DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend has lost a lot of weight recently, and I am worried about him. He says he has not changed his eating habits, but I never see him eat a thing. One day I saw him make a rum and cola at 10 a.m.! I asked him if he was OK because no one drinks at this time of day unless they're in serious denial, and I hope this does not apply to my friend. He told me his drinking binge started while he was on the road because he wanted to ease the pain of being bored. My friend recently turned 30, and I am concerned he may be a high-functioning alcoholic. I would like to get him some help, but I do not know what to do. What is my first step? -- A Concerned Friend, Nashville, Tennessee
DEAR A CONCERNED FRIEND: Since your friend admitted that he has been binge drinking and that he even knows the reason why, you have an opening to begin a conversation with him. Tell him that you care about him and that right now you are very concerned about his drinking. Tell him that you have done some research and learned that, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, binge drinking for men is typically when a man consumes five or more drinks in one sitting or when a woman consumes four or more (cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm).
Because excessive drinking can be harmful to your friend's health, suggest that he get help. He can go to Alcoholics Anonymous. There are free meetings all over the United States, which he can find at aa.org. You can also suggest that he get a physical to learn the status of his health. If he is willing to tell his doctor about his drinking, he may be able to get medical or psychological support.