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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 22 April, 2019
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Dear Fifi: We're all worried about our housemate's drinking - but what can we do?

To help answer, this week Dear Fifi called upon the experts at the Rutland Centre.

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Greetings from Koh Rong – an isolated beachy island off the southern coast of Cambodia. It’s not exactly chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but if you’re a regular reader, then you’ll know how much of 2018 I’ve spent advocating for getting out of ruts and going against the grain.

Christmas and New Years can be rough, let’s make no bones about it. I’m always here for you. Get at me right here.

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Myself and my boyfriend live with two other very good friends. We’ve all just moved in together but we’re really concerned about one of our roommates. He’s a had a really tough time of it in the last few months and we thought he was handling it okay. We’ve noticed that considerable amounts of drink has been going missing from our kitchen. When asked if our roommate had taken it, he said yes, apologised and offered to replace it. We then found more drink had gone missing after that.

We’ve also noticed that our roommate drinks alone a fair bit. I came home one night last week to find him drinking whiskey alone and he was smashed. He’s also asked our other roommate to stay up with him so he isn’t alone.

We’re really concerned for his well being and his mental health and we want to help him but we don’t know how to approach it. Do we sit him down and ask what’s going on?

Christmas and the New Year are hugely challenging times for people in recovery, their close ones and those not quite there yet. For that reason, this and next week’s columns will concern addiction issues, both alcohol and drugs. 

In order to give you some expert advice on these issues, I contacted the people at the Rutland Centre, a hugely well-respected addiction rehabilitation clinic in Dublin, and they very kindly gave me some insight to share. (They’ll be giving me a hand with next week’s problem, too.) 

Their spokesperson said:

You’re obviously good friends who are concerned about your friend. We would suggest that you first check if are there any family members of his that you could contact as it may be more appropriate for them to have a conversation with him. Be honest with them and tell them the full extent of your concerns – they are sure to appreciate your concerns are coming from a good place.
 If not, and you decide to have this discussion yourselves, take care not to do so while he is under the influence or hungover as this may cause confrontation and distress to you and to him. In any discussion with him or his family, try to be non-judgemental, show that your concerns are legitimate by using clear examples of why you are worried, and let him/them know that you care.
Have some information to hand about where he can find support and offer him help and compassion – without trying to fix everything for him, as this isn’t something you can do.

Fair play to you for being such a good friend to your housemate. Make sure you’re taking care of yourselves in this too.

Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

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If you have any immediate concerns for your mental health or safety, or that of a loved one, you can reach out to support services, such as:

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