Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Social Drinker?

I have a friend who I feel is drinking himself to death. I seemed to get through to him and he stopped drinking for awhile, but recently he told me that if he wants to drink he'll drink, and that's that. I want to do an intervention, but some other of his friends think I'm making too much of it and that he just likes to party. But he has told me that he has been very depressed lately because he is out of work. So he shouldn't be spending what little money he has on booze. I also think he's never quite accepted that he's gay. He says -- and some of his friends say -- that he's just a social drinker, but I know better. Anon.

You bring up a variety of issues in your question, but I'll try to address them.

First, there are people who drink heavily during difficult periods -- such as after the death of a loved one, or losing an important job. Your friend is depressed and wants to feel better, hence the partying, socializing -- and drinking. He doesn't want to sit home alone brooding. Still, whether he's a genuine alcoholic -- which is debatable in this instance -- or has a "drinking problem" in that he drinks way too much [I mean, your liver doesn't know the difference], there's only so much you can do. He's a grown man, and this may just be a phase. If you feel his drinking will ruin his chances of finding work, you can tactfully make that point to him -- when he's sober -- because eventually he'll have no money to party.

As for any shame he's suffering because he's gay: there are certainly people who drink heavily because they can't deal with their sexuality. The question is: is he drinking because he's depressed and out of work, because he can't deal with his homosexuality, or because -- as most of his other friends feel -- he just wants to have a good time? I suggest you give it some time to see what develops, and as this is Gay Pride month you might have a talk with him -- again when he's sober -- about how he feels about being gay, and suggest counseling at a local gay center if he needs help in feeling good about himself.

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