My mum is a functional alcoholic, I need help on how to talk to her about it!

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My mum has always drank, but recently it's gotten a lot worse, she's now drinking 2 bottles of wine a week. It's starting to break my family apart and she needs help but won't admit she has a problem and gets very defensive when it's brought up! What should I do?

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    Correction: 2 bottles of wine a night!
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    • Posted

      Yes, it's a tough one when they won't own up to it. This would be a good place to start throttling back before it turns into 3 per night. As it stands, if she's drinking 2 bottles per night, that's 70 US drinks per week, even more in the UK I think. In any case, she's way out of the guidelines of 14 UK drinks per week. 

      It may be that she thinks it would be a big effort to turn it around, but that's not always the case. I'll PM you a link to a video of a method she might be willing to use, it will help her to gradually reduce and that might not be so difficult for her to consider.

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  • Posted

    Until she admits that she has a problem with drink, there isn't much you can do apart from showing her information on the effects or by still persuading her that this is not the right path.
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  • Posted

    HI Sarah, Yes take advice is probably best  and she will not listen to you or anybody else. Hard one but you do not help. You should try your GP and I hope it is a good one? Robin
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  • Posted

    Sarah, I was all set to launch into my reply and then saw your correction. And then thought, ah, that changes it a bit.

    Most alcoholics will get defensive, when confronted with the obvious, I know I would have. Contrary to what people think, most drinkers know they have a problem and virtually all of them are deeply unhappy about it. So when someone points it out to them, it isn't news to them, but they feel bad enough without someone who doesn't suffer like them giving them a lecture.

    So, the auto defence will come up. There is no magic solution to getting through to a drinker, but the most helpful thing is to understand their mindset and not push against it. Make sure any conversation is one on one, not group confrontation where family members all take a turn to tell your mum how bad she is, how bad it is affecting her health and how badly it is affecting the family.

    The shutters will come down and you will achieve absolutely nothing. If there is some way that you can engage the conversation in a non 'hostile' way, on a one to one basis, maybe even having a glass of wine with her, don't wait for the offer, ask for it. You need her to 'come' to you, not you to her.

    If you can get her to say, yes, I know I have a problem and yes, I want to cut it down, but it is so difficult, then half the battle is won.When you get someone to this stage, it is usually all down hill from there (as in easier). The two stages then are, the physical addicition, if the body has become addicted to alcohol and the person starts to have withdrawal symptoms without alcohol and then the psychological process of living life not wanting alcohol to ease stress, anxiety etc.

    Although for people who have drank long and hard, alcohol does actually change their brain pattern and they need about a year to adjust back to normal. There's loads of help on the latter subjects, but right now, your first goal is to gently try and get you mother to 'ask' for help. Then the next steps will follow. Unfortunately you're own your own with that part, because everyone is different and without knowing you and your mother personally, I can't help with that strategy.

    PS Good luck.

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your reply! It has helped a lot! will try out your suggestions and see how it goes!
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  • Posted

    Sarah I feel your frustration and pain. Wow she is very lucky to have a wonderful daughter who wants to help. Bless you. I wasn't as fortunate and my girls, not my son, sided with their Dad. I was a hopeless case. If you are lucky enough to have a good doctor( though very rare nowadays) please try that first. If no joy there are 3 options now to get help. I'm not sure where you live but I hope Joanna will reply and try to help you, as she has many.

    My heart and prayers go out to you Sarah xxxxx

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    • Posted

      I think that RHGB has said just about everything that I would suggest to Sarah, and I hope that things work out for her and her mum.
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  • Posted

    My mother was an alcoholic and drug addict and I couldn't ever get through to her.

    She died aged 41 by choking on her own vomit.She was never really treated for her alcoholism,they tended to just concentrate on her drug habit and was on methadone when she died

    Like ADE said,it will escalate,it's a progressive disease.

    She needs to come to the realisation herself and then the hard work begins.

    I am an alcoholic myself so I didn't learn much from my mother except I now understand what she was going though.

    So the first step is getting her to admit she has a drinking problem

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  • Posted

    Hey people,

    Sarah came to ask for help, not to be given all the bad news about drinking. Softly, softly approach, her mother might be very responsive, we don't know.

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    • Posted

      I should think so too, child. Learn to respect your elders and betters or it is a slapped a*rse for you and off to bed with no dinner or red wine for you. frown
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