I am struggling to figure out how to have a productive relationship with a friend struggling with alcoholism cross country.

We were both part of a large and strong friend group in college. After college, the group scattered across the country. In general, the group communicates occasionally but we quickly pick up our strong bond when we get together for events.

He has struggled with alcohol since before college, but over the last few years alcoholism has come to dominate his life. He has also been using various drugs some times. He has been to in-patient rehab several times and has seen several therapists/psychiatrists on and off outside of rehab. He is living with his parents, but has a terrible relationship with them. They enable his drinking as a moral challenge for him to overcome by sheer force of will.

I want to continue my relationship with him but I'm not sure how best to do that. Resources like this focus on how to stage an intervention to get them to rehab. That's not what I'm looking for- he acknowledges alcohol dominates his life but I can't send him to rehab. Other resources recommend more simply expressing your concern and support. This is helpful, but not the basis of a relationship. Continuously sending that type of message just seems condescending. I've tried focusing conversation on the dealing with his alcoholism, but that usually leads him to depression. I've also tried tried focusing on other things, but that has become increasingly hard as he really has nothing else in his life anymore.

Our group of friends is lucky enough to be able and willing to spend substantial amounts of money to help him, but less than appears would be required to send him to inpatient rehab. This could include visiting him or helping him pay for living arrangements away from his parents.

What are the best things I can do to support my friend dealing with alcoholism cross country? In response to comments about this being to broad, what are conversation topics and communication strategies that will make my friend feel supported?

  • 1
    I've voted to close this because I think your situation goes way beyond what we can address under the umbrella of Interpersonal Skills. I see you used the 'how-to-help tag, but if you look at that it specifies 'how to help another person with interpersonal issues'. While addiction can certainly give rise to interpersonal issues, I don't think of itself it is one. I really commend your commitment to your friend and hope you can come up with some ways to help him, but I don't think this is the place for the question. – Spagirl May 24 '18 at 15:58
  • I think this is on topic because 1. OP defined a goal: Support his friend. 2. Defines a problem for interpersonal relationship: distance – jean May 24 '18 at 17:11
  • 1
    @jean If ericksonia had a goal of supporting their friend in a specific way but needed help in broaching that subject persuasively with their friend, we might be able to help with that, that would bes Interpersonal Skills, but they're asking for ways in which they can support their friend, we can't do that. – Spagirl May 24 '18 at 17:29
  • @Spagirl I see, well I read it more in the way "What can I possible say" since all OP can do is to talk. – jean May 24 '18 at 17:42
  • @spagirl and jean, you were both right- I was asking the question broadly, but implicitly including "what can I say" specifically. I've updated to question to try to make it more on topic. – ericksonla May 24 '18 at 18:08