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Can I help a friend?

One of my oldest and dearest friends has been struggling with alcoholism since her early 20s (she's 51 now). She got sober 16 years ago and was extremely active in AA and helped many people. She is an incest survivor and the daughter of an alcoholic father so she really made quite a remarkable recovery.

For the past 4 years, she has become more depressed and withdrawn. She's on antidepressants and anti-psychotics since she's had a history of manic episodes. Just this past year, she broke her 16 year sobriety and agreed to go to a 2 month residential dual diagnosis rehab.

She came home and drank 5 days later.

She immediately went into another dual diagnosis facility for another, came home and drank after 4 days. Her husband has hung in there with her but this is the last straw and he told me he's leaving her (they have no kids).

With her 20 year marriage over I'm not sure what will motivate her to stop drinking. Unless she really wants to stop I think she may drink herself to death. Is there anything I can do to support/help her while at the same time not enable her? She and I have known each other for over 30 years and she has always been my rock (with the exception of the past few years).

She has not been to AA in a while as she's been dealing more with her mental issues.

I am heartbroken over this and so worried. Any input would be much appreciated.

Thank you.


Comments for Can I help a friend?

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Depression makes alcoholism harder to treat
by: Ned Wicker

Dear JD,

The dual diagnosis makes your friend?s situation difficult, as which came first the alcoholism or the depression? Alcoholism cannot the cured, but it can be managed, as evidenced by her many years of sobriety.

If her husband's departure was not enough to motivate her to either stop drinking or go back into treatment, you are probably faced with an uphill climb in trying to be supportive.

It seems that his leaving the marriage was more than just the drinking, there are other factors, but the ultimatum is certainly a major turning point. Is he willing to work with you and try to get her back into treatment? Is he important to her and is he willing to try? You need a plan.

I would suggest you turn to Al-Anon and get some help from them. They have resources available, not the least of which is a vast membership of people who have walked down the same path you are on right now. You can set boundaries and let your friend know where you stand and avoid being an enabler.

You can encourage her to return to AA and perhaps reconnect her to the person she really is, the one who helped others and took care of herself. But you are quite right in stating that you cannot do this for her, mainly because it is her problem, not yours.

It's hard to sit on the sidelines while your friend destroys her life, but you alone can do nothing, so turn to professionals for help.

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