Mother-in-Law with major drinking issue - What can we do?!

Posted , 7 users are following.

Hi All,

We have got to a point now where we really don't know what to do.

My mother in law has a fairly major drinking issue, that hospitalised her earlier in the year with kidney issues, and a massive Vit-B defficiency, which effectively made her appear senile.

She is being violent towards her partner, is pushing her family and friends away, and it wont be long until she is back in hospital again, and/or homeless.

She completely denies there is a problem (while clutching a BAG of wine), won't see a GP etc... We can't get her to attend groups or see specialists, as she says there is no problem, and that we are all maing it up.

Can anyone give us any advice on what we can do to help her, or to make her admit to the problem, so we can move things forward?


0 likes, 12 replies

12 Replies

  • Posted

    Hello mugwump84

    sorry to hear about your worries ! You obviously care alot for this lady . Times like this can be so hard and so frustrating . knowing where to turn is very hard . Until a person can admit to their addiction it can seem as though every word you speak , every action you take , is like you hitting yourself against a brick wall ! All I can say is hold tight in there , be there , and hold on to the times that she is sober when you can offer support and guidence to where she can access some help . Has she a good freind perhaps that you could speak to ? No doubt she knows whats going on but feels ashamed, guilty and unable to cope with her emotions ??  You have done the right thing asking on here smile 

    I wish you luck but as said it has to be her to make the first step . You can offer kindness, understanding without judgement and hope , commpassion for future recovery and love 


    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply.

      She doesn't really have any friends any more. As soon as someone mentions the drinking issue, she cuts them off and wont speak to them anymore. I am not sure why her current partner is sticking with her, and can't see it lasting much longer, which will render her homeless too.

      I do think that on a subconsious level that it is shame and guilt causing the denial, but on the surface, I don't think she actually believes she is doing it, despite it being in her hands.

      It feels pretty much that we just have to sit back and watch her drink until her body gives up. She is choosing (to a degree) the path she is taking, and she isn't admitting the problem, which means there is nothing that anyone can do. It's very hard knowing how to support my partner (her daughter) when there are no answers!

    • Posted

      I do feel for you all . You speak about your wife ( assuming you are married ) do you live close ? Could you offer a more relaxed atmosphere for her to visit . i'm not saying you have not tried but perhaps if you live close you could change a few things to offer lunch out etc , different environment etc . Sometimes the most simple changes can make a refreshing change . Has your partner had any counselling ? 


    • Posted

      Not married (too expensive! wink )

      We do live close, and during the 6 months she was sober, we would see her fairly regularly, and she would come around to see her grandchild on a weekly basis etc.

      As soon as she started drinking again, she pretty much recluses away from us. I will recommend to my partner to maybe try and get her out to lunch etc. Although last time they met up, she was fairly abusive, as she was drunk at the time.

      My partner hasn't had any official counselling. We do have a good family network she can discuss things with, but these conversations tend to go round in circles, as there is nothing any of us can do sad

    • Posted

      I feel very sad for you but also very happy for the fact that your partner has a good solid family network around, particularly yourself smile  . I feel that is what you all must work on together . Be there for this lovely lady smile Feel for her in her times of  need , Be there for her in her  times in feeling lost  . In numbers with your family network with friends too you will all feel stronger smile I hope this helps !! 

      Sometimes , this doesnt work but hope , hope and more hope will make it all worth the effort smile 

      Good luck xx

    • Posted

      Always embrace Hope. I like that you have the courage to help her find sobriety. Its a struggle and finding this forum is a good start. It's obvious that she will need rehab. I hope once she finds help that identifies the reasons for her addiction can be accepted and everyone can better understand why she does the things she does surrounding addiction.

      Many rehabs that take up to several months, 6-8, need to be long enough period of time to change behaviors and addictive thinking, triggers & behaviors.Taking her away from the triggers in her home will help in most cases. Some can detox at home while undergoing treatment at home. She needs to learn what addiction really is, how alcohol controls the mind by the nuero transmitters in the brain. These neuro transmitters are trained to crave alcohol and more and more alcohol is craved to acheive that pleasure from alcohol as the body becomes resistant and requires more to satisfy the cravings. Alcohol is a depressant and many use it to self medicate. This is a progressive disease. 

      Click on the patient information button at the top of this page, titled patient health/ alcohol adiction. Or see the post by the Moderator which is the first post on this page under alcohol.There is a lot of detailed information there to help.

      There are many medications on the market to help block the cravings and this can stop the brains cravings and the feel good transmisitters for treatment all meds are listed here too.

      This is not a weakness by just putting the drink down after one or two, or a choice. This is a true disease and most doctors are now learning to find better medications and methods to treat those with alcohol dependence.

      See the "Sinclair Method" listed on this forum. It's been discussed on this forum extensively. This is one method used very successfully in Europe for many years.

      SM  also has higher rate of success than AA. There are many methods. It's finding the combination of the many treatments available. It also helps to address the mental health issues and the many addiction treatments available in your area that fit her needs. 

      Learning her triggers and counseling that address her particular drinking Issues can help her validate why she has these behaviors. Behavior modification is used by many adiction councelors to work thru and relearn better behaviors to help the brain unlearn the addiction behaviors controlled by the brain.

      This is a disease and she may qualify for a mental evaluation appointed by the courts. Treating alcohol dependence is a real disease and for some it can be debilitating. It's like sugar cravings or cigarettes. All the diseases that these are responsible for every year is mind boggling.

      I am a parent of a alcohol depended child for over 25 years. Watching the ups and down of this disease is very painful for a parent to watch.

      Learning as much as you can about the science of addiction and relapse of this disease is very helpful.  This is science at its best allowing understanding into addiction.

      This is a very complicated disease. The best thing I ever did was learn as much about this disease, it's triggers and how it effects the brain. It effects the whole family.

      I like to compare the effects of the disease on family members like the tsunami waves coming across the sea leaving the destruction in its path takes a toll on many who love and care for our family members with this disease.

      It is not her fault for the addiction but she must take responsibility to do what is available to treat her disease. If she cannot a court order may be the last answer. 

      Some people are more susceptible to addiction, It can run in families or caused by some type of trauma, stress, anxiety, depression, something usually starts the addiction. It is not anyone's fault . No one wants to live in the kind of pain addiction brings those who are caught up in it. Every decision is around drink. This is not a life anyone really chooses to live.

      H.O.P.E. (Hold. On. Pain. Ends.) find help for the family too.

      Join Al Anon for family and friends of alcohol dependence. Locally or online. Learn as much about meds , treatment, behaviors and triggers

      She needs continued daily counseling . Each person is different & an individually designed plan specifically for her can be helpful. Not everyone is the same or stops by using the same techniques each patient needs personalized addiction techniques addressing their personal issues.

      Become her advocate teach her about addiction , let her know you understand this terrible disease. This is not her fault this is so important for yourself and her to know what is ahead of her to find sobriety. The rest is up to her. 

      Never give up up. Always love her , be kind, non judgmental, and be there for her no matter what! Embracing HOPE !


    • Posted

      Sorry Rainbow my reply was ment for mugwumps 84. 


  • Posted

    It takes two doctors for a section 2 or 3. It,s drastic, but could be a consideration.

    Although if she is physically ill, i.e. internal organs are packing up, they will not section her, because they don't give physical treatment.

    • Posted

      Thank you.

      From my (limited) knowledge, I thought they needed to pose a significant risk to themselves or others to be sectioned? If you could provide more informed info that would be greatly appreciated!! smile

      There have been suicide threats on numerous occasions, although we believe this is attention seeking, and we don't have any reason to believe that she will actually do anything.

      We have considered discussing things with her GP (knowing they can't GIVE any information) with the hope he could address it at her next appt, however she is refusing to attend appt's at the moment.

    • Posted

      mugwump -

      I wish I were a doctor or healthcare professional so I could better advise you, but I'm not. That being said, you might want to consider looking into an Al-Anon Family Group meeting to see if you can get some support and coping skills. It could give you the knowledge you need to know as to  when to approach her. I hate to say it, but perhaps (for instance) her partner lowering the boom might be the time for the family to come in, prepared to sieze the opportunity. Education is, at this point, likely your best strategy.

      It's suggested on the US Al-Anon site that you go to a number of different meetings at different places so as to get exposure to various points of view to to help you formulate the best plan of action. This will help you "bullet-proof" yourselves against any manipulative skills she may try to use, actually... almost certainly try to use. Give it a go, it may be that you learn of a skilled intervention service that could reach her before that point. You'll probably hear of many stories and techniques at the meetings, perhaps you will meet those who can guide you through "the system" and you will discover other chances to step in and help her move towards recovery.

      Assuming she is able to achive sobriety, there is one problem you should be aware of. It's estimated that the relapse rate in the first 4 years of abstinence is in excess of 80%. (NIAAA) Take a look at your Mother-in-Law's history, remember the stories about others that you've heard of and read of, what you've seen with your own eyes. Frequently relapse ends in a higher level of drinking (and damage) than ever before. It would be prudent to make a plan to address this in her recovery plan. Have a look at this article on Patient:

      The heading "Treatments used in abstinence or prevention of relapse" will outline the drugs in use now that help to manage the cravings and circumvent relapse. It would also help read Dr. Roy Eskapa's book on Alcohol Use Disorder as it gives a clear explanation of relapse and how it's mediated by a brain which has "learned" alcoholism via pathways in the brain's opioid receptors and reinforced by the endorphins that are released when people drink alcohol. 

      Well, that's all I can think of for the moment, I hope it helps some. Best Luck to you and your family, mugwump, and Godspeed.

    • Posted

      Wow thank you for all that info!!

      I will sit down with my partner later and have a read through all the stuff you have sent over.

      It sounds like the problem has been there for a long time, although fairly well managed until her marriage ended about 5 years ago.

      She was told after her last stay in hospital that another drink could kill her, but that doesn't seem to be deterring her, and (when drunk) she says that's good, and she would rather be dead. This is obviously very hard for her kids to hear!!

    • Posted

      You're quite welcome, mugwump. I hope you find it to be of help in this very difficult situation.

      "... and (when drunk) she says that's good, and she would rather be dead. This is obviously very hard for her kids to hear!!"

      It must indeed be very painful. Mugwump, it's quite common for those with an Alcohol Use Disorder to have an underlying mental health issue that, along with other factors powers the need for drink, perhaps a depressive disorder for instance. It sounds like that could be a very real possibility here. What presents itself as anger and denial may actually be a cry for help. Consider this as you come to an understanding of the whole problem, so you can better help her put together a whole solution. In my opinion, this is something that her Recovery Team needs to be aware of in order to achieve the optimal outcome. I'm convinced that she wants out of the trap she's in. Don't be thrown by her anger and her hurtful words. If you listen past that, you may well hear her fear and her desperation and come to understand that she's actually reaching out for help to her family, her first and best choice. Steel yoursellf my friend, you have quite a task ahead of you!

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