Can I help my Ex get sober?

March 2, 2016   Jon Wells

Dear Jon,

I have been sober for almost 3 years from alcohol and drugs. My ex from 13 years ago contacted me online and said he needed my advice. He explained he may be an alcoholic and since I am the only one he knows who is sober, decided to reach out to me. I took him to a meeting. He said he liked it but doesn’t know if he is a real alcoholic since he goes to work every day, has a house, a nice car, and has been in a committed relationship for 6 years (but it’s not going well). He thinks he just needs to quit drinking for a month or two and he will stop shaking in the morning, stop having panic attacks and his relationship will automatically get better. I told him that through the program of recovery all of that happens and more as long as you work your program. He didn’t like that and we quit talking about it. My question is this: How do I get through to him to help fix his problem and get him sober?


Frustrated without a clue

Dear Frustrated,

Isn’t it awesome that after all these years after your breakup that he called YOU because you are sober and YOU have what he wants? Funny how life likes to throw us curve balls all the time, especially when you are not expecting it.

I was taught in the program of recovery that all you can do is share your experiences, strengths and hopes with someone and HOPE they get it. In order for your friend to have faith in the program, he has to see that it works. I once had a friend who came to me with a very similar thing and although he admitted to being an alcoholic, he thought he was ok because he was not nearly as bad as he saw the condition I was in when I was using. All I could do was to listen to what he had to say, share my experience, strength and hope. Until your friend is sick and tired of doing what he is doing, he won’t commit to sobriety.

Friends are often the first, and sometimes the only ones to notice when someone needs help. It is important to provide caring support but remember Frustrated, you’re not responsible for fixing the problem. Think of it this way: if you discovered your friend had broken his leg and arm, you couldn’t fix it yourself, but you probably wouldn’t ignore it either.

Stay strong. Give him the space and support he needs. Keep the communication lines open for when he needs it and keep your program even stronger. For me, I always make sure I eat my favorite dessert after I have conversations like that – it always helps calm me down and reminds me to get myself to the gym. Hugs and kisses.

You’ve got this,


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