to challenge a widow?! But her kids suffered terribly. They put up with this secret for years and it devastated them.

You need to communicate to your friend and help him understand there is no shame or judgement involved. Shame, because they believe they can't control their behavior, is a hallmark of the disease and prevents them from seeking treatment early. At the very least, see if he'll go to an A.A. meeting, just to observe.

And if there is another night where you know he's out drinking and driving, you must report him. You will be saving his life and that of others.

Reb said...

Having been born to a family with a yen for alcohol :( I thank God everyday that it skipped me. I've seen the destruction it can rain on every aspect of their lives. YOU can not stop their drinking. All you can do is be clear that you DON'T condone it and that you will do whatever it takes to protect others from their actions. Support the person-don't support the disease.

Lori said...

The only thing you can say, lovingly, is "I'm worried that you have a drinking problem. Please get help because I love you!" Because unfortunately, it's going to take him making a decision to stop or to get help, and there is really not much you can do. I hope he does get help. I know what it is like to worry about a loved one.