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Losing Friends to Alcoholism

answered 03:19 PM EST, Thu February 05, 2015
anonymous anonymous
I think my best friend of 20 years is an alcoholic. Over the last five years our friendship has deteriorated...and this past summer i walked away from the friendship. I can't live with her judgmental eye and harsh words anymore.
My question is, how do you know? For sure? I left the friendship trying to figure out why she acted and said the things she said but being away, I feel I have an answer.
Do I confront her, now that we aren't talking or wait for her to hit her own rock bottom.
In the end, I miss my friend, but as an alcoholic, I think I lost her a long time ago...
Thanks for any advice you have.

Florence Cameron Says...

The deterioration of an individual's personality and character are destroyed after chronic use of substances, alcohol included. The neurological changes in the brain that occur from substances, slowly eats away at the mind, body and soul. It's sad to see families and friends disconnect from their loved ones because of the deleterious effects of alcohol/drug dependence.

Because the damage to the brain is unseen, we look at the addict/alcoholic and find it difficult to believe they are not the same as they once were. Parents remember their troubled adult children and remember how innocent and loving they were and hope that the individual will "wake up" and take responsibility for their behaviors. Unfortunately, it's a long, long road to recovery and takes nothing less then everything the individual has to recover from addiction. For recovery to be possible the individual has to make the decision for themselves. No one can make it for them.

The lying, manipulating, conning and despicable behavior are the result of the illness. These behaviors, sometimes called "character defects" are the hallmark of persons with addiction. One of the main features of the disease is denial. Until the individual reaches a point where they want nothing more in their life than to become sober, nothing and no one will be able to help them. The recovery process is more than just abstaining from the drug of choice. Because Addiction is a life-long disease with no cure, it is the responsibility of the individual to treat their own disease. Confronting addicts has proven to be ineffective, as denial keeps the individual on the defense and their decision making and rational reasoning abilities are compromised. Unfortunately, confrontation usually escalates their behavior.

You asked if you should wait for her to hit rock bottom. Not knowing this person, or how she is being enabled to continue her personal destruction is unclear. The people in her immediate life have to understand the addiction process and give the illness back to the person that has chosen it.

I hope you can remember your friend as she once was, not how she is today. People come in and out of our lives and stay for weeks, months, seasons and sometimes years. These people are presented to us to help us learn more about ourselves. I encourage you to have stronger boundaries and self-protect. You can continue to love your friend, but if you can't accept who she is and how she reacts to you, then it may be best for you to find other friends you have more in common with. We all want to be accepted as we are, flaws and all. However, in the purview of drugs/alcohol, we must learn to protect ourselves from the people we love. Keeping in mind that this illness causes the individual to have no regard for how they affect others.

In closing, I'd like to tell you that we can't control what others do, think, say, act. We can only control our response to them. There is an old saying that came from an early (unknown) philosopher, "It's not the boat on the water, It's the water in the boat that sinks it."

Hope you can find resolution in your dilemma.


Jeannie Cameron, LMHC, CAP

Naples, FL


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