I began a thread recently, asking what to do about an old friend of my husband’s from out of state who was coming to dinner, whom we believe is either an alcoholic or at least a problem drinker. It appears that the thread was deleted for some reason–I think that there was an argument between two posters. I did not mean for my thread to cause a problem–I simply was looking for some advice in how to try to avoid committing sin. I knew that this person would ASK for alcohol, even if we didn’t serve any. So I decided that as soon as he got here I would offer him tea, coke, water, etc., and then if he asked if we had any alcohol, I was going to say, “I’m sorry, that’s all I can offer you.” (Because even though we have alcohol in the house, I felt that I could not in good conscience offer this person any.) My husband agreed to this. Well, my efforts were thwarted because this friend came BRINGING alcohol and juice of his own and asked for a glass. My husband was outside working in the yard when his friend rang the doorbell, and I didn’t know what else to do as a hostess, so I gave him a glass. He made one drink and told us later it was a double or triple, and then he poured himself at least two more drinks (I don’t know if they were doubles–my husband said he didn’t think so) over the course of three hours and dinner. My husband did remind his friend once that he had to drive back to the hotel; however, my husband began to drink also and then wasn’t much help to me. This friend has had a DWI in the recent past, so I was getting nervous about him driving back to the hotel. When it was time for him to go, I offered to drive him to his hotel; in fact, I offered three times. He declined and insisted he felt fine. He didn’t appear to be visibly intoxicated, so I let him go. Still, I can’t help but feel I sinned in giving him the glass and not saying anything as he kept filling his glass. I don’t feel like I’m in a state of mortal sin, but I can’t help but feel like I should have done something differently. Any thoughts?
You did your best Veronica, you couldn’t have done more.
We do what we can, but some people refuse to even try.
Don’t have him over again. Just don’t. You can’t be a party to this in good conscience.
Pray for him. That’s the only and by far the best thing you can do at this point.
My husband’s sisters drive from two states away for our daughter’s Baptism, then immediatly went out again to go to the store for harder drinks. You know you have a drinking problem when you make everu occasion a BYOB event. There wasn’t much else you could do in this case.
Since he brought his own, he showed you he was determined to be drinking. You did not sin by giving him a glass; if you served him a glass full of something non-alcoholic he would have dumped it out and poured his booze in.
You did everything you could to see him safely home also, I suspect that if you had called him a taxi he would have refused to use it unless your husband insisted.
Even though he did not appear visibly intoxicated, he was. People who have a long history of drinking to excess can appear functional long after they are over the legal limit. The only other thing you could possibly have done would be to make an anonymous phone call to the police, report that you had seen him drinking heavily and that he was now headed for ___ hotel driving a _____ car with license plate # _____. If they did stop him and he was below the legal limit they’d let him go. If he was over it they’d take care of the matter.
I would talk to your husband and tell him that you no longer want to have this man in your home. Old friends or not, if husband wants to get together with him they can do it somewhere else.
p.s. I’m one of the two you mentioned. If I caused you any distress I apologize. It appears the original thread did get deleted. I wasn’t aware of that until just now.
It’s okay, Nan–no offense taken. I tried to find the old thread so I could re-read the answers today before the friend came over, but I noticed it had disappeared. You’re right–I can’t have this man in my home again. It may be another two years before he’s in town again, but unless he quits drinking, my husband will simply have to meet him someplace else. I guess I didn’t realize a long-time heavy drinker could be over the legal limit and still appear functional. Now that I know that, I simply can’t allow this to occur again. I wonder if we invited him to coffee and donuts, if he’d bring vodka to pour into the coffee? He stopped by and had coffee at our home one morning several years ago while in town and didn’t appear to be drinking, but perhaps his drinking has gotten worse since then.
No sin was ever committed by offering an empty glass to anyone. You did your best. The man is a confirmed alcoholic and they cannot be reasoned with.
You can refuse him hospitality at your home, as you would feel terrible if he killed someone else on the way back to the hotel.
I truly think you did the best you could. What you should do, probably depends on how incapacitated you feel the friend is when he leaves your home–and short of breath-analyzing him, I don’t know what advice to offer you. I drink–as does my husband. We aren’t drunks–in fact if we were going to a New Year’s Party or something where I feared we might go over limit, we’d take a cab. Drinking alcohol–in itself–is not a sin in any way. Having said that, if this person left your house and ran over someone’s kid and killed them–or killed himself, how much guilt would you personally feel? It’s obvious that you feel that this man has a drinking problem. If you feel this way, you are probably right–I always believe that following the “seat of your pants” warnings you get are the best warning. You can’t make this man quit drinking. Only he can do that–and he has to want to–which I seriously doubt he does right now. So, should you eliminate him as a friend at your home? I’d say this: firstly, your husband–not you–should speak to him. If it were me, for now–I’d ask my husband to tell him that as far as you are concerned, he can drink as he wishes at your home, assuming he doesn’t get belligerent or otherwise cause a problem. HOWEVER, it isn’t unreasonable to take the attitude that you are afraid that if he leaves your home soused and got into a wreck that it might come back to haunt you legally–which it well might! If you doubt that, listen to the news reports of teen parties where kids leave drunk and get in an accident and the parents where the party was and the kids got drunk–even if they weren’t home and had no knowledge of the party–end up in big time legal problems. I think it is fair to insist that if he has been drinking that he goes home by cab–at his expense. Period!
The issue with teenage drinking causing legal liability for the party’s homeowner is clear: teens aren’t legally allowed to drink in the first place, so anyone who allows them to consume alcohol may be held liable for the consequences.
The issue with adult drunks causing injury or damage is much less clear. Yes, there have been instances when bars/restaurants/airlines have been held liable for the consequences when they continued to serve alcohol to someone visible intoxicated. But I can’t recall hearing about homeowners being prosecuted criminally or civilly for damage when a drunken adult guest in their home drove away and got in a car wreck.
Still, the way that people in this country are lawsuit-happy, I wouldn’t want to be worrying that a victim of my guest could sue me.
You tried. He’s an adult and responsible for his own choices. You didn’t serve him liquor - your husband should have been firm and said “we don’t drink anymore, and boy do I feel so much better!”
That’s a bit presumptuous of the friend to bring liquor to the house - for his own consumption. We often bring a bottle of wine to dinner as a hostess gift, but to bring something for just us … well, I’ll keep him in my prayers.