Life Advice



Ask Amy: Friend’s drinking held as a close secret

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Two years ago, my friend “Kim” admitted that she has cut alcohol out of her life after her brother died due to his alcoholism.

I thought this was great; we have enjoyed doing things together without alcohol.

A couple of times I suspected she had been drinking.

Last summer I took my suspicions to her sister-in-law, “Bea,” who is also a friend.

Bea confided that Kim is in group therapy for drinking, but that she went on a bender and got her second DUI.

I was asked to keep this confidential, and so I decided to act oblivious around Kim.

This month, Kim’s lies got bigger. When she did not return any of my text messages I again reached out to Bea. I was told that Kim had to spend 30 days in jail for her drinking episode.

Kim texted me within hours of being released, saying she had to care for her ailing dad out of town.

Because I was asked to keep this information confidential, I again chose to go along with Kim’s lies.

Now she has informed me that she needs a ride each time we are together.

Kim has obviously lost her driver’s license but made up a lame reason for needing rides.

I completely understand why she would not want people to know, but I am caught in the crosshairs of her lies.

She is a beautiful person with an ugly disease, and it has to be a heavy burden to be hiding behind all those lies on top of trying to stay sober.

I want to let Kim know that she has no need to lie to me anymore.

She will not lose my friendship, and more importantly I would be happy to help her through this difficult time. It is not the drinking problem that bothers me. It’s the lying.

However, I do not want to go back on my word with Bea, who has asked me to keep quiet.

If I approach Kim, it will be obvious the only way I found out was from her family member.

Advice on how to proceed without making matters worse?

– Worried Friend

Dear Worried: “Kim” has been lying to you. And you have been lying to her.


You’ve trapped yourself by approaching a third party and then agreeing to keep this quiet.

Try a version of this: “Kim, I haven’t been completely honest with you. I’ve suspected that you’ve relapsed a couple of times and I want you to know that if that’s true, you can tell me the truth and count on my support. I know this is a really tough disease. No judgment from me. I will always support you in every way I can.”

If she continues to deny her drinking, don’t push. Being honest about her drinking will be a big part of supporting her sobriety, but she might not be there, yet.

Dear Amy: I am a relatively healthy 81-year-old retired university professor.

I hike over eight miles per day. I am happily married with one daughter and two grandchildren.

Unfortunately, I was recently diagnosed with preliminary Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve told my wife and daughter about this, but no one else.

I am fully aware of my memory problems, but they are not yet obvious to others. When I meet someone and they say, “Hello, Sam. How are you?” I say. “Fine. And you?”

I almost never know their name instantly. I presume I will get worse with time. How do I handle revealing the underlying diagnosis to folks as time passes?

– Call Me Sam

Dear Call Me Sam: There is no sturdy protocol for how to handle revealing your diagnosis, but I suggest that you should do this only at a time that feels right for you, and in a way that reflects your strong intellect, healthy body, and stout character.

Today I’m remembering my late and great Aunt Jean, who disclosed her diagnosis to family members all at once during our weekly diner breakfast, and she did so in a completely straightforward and good-humored way. Her candor completely opened the door, setting the tone for many honest and funny conversations well into the future.

Dear Amy: You offered such helpful suggestions to “Friendless,” a middle-aged mom who was looking to make friends.

I’d like to add “Bumble BFF” as a great way to match online with potential friends.

– Worked for Me

Dear Worked for Me: Yes! I appreciate that the popular dating app found a way to promote platonic matches.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2024 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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