The following question was not connected to GYE but was sent to me by someone who asked that I pass it on to Rabbi Twerski.
My son is married with four daughters and is learning in Lakewood. He came for Shabbos, and the first thing he asked after the initial hello was, “Where do we keep the schnapps?” At the table after the fish, we give out the schnapps, and he took some and joked about “kiddush alcoholics.” He took a few times.
Later, after the meal, he was schmoozing with his mother in the kitchen, and his wife was there. He took another few sips. I walked in and looked at him queerly so he laughed and said, “Oh, I’m just drinking a little to help me fall asleep.”
That night, I hid the liquor. At the next seudah, he asked for the schnapps, and I played dumb. His wife looked at me with a smile and asked, “Are you hiding it from him?”
That afternoon I confessed to him that I hid it because I got nervous. He laughed and said, “What? At home, a small bottle lasts me for weeks! I was just in the mood.”
Now how do I deal with this? Should I approach his wife and tell her that he is on the verge of alcoholism? Should I not have hidden the schnapps and observed how much he would drink the next day?
Please realize that we are talking about a yungerman who is functioning and learning well. He wasn’t getting drunk. He was at our home on Purim and didn’t get drunk, just had some wine and was freilech in a normal way. What am I supposed to do? Ignore it and hope it is nothing? Alarm his wife? He has a strong personality and will deny it if I speak to him, just like he denied it this past Shabbos. How do I know what is going on?
Rabbi Twerski Responds
There is enough in this case to warrant suspicion that there may be an alcohol problem. I would tell this person, “Look, if I saw reason to suspect that you were, chas v’shalom, overlooking cancer, I would be obligated to alert you to it. Alcohol is no different. However, alcohol problems are notorious for denial. Therefore, I’m telling you that I am going to share my concerns with your wife, so that if there is an early alcohol problem, she should be aware of it.”