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Alcoholism Advice needed urgently

(28 Posts)
PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 20:58:13

My DB is an alcoholic. If he doesn't get some help soon then he is not only going to self destruct, but also lose access to his children. Yet he is in denial that alcohol is a real problem for him, on the basis that he can go weeks/ months without a drink.

He is very high functioning, with a good job and a new relationship. Over the past 5 years there have been 3 major incidents involving alcohol where the consequences have been serious. most of the time though he drinks on and off and 'gets away with it' (ie no serious repercussions).

He drinks very heavily in social situations and will down a bottle of wine in a flash. he holds a huge amount of drink well, but then seems suddenly totally out of it.

Please can someone help give me some links/ info about different types of alcoholism that will help persuade my db that he has a problem.

there is always a residual worry with him that he could drink on any given day, and not be able to stop and do something really irresponsible eg decide to smoke indoors and set fire to the place.

not a good feeling, to know that a family member has that potential.

please help. something happened this week which should've been a wake up call for him, but he is still denying there is a problem.

any advice? sad

Wanttohelpbrother Mon 28-Jan-13 07:50:37

Privatelypeaceful - I don't have much advice other than to say that I am in a very similar position to you. My DB has had alcohol issues for several years. From time to time I get calls from his wife or his DMiL to say he has been on another bender or has disappeared. It s heartbreaking. Last weekend I got a call to say he had been arrested, as he had smashed the tv and was abusive to his DW. He was cautioned and is back home now. They don't have DCs like your DB, but his DW is at the end of her tether. Like your DB he is in denial, as he can go weeks or months without a drink. When not rinking he is absolutely lovely. He has just been promoted at work, so can function ok there. My DS ( he's a Dr) has found a centre locally where DB can be assessed and a treatment plan devised. It is run by an alcohol specialist nurse - there may be one near your DB? They run a clinic every week. Spoke to DB last night to check what they had advised and he said it would be 'difficult' for him to get there as it is one morning a week and he needs to be at work then.
I know all the advice is that they need to hit rock bottom before they will (maybe) want to help themselves, but it is so very very hard to sit back and do nothing.

Snorbs Sun 27-Jan-13 22:32:31

There is no clear and universally agreed definition of "alcoholic" versus "alcohol dependent" versus "alcohol abuse". And, frankly, it's not that important a distinction from your point of view.

If you want to address this issue with him then do. Wait until he's sober and not just after some booze-fuelled drama. Keep it short but to the point. He will likely deny, or obfuscate ("Sorry I'm not perfect!"), or attempt to divert attention away from his behaviour on to yours ("You can talk, you do x/y/z!") or other people's ("I wouldn't drink if I wasn't so stressed out by x/y/z!"). Tell him you'll discuss those issues another time but, for now, you want to talk to him about his drinking. In particular stress the results of his drinking.

The thing that it is difficult to come to grips with is that he's an adult. He's living the life he wishes to lead. You may feel that his life would be better if he made different choices, but that depends on what ones personal opinion is of "better". You think his life would be better if he didn't drink (or, at least, didn't drink to excess). He is probably thinking his life would be better if bad things didn't happen when he has been drinking or if he didn't lose control of how much he drinks.

In essence, you think he'd be better if he didn't drink. He wants to get better at drinking. That's a big gulf to cross.

The tragedy of it is that many people with alcohol problems only start to address them after bad things have already happened. While they can still convince themselves that there's been no really bad consequences or even if there have, that they've just had a bit of bad luck, they'll likely carry on as they are.

NanTheWiser Sun 27-Jan-13 22:26:00

Belgian, I'm sorry you are going through this, (and anyone else affected by an alcoholic partner). My experience was over 30 years ago, I had a 4 yo daughter at the time. In some ways I was fortunate that he left me (disappeared one weekend, not for the first time, but I vowed it would be the last), and I was determined he would never return. Like you, I found hoards of empties after he'd gone, and his family thought I was the most hard-hearted person alive, but you learn "tough love".
He became a vagrant, living rough for some time, in trouble with police etc. and also spent time living with his mother - she finally saw the light when he trashed her house. Occasionally he would turn up at my door dishevelled and filthy, so I would let him in and wash his clothes before turning him out again. That was hard, I can tell you.
Eventually he ended up in some sort of sheltered accommodation, and managed to live some sort of life, although he still drank. My daughter was put in touch with him when she was 16, but found him hard going. Then he became ill, and finally died of throat cancer 15 years ago, at 55.
I wish you the very best of luck for the future - you will be so much better off without him. For me, it was as if a huge black cloud had lifted when he went, and I found strength to bring my daughter up alone, and get on with my life.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 22:05:55

belgian, thank you x

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 22:03:48

i have namechanged to come on this thread, and am touched by the kind, honest words of advice. such integrity- such a welcome change form some some recent crap i have received on some other threads by nasty posters.

thank you for taking the time to post and for restoring my faith in MN.

i need an early night now, but will check in tomorrow. thanks

corblimeymadam Sun 27-Jan-13 22:03:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:58:07

x post sorry

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:57:19

posh, you say that i can do nothing to help, but he asks my advice all the time about all sorts of things, as i'm his main confidante. the trouble is, his drinking behaviour has been going on and on and i havent confronted him about it as much as i should. so although i may not be able to help, i may have been a hinderance until now, by almost condoning his behaviour (by not being honest with him/ confronting him enough). i think i needed this wake up call too. i need to be more honest with him, even if it doesnt make a difference

tribpot Sun 27-Jan-13 21:55:06

You should absolutely tell him what you feel, OP. But please be prepared for it to have no effect whatsoever. I would advise you to get some support from Al Anon before you attempt any kind of serious intervention.

hf128219 Sun 27-Jan-13 21:51:54

Of course you need to talk about it with him. Otherwise your are also denying it is a problem.

PoshPenny Sun 27-Jan-13 21:50:57

I am afraid that as the others have said, you can do nothing to help him. It all has to come from him. (or not as the case may be). I am so sorry for you, I have been there with my own brother and it was absolute hell on earth. He has now been dry for about 18 years, so miracles do happen, but he still has to work very hard at it. He succeeded with the help of AA and I believe he still goes to meetings. Al-anon may be helpful for you, I didn't know such an organisation existed back in the days when I could have done with them.

I think it is worse for the family members that have to stand by and watch someone they love (or used to love) hit the self destruct button. Certainly it has left me with very strong negative views regarding alcohol which is not helpful to me when dealing with my teenage DDs (17 and 18). I am paranoid that they might go the same way as their uncle and simply cannot handle them drinking anything more than a glass of wine on special occasions.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:48:52

oh belgain, i am so sorry.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:46:44

but tribot, surely i have a responsibility to at least try to be honest with him about how others see his drinking? it may not have much impact, but i can't talk to him about recent events without saying what i think. even if it does nothing, i need to broach the subject

corblimeymadam Sun 27-Jan-13 21:45:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:42:59

tribot, i meant encourage him to fight for access to the children.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:41:34

Nan, i think the thing is that he doesnt have the dependency issue. but when he does drink, he often doesnt stop and bad things often occur as a result. i think his rock bottom will be losing his dc or his new relationship, rather than ending up drunk of a park bench or whatever. and it may not actually include a worsening of his drinking behaviour, it'll just be that his luck will run out in terms of drink related consequences.

tribpot Sun 27-Jan-13 21:40:00

I'm not totally sure how you would encourage access with his children - isn't that between him and his ex?

with someone who's drinking is so unpredictable, that translates into never drinking, doesnt it?

To be honest, the answer for all alcoholics is never drinking. We cannot successfully redefine our relationship with alcohol. Heavy drinkers may be able to do so but after three major incidents it sounds like he's a long way past that point now.

Let me say again: you cannot help. Do some reading to help yourself understand this. It's painful but it's the truth.

NanTheWiser Sun 27-Jan-13 21:34:44

"he is still denying there is a problem." That, alas, IS the problem, I'm afraid. As Sleepingbunnies says, until he recognises he has a problem and wants to be helped, you are probably going to be banging your head against a brick wall.
My first husband was an alcoholic, functioning for a while, but deteriorated to the stage that he lost his job (was made "redundant" with a pay-off, the worst thing for an alcoholic as it is all spent on booze). He never really accepted he had a problem, although he put on a good show by going to a special Alcoholics Clinic for 6 months, while still secretly drinking.
They say an alcoholic has to hit rock bottom before they admit to a problem, and they have to make the effort to help themselves - YOU cannot force the issue, unfortunately.
Al-anon is an excellent resource for dependants and family, by the way.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:33:44

yes tribot, he needs to undertake not to drink while with the dc in order to ensure that when another fuck up occurs (as i said, 3 in 5 years so far- none life threatening- but serious) they are not with him.

i would not encourage access unless he undertakes this.

but with someone who's drinking is so unpredictable, that translates into never drinking, doesnt it?

thank you for the link.

Meringue33 Sun 27-Jan-13 21:29:19

The "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, has a first chapter called the Doctors Opinion, sets out the different types of alcoholic and should help him identify

tribpot Sun 27-Jan-13 21:28:07

Yes - there is very little you can do, I'm sorry. It may be that temporarily losing access to his children is the best thing that could happen to him if it shocks him into taking action - and from what you describe it sounds as if they might not be safe in his sole care?

You might find this a helpful read. I have the one for the problem drinker and it is very non-judgemental but direct.

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:24:22

sleeping, i am so sorry.

i think he he has a very narrow definition of alcohol abuse/ 'ism' as he doesnt have major issues with dependency, so he doesnt think its a big problem.

sure , he needs to want to change, but i think if he got a better definition of what alcohol abuse is, he may be less likely to deny it.

You can do nothing until he WANTS to be helped sad dad but true. And talking from experience, my nan died an alcoholic and my brother has issues with drugs. Very close family friend is an alcoholic and we are powerless to help.

Hope this gets better for you x

PrivatelyPeaceful Sun 27-Jan-13 21:15:04

i just had a look at the al anon site and stumbled on an american site that distinguishes between alcohol abuse and alcoholism, i wonder if that description is more apt.

hf128219 Sun 27-Jan-13 21:12:36

You are more than welcome.

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