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When Should You Give Up On a Friend Who's Unwilling To Change?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Friend' started by Rainman, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    Someone I know feels he was short-changed by his family. They used to be well-off but because his old man had an addiction problem, he lost all his money to drugs. This gentleman, whom I'll name X, to cope with the situation, started drinking when his family's fortune started going down the drain. He came to depend on alcohol and other drugs to escape reality instead of [staying sober and ] fighting it.

    He's a young man [in his late 20s] and I think this addiction to alcohol could kill him before his time. Friends, including me, have tried to advice him that alcohol is not a solution to his problems but he says, "it's the only way I can forget."

    Meaning that he absolutely has no intention of even trying to beat the addiction.

    Should one give up on such a person or keep trying to help them overcome the addiction?
  2. maryannballeras

    maryannballeras Senior Contributor

    I wouldn't answer your question as a fact, because it's just my personal take on it. If I were you, I'd stay closer by his side and make sure that he'll get out of this. He needs to know that he lives not just for himself, but for other people as well. And by destroying himself, he's also affecting others as well.
    MrsJones and wellpostlooper like this.
  3. LifeM1

    LifeM1 Member

    In part, this depends on you. In my own personal opinion, you do not necessarily have an obligation to continue trying to help this person if you do not want to. As selfish as that may sound, it is ultimately up to you. However, if you do care about this person, and do not want to give up on him, then you should continue trying to help him through discussions.

    Then again, it feels as if you want to help him, but feel lost. As if you're getting nowhere and that this is pointless in spite of how much you care. If you feel like this is like pushing a boulder up a hill, you may just have to let the rock roll for your own sake.

    All the same, I wish you the best in whatever you decide.
    MrsJones likes this.
  4. geegee

    geegee Active Contributor

    I know how you feel. Sometimes these types of friends seem to not want to change. But I think it's a good sign that he also isn't pushing you away? If his response is "It's the only way I can forget", it sounds like he would still be willing to try other healthier ways of coping. Maybe try to show him that forgetting won't solve anything? Try to be patient. It isn't your responsibility to help him, but it sounds like you'd like to, and maybe you still can. :)
    MrsJones likes this.
  5. JorjSimeonov

    JorjSimeonov Member

    I have the same situation with a very close childhood friend of mine. At some point I stopped bugging him about trying to get help, but I've never stopped watching him closely to see if he will move from alcohol and weed to more potent and harmful substances. Occasionally I still try to mention that I'm worried for him, but I'd rather keep him close than lose him as a friend by making him not want to hang out with me which could happen if I were to continue to nag.
    MrsJones likes this.
  6. TheKid

    TheKid Active Contributor

    I think one should never give up on a friend, the best advice I can give you is to keep supporting him, for the first few weeks, don't try and persuade him to stop, just be there for him. Hang out with him and take care of him, you have to regain his trust in you(since the alcohol took his trust in everyone away from him). Once you are good friends again you can then slowly try and get him to drink less and less.
    I think that once he has someone he can turn to, someone who listens and helps where they can, he can come to you instead of running to alcohol.

    Best of luck to you!
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  7. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I don't think there is ain't when you should give up on a friend, but if there were, I'd say that the only right situation would be if he or she is starting to affect your own and your family's well being, but as much as possible, no matter how impossible it seems, we should always be there for our friends. If it looks and feels weighty to you to support him, then imagine how it must feel for him being in the middle of it all. Like I said, though, he will still ultimately be responsible for his own life and mental state, so you shouldn't feel too guilty if you can't help out, but keeping the door open and exerting some effort is essential, in my opinion.
  8. TheKid

    TheKid Active Contributor

    I agree with you there Charli. No matter what happens, he is still responsible for his own life and he can make his own decisions as a grown up, the only thing you can really do is be there for him.
  9. jackslivi

    jackslivi Active Contributor

    Honestly, you are going to have to give up. But not completely. Be there for him. Be a friend, not a drinking buddy. I'm not saying you help with his alcohol. Please do not take that the wrong way. I just know some people try to help by hanging out with them and going to bars. Try taking your friend somewhere else. Tell him, "I know an amazing way you can forget about all your problems." And then take him out in the middle of no where to see the stars at night. I know it is cheesy, but it helps to be away from it all and take a deep breath. Show up at times when he wants to drink and do some crazy things. And by crazy I mean, adventurious. Be the fun friend who shows him different was to cope and I guarenttee he will figure it out and admit it to you. Hang in there.
  10. mkCampbell

    mkCampbell Active Contributor

    This is kind of the same situation that we are facing. We hate to exclude a certain friend from cookouts, get-to-gethers, family and friend activities. But when we extend invites then those eventually turn into him being drunk and causing a problem. Then there is the drama involved of him finding out we had people over to watch a game or something and he was not invited. We've, being a group of friends, have talked to him several times about his problem but it has not helped. Maybe it helps for a week or month and then "boom" drunk fight during a day at the ballpark or a late night call needing bail money. I've quit answering my phone when he calls. I want to help but when I've reached out I've been bitten and treated like dirt. Not sure where to go from here but to try and keep tabs on him.
  11. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    In his case, if he were my friend, I won't give up on him because he has a family problem. So all the more that I should stay with him. Somebody has to make him realize that he is making a huge mistake by turning to alcohol to cope. He is doing exactly what his dad is doing, drug addiction that eventually made their life miserable. If this friend of mine hurts himself, I will feel guilty if I leave him alone.
  12. While it is true there is no obligation to stick around, we don't know how much our sacrifice in standing by this person (or a friend) will help them in their lives. These are the intangible rewards whereby you help someone get to where they are supposed to be in life. There are also great lessons to learn as you help someone in need. But first things first; the addiction has to be fought if there is any hope that this person will be able to get control over their life again.
  13. amethyst

    amethyst Community Champion

    I think that one should never give up on another person, not matter what. Many people who have friends or family members who struggle with an addiction, try to change them. They try to make them see that they are doing something wrong. And that's very understandable, as they love and care for the person. But the truth is that until the addict him/herself acknowledges on a deeper level that they have a problem, nothing much will change.
    I have an alcoholic friend, whom I accept the way he is. He is very aware of his addiction but doesn't want to change it. He tells me that he wants to drink himself to death. As hard or heartless as this sounds, I have come to accept his decision. And so has his family. He is a wealthy, well educated, independent man.
    Naturally, I don't encourage his decision, but trying to convince him all the time to deal with his addiction has become pointless, as he just ignores me. So, instead, I focus on the present, being aware of the time that we have right now in this moment.
  14. Gin0710

    Gin0710 Active Contributor

    I'd keep offering support, but lower expectations. People can't be forced to change they have to want it for themselves.
  15. And that's the frustrating part. You can see their lives are headed down a dangerous path but you can't do a lot about it because the decision has to come from that person. They have to summon up their own willpower to lead them out of their struggles. The best we can do is support them, try to inspire them, and hope for the best.
  16. Allen24

    Allen24 Active Contributor

    It sounds like your friend is going through a pretty difficult time. I would stick around and see if he needs a friend. That's what friends are for. The only exception is if you feel like he is being destructive and it is negatively effecting your own life. You come first.
    cynamarie likes this.
  17. cynamarie

    cynamarie Member

    If his alcoholism isn't affecting you then why not stick around? It sounds like he's just entered into his problems, he will hit rock bottom eventually and when he does, he may need you to pick him up. Sometimes people need to enter that place before they can see that there is a problem and they need help. Don't give up yet, he can still be saved.
  18. cynamarie

    cynamarie Member

    Yes! I agree completely. When his actions begin to affect your own life negatively, then reconsider the friendship but for now, your friend needs your support until he's proven otherwise.
  19. SF13

    SF13 Member

    I have a similar situation with a cousin. He absolutely refuses to get any help and has even turned down a chance to get reasonably decent paying job with his father in Florida solely because he would have to go into rehab for his issues and huffing addiction. When I lived closer to him I tried to help, but he seems uninterested in receiving any help but money and that is no help at all.

    So far, I have little idea what to do about that either except for spending time on the phone now and then just listening to his problems.
  20. athena02

    athena02 Member

    I'd like to say say never. Your friend clearly has problems that he already can't cope with. Losing the support of a friend that cares will do anything but help.

    In a lot of cases, it takes a single event for people to realize that they need to change. So stick around, you'll want to accompany him when he finds the will to go through this.

    Of course, there are cases where they just won't let you help, but your friend doesn't seem like one of these. From what I've read, he actually opens up to you.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014