How Not to Be an A-hole When…

… You’re Concerned About Someone’s Drinking

I think my friend might have a drinking problem and I don’t know if I should say something or not. I guess it feels hypocritical because I used to get drunk all the time with her in college. We weren’t great influences on each other but we had a lot of fun. Now we’re 25 and I almost never drink like that anymore. She still drinks like that most nights a week and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. I don’t know if I am making a big deal about nothing.

So, similarly to the question about the brother with a substance use disorder, I’d say that this is mostly outside my wheelhouse. I’m not a big drinker, and I tend to find the act of drinking to the point of heavily buzzed on more than an occasional basis not just unhealthful but also pretty obnoxious.

Since you’re a few years out of college, and she’s still, in at least one way, acting like you’re back in the dorms (or the shitty apartment with the weird entryway and decades-old dental-office carpet), I can see how it might be off-putting to see someone acting in a way that you don’t think is age- or life-phase- appropriate. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she has a drinking problem.

Given that, I’d encourage you to think about why you are concerned and believe help is needed. Is she always drinking when you’re around? Does every story she tell involve alcohol? Can you hang out without drinking? Has she shared that she’s having problems at work or at home that seem to be related to her drinking?

Or is it just that she just drinks more than you do, or more than you think is appropriate?

It’s not for me to say if you are making a big deal out of nothing, and I think it’s good of you to both be concerned but also be thoughtful about how to address the issue if you should indeed be concerned. There are certainly ways you can go about broaching the topic that are going to be more constructive than others, and as there are actual professionals out there who can help you with this type of question, my suggestion is that you check out some of what they have to say. This site especially has some good tips.


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