Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who just admitted to me that she drinks too much. She said she has been trying to cut down on her alcohol consumption, but it’s hard. I know exactly what she means. After I got laid off from my job a few years ago, I started drinking a lot. I don’t think I drink as much now as I did a few years ago, but I drink way more than the recommended amount for a woman.

I was thinking that maybe my friend and I could support each other to cut back on alcohol. I don’t necessarily want to stop altogether, though. Do you think it’s possible to drink in moderation? -- Heavy Drinker

DEAR HEAVY DRINKER: Is it possible to drink in moderation? Absolutely -- for some people. Many people will have an occasional drink to celebrate a special event, with a meal or on a date. You and your friend don’t sound like those occasional drinkers.

What’s great is that you have begun a dialogue about this. Agree to talk more and go deeper. Be completely honest about how much each of you drinks and what you are committed to doing to curb it. You can try moderation together and see how far it takes you. If you find, however, that you are still drinking more than the recommended daily amount -- one drink per day for women -- you may want to consider stopping completely.

To get help, call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service at 800-662-HELP. You can also find a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to attend together.

DEAR HARRIETTE: We have a terrific friend who is so good to everyone. We know she takes baths, gets her hair done, etc., but she has big dogs that climb on her furniture, and we believe when she sits on her sofa or chair, she acquires a bad smell. Several friends are talking about it, but no one wants to hurt her by saying anything, even if it would actually help her. We don’t know what to do. Please help us to help her. -- Stinky Friend

DEAR STINKY FRIEND: Put yourself in your friend’s position. Wouldn’t you want to know that you are carrying an odor around with you without knowing it? Your friend may be having the experience that is so cleverly documented in those Febreze commercials: She may have become nose-blind to the smells of her dogs in her home -- if the dogs are actually the culprits.

I recommend that one of you pull your friend aside and tell her plainly that you have noticed that sometimes she has a bad smell. You know that she tends to herself well, so you suspect that the smell is coming from her dogs. Your friend will likely be embarrassed, but if you tell her gently and clearly, it shouldn't hurt. What she does after that is up to her. Don’t continue to bring it up. Let her figure it out.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)