Child of an alcoholic

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I'm a 29 year old man, I'm not usually at home. My mother, who I see almost every weekend, is an alcoholic but doesn't want to admit it. She has Irish cream in her coffee every morning, she hides her drink from me when she thinks I'm not looking, I've found empty wine boxes in random places. She says she's been to one AA meeting but "didn't like it". How do I help her to get better? She has two grandsons who love her so much but she would rather risk her life drinking (she's already had cancer and been hospitalised for three months). Please help.

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    That's a tough one, generally you can only help people when they are ready for help.

    How old is she? Married etc?

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    • Posted

      She's in her late 60s and was divorced in '97.

      She's not had an easy decade. She lost her mother to cancer, then my sister took her own life when she was 25 (7 years ago), then her father died (at the ripe old age of 98).

      My eldest sister with my two nephews lives halfway up the country so my mum rarely sees them, unless I'm at home to take her or if they come down. I find it incredibly sad that when I was my nephews' age, I was always seeing my grandparents, spending weeks at a time with them. My nephews have never seen their grandmothers house! The alcohol has taken hold of my mother in a way that I'm afraid is too strong to get away from.

      I've tried the cruel to be kind approach and I've tried the softly softly approach, as I said earlier she's already had cancer and continues to smoke. She's had pneumonia and been in hospital with it and continues to drink. I've tried to shock her into stopping by saying she drinking herself into an early grave. I love my mother to the ends of the earth but I've run out of things to say as she is just like a child, in one ear out the other.

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    • Posted

      I feel for you, I really do. I want to offer solutions (the typical male logic), but I'm at a bit of a loss, you've tried exactly what I would have done.

      I was a heavy drinker for a very long time and I got a bit of a wake up call, so decided to knock it on the head. And yes, I do take some medication to help, but it is me that decides to take the medication and it is me who decides to walk past the pub and off licence.

      There is medication to help, but would she take it, does she want to cut down? That is a rhetoerical question. People here myself included can talk you through the options, but is she just going to tell you to bugger off?

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    • Posted

      This is a horrid situation for you to be in, and so sorry.

      As RHGB mentioned there are some medications out there that will help her cut down, but not necessarily stop.  They are called either Naltrexone if you are not living in Europe, or Nalmefene (brand name Selincro) if you live in Europe.  And the method that is used with these medications is explained here

      For some people there is a very natural fear of stopping drinking.  What replaces it, will life be fun, etc etc?  What else is there in life?

      The good thing about this method is that you can mention it to her and try the carrot and stick approach of reassuring her that she doesn't have to stop.  The medication does its work in the background and her brain begins to need to drink less.  The change can be gradual over a number of months but at least it is a change happening.


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    • Posted

      In reply to RHGB, she probably would tell me to Bugger off but she'd more than likely say "yeah I'm taking it in" and not actually be listening.

      I'll mention to her about the medication and see if a specialist can talk to her about the options.

      There isn't much I can do with her, I'm away for the next five months with the navy so I can't even be there to help her through it. It's got to a point where the roles have reversed. Before my sister moved out she was the parent and now the responsibility of looking after her has fallen upon my shoulders. The last thing I want is to get a phone call when I'm on the other side of the globe saying that my mother is in hospital because her liver has packed in. It scares me, as I'm sure it does her. She sneaks her drinks and behaves like a child when I catch her trying to hide a glass of wine at 2 in the morning. I apologise for my venting, I know there are others with a much bigger need for help. But I want to thank you for helping me and I just hope I can get my mum back on track, if not for herself, then for her grandsons. I just want her to be able to watch them grow up. Thank you.

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  • Posted

    I believe she is in her late 40's early 50's.  I'm sorry your family is affected by this condition. Unfortunately, you can't do anything...My kids 30 and 27 tried everything for YEARS.  Its not that I didn't want to stop...its just a real struggle.

    ​I love my kids and she loves you and her grandchildren.  Even the threat of keeping my grandchildren from me...did not stop me.  Alcohol is powerful.  All I think you can do..and people who don't drink...hate this to get help with Alanon or a counselor for form healthy boundries....I'm sorry.

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  • Posted

    That could be my son writing about me! Although I know I've got a problem with alcohol. Don't drink daily and do admit it.

    apart from being there for her, I don't really know what to say. They do say being cruel to be kind works sometimes. Get her to admit she's got a problem and is at risk of not seeing her grand children. Quite rightly, if my son thinks I've been drinking, he won't bring the kids.

    she has to decide what's more important, drink or family, but that's easier said than done.

    Good luck, you sound a very caring son who wants to help his mum, but until she admits to herself and stops being in denial, there's not a lot I can suggest.

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  • Posted

    Hi rodm,

    The other posts say it all; if she won't admit to having a problem, there's not much you can do.

    Putting pressure on her will make her resentful and she'll probably drink more.

    Taking a softly, softly approach will give her an easy option and she'll probably drink more.

    If her grandsons stop seeing her for whatever reason; I doubt she'll put that down to her drinking and probably drink more.

    If she's on the drinking path it's inevitable that she'll drink more.

    You say she's been to an A.A. meeting; not many people like the first one and never go back. Some try again at a different location (different group, different people).

    Seems to me like she needs to hear some third party stories. Does she use the internet? Lots of new programs I understand.

    Have you thought about going to Alanon?

    Would she consider having someone round to see her from A.A. (2) - one of them would have to be a female. They'd only tell her their stories.

    And for those who don't have much or any time for A.A., they wouldn't bring a preacher or try to sell her a bible!      


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