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May 7, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Ask Becci

I’ve known my best friend since intermediate, and we’ve always been really close. She’s the first person I turn to when something goes wrong – or right, and it seemed to make sense to flat together when we started uni in February. But now she’s totally driving me crazy! How can someone you’ve known for years suddenly develop so many annoying habits? I don’t know what to do – I don’t want to leave; we have a great flat, and I don’t have anywhere else to stay or anyone else to flat with. And I can’t ask her to leave – as she is in the same situation as me. But I’m afraid that if I have to live with her for much longer, our friendship will be over.

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of the phrase make your flatmates your friends, but never make your friends your flatmates? The idea of living with friends is always so much better in theory than in practice. After all, you’ve known your friend for years, you’re pretty sure that you already know everything about each other so there won’t be any nasty surprises, and you know you can rely on them and trust them. But the sad truth is that living with a friend can get pretty messy if something goes wrong, and it’s not just a flatmate you risk losing if major problems do arise – it’s your best friend too. There’s a big difference between seeing someone every day and living with that person.

The simple fact is that it’s always hard when people who have grown up in different households try to make their own combined household – it requires a lot of time, patience, and, perhaps most importantly, compromise. Sit down with your friend and tell her what’s bothering you – chances are she doesn’t even realise that what she’s doing is annoying you – and be nice about it; don’t start nagging or bitching at her, or this could cause even more problems.

When flatting with anyone, it’s important to communicate any issues – no matter how big or small – as soon as they surface, to stop them from getting bigger and bigger, until they eventually erupt. If, after another few weeks, the situation still hasn’t got any better, then the two of you should probably start discussing alternative living arrangements – separately, that is.

I’m worried that my friend is becoming an alcoholic. She was never a big drinker until she came to uni, and now she seems to be out and drinking almost every night. It’s not just one or two drinks either – she drinks until she either starts being sick, or passes out. I’m really worried about her, but she just tells me that it’s all a part of the university experience. Am I just being paranoid, or is she really developing an alcohol addiction?

You are obviously very worried about your friend, and as someone who seems to know her quite well, you probably have good reason to be. Although there is nothing wrong with going out, having fun, and enjoying ‘the university experience’, drinking to the point of passing out and throwing up every night is definitely not normal – and definitely not healthy. Alcoholism is a very serious issue, and something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, as excessive alcohol consumption can cause many serious health problems.

If your friend is an alcoholic, or is developing alcoholic tendencies, then the first step is to get her to admit that she has a problem; unfortunately it seems that she’s not ready to do that just yet, but you shouldn’t give up on her.

If you need any extra help or support, perhaps you could talk to someone at Counselling Services, located on all the main campuses. It’s free and the people there are helpful, understanding and fully qualified to deal with any problems. Also, there are links to useful websites dealing with alcoholism on the Student Health Services webpage

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