anonymous Asks ...
My friend is 18 he can drink for days in a row. Most people I know need to sleep after no more than 24 hours but sometimes he drinks for days in a row with barely any sleep. Does this mean he is already an alcoholic?
Anna Deeds Says ...
Thank you for your question. Your friend seems to be a binge drinker. Binge drinkers go through periods of heavy drinking and then may not drink for awhile. Binge drinking is one of the signs of alcoholism. Drinking before age 21 also results in a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic. He could very well be an alcoholic but he would need an assessment to determine that. During an assessment, a counselor would ask him a lot of questions about his drinking and the effects it is having on his life. He is in danger of having serious health risks. You can damage your liver and other major organs even at such an early age. It is clearly not healthy to go days without much sleep. The body needs sleep to restore itself.
You are obviously very concerned about your friend and have noticed his drinking is abnormal. I would try expressing my feelings to your friend first. Try not to be judgmental and stay calm no matter how defensive he becomes. Let him know you care about him and that is why you are bringing the subject up. Ask him to go for an assessment to determine if he is an alcoholic. You could point out that if he is not an alcoholic, then the assessment wouldn't be a big deal. And if he is an alcoholic, he could get help for his drinking problem. Alcoholism is a treatable disease with the proper help and support.
You could also suggest he go to a Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where he might see his drinking is like many of the other alcoholics before they found recovery. You could even go with him if the meeting is 'open.' Open meetings allow anyone to attend while closed meetings are only for alcoholics. You can find a meeting list online at the AA website.
If your friend refuses any of these options, you may want to try to get him outside help. If you are in school with him, your school may have counseling center that you can go to and express your concerns. If you know his parents or other family, you may want to try talking to them. I know you may feel uncomfortable with this because it seems like you are "telling on" your friend. However, if your friend has a serious problem with drinking, it could only get worse. Alcoholism is a serious disease that people die from each year. Not only could your friend be damaging his body but he could become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol. People do things they wouldn't normally do when impaired like risky sex and driving under the influence. He could put both his and other people's lives at risk.
I hope your friend gets the help he needs. You are clearly a good friend to be trying to get him help. Good luck!