It can be hard for people to know how to react when one of their friends starts to go off the rails because of booze. This is something that can happen a lot in Thailand and many ex-pats do develop a problem with alcohol. I don’t mean to sound judgmental here, and I’m not claiming that all heavy drinkers are alcoholics. I only use the ‘A’ word because I can’t think of a better way to describe the situation. There seems to be two types of heavy drinker; those who drink a lot but manage to live an otherwise normal life and then there is the heavy drinker that just doesn’t seem to know when to stop. It is this second sort that I am talking about here – I’m quite the expert as I once belonged to their ranks. I talk about my own misadventures with the grog in my book Dead Drunk.
I often hear stories from other ex-pats about how one of their friends has completely lost the plot and now seem to on a mission to drink themselves to death. Most ex-pat bars in Thailand will have at least a few of these people as regulars; quite and shaky in the morning and out of control by the afternoon. It can be hard for those who have to watch this individual self-destruct. The life of a drunk is far from glamorous even if they do happen to live in Thailand. This might be the nicest bloke in the world when sober but just add alcohol and you have an unbearable asshole. When this individual gets really drunk he will likely become a bit melancholy and describe how he has made such a mess of his life. The more patient drinking buddy will hear him out and offer advice; there will be promises to ease up a bit in future. It is all for nothing though because the next day the conversation will be all forgotten about; if piss-head does remember he will be embarrassed about his confession. I’m saying ‘he’ here all the time, but it could just as easily be a woman. Most drunks in Thailand though do tend to be men.
So How Do You Deal with Alcoholic Ex-Pats in Thailand?
It’s not easy to deal with somebody who seems determined to drink themselves into the grave. If the risk of death and losing loved ones doesn’t deter them then what chance do a few friendly words of advice have? Most people will just give up in despair and try to avoid this individual altogether – judging him a hopeless case. This is a perfectly reasonable path to take and few would blame the friend for turning his back on this lost drink buddy. Some drinking mates might try to ignore the problem because saying that their friend is a drunk will be putting the spotlight on their own drinking habits.
Until an alcoholic ex-pat is ready for change there is not much that can be done. We all hit our low points and it is at these times that there is hope – sometimes just the tiniest push can be enough. Just offering advice when the person is ready to hear it; this really is all you can do but it can mean a lot. The motivation to change only rarely appears and if action is not taken quickly then the chance is lost.