Dear A Mitch: Boozer's Buddy
Dear A Mitch,
I think my friend has a serious problem with alcohol. He often turns to alcohol when he is having a “rough day,” pouring multiple drinks on weeknights when he has class early the next morning. Without fault, he almost immediately makes at least one drink every Thursday after his last class of the week…and his class ends before noon. My friends and I have tried to talk to him; dropping hints that his drinking is excessive and inappropriate, turning our heads when he offers us alcohol at ridiculously early hours of the day. His habit makes us pretty uncomfortable. What else should my friends and I do? Is there a way we can tactfully tell our friend that we think he has a drinking problem?
Hmmm, you know, logistically speaking, alcohol is good for you. Why do you think boozers never get sick? Duh, alcohol kills germs. Whoever doesn’t know that is dumber than the people who thought the miners trapped in Chile were actually "minors.” Can you believe they let children work in mines?! Little did we know they were down there chillean’ out, pounding brandy and cola like athletes during post-game catch-up. And now they all have book and movie deals, right? See, alcohol is good for you.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is, didn’t you mean to send this question to the Dean of Students Office? Or maybe your RA? Did they not waste last spring break figuring out how to deal with alcoholics? I mean, I’m a reserve, but that just means until I poison Henry Lyford I have the freedom to smash pumpkins and sneak into Scripps dorms wearing my banana hammock and Uggs.
Alright, alright, the situation is rather serious. Alcohol is a drug and while it is a more accepted drug, it can be equally as detrimental to the life of an individual. There’s a difference between drinking, and drinking to numb reality. That’s not to say people shouldn’t booze when they want. It’s when alcohol becomes the only way one can cope with a “tough day” that red flags should fly – which they have, and that’s good, but then you asked me what to do instead of speaking with someone who can actually get your friend some help.
I know there is this stigma associated with telling DOS about troubled students. It feels like you’re ratting out a friend, being the asshole that over-stepped his boundaries. People don’t know how smooth DOS is though (everyone just read that line and laughed out loud). But for real, they’ll find a random reason to pull your friend in, just to chat. His RA will check up on him a little more and he’ll never know you said anything…
…annnd you’ve dismissed the idea of telling DOS. There has to be another way. You’ve already nudged some disapproval towards this friend. Maybe give him a little incentive to not drink, don’t be his companion. Misery loves Johnnie Walker Red. It’s also privy to company, and every time you break down and take a shot with him you are reinforcing his behavior. Even if you only do it sometimes, know that intermittent reinforcement makes behavior increasingly difficult to extinguish (holler at me psych majors!). Tell him you’d rather have seltzer water. I doubt it will do much to curb his consumption, but it might help you understand alcoholics need more than a scolding from their friends to buck their addiction.
People brag about being heavy drinkers: “I’m such an alcoholic. I drank like, a whole fifth of Mike's Hard last night!” Cool, you drink a lot, congratulations. You still have your shit together, you still go to class, and when finals come around, you buckle down in the library. Alcoholics drink, and drink, and don’t give a fuck if they are with friends or alone in their room on Monday morning.
So do something. Tell someone who has the means to help. That is DOS, Monsieur, or your RA. If not, I’ll have my friend find the IP address from your email, and I’ll do something about it. Moral of the story: friends don't let friends drive drunk. Unless you're going to Del Taco. Then it's okay. We're hungry.