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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: June 1, 2015.

Half Measures Availed Us Nothing—AA Slogan



Recently, I posted an article about being honest with yourself, which is something no practicing alcoholic is willing to do. A friend of mine saw it and messaged me. Concerned by how forceful my article was, she wrote, “I hear what you are saying, but my (alcoholic) friend may not be ready for this one. What do you think? Is it maybe too hard hitting for a fragile lady or would it be good? I usually pass these on, but I’m not sure she could handle this one.”


I responded by saying that I thought she should pass on the post to her friend. As I thought about it further, I realized this concept might be a significant problem for a lot of people. We want to help, but we also want to be careful not to offend anyone. While this is a nice thought, our attempts to be kind and gracious often become counterproductive. By couching our terms, to make them more acceptable, we may actually be enabling the alcoholic.


What they hear is that their problem drinking isn’t really that bad. Their situation is unique, and they require much more latitude and tolerance than others. Because of the difficulties they are experiencing in life, medicating their pain with alcohol is okay, even necessary. They are grateful for supportive friends who understand their situation and accept them exactly the way they are, which includes drinking abusively.


So, the message you are trying to convey isn’t the one being received. Remember, alcoholics are deeply deceitful, especially with themselves. If there is even an inch of wiggle room, they will take it. They do not want to admit who they really are, and they will go to extraordinary measures to avoid the truth. In dealing with them, if you diminish the truth in any way, making it more palatable, you have become part of the problem and not part of the solution. In an effort to be kind, you’re enabling their disease to progress. Don’t do it. If you’ve been doing this, stop. It doesn’t work.


Think of it this way. If you have a friend who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and you see that person smoking, would you tell them that it’s okay for them to smoke? Would you say? “I understand your situation. Go ahead and smoke. It’s not that serious. You’ll be fine.”


Of course you wouldn’t. You would be giving them the wrong message. Then, what would make you think it’s all right to enable an alcoholic in the same way? It isn’t okay. It’s never okay. Whenever you think it is okay, remember this: alcoholism is a deadly disease, and you don’t want to help someone kill themselves. If you think I’m overstating this, you’re wrong. Half measures never work with an alcoholic, and they never will.


Obviously, you do not want to be needlessly cruel, but you must always be straightforward with the truth. If this is what you want—to be helpful rather than a hindrance—join me in this prayer:



I see my friend in need, and I want to help.

Like a mother with a small child, I want

To kiss her bruise and make it better, but I can’t.

The problem is much more serious,

And I cannot control the outcome,

Although doing so is definitely what I want to do.

I see how self-destructive my friend has become,

But my soothing interventions have not worked.

I fear my graciousness has done nothing more

Than enabled her to continue pursuing a life

Of degradation and ruin, ending in premature death.


Father, empower me help my friend.

Give me strength to speak out boldly

With the truth, rather than with soothing words

That makes her alcoholism seem less serious

Than it really is. Give me wisdom and love,

Coupled with penetrating truth, so that

I can be useful rather than a hindrance,



Blessed are they who keep my ways.

Heed instruction and be wise,

And do not neglect it.

 (Proverbs 8:32b-33. NAS)

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