Many people have an alcoholic friend who has embarrassed them in public, hurt their feelings, or acted inappropriately. Alcoholics often make promises they cannot keep; forget to show up for important events; or arrive intoxicated. Alcoholic friends rarely remember being offensive or apologize profusely, swearing they will never offend again.
I have an alcoholic friend who has been fighting the battle her entire life. From the time we were 14 years of age, she has carried a bottle of alcohol in her purse. She has been arrested for drunk driving numerous times and continued to drive after her license was revoked. She has gotten into bar brawls and been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, yet refuses to believe she has a problem.
Not long ago, my alcoholic friend invited me to dinner. Although hesitant, I accepted her invitation and met her at a restaurant where my husband and I dine on a regular basis. She behaved so badly that I felt I must address the situation with her once and for all. Instead of having a conversation, I chose to write my words on paper so she couldn’t interject excuses or prevent me from having my say.
As a fan of the A&E series, Intervention, I have learned a lot about alcoholism and drug addiction. The show revolves around addicts who are in dire need of help. Intervention counselors have family members and friends write letters to their loved ones. I decided to use their format in hope of helping my friend understand the affect her drinking has on those who love her. While I do not know if my alcoholic friend will ever find the courage to seek the help she needs, perhaps the letter can help another person’s loved one.
An Open Letter to Friends Suffering from Alcoholism
Dear Alcoholic Friend,
Although we have been friends for years, I do not feel as if I know you any longer. As teenagers, we laughed together, cried together, and shared our hopes and dreams. You wanted to travel the world before settling down and planned to have a modeling career. You almost made it, but alcohol stole your dreams.
Instead of walking away from the bottle, you embraced it by becoming a bartender. During your 20s and 30s you partied like a rock star and drank like a fish. If I had a nickel for every time I held your hair as you worshiped the porcelain goddess, I’d be a wealthy woman today. I lost track of how many times I tucked you into bed and stayed by your side to make certain you were still breathing.
Once you became a mother I had high hopes that you would maintain your sobriety. I was devastated to find you drunk when your baby was less than one week old. Alcohol took a strong hold on you and forced your mother to take custody of your daughter when she was two years old. To this day, your child does not know you because you chose alcohol over your own flesh and blood.
Over the years, alcohol has turned you into a bitter, angry woman who feels everyone is against her. The truth is no one is against you. We simply cannot bear to be around you when you’re drunk, which sadly, is all of the time.
The last time we went out in public together, you embarrassed me to the point of no return. You yelled at the server, demanding more liquor although you could barely form the word ‘drink’. You cursed at me and used vulgar profanity in front of children and their parents. You got lost on your way to the bathroom and wandered around in the bar, asking strangers to buy you a drink. As you staggered back to the table, you stopped to talk to guests and ate food off their plates.
I understand that alcoholism is a disease, but I can no longer offer to help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself. The first step requires admitting you have a problem. There are plenty of places to get help if you really want it.
I also understand that I have enabled you to continue drinking. By not being honest with my feelings or telling you how deeply you have hurt me, you had no way of knowing how I feel. But, today I am changing that.
Your addiction to alcohol has affected me negatively in many ways. I do not feel safe being around you. Your behavior is unpredictable and your outbursts of anger frighten me. You always manage to leave the restaurant when the check arrives, leaving me to pick up your expensive bar tab. You have borrowed hundreds of dollars and never repaid me. I have picked you up off the floor, cleaned up your vomit, made excuses to my friends, and ignored your childish outbursts, but as of today I refuse to participate in the madness any longer.
Please get help today. You may not have tomorrow. But, if you cannot find the courage to obtain the help you need, I must release you from my life. Please do not contact me until you walk the path to sobriety.
Intervention on A&E