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I could use some advice
Old 04-01-2016, 10:29 PM   #1
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I could use some advice

My best friend since high school has finally got himself into such a mess I don't know if he will survive it. For the past 10 years he has slowly drunk himself into destroying his life. It all started to snowball when the economy went in the toilet around 2008. He lost his father, his job, eventually his wife, and his home. It doesn't help that he has always had a depression problem. Drinking to excess and spending way over his means was his way to cope. Now at 68 he has no money except for a small SS that won't even cover his monthly rent and he has absolutely no ability to handle money responsibly, got himself into trouble DUI and not been responsible enough to make all the meetings with his parole officer, is not allowed to drive, recently lost a good paying job because he came to work with a black eye, bruises, and a broken tooth after drinking, lost over 20 lbs in the last few weeks because he was drinking and not eating so his health is shot, he looks 20 years older than he is, is upside down on his car payments, and only has enough money to last until the end of the month before he is out on the street. His wife divorced him in part because of drinking and now his girlfriend has done the same. His daughter won't let him near the grandchildren and he has lost any friends except maybe one who might be able to help him out with things like driving him to get groceries etc. There are a few other problems as well.

I live in a different city so I can't do much from here and I don't know how to give him any direction to find government assistance. I plan on going to see him next week for a day or two so he won't feel totally abandon. It will give him a chance to talk and I will take him out for his meals while I am there and put some groceries in the refrigerator. I just have the sad feeling that this may be the last time I see him alive. I don't think he will be able to survive the pressure. It's that bad. If you have read this far I could use any constructive advice you could offer.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:04 AM   #2
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Honestly there is nothing you can do. He has a brain and every drinker knows of AA.
He does not want to stop drinking enough to actually stop yet, maybe he never will.
He has not yet hit bottom, which is when some folks realize they need to stop.

So your plan to take him out for some meals and to talk are good, but if you give him money, you might as well drive him to the liquor store.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:39 AM   #3
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All I can say is be a friend and keep in touch with him. At least he will know someone cares and if he ever gets ready to try to straighten up, he'll have someone to call. Situations like these are heartbreaking.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:02 AM   #4
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Honestly there is nothing you can do. He has a brain and every drinker knows of AA.
He does not want to stop drinking enough to actually stop yet, maybe he never will.
He has not yet hit bottom, which is when some folks realize they need to stop.

So your plan to take him out for some meals and to talk are good, but if you give him money, you might as well drive him to the liquor store.

+1

Do not become an enabler.... and be prepared that he may never change...

About 10 years ago where I worked, they were talking about a guy who had worked there a decade before... had some of the same problem... never did get help... they found him dead in a ditch... people felt bad, but he had been offered so much help and never did anything to change... you cannot force someone to change...

Think about it, he has lost his wife, his kid, his grand kids, his job, his girlfriend, his house, soon his car and I am sure more... and none of that made a difference.... how do you think that you will be able to get him to change
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:00 AM   #5
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+1

Do not become an enabler.... and be prepared that he may never change...

About 10 years ago where I worked, they were talking about a guy who had worked there a decade before... had some of the same problem... never did get help... they found him dead in a ditch... people felt bad, but he had been offered so much help and never did anything to change... you cannot force someone to change...

Think about it, he has lost his wife, his kid, his grand kids, his job, his girlfriend, his house, soon his car and I am sure more... and none of that made a difference.... how do you think that you will be able to get him to change
It is understandable how you feel, but I agree that this is a situation you have no control over. Do not think that you could get him to change. Remember the Serenity Prayer.
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:10 AM   #6
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So your plan to take him out for some meals and to talk are good, but if you give him money, you might as well drive him to the liquor store.
Yes, very much this. Unfortunately sometimes addicts have to hit bottom before they will try to change... and even then, not always. Giving cash assistance to an addict is, as Dave Ramsey puts it, "giving a drunk a drink." (In this case, literally.)
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:25 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies. I know better than to start bailing him out financially. I could easily do that without expecting to be repaid but know that will not solve anything except maybe to lose him as his last and longest friend.

I don't see any way that he won't lose everything and be on the street in a month or so when he runs out of money or in jail for his recent drinking against the courts instructions and then on the street. I'm hoping he will be able to get help but I don't know what agencies or who to contact. I believe he will be going to AA meetings this Sat and Sun. Would anyone know if they will help him find the contacts to get him housing, medical/pharmaceutical help, and food assistance?
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:50 AM   #8
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I have a friend who is slowly deteriorating because of drink. He is more of a functioning alcoholic than a derelict but with each year he becomes more of a recluse and takes lesser care of himself. His wife has chronic diseases and will probably die before him. He has a decent pension and so won't be out on the street. But if his wife dies or leaves him I expect he will waste away. I wish I could help him regain his former self but don't see any way forward. It is frustrating but, ultimately, people have to decide these things for themselves.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:21 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. I know better than to start bailing him out financially. I could easily do that without expecting to be repaid but know that will not solve anything except maybe to lose him as his last and longest friend.

I don't see any way that he won't lose everything and be on the street in a month or so when he runs out of money or in jail for his recent drinking against the courts instructions and then on the street. I'm hoping he will be able to get help but I don't know what agencies or who to contact. I believe he will be going to AA meetings this Sat and Sun. Would anyone know if they will help him find the contacts to get him housing, medical/pharmaceutical help, and food assistance?
Can you go to a meeting or two with him during your visit? There likely would be some guidance available but he has to reach out for it, I understand.

I am so sorry for both of you. I hope you realize that you didn't cause any of this and you can't fix it. You are a good friend.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:32 AM   #10
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Sounds a lot like my late FIL's story. He died of sclerosis of the liver in his early 60s. That was caused by drinking too much. He was a very nice and outgoing person when he was sober. I think his problems had a lot to do with depression. It was sad to see, but not much that could be done if he didn't want to change.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:39 AM   #11
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Can you go to a meeting or two with him during your visit? There likely would be some guidance available but he has to reach out for it, I understand.

I am so sorry for both of you. I hope you realize that you didn't cause any of this and you can't fix it. You are a good friend.
Thank you, While I am there I am going to try and contact the AA group he will be going to. I would like to be there when he goes but I can't stay for more than a couple of days this time. I am recovering from a medical procedure and not supposed to be this mobile. I also attended an AlAnon meeting last Monday and plan on going back this Monday before I drive down to see him. I just hope he wakes up before it is too late. I'm hoping he will be able to turn things around enough for his friends to return for support. He will need it. I can't do much by long distance.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:44 AM   #12
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Sounds a lot like my late FIL's story. He died of sclerosis of the liver in his early 60s. That was caused by drinking too much. He was a very nice and outgoing person when he was sober. I think his problems had a lot to do with depression. It was sad to see, but not much that could be done if he didn't want to change.
A nice outgoing person with major depression problems sounds so much like my friend. In his case he tries to soothe the pain with alcohol and buying things until he has no money until the next paycheck. It is sad to see someone so lost.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:02 AM   #13
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AlAnon is a great first step for you to recover from your guilt. Most rehab centers also have family group sessions which are very helpful to family and friends. Like others have said anything you do for your friend will be enabling him. He has a lifelong disease and only he can overcome this. He has to hit rock bottom and decide he wants to change his life before he becomes better. Believe me anything you do to help him is NOT helping him.
For the past year our son has been battling his alcoholism (actually 6 years). We found out last May he was an addict and he has been in and out of rehab all year. His wife is divorcing him and trying to keep him from seeing his children (he has court ordered visitation). We tried everything to help him and made all of the classic mistakes. He has finally started to turn his life around, is working again, hasn't had a drink in over 2 months, and is able to see his children again every other weekend. But we thought we had lost him a few times over the year. We're glad to have him back in our lives but we're also very careful what we do to help, very little actually. Our major concern is our grandchildren.
So be very careful what you do, he can very well drag you down into his misery.
Good luck.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:04 AM   #14
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My role model in a similar situation was my ex-SIL after I divorced her brother, who was bipolar and self-medicated by abusing alcohol. She and I are still on cordial terms. She and her husband were entrepreneurs who are worth probably in the tens of millions of dollars and she could have supported my Ex forever without it making a dent in their budget. She was wise enough to know that it would never have ended. She paid to send him into very good rehab programs- twice. (One was Hazeldon.) He relapsed after both. AFAIK, she didn't do much to help him after that. He stayed in FL after dropping out of the program there (family was in NJ) and was in and out of contact.


We got a call in 2010 that he was in the hospital with multiple organ failure. DS, as next of kin, was the one who had to issue a DNR order and eventually have him moved to a hospice floor, where he died after a mercifully short stay. I still mourn for the potential that was lost- he was a brilliant chemist- and all the things he lost that were dear to him, including a beautiful granddaughter born 3 years after his death.


Sorry, I didn't mean for so much of this to be about me- the point I wanted to make is similar to what the others have said. Offer emotional support, take him out for a meal, go to AA meetings with him if that's permitted, but his motivation has to come from within. Sometimes mental illness makes that impossible. And, if you're inclined to do so, pray for him.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:04 AM   #15
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Invite him to go with you to an AA speaker meeting (a meeting of just listening to individuals tell their stories, no sharing required). Look up all the AA meetings, times and locations in his area; give him printouts of this info. Some people have to go to more than one meeting every day to get and stay sober.

But it's true that you can't make him do it. But to get started, he needs to tell someone at AA "I need help." They can get him a sponsor, someone to call.

Going to jail might save his life and get him on a positive path. It has happened to others.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:54 AM   #16
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Although the odds seem stacked against you, and him, your concern may be enough to make a difference. I too had a grade school buddy in similar circumstances, not quite as bad as your friend but quickly heading in that direction. We had drifted apart over the years because of his drinking and resultant bad behaviors but I would call and check on him every few months. Often there would be no answer but I'd leave him a message and let him no I was concerned. Never any return call.

One time I called and he answered but his reply was completely unintelligible. He groaned and muttered into the phone for a minute and then the line went dead. I jumped in my car and drove an hour to his place to check on him. No answer at the door but I knew he was probably there. i kept banging on the door for fifteen minutes until the door finally opened a few inches. My friend was on the floor in his underwear and totally out of it. I had to push and push and yell at him in order to get him away from the door in order to enter. The whole place was a total mess with newspapers, mail, fast food trash and empty vodka bottles everywhere. Got him up on the couch, made him coffee and a couple of hours later he was coherent enough to get in the shower. While he did that I cleaned up as much trash as I could. Once out of the shower, he began sobbing and thanking me for coming to check on him. He'd been on a multi-day bender and could not remember what day it was or how long he'd been out of it.

I told him how I hated to see such a good person in such a deplorable state and told him he needed to get help. He sobbed even more and said he knew. I went and got him some food and I when I returned he said he wanted to go to an AA meeting. I took him and you could tell the emotions were choking him. Afterwards, we had a long talk where he recounted all that had happened to him over the years and how he had failed to deal with the many difficulties that life had thrown at him. I reiterated that he was a good person and had always been a valued and trusted friend to me over the many years we had known each other. Even more sobbing. He promised he would go to AA again tomorrow.

I left shortly thereafter but followed up by phone daily for the next week and then less infrequently but regularly. He seemed to be doing well. It's now over four years later and he has stayed sober and turned his life around.

The chances of you making such a difference are slim but you never know what might be the turning point for your friend. For some reason my concern made a difference to my friend while the assistance offered by many other friends and family members had not. It's great that you are staying a good friend to him in spite of all this because that is what true friends do, but know that it is all up to him no matter what you do or say. Best of luck to you both!
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:59 AM   #17
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Thanks for the replies. I know better than to start bailing him out financially. I could easily do that without expecting to be repaid but know that will not solve anything except maybe to lose him as his last and longest friend.

I don't see any way that he won't lose everything and be on the street in a month or so when he runs out of money or in jail for his recent drinking against the courts instructions and then on the street. I'm hoping he will be able to get help but I don't know what agencies or who to contact. I believe he will be going to AA meetings this Sat and Sun. Would anyone know if they will help him find the contacts to get him housing, medical/pharmaceutical help, and food assistance?
AA may help in an informal way. I don't believe it's in the 12 by 12. Many people who come in are pretty beat up and needing assistance. Of course the folks in recovery know ALL the games that can be played. If your friend is ready to get well they might be able to find some assistance with charity's that can help.

IT CAN BE DONE! I have a buddy that's 20 years sober, another acquaintance who lost it all(a street crack addict) and got his crap together, he's now a nurse. But then there are the poor souls that get locked up, and covered up, they weren't able to stay around until their miracle was ready for them.

Your friend needs to hit as many meetings as he can, as if his life depends on them. It does! If he's ready to go to ANY length to get it, there's a miracle for him.

Ask if you can pray with or for him, sometimes it's the only thing that works.

It can be handy for friends/family to read the big book I believe it's available free on-line. It's really the AA bible and a great read for folks who have an addict in their lives. Good luck!

Link to AA Big Book:
http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/alcoholics-anonymous
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Old 04-02-2016, 10:36 AM   #18
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Substance abuse is truly a family disease - it affects the entire extended family as noted in all of the posts. I had a roommate at one time who at 31 had 2 bouts of alcoholic pancreatitis, told me while in the hospital that he doesn't want to give it up, and died at 63 from continuing alcohol and whatever pain meds he could get. I've also seen others just decide to finally give it up, and have been successful in doing so. AA is a great program to offer group support and a plan, as well as providing a sponsor (if sought out), and is a place where those who want to get sober have a fighting chance. Good luck Badger !

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Old 04-02-2016, 11:29 AM   #19
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I plan on going to see him next week for a day or two so he won't feel totally abandon. It will give him a chance to talk and I will take him out for his meals while I am there and put some groceries in the refrigerator.
I think these are wonderful ideas and represent the best that an old friend can do for someone in these circumstances. This is really all you can do for him, IMO.

I suppose you could also take him to an AA meeting, and it sure wouldn't do any harm to try that, but I doubt it will help unless/until he decides to turn his life around. My experience is that we can't force people (even our dear friends) to change. I think they have to decide to do it on their own.

Most of all, take care of yourself! Sorry you are going through this.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:35 AM   #20
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BTravlin - what a great story and what a wonderful friend you are.

Badger - I hope your story turns out as well, but even if it does not, you are demonstrating what a friend really is - someone who meets you where you are.
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