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Alcohol Addiction, how to respond

(26 Posts)
Yorkshiregel Sun 01-Jul-18 09:13:43

I have a friend who is addicted to alcohol. He is intelligent, he is well spoken, he is only 50-60. Being vague on purpose here. What I would like to know is how do you help people such as this to get back on the track? He has got so that he does not seem to care about anything anymore and will not even get dressed in a morning because he 'doesn't see the point'. He has had many reactions to this in the form of swelling, rashes, depression, although he has nothing to feel depressed about really. What would you suggest that might help? He is already hiding bottles and telling people he has stopped drinking. Any suggestions gratefully received.

fourormore Sun 01-Jul-18 10:34:49

Bless you Yorkshiregel - I went through this with my Dad and elder brother and to be honest there is nothing you can do.
It is a horrible situation but unless he wants to seek help, and it sounds like he doesn't t this stage, no one can help him.
It hurt at the time, and still does now that both my Dad and brother are dead, but you cannot do anything.
There is a real denial with these people and that is shown by the fact he is telling people he has stopped and hiding bottles. Until he takes his head out of the sand, admits there is a problem and seeks help no one can do it for him.
Sorry to be so negative but it is a fact sad
Meanwhile be there for him, tell him that if he eventually admits he has a problem and actively seeks help you will be beside him all the way but until then he is on his own. It sounds harsh I know but it's true.
You must look after yourself and he should be so thankful he has such a caring friend.
I am sure others on GN have experienced the same so please continue to lean on us for support and I wish you (and your friend) all the very best flowers flowers flowers

BlueBelle Sun 01-Jul-18 10:54:50

Professional help is probably all that will really be useful Yorkieshirgirl probably in the form of rehab but would he go? If he’s in denial probably not I believe people have to hit rock bottom before they seek help he sounds close but I don’t believe there is anything you personally can do
Whatever you do do not enable him when someone cares it’s the easiest thing in the world to mop up after them in all senses of the word but that just enables him to continue
It’s a very hard one for you but until he cares enough for you and himself it won’t change
Good luck I hope you find a better answer than I ve given

goldengirl Sun 01-Jul-18 11:01:42

My mother had alcohol problems and it was extremely difficult for her to accept help - as with many other alcoholics. It got to the stage where she became a danger to herself and others and fortunately the medical profession had the courage to get her into hospital but it took a long time as she regressed when she came out and the scenario went on for some years. Then all of a sudden she just stopped! She did the same with smoking too - just said 'that's my last one' and it was! I'm so sorry you're having an unpleasant time Yorkshiregel but unfortunately it has to be their choice in the long term. It's a very difficult situation. Alcoholics appear to find it very had to think how their behaviour affects their family.
I hope you get a lot of support. There is certainly more awareness now

grannyactivist Sun 01-Jul-18 11:05:49

We had a man living with us a few years ago who lost his wife and children through drink and finally became homeless. We took him in, but made it a condition that if he 'slipped off the wagon' he would be honest and we reserved the right to search his room at any time.
He really did clean up his act, but after a time I suspected he was secretly drinking. Eventually we searched his room when he was out and found his hidden stash of empties. We later had a meeting that involved him and his family and exposed his drinking. He was mortified and cried, but he 'saw himself' through others' eyes and gave up drinking; shortly after he agreed to into rehab and it changed his life.
Sadly, until that moment comes where an alcoholic admits that's what they are AND wants to take action there is nothing anyone else can do other than being honest and not colluding with a drinker's pretence at having given up.

Sparklefizz Sun 01-Jul-18 12:25:38

Yorkshiregel You cannot "help". You will just become an enabler. I have been one myself with my alcoholic ex. The alcoholic has to do it for themselves. The support group for families and friends of alcoholics is Al-Anon and they will be able to advise you if you don't believe me.

sodapop Sun 01-Jul-18 14:41:21

Sadly Sparklefizz is right, with the best will in the world it has to be the addicts choice to give up.
Hope you can get support and information from Al-anon. Good luck.

NanaMacGeek Sun 01-Jul-18 16:21:52

I can't decide whether or not grannyactivist's approach is an ‘intervention’ or not but, in her post, she and the alcoholic's family got together and appeared to have turned things around. This is not the approach recommended by other posters who would probably have said the alcoholic had to reach rock bottom first.

I attended Al-anon and found their negative, defeatist approach depressing. However, it spurred me into cashing in savings to pay for private rehab. That was over 2 years ago and I haven't had cause to regret it. However, I am in a different position to the OP as my 'recovering alcoholic' is my DS. I couldn't have abandonned him.

Have a look at the SMART Recovery literature online as their approach is factual and science based and made me feel less hopeless. I am so sorry for Yorkshiregel. It's heartbreaking to see someone you care about in the grip of addiction.

paddyann Sun 01-Jul-18 16:51:17

Of course alcohol is a depressant so the more he drinks the more depressed he'll be .Maybe if he can see this himself he might find a way forward.Sadly my sister was an alcoholic she died after celebrating her 50th birthday ,nothing anyone said would have helped .The only way we could have got her off the booze was if we could have talked her into leaving her husband of 30 years.He started her on it and insisted she matched him drink for drink.
I hope your friend finds a route out of it before he does himself any more damage .

Oopsadaisy53 Sun 01-Jul-18 16:52:02

As sparklefizz has said you can’t help them, they have to do it themselves.

But I have to pick the OP on the sentence’ he has nothing to be depressed about really’ - depression doesn’t work that way so please don’t go to see him with the attitude that he should pull himself together, he obviously has issues and should be seen by a GP in the first instance, maybe his depression is causing him to drink? Maybe it’s the other way around, he really needs to speak to a trained professional .

Anniebach Sun 01-Jul-18 18:02:18

My darling daughter started self medicating when struggling with mental health problems. The ‘ they have to reach rock bottom’ worked for her, it was the bottom of a river.

I dislike alcoholics classed as ‘these people’ there is no other group of people with an illness classed ‘these people’. I do understand ex partners of alcoholics feeling anger , the illness probably killed the marriage.

The advice given by A.A. has been the same for 83 years, do we still treat illnesses now as we did 83 years ago?

sodapop Sun 01-Jul-18 19:11:24

I agree Anniebach the term 'these people' is used for any group not fitting in with the so called norm. Learning disabled, people in poverty, people with a mental illness, I cringe every time I hear it.
I'm sorry you didn't get the appropriate help from AA for your daughter.

Peep Sun 01-Jul-18 19:18:55

Depression doesn’t work like that yorkshirelass!!

Peep Sun 01-Jul-18 19:19:46

Sorry yorkshiregel

Greyduster Sun 01-Jul-18 19:26:57

goldengirl I could have written your post. After years of making everyone’s life an embarrassing misery, my mother just stopped too, but I seem to remember she had a health scare which was a wake up call. By the time she was introduced to my children she was, thankfully, ‘dry’ but sadly she died not long afterwards. My SiL’s estranged husband was an alcoholic of long standing (I am loathe to use the term dedicated) and refused all attempts to help him. It killed him in the end. A waste of an energetic and talented man.

Anniebach Sun 01-Jul-18 19:55:21

No one decides to become an alcoholic, it is not a lifestyle choice, they reach the darkest places of their mind and the only way for them to escape is to turn to the very thing which took them there, it blots out much for a time , same really as people taking painkillers .

We can look at a disabled person and feel such sympathy but we cannot do this to an addict . We can complain not enough help for mental health but we do not have the same compassion for all mental health problems, addiction is ugly and finding sympathy and understanding for an addict is difficult.

NanaMacGeek Mon 02-Jul-18 12:35:28

I've just been reading through today's new thread, sons marriage in crisis. Such kind and sensitive replies, so much support for a family man with severe mental health issues (OCD). My heart goes out to the family and I so wish them well.

What a contrast to this thread though. Because there is an element of 'well they did this to themselves', alcoholics have to be left until they hit rock bottom and feel shame for the rest of their lives. I want to scream and shout. I wanted help too (still do if I'm honest) and all I was offered was Al-Anon telling me not to blame myself and not to 'enable' my son. There has to be a better way. Alcoholics are people too.

Sorry for venting my feelings on this thread.

OldMeg Mon 02-Jul-18 12:56:38

Sorry, but Al-Anon know what they are talking about. You simply cannot help an alcoholic no matter how much you care about them.

But I expect that deep inside you know that’s the truth.

Alcoholics are people too of course they are, but it’s only they who can turn their lives around 😢😢😢

Anniebach Mon 02-Jul-18 13:27:46

Then the same can be said of anyone with mental health problems? Only they can turn their life around’ come to think of it this advice could be given to anyone who posts here for help, advice, support.

if A A and Al anon were so successful how come there are so many with this illness? Rather a good excuse for Al anon - ‘they chose not to recover ‘

NanaMacGeek Mon 02-Jul-18 13:36:59

Sorry OldMeg but someone helped my DS - the counsellors in rehab. They gave him the tools to cope, the therapy he needed to stay in recovery and followed it up. Al-Anon would have had me leave him in the gutter until what? I don't think me saying the Serenity prayer with them was what was needed! It’s outdated thinking like yours and theirs that makes recovery so difficult. Intervention can and does work. There is medication that can help but it is hardly ever offered.

And the statement that you simply cannot help an alcoholic is false and worse, it strips away hope. I hope my DS stays in recovery, all the signs are good, so no, deep inside, I know you are wrong!

paddyann Mon 02-Jul-18 14:02:29

NanamacGeek I think OldMeg was saying what many of us were matter how much you TRY to help unless the alcohol dependant person WANTS help theres nothing you can do.
My late parents and my other sisters spent 25 years of our late sisters life "trying" to help ,in the end it was her choice and nothing we could do made any difference.Its not being defeatist nor is it false ,its being completely realistic and while we were all fighting her fight for her we all believed we could make her A) leave her OH who was at the root of it
B) step up and be the mother her children needed
C) live a long and happy alcohol free life ..and even find a new partener who would be all we wanted for her
Sadly ,she chose him .

grannyactivist Mon 02-Jul-18 14:16:48

Most alcoholics I've met do want help, but they also need to drink; the dependency is both physical and psychological. I think the people I've met who suffer with alcohol dependency need hope more than anything else and they need people to believe in them when they can't believe in themselves. It's all so very hard on the drinker and on those who care for them, but each person is an individual and there is no 'one size fits all' approach that will work.

Anniebach Mon 02-Jul-18 14:24:35

Well said Grannyactivist , to take away hope is to take away life x

JustALaugh Mon 02-Jul-18 14:30:10

I don't think that people who are alcohol or drug dependent can be helped until they WANT to stop. My late (he died at 54) brother was an alcoholic - he served a short time in prison due to stealing money from his employer to fund his drinking- then he got another job (he was never out of work, he his alcohol problems very well), and he used to start drinking at home from 4pm when he got in, right through to bedtime - a solid 7 hours. He used to wet the bed, apparently. He had Angina, he smoked, and he just didn't care - he had a massive heart attack and died straightaway, leaving a wife and their daughter who was 18 at the time. He was selfish really.

grandtanteJE65 Thu 05-Jul-18 15:27:51

Yes, alcoholics are people too. But it is sadly true that unless a person wants to stop a habit, whether it is drinking too much, using drugs, overeating, or smoking, nothing anyone else can do to help is going to work.

Surely, there must be an alternative to AA? not all alcoholics find their way of helping helpful. As the relative of alcoholics I have always found AA meetings too much of a guilt trip. I can't imagine it helping to be continually reminding oneself that you are an alcoholic.

Does Blue Cross no longer operate in the U.K?

What about a prescription for Antibus? Yes, I know, you have to be sober when you take it, but for many alcoholics the knowledge that they CAN'T take a drink without becoming violently ill, is helpful.

If or when the person drinking too much wants to stop, then you can and should help, by making sure there is no alcohol in the house and generally avoiding places where it is readily available, which unfortunately is pretty much everywhere these days. It is hard helping an alcoholic who wants to stay off the drink, but it is worthwhile, but until he or she makes the decision, you will only wear yourself out to no good purpose.