DEAR ABBY: I have a friend I'll call Jessica who has a major drinking problem. She is aware of it and asked me to help her because she's too embarrassed to get help from strangers. I am trying hard to help her without acting like a parent, but it's not easy.
Jessica says she doesn't need to stop drinking entirely, just limit herself to no more than two drinks. This makes sense to me.
Two weeks ago, Jessica came to my house with a bottle of vodka. She had two drinks that I found out later were double-shots. Before long, she began acting very drunk, and I told her she was cut off. She seemed fine with it, but an hour or so later, I heard her in the kitchen and caught her drinking straight from the bottle. I became very frustrated and poured it all down the sink. When Jessica realized what I was doing, she began sobbing and got very angry. She stayed that way for the next two hours until she finally passed out.
The next morning, when I told her what she did, she was amazed and apologized, and said I did the right thing. But a few days later, Jessica partied with some other friends and got so drunk she fell and hurt her wrist.
Please help me, Abby. I don't know what to do and neither does Jessica's family. She will die from this if she doesn't get help. She's only 21, and her whole life is ahead of her. -- WORRIED SICK IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR WORRIED SICK: You need more help than anyone can give you in a letter -- and so does Jessica and her family. The fact that she is in your kitchen chugging vodka straight from the bottle speaks volumes. She's an alcoholic in denial.
Please urge Jessica's family to start learning all they can about the disease of alcoholism -- because it IS a disease. An excellent place for them -- and you, by the way -- would be the Al-Anon Family Groups. They are a 12-step fellowship of men, women and children whose lives have been affected by the compulsive drinking of a family member or friend. They provide literature in 30 languages and have support groups almost everywhere. The toll-free phone number is (888) 4-ALANON, and the Web site is � HYPERLINK "http://www.al-anon.alateen.org" ��www.al-anon.alateen.org�.
Once the family understands more about Jessica's problem, they may want to stage an intervention to divert her from her self-destructive path. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) could do her a world of good. Part of the process of healing is admitting to strangers that she has a problem she can't handle by herself. The members will understand that fact because they all share the same problem.
AA members are men and women who have found a solution to their drinking problem. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. It's supported by voluntary contributions made by its members and groups. And if Jessica is afraid that if she admits that she's an alcoholic the word will be spread, her fear is groundless. Members observe personal anonymity at the public level, preferring to emphasize principles rather than personalities.
To find an AA meeting, look in a local phone directory or newspaper, or visit its Web site: � HYPERLINK "http://www.aa.org" ��www.aa.org�.