Feeling responsible for friend's sobriety--need help with boundaries!
February 10, 2013 2:28 PM Subscribe
(Asking for a friend)
I have been sober for nearly a year, and attend AA meetings regularly. Recently, an old friend has moved to my city and has confided in me that they are concerned with their own drinking habits, think they may be an alcoholic, and asked for my help. I am happy to support my friend, but some boundary issues have come up that I would like metafilter's advice on. (Sorry in advance for length.)
posted by dysh to human relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Without getting into specifics, while I made some (very) stupid decisions while drinking that had a negative impact on my life, when I did quit, I had no physical, or even really emotional, craving for alcohol. I quit cold turkey and am very happy with my life now, feel that this is the best choice for me, and genuinely enjoy AA. In other words, giving up drinking was not *as much* of a struggle for me as it could have been, and is, for many people.
My friend, on the other hand, would probably be considered a "classic" high-functioning alcoholic. Their drinking has caused major problems in their personal life, and though they've come to me a number of times, sometimes in a very emotional state, for my advice and help, they continue to drink. I have taken them to a few AA meetings. I have let them know that they are not in any way obligated to share at said meetings, but that sharing can be very beneficial, and encouraged them to do so. They expressed that they were uncomfortable with sharing, and only wanted to attend meetings with me, and not alone. They have not expressed interest in getting a sponsor or taking any initiative about their own sobriety.
As a result, I am feeling responsible for my friend's sobriety. When they drink around me (which they continue to do) I feel frustrated and even a little angry. (This is not a problem with other friends who drink--I do not generally feel uncomfortable with people drinking around me.) Intellectually, I understand that the path to sobriety is different for different people, and that mine may have been easier than most, but my emotions don't match (though I try my best not to show it.) It's really taking a toll on me. I do not feel like I am far enough in the program to act as a de-facto sponsor, but that's essentially what I'm doing, because I am the only person who my friend is talking to about these things and the only way they'll attend meetings is if I go with them. I am also responsible for finding the meetings/coordinating with them about when we can attend.
On the other hand, I understand what my friend is going through is very difficult, and I want to be as supportive as possible. I worry that without my help, my friend will not get the help they need. We've only been to a few meetings together, so maybe I need to give them more time. However, I'm feeling like the situation is unsustainable for both of us at the moment. I'd like to draw some clear boundaries so that I can be supportive without feeling completely overwhelmed. I've tried to ask about it at meetings (that my friend was not present at), but have only gotten the generic "be supportive, but remember you are not responsible for their sobriety."
So, the question: What would appropriate boundaries be to draw and how do I draw them?