Some alcoholics become withdrawn, silent, pass out and are virtually harmless when they drink too much.
Others turn into silly jerks, the “life of the party”, and often end up embarrassing themselves and others.
Still others, who arrive on the scene as Dr. Jekyll, and start out conversing politely and responsibly sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, turn into argumentative, insulting personalities from consuming too much alcohol. The Mr. Hyde-like drunk emerges without warning.
From my own experience and from what others have told me about the way I acted, I would proceed through all of the stages described above. First, alcohol made me giddy, sometimes even euphoric.
In the next stage I would become so impressed with my intellectual capabilities, I’d argue vigorously on any and all topics with anyone foolish enough to listen. I often took the opposite side of any proposition just do I could here myself talk.
Eventually, I would get so mind-fogged that I would recede into my own world as a prelude to passing out.
But how do you handle the ugly drunk at his/her peek?
First of all, if you’re not an alcoholic yourself, don’t assume you can reason with a mad drunk. They are exactly that, out of their mind. When you talk with a person in the throes of inebriation, you’re talking to the bottle, not the real person behind it. Ever tried to hold an intelligent conversation with a bottle of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam? You’ll find Jack and Jim rather irresponsive and the conversation one-sided.
If a low-voiced warning to the abusive alcoholic, telling them they are out-living your hospitality does not produce a modification of behavior, then you may have only one recourse: throw the bum out! If they become abusive, threatening and refuse to leave, enlist the help of the local gendarmerie. This service is usually provided free as it’s considered part of your citizen’s rights.
Oh you say, this person has been a friend or family member for many years, I really don’t want to do that, I want to help. That may be true but what you’re seeing is a progressive disease in progress. And rest assured that as long as the alcoholic is practicing active alcoholism, they are extremely unlikely to get better or even listen to you. The odds are they will continue to get worse as time goes on.
You may be doing the alcoholic a favor by bringing their unacceptable behavior to the front. Sometimes a socially deviant incident, properly remonstrated, can make just enough impression to awaken the need for help in the mind of the alcoholic. But don’t bet on it, they don’t call this the disease of denial for nothing. Regardless of whether the alcoholic gets the message or not, you have every right, and duty, to demand this kind of behavior cease in your home or at gatherings where you are the host.
It took an incident at my neighbor’s house one night for me to get the right idea. I drank entirely too much wine and brandy and proceeded to fall off their front stoop, bounce off the sidewalk and roll into the street in a blackout. I remembered nothing of that incident the morning after nor do I remember anything now. The recounting of the episode, along with my inability to remember it, was just scary enough for me to ask my doctor about alcoholism. He suggested AA. That was almost 18 years ago and I haven’t had a drink since (thank You, big guy).
Recently, a lady posted a comment on our Esober Blog. Here’s the lady’s comment and my response:
Comment from a lady in the UK:
“I just lost a friend over alcohol. While having a dinner party at my home, my friend became quite over intoxicated and began insulting people at the party, including my own mother. Did I do the right thing by ending this friendship? I am wondering if I should have stayed in the friendship to help him with the drinking problem.“
“Having been an ugly drunk at times, I know how embarrassed and angry you must have been. The bottom line is you are never obligated to put up with bad behavior. Ending the friendship may have the benefit of waking up your friend. On the other hand, someone in the throes of alcoholism often can’t see the problem. Embrace change in your friend if it happens, but don’t expect it. Sometimes it takes years for a person to see the problem – sometimes it never happens, so don’t expect it. You can’t make someone drink if they don’t want to and you can’t make them sober if they don’t want it. You can, and should choose, however, not to associate with an abusive person. You did the right thing.“
No one need put up with an ugly drunk and no-one should feel guilty about terminating an abusive relationship.
For more information on alcoholism and recovery issues, please see http://www.esober.com.