How to be a good friend in this situation

I have been friends with this person for 15 years. We drank together, got sober together, and I’ve been blessed to stayed sober while he has continued to struggle. I know I’m not responsible for his sobriety. But here are the things I’ve done to date to try and be the best friend I can be.

  • sent him books
  • wrote a document on the things that helped me the most
  • visited him when he was in jail
  • played video games online to keep in touch
  • tried to motivate him to go to AA meetings
  • tried to motivate him to send his resume out to job openings. Offered to help write it.
  • finally I decided to keep my distance and let him decide to be sober on his time.

I recently checked back in and he is in exactly the same place he was a year ago when I decided to stop checking in with him frequently. I just offered to have a video call with him to catch up as friends because I’m thinking he’s probably lonely and maybe keeping in touch with him would be helpful. He wants to be sober but doesn’t seem to be willing to put the work in to get sober. He lives with parents who enable him so his life isn’t bad enough to change things.

While I am never going to be responsible for anyone else’s sobriety, does anyone have any advice as to how to be the best possible friend in this situation?


My first question here would be: What are YOUR needs in this situation?
You wrote what you’ve been doing, but not the why.


Honestly I think you’ve already done it. I would have killed to have a friend do for me what you did. Time to let him hit his own bottom like we all need too.


Great question. My needs boil down to this-- I cant leave a friend behind unless its in their best interest or unless they are holding me back. If they are struggling and it’s in their best interest for me to be in their life, I’d like to identify the best way to positively influence the situation.

I need to know I’m doing what’s best. The reason I’ve done the things I listed is because I love this person as a brother. I love him unconditionally.


Thanks for saying that man. I had the feeling this was maybe the answer but I needed validation before continuing letting him do his own thing.


That says enough right. He has to do it. You can only be there for him. Be there when he is ready and asks for it.

That one triggers me a bit. From the outside my life didn’t look that bad. But I sure reached my personal rock bottom when I did quit. So again I’d say: be there for him when he asks for it. When he’s ready. Which is for him to decide.


Thank you. It’s hard for me to do that. But it’s a lot easier if I’m confident that’s what’s best. I didn’t mean to trigger anyone sorry about that.


Thanks, it’s OK. Here’s hoping your friend will change his ways.


No easy answer just be there if he needs your help , take the horse to water comes to mind his choice , keep yourself right , wish you well


It sounds you have been more than a good friend to him. There is the tough love approach or full intervention option…


Lots of advice already given Il just add that hopefully him finding out your still sober and him wanting it enough will help him.
That’s all you can really do. Just stay sober and hope he joins you. It’s sad to watch another person especially someone we care about still stuck.
But you can only do so much.
Do you feel the space you had this last year with them still drinking has helped you on your journey. I know it’s hard and we all wish it wasn’t the case, but I don’t think you could have made much of a difference this last year to his sobriety.
I wouldn’t say give up on him, and I wouldn’t say you putting your sobriety first is giving up on him, it may feel that way, but your not, your be there if he reaches out.
He will know you are there when his ready and he just isn’t yet… hopefully that changes soon :hugs:


No matter how much you love somebody you can’t help them get sober - they have to want it. Until they decide they want to be sober and are asking for the things you are offering, you are putting energy into someone who doesn’t sound like they deserve it. I had a friend in the same place and I tried and was there for her until I realized that I couldn’t continue to do the things I was doing for her and celebrate my own sobriety. It’s so hard because you want what’s best for them so much but in the end, they have to do it for themselves.


Seems like you’ve already went the extra mile. Its really up to him to decide whether he wants to continue poisoning himself or change for the better. First thing that came to my mind was “A bee can’t convince a fly why honey is better than :poop:”.

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I get this, when a friend asks for help, you help. But is he asking for help?

Several months ago, I confronted my Brother in law about his behavior. He said his behavior is due to his drinking. I told him that until he sobers up, he’s not welcome at my house. He went on to say how he struggles with drinking and how he wants to be sober. He neither asked for help nor was serious about quiting. He’s still deinking today.

I offered help, I outlined a clear path to sobriety but he didn’t take it. So, that’s as much as I can do.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him sober up.

I can’t have his behavior in my life and unfortunately, he chooses this for himself, which sucks because not only did I lose him, but also my sister. So, it’s lose-lose for all involved.

For your situation, is your friend actually asking for your help or is he just saying he wants to be sober when you bring it up?

If he is asking for help, you need to set clear boundaries, like saying I will help you by laying out a path to sobriety, but YOU have to do the work. If you aren’t willing, I cannot help anymore, and if you continue to drink, I won’t be able to be active in your life.

It’s up to him at that point.

But you have to stick with your word, otherwise your words become meaningless and you will be taken advantage of.

This is the ugly side of sobriety, but it will provide growth for you.


I’m really sorry to hear about your brother. Boundaries are huge. He asked me to be his sponsor once but I’m pretty sure this was so he didn’t have to go to AA meetings and find one local to him. He could then tell his parents he has a sponsor. I didn’t feel like he wanted it enough to sponsor him anyway so I politely told him I couldn’t be his sponsor.

Yeah I guess I’ll have to let him get there on his own time.

Maybe shift your focus onto the friendship and what you still have in common versus focusing on helping or changing him. Can you enjoy a daytime walk together on the weekend? Or a coffee get together? Chat about fun times in the past, mutual friends, things other than drinking and sobriety? I like taking nature walks with friends and just taking in the outdoors together. I also have friends that don’t live nearby and we just chat on the phone or facetime…just share what is going on. It isn’t our job to fix others, nor can we. But we can walk beside and still care for our friends, even as they struggle. We just need to let go of the need to fix or change them…they are at where they are.

If it is too hard for you to be around them and/or they are just wasted constantly, then you do need to protect yourself.

Also, some relationships run their course and that is okay as well.

But if you can be their friend outside of if they are sober or not, I would lean in that direction. :people_hugging:


Hi i think just from my journey into sobriety and i think others too is it didnt matter who tried to help me i remember my mum driving down the road crying and begging me to get in the car as the day before i was meant to go rehab i wanted to go on a bender , and even my ex wife tried at first but i had to want to do it for me and thats the biggest change i can think of this time and its been my longest period since i was 20 im 43 now. i had to want the better life for myself no one else. Hopefully your friend will get there one day and just be there for him if he does i say , all the best


you cant help someone who doesn’t want to help themself sometimes. it’s rough but it applies to a lot of areas in life. it can be hard and feel like a burden to carry, but just remember people have to put the effort in themselves, other people cant fix their issues, only support them through it

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I moved to Nevada and he is in Wisconsin. We did go to meetings together when I was home. Great suggestion though because they did seem to work well.


Yeah this is basically what I need to accept. He doesn’t seem to want to do the FaceTime thing and we are in different states. So I’ll just have to wait until he is ready.

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