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Dealing with an Alcoholic

pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Mainly asking for some experienced advice here.

My girlfriend has quite a bad alcohol problem. I want very much to help her with this, and for her to tone down her drinking.

How do i tell her this? What's the best opening line (and the most sensitive one) into that conversation?
How have any of you dealing with similar situations before handled it?
What can i expect?

cheers.

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pogo mudder on

Posts

  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2010
    That's a rough spot man.

    To be honest, you may be up for some drama. People with substance abuse often find themselves in situations of denial.

    I can speak as someone very familiar with this situation. What you may want to do is make plans to get out of the house but arrange a situation where alcohol won't be involved and your girlfriend has not been drinking/is already sober, and then explain how you feel to them.

    Make sure you emphasize that you're saying what you're saying because you love them. Make an effort so they don't feel like they're being intimidated.

    Let it be known that you think they have a problem. Let her know what makes you think they have a problem. Let her know that it's hurting you.

    You'll have to go from there. You can expect denial, fighting, anger, etc. This is all part of the process. If you can stick through it, you can start up the conversation again in the future. Bring up more examples of her self destructive behavior.

    Eventually you'll need to get her to cut back. Don't ask her to quit cold turkey. Try to get in a position where you guys can go out and have a good time, but stay off hard liquor. Or if she wants hard liquor, mix it before hand. Don't take an entire bottle. If she's comfortable with it, you need to control her intake by providing her the alcohol.

    Eventually she may need to seek recovery.

    Good luck.

    Sheep on
  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Hmm, how long have the two of you been dating? If it's still pretty short term, this is probably something way over your head. And how bad of an alcoholic are we talking about?

    Dark_Side on
  • pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    about 6 months, we started first going on dates about 9 months ago.

    Not an incredibly long time, but long enough for me to notice a problem and for it to start to affect us as a couple.
    I care about her very much and want to help her deal with it.

    As far as drink intake goes, she drinks a bottle of wine a night when she's home alone, but not so much when she's staying with me because i tend not to drink around the house much. It's the drinking alone that worries me most.

    But she does tend to bring a bottle of wine over to mine sometimes and just drink it by herself. When we go out drinking with our friends she always tends to be about 3 pints ahead of everyone else, and drinks very quickly.
    I've spoken to her friends who have also commented on her drinking a lot when she hangs out with them, even if she's just going over to watch a movie in the afternoon and nobody else is drinking.

    I can't really remember a day in recent history where she hasn't been drinking at some point.

    pogo mudder on
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  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Pretty sure an alcoholic can't just "cut back" on their drinking. They either drink like an alcoholic, or they stop drinking entirely.

    Have you talked about this with her at all?

    Sentry on
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  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    That's a tough one, alcoholism can be hard, as a lot of people seem to have different opinions about what constitutes being one, I would wager a guess that if you bring it up, you will likely be greeted with plenty of resistance, but a bottle of wine a night certainly seems a bit much. Though it's not necessarily crazy over the top boozing either.

    Beyond that, I think Sheep's advice is right about what I'd say as well. The simple point is, if the drinking bothers you, you need to bring it up and be clear that it bothers you. If she refuses to listen or change, I think you need to be prepared to either escalate it up to involving her family and professional help, or leave the relationship.

    Dark_Side on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    It sounds like she tries to keep a steady level, which isn't really a good sign. Does she ever binge drink and black out or anything like that?

    Aside from the fact that you have to watch her drink all the time, how does her habit impact you? Is it costing you a ton of money, is it affecting the way she takes care of herself (hygiene, etc), does it make her mean or otherwise change her behavior toward you or in public for the worse? You should have some kind of answer to this question, because if you can't clearly articulate why it bothers you and give examples of the negative impact on your life, chances are she isn't going to take you seriously. "I can't put my finger on it, it just bothers me" is not really an answer and she'll think you're just going all kill-joy on her.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Yeah the bottle a night isn't way over the top, but the level she drinks when we meet up with our friends (which is usually twice or more weekly) is over the top. And then there's her drinking when hanging out with me/her friends in the daytimes and afternoons.

    She binge drinks fairly often. Whenever we go out, she drinks as much and as quickly as possible. Her aim seems to be to get hammered rather than have a good time. Frequently when we go out, by about 12 midnight she is too drunk to function and i have to leave early and take her home. She also throws up from drinking too much almost all the time when we go out, usually starting before we've even left the house.

    And yes she is a lot different when she is drunk, and whereas it isn't impacting me financially that much, it is affecting her a lot, pretty much her entire income goes on alcohol or cigarettes. I do have a long list of reasons to discuss with her when i find a way of bringing it up.

    It's just a shame because she's such a cool person when she's not drinking, or grumpy for not being able to. I just realised i feel like i'm kind of portarying her like a bit of a dick, which isn't the case.

    pogo mudder on
    what a work of art is man, and the most boring choice you can make
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    I'm sure she is but it doesn't sound like that's very often. :/ It sounds like she has a real problem. Have you actually brought any of this concern up to her in the past?

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • republic of merepublic of me Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Mainly asking for some experienced advice here.

    My girlfriend has quite a bad alcohol problem. I want very much to help her with this, and for her to tone down her drinking.

    How do i tell her this? What's the best opening line (and the most sensitive one) into that conversation?
    How have any of you dealing with similar situations before handled it?
    What can i expect?

    cheers.
    I recomend tough love on this and tackle it directly. Alcoholics thrive on sympathy and makeing you feel guilty get her family involved in this and try and get her into a ressidential rehabilitation centre, a 12 week programe would be best. she needs help from professionals she will not suceed in this with your support alone

    republic of me on
  • pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I have not no, She's always been a heavy drinker, but over the past couple of months it's gotten much worse.

    And yes I think rehab would work well, but i'm pushing for trying to sort this out with family and friends first, i already have her friends on board, and i'm sure her dad would back me up.

    pogo mudder on
    what a work of art is man, and the most boring choice you can make
  • DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Do you know why she started drinking more heavily in the last couple of months?

    Duffel on
  • TheOtherHorsemanTheOtherHorseman Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Just wanted to point out that she can have a drinking problem without being an alcoholic. She might drink way too much, but that doesn't mean she's a difficult-to-reach addict that needs to be put into rehab as soon as possible. Rather than just springing an intervention on her suddenly, it might be worth it to feel things out gently in advance.

    Why does she drink as much? Does she worry about the health affects? What is her own reaction to her drinking? There's a big difference between "wee this is fun" and "oh god I can't believe I did that again why can't I stop."

    Does she need to down a drink in the morning to be able to function?

    While it sounds like she needs to cut drinking down or out, it could be helpful to figure out her perspective before you organize a grand plan.

    TheOtherHorseman on
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2010
    It seems like she's drinking an excessive amount, but that by itself may not constitute alcoholism. The best definition I've come across is essentially continuing a behavior (in this case drinking) despite increasing consequences to that behavior (losing friendships/DUIs/etc). The AA symptoms are pretty much bullshit (Do you drink alone? etcetera).

    That said, bring the discussion up when she's sober. Try to couch the conversation in terms of how it's affecting you, how it makes you feel, how worried you are. But, if she really is an alcoholic, nothing you can say is going to convince her to stop. She's going to have to make that decision herself. And the sad fact is, even if she does make that decision, she may never be able to stop. My father fought alcoholism for decades. He was an alcoholic before he was even a legal adult, and he was never sober for more than six months up until the day he died. You're going to have to do some serious thinking about how much this girl means to you, and how much of her drinking you're going to be willing to put up with before you move on with your life.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    As someone who dealt with this problem growing up on a daily basis, I have some experience.

    I can't offer much in the way of "helping her" advice.

    Your desire to help her has to be matched by her own desire to help herself or there's not really anything you can do. All you can do is confront her in a reasonable manner when she's sober. Express concern and ask what's been wrong lately that she's been drinking so heavily.

    She may get angry with you no matter how kindly and sincerely you approach it and as much as I hate AA for being a bizarre cult, they got the first step right if nothing else. Until she wants to do something about it there's not a whole lot you can do beyond expressing your concern.

    Depending on your age, she may just be drinking for lack of something else to do. If she's actually suffering physical addiction though, DT's can be fatal and need to be treated with medication.

    Approach her alone when she's in her own apartment/home. Bring it up without being a dick and express your concern. No matter how heated the conversation gets, say your piece calmly and get it all out.

    At this point, the discussion will continue or she'll get defensive and angry. Angry at everything including you for bringing up such a ridiculous notion.

    Don't react with hostility and don't take any drama nonsense. Gather up your shit and get ready to leave, tell her you'll talk to her tomorrow... and then leave.

    That's pretty much all there is to it. In the end you need to keep in mind it's not your fault and she's an adult who gets to make her own decisions. If those decisions hurt you and she isn't remorseful or willing to talk about them, you don't have many choices.


    edit:

    I'd like to add as an aside.

    Alcoholics are incapable of social drinking. This means that pretty much everything you ever plan from here on out will have to not involve exposure to friends drinking around her. At first it may be anyone drinking period.

    dispatch.o on
  • noobertnoobert Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Does she have to drink to make it through the day?
    How many years has she been drinking?
    Apart from getting tanked a bit too fast while you're out, does it have any other negative affects?

    She doesn't sound like an Alcoholic, just someone who loves to drink (there is difference) and goes a bit too hard a bit too fast in social situations. Try to get her to see that when she gets tanked and sick at midnight, shes ruining a lot of her friends evenings.

    Edit: I'm a 23yo Aussie and what you're describing sounds pretty typical for my social circle.

    noobert on
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Sounds like she's going through a "party girl phase" to me.

    MushroomStick on
  • Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    ^Drinking while hanging out with other people that are not drinking numerous times does not make you an alcoholic necessarily, but it does mean that you need to really think about your drinking habits, and that you might have a problem.

    Chop Logic on
  • DodgeBlanDodgeBlan PSN: dodgeblanRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Don't don't speak to her family and friends before speaking to her. That is bad.

    DodgeBlan on
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  • HoovesHooves Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    When you do sit down and talk to her make sure you're emphasizing how her drinking makes you feel as opposed to stressing that you think she has a problem. That you don't enjoy being around her when she gets that drunk and how annoying it is having to take her home early in the evening etc.

    She is less likely to get defensive if you take this approach. Also she can't really tell you that you're wrong. If thats how you feel then its how you feel.

    Hooves on
  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    All you can do is tell her how you feel. She won't quit drinking unless she wants to.

    oldsak on
  • elmoelmo Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Your desire to help her has to be matched by her own desire to help herself or there's not really anything you can do. All you can do is confront her in a reasonable manner when she's sober. Express concern and ask what's been wrong lately that she's been drinking so heavily.

    This.

    Speaking from personal experience, had a girlfriend with a alcohol problem.
    If she doesnt want help, cut your losses and move on.

    elmo on
  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    It is great that you want to help her, and if she is on board you may be able to contribute greatly to her success.

    If she is interested in stopping, you may want to find out why she feels the need to be drunk. Does she think she is a more entertaining person when she is drunk, or is it easier for her to socialize that way? If that is the case you may be able to help her realize that the alcohol is a crutch and she can be that person with out it.

    I can't stress enough though, if she is not interested in stopping. then nothing you say or do will make that happen. Give it a shot, and see what she thinks. but if she is not interested you will have 2 choices...

    1. Cut your ties and move on

    2. learn to live with a drunk

    Good luck

    Thundyrkatz on
  • hardxcore_conservativehardxcore_conservative Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I've known a couple of hardcore alcoholics.

    I second the "tough love" approach. Alcoholism is a chemical addiction just like heroin or cocaine dependency. If your lady friend is a true alcoholic she will lie, bargain, and plead her way to her next glass. Two alcoholics I knew hid their bottles, drank privately, and claimed to their friends and families that they got straight. You can't force her to do anything, but when expressing your own perspective you have to be firm and absolute. Ceding to justifications ("It was a tough day at work", etc.) will only make you an enabler even if it seems at the time like you're giving her support. You can't afford to condone what she's doing.

    I'd like to reiterate that you can't force her to do anything. If her problem is as bad as you say it is, it's probably going to get worse. She is ultimately responsible for her own welfare and you are ultimately responsible for your own. There are few things more painful than watching the gradual self-destruction of the deeply alcoholic. If you've done everything you can to stop that slide and it still hasn't helped, don't be ashamed to leave the picture. If nothing else, if she's taken your support for granted it might give her the motivation she needs to get sober. That's tough love.

    hardxcore_conservative on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Sounds like she's going through a "party girl phase" to me.

    What, at least a bottle a day, usually more? That's a serious problem. 63 units of alcohol a week on wine alone. Probably nearer a hundred counting binges. A healthy limit for a woman is 14. The OP is right, she has a problem.

    CelestialBadger on
  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Tell any psychologist that you're drinking a bottle of wine a day along with binging, including regularly drinking enough to cause you to vomit - and that your boyfriend is seriously concerned - and they will tell you that you have a serious, potentially life-threatening alcohol abuse problem.

    And they will be right.

    I think it's noble that you're trying to help her instead of just 'cutting your losses' (as others in this thread have suggested). But that doesnt' mean you have to tackle this alone. Go find a counselor specializing in substance abuse and talk to them about your relationship and your girlfriend. Get some professional advice, and go from there.

    Melkster on
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2010
    I don't think anybody in here has suggested the OP just cut his losses and duck out of the relationship, without at least attempting to help her. But ultimately, she has to want to change, and if she doesn't, then he needs to evaluate how much he enjoys being in this relationship.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • republic of merepublic of me Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Listen, My father was a rageing alcoholic, as is my auntie and 3 of my uncles.

    My auntie and uncles are kind of sleepy dreary brain dead drunks but my father could be a severely voilent man.

    I also spent 2 years doing volantary work in a residential rehabilitation centre and from what i see, they need to spend atleast 12 weeks in a residential centre.

    And they cant "just quit" without being properly detoxed as alcohol damages several important bodily functions and depleats vitimins and menerals. There is certain things that an alcoholic has to take to recover and that can only be done in residential rehab.

    I dont know exactly what they were giving them because i worked as an occupational therapy assistant in the Art Craft Needle Work and Design programme but there was a lot of stuff they had to take in the way of supplements to repair their body

    I knew a lot of people there, a lot of them recovered fully and became fully functional members of society, and a lot of them kept going with drugs and alcohol until they died (mostly because family and friends got them back on that shit, and because some of them didnt want to quit and were there under a court mandated rehabilitation programme and it was better than doing time)

    So you need to get everyone on board as quickly as is possible and get her in somewhere.

    I cant help you beyond advice if you are outside of Ireland and the Uk but if you are within those two countries i may be able to help you get her in somewhere.

    But stick by her and try and get her right.

    republic of me on
  • Evil GummyEvil Gummy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I wish you the best of luck in this. My father, an alcoholic my whole life, was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis and it is a very, very sad and unpleasant event.


    I think it is important that you let her know you love her, and are just concerned and want to help her, NOT that you want to control what she does in any fashion.

    Honestly though, good luck, years and years of attempted interventions, support, anger, and everything else above and below, and no one could stop my dad.

    You are making the right decision to handle this now before it gets worse, whether it means she ultimately gets help or you decide you can't be around to watch her do this to herself.

    Evil Gummy on
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  • pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Thank you all very much for your input on this, experienced view points can be very helpful. I'll let you know how it goes after i speak with her.

    pogo mudder on
    what a work of art is man, and the most boring choice you can make
  • 3drage3drage Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    She can only help herself, and you are forming a co-dependent relationship. My advice for you is to take care of your own mental health as she's likely dragging you down into her self-destructive behavior.

    3drage on
  • Cptn PantsCptn Pants Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    If she wants help listen to everyone but me.

    If she doesn't want help then get away fast, change your phone number and move if possible. Alcoholic's are some of the sneakiest and most underhanded people on the face of the planet. They will: Lie, steal, cheat, and generally do anything to get another drink and they DO NOT give a shit about you... if they did they would let you help them. They will track you down if you let them and they will give you some sob story about how they need your help "for real this time" and then they will betray you and bleed you dry before moving on to the next person on their list. RUN and never, EVER look back.

    Cptn Pants on
  • pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Cptn Pants wrote: »
    If she wants help listen to everyone but me.

    If she doesn't want help then get away fast, change your phone number and move if possible. Alcoholic's are some of the sneakiest and most underhanded people on the face of the planet. They will: Lie, steal, cheat, and generally do anything to get another drink and they DO NOT give a shit about you... if they did they would let you help them. They will track you down if you let them and they will give you some sob story about how they need your help "for real this time" and then they will betray you and bleed you dry before moving on to the next person on their list. RUN and never, EVER look back.


    I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and say you may be a little biased.

    But thanks anyway, the people that have dealt with this before probably have the best perspectives

    pogo mudder on
    what a work of art is man, and the most boring choice you can make
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