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Old Friend's New Drinking Habits Become Embarrassment in Public

DEAR ABBY: My friend whom I have known since we were 8-year-olds (we're now in our 50s) is driving me bonkers. She has started drinking a lot and hanging out with younger people and dating younger guys. I have loaned her quite a bit of money because she can barely get by. I don't drink, and I hate seeing what she's doing to herself. I think she is having trouble with the aging process.

She has now started to embarrass me when she drinks in public. She doesn't handle it well and relies on me to get her out of sticky situations. I'm really tired of all this. I have told her how I feel, but she knows I'll come to her rescue. -- TIRED GUARDIAN ANGEL

DEAR TIRED: Draw the line. Tell her you are her friend, but not her chaperone, and you will socialize with her only if she limits her intake to nonalcoholic beverages. One of the signs of alcoholism is when the drinking interferes with the drinker's relationships -- and clearly, this is what's happening. Do not allow her to continue making her drinking your problem because you cannot control it. Only she can do that.

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