When Alcoholism Destroys Friendship

We were close friends for almost 10 years. Our children grew from toddlers to teens together, our marriages have been tested and we’ve relied on each other for support. I spent consistent time with her daughter after her difficult divorce. We are more family than we are friends, or we used to be.

Over the past few years, her dependence of alcohol worsened, and what she could initially keep to herself in her home started overflowing into outings with friends. When I told her about a year ago that my husband had started going to AA, she responded, “You know I’m an alcoholic too, right?” It didn’t surprise me, nor did it surprise me when she followed up with, “But this is who I am. I’m not changing for anyone.”

At that point in time, she drank a lot at home, after work. She always had consecutive glasses of wine when we’d see each other. Then there was the time I found out from a mutual friend she had driven drunk home from a bar. We’d go out for “a” drink and she couldn’t stop ordering them once they started coming, and she’s always been tight on money. Another time at a group camping trip, she propositioned someone for sex in front of several of us. This wasn’t the friend I’d come to love: this was the alcoholic–the harsher, combative, asshole version courtesy of the disease.

I confronted her on these things I was seeing. She listened, then told me that she had thought she was an alcoholic, but lately, she’d been able to “control” her drinking, so she didn’t think it was a problem anymore.

What she did next at my housewarming party was enough for me to decide to practice complete detachment, a tool we Al-Anons use to preserve our sanity. She had asked if she could bring her two friends whom I’d never met to my housewarming party. No problem. The three of them show up about two hours late with a ton of beer (when she knows my husband is a recovering alcoholic), all three beyond sloppy drunk: slurring, stumbling, and obnoxious.

Slurring, cussing, stumbling, at points shoving her cleavage in her friend’s face, this in front of other guests including children. Before she left, she asked at the last minute if her teenage daughter could sleep over. Apparently, they wanted to party more at home without other responsibilities. I told her no.

She texted me the next day, “Good times last night…”. I didn’t respond. I can’t explain how much her actions disgusted me, how disrespected I felt in my own home. My husband reminds me that she has a disease, but all I can see sometimes is that my friend shit on our friendship, something I’d never do to her. I have been in Al Anon long enough to understand that I didn’t cause alcoholism, I can’t control it, and I sure as hell can’t cure it, but I swear it’s so hard when it is a close, loved friend who is spiraling. It still really hurts and feels as though I’m mourning because I know that letting go of the situation to some extent means letting go of my friend. I love her so much, but this is no longer her. It’s the damn disease.

We still watch each other on social media, but I’ve stopped texting her or planning on outings for us. I am stepping back for me. Who knows if one day she’ll ask for help. I know I’d be there in an instant, but I can’t watch her alcoholic self go untreated anymore. I choose my sanity.



5 thoughts on “When Alcoholism Destroys Friendship

  1. Everyone knows how alcoholism can destroy a family but sometimes they forget how much heartache it causes in a friendship, too. Whatever the relationship, there’s just as much pain in watching a loved one destroy themselves and their lives. You explain this so well in your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jean. I’ve been having a really hard time with this, even more so than when I went through it with my husband. The difference is that he wanted to get better and has made so much effort. If someone doesn’t want to get better, the disease will continue being selfish at all costs. I fall back to Step 1 everyday. I am powerless over alcohol. But I can make life healthy for me. Bittersweet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s really all you can do, addiction is a selfish thing. Your husband is to be commended for his effort and determination. Not an easy thing to do, breaking free from the control of alcohol. My sister’s partner tried but never managed to beat it. He died a few months after his 40th birthday but my sister had taken their two boys and left a couple of years before that. Such a sad waste of a life but it could have been a waste of four lives.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really good story, really good. I am appreciating my recovery from your point of view. I have a lot of guilt and shame about what I did to family, loved ones, friends over the years. And, while I do not actively work the 12 Steps of AA, when I go from this VA Treatment program to my 3 month VA Program next week, I have decided to give at least going to the meetings a shot. Thanks so much for your point of view!

    Liked by 1 person

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