Ask Amy: Alcoholic friend needs tough love

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • June 6, 2013 - 6:18 PM

Dear Amy: I have a male friend who is recently retired. He fits the description of an alcoholic. His day revolves around buying and consuming beer.

He’s a decent enough sort in the morning, but once noon rolls around he becomes a slurring mess. He doesn’t seem to think there is a problem and rebuffs my suggestions of AA or other help. He can be very needy, and he’s wearing me out. He phones a lot; sometimes I answer, sometimes I don’t. He wants me to visit, drive him somewhere, etc. I do have a life of my own, but he tries to monopolize it, and I am really fed up.

I’ve tried talking to him about cleaning up his life, but he doesn’t seem interested. I have not yet said I will have to step away from this “friendship,” but I am getting closer every day. How do I tell him I can’t do this anymore?

Amy says: You are going to have to dole out very reasonable and rational consequences to your friend, while at the same time behaving very calmly and being neutral.

You say, “I’ve urged you to get help for your drinking, but you won’t. I’m so sorry that is the case. Our friendship has become exhausting for me, and I won’t be able to continue unless you get sober. It’s really that simple.”

Don’t give in. If your friend calls and asks for a ride to an AA meeting, you might want to grant it, but that’s the only favor you should be willing to do.

Sting of a bad childhood

Dear Amy: My parents divorced when I was very young. My father remarried and had two daughters. He met his financial obligations, but he was never really interested in knowing me. Although I receive birthday and Christmas cards from him, I rarely see or hear from him. I wanted him to meet my son (his grandson), and he paid one visit in 15 years.

I’m 44 now, and although I should know better, I have to admit it’s still very painful. Any advice to help me overcome this would be greatly appreciated.

Amy says: My advice involves doing the hard work of accepting what is, including accepting your sadness over this loss. You are grieving the loss of possibility. My insight into this tough state is that you want what everyone wants — a happy childhood — but you were not granted that particular stroke of luck.

You cannot change your past, but you have control over your future. Mine your current situation for nuggets of joy and count yourself lucky that you’ve been granted the opportunity to do better for your son than was done for you.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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