I have a friend who is a functioning alcoholic. He's in his early thirties, lives with his parents in a small apartment and has a degree in electrical engineering (never practiced it).
At first, I didn't think his behavior was problematic. He is originally from Albania, where men tend to drink more, and make their own wines and other alcoholic drinks, so when he would pull a 500ml plastic water bottle full of wine out of his backpack and offer us some, I thought nothing of it. My boyfriend doesn't drink and I rarely drink but I would sometimes have a drink with him.
More recently, however, I started realizing that every time he would visit us, he would bring a backpack with him, in which he would store at least two or three of these bottles. I also started noticing that he would sometimes take his backpack in the bathroom which made me suspect he might be secretly sipping on some wine or other drink. Even though he knows my partner and I don't really drink, he keeps asking if we want some.
Coming from a Health related background, I am almost certain he's depressed and I feel it's my responsibility to help (I can think of a few reasons why he's depressed. If you think mentioning them might help please let me know). He's had to sleep over at our place a few times, because he was clearly unable to walk home or it got too late for him to use public transport.
He is a really nice guy and I care about him but I hate to see him suffer like that (whether he realizes it or not). I've talked to my partner about it but he doesn't want to get involved.
Ironically, our friend has mentioned that his father had to pay a huge fine for getting a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and he did sound concerned about his father's behavior.
Long story short, it's depressing seeing him like that and I feel that by not saying anything, I am enabling his behavior which makes me feel like a hypocrite. This has started to affect me more than I thought it would.
How can I tell my friend that he's a functioning alcoholic? Can I even bring alcoholism up? Should I offer my help and how?
And if I shouldn't say anything, how can I detach myself from the situation without acting cold towards him?
(I can't withdraw to another room without raising suspicion especially since he is used to me hanging out with my boyfriend and him. I can probably do it once or twice but no more.)
Some of the reasons I suspect he might be drinking about, past and present:
He was bullied as an overweight child of immigrant parents. He is skinny and tall now.
Ex-girlfriend hurt him but still sees her as a friend, when he's clearly hurt. I know he's hurt because he was really distressed when talking about her.
- Perhaps lacks direction. Even though he has a good degree he just won't do anything with it.
On a recent visit, and after all of us having some wine, my friend confessed to me that he should really cut down on the drinking. This was the first time he actually said something like that without anyone initiating a conversation about it. I immediately praised him for that and gave him a pat in the back and took advantage of the opportunity to tell him that if he ever needs my help or would like to talk about this, I'll be there for him. I feel more confident now to give him that letter.