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How do you know when an alcoholic has hit rock bottom?

(153 Posts)
UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 21:16:43

Member of my family is an alcoholic. She's fighting it tooth and nail, doing all the right things, but keeps fucking up, with escalating consequences.

Every time the remorse is massive, she's straight back into her program, everyone gets optimistic again. Then it happens again. And every time our "last chance", "line in the sand" shifts.

I think she's got to hit rock bottom before she actually puts everything into her recovery. But how do you know when that happens?

HowardTJMoon Thu 09-Jun-16 21:30:19

You can only know for sure with hindsight.

What's the point of having a line in the sand if you're not going to stick to it? Every time you shift your line in the sand, every time you cushion the fall, the longer it will take until she hits bottom. Why do you expect her to do what she says she's going to do when you won't do what you say you're going to do?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 21:40:46

You are right Howard. We are all tip toeing around it all. Do ultimatums help or hinder when people are in delicate mental health? There's a small child involved so it's not as simple to just walk away. But there's a fine line between keeping someone safe and enabling.

SoHereItIs2016 Thu 09-Jun-16 21:43:20

You have to stop keeping them safe I'm afraid.
If a small child is involved then you do what needs to be done to keep THEM safe.
I know this from my experience of having an alcoholic father sadly😟.

Costacoffeeplease Thu 09-Jun-16 21:45:42

Yes - put the young child first, that may escalate the descent to rock bottom, but that's not necessarily a bad thing

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Jun-16 21:47:18

Lots of people are saying the hitting rock bottom thing is wrong - I'll see if I can find a link.

gingerbreadmanm Thu 09-Jun-16 21:48:51

I dont know if alcoholics have a rock bottom. The one i was involved with lost her kids and eventually died from it. It is so sad.

Sorry you are dealing with this.

Zhabr Thu 09-Jun-16 21:55:10

My FIL has hit rock bottom when he was hospitalised with the psychosis. he actually was seeing rats and cockroaches. that was indeed a turning point for him, he did not touch any alcohol after that for 17 years (till his death).

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 21:55:41

Thanks Bertrand. I thought it was accepted wisdom.

God it's so tragic. A fantastic, intelligent, talented, beautiful, funny, kind woman destroying herself with alcohol.

tribpot Thu 09-Jun-16 22:02:30

You can't tell, unfortunately. You need to treat her promises as worthless - only actions can count. And the safety of a child is too important to risk on promises.

Wolfiefan Thu 09-Jun-16 22:08:29

I'm afraid it's not as simple as reaching the bottom. You can't predict if and when a person will change their behaviour.
Al anon?
You didn't cause it.
You can't control it.
You can't cure it.
Keep yourself and the child safe.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 22:14:56

What to do in the meantime? If she's supervised she's fine (i.e. sober) and a great mum. But for how long do you keep that up? It's bloody hard going. But the alternative is to separate a 3 year old from their mummy.

tribpot Thu 09-Jun-16 22:16:30

Shouldn't she then be having supervised contact? No-one can keep her sober.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Thu 09-Jun-16 22:25:52

Are SS involved with her, OP? I have some experience of this.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 22:29:57

Beauty, yes, they are. They are happy for her to be in the family home as long as there is someone with her when child is there. So there's always a safety net. Hence my question.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Thu 09-Jun-16 22:35:14

Are they on a Child Protection Plan? How have the social worker/s reacted to her various relapses?

Whilst it's good that she isn't alone with the child at the moment, how long will that be feasible for? There will be times when it'll just be her and the child, so do SS have any sort of plan of action or safety net for those times?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just trying to get an idea of what their involvement is so I can try to advise how best to help your family member.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 22:39:28

Beauty, I don't know the answers to all of those questions. I don't think there is a CP plan in place.

And no, SS don't know of the relapses, because no one has told them.

It's all such a fucking mess.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Thu 09-Jun-16 22:44:44

It certainly sounds that way, and I'm sorry I bamboozled you with questions!

I know how hard this all is, because for a long time, I could've been your family member.

Have you considered telling SS about her relapses? You wouldn't be grassing her up or telling people she can't parent or whatever it feels like, but it may well be the catalyst for change she so badly needs.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 22:48:56

No need to apologise.

Yes, I'm considering telling social services. But it's probably not my place to. We are mainly being guided by her DH, who is, I think, wildly optimistic about her progress and recovery. He adores her.

I wish I knew whether we were helping or just dragging it on longer, delaying the inevitable.

exWifebeginsat40 Thu 09-Jun-16 22:59:57

you can only tell where the bottom is when a person stops digging.

ultimatums never worked with me. I was furious with everything and mentioning my drinking was a sure fire way of making sure I got pissed.

i stopped in the end because it nearly killed me. by then I had already lost my job, my child, my husband, my home and my sanity.

I'm just over 2 years sober now. it took a lot of work and willpower and it's the best thing I've ever done. unfortunately OP, the only person who can stop is the addict themselves.

Wolfiefan Thu 09-Jun-16 23:04:19

It IS your place to if you think the child is at all at risk. If her DH can't do that then someone has to.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 23:04:21

exWife flowers

That's what worries me, she'll have to lose everything before she starts properly on the road to recovery.

Though there is always enough sighs of progress to keep us hanging on.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 09-Jun-16 23:05:49

Wolfe, child has never been allowed to be at (physical) risk. We have seen to that.

Emotionally, who knows?

Shakey15000 Thu 09-Jun-16 23:08:04

For my friend there was a rock bottom. It was when he was so bad, he was vomiting where he stood and wasn't even aware he was doing it. I managed to bundle him into a taxi and got him to hospital. He spent two weeks there, during which time I rehomed his beloved dog as he couldn't look after him properly and sorted his house out. After telling the Doctor that I wasn't leaving until they guaranteed to help (he wouldn't have survived the winter sad ) they supported him thankfully. 4years on and he's a changed man.

gingerbreadmanm Fri 10-Jun-16 09:13:38

My dp is the child of an alcoholic. Honestly, put the childs best interests first. I know it's awful to seperate a child from their parent but if there was some close family willing to care for them in the interim i would think that was the best bet? At 3 year old the would probably adjust better than say 10 or 11?

The child may not be at harm physically (although that could come) but the emotional and psychological issues she will face as she gets older will be as bad if not worse.

I guess it depends what kind of alcoholic she is,i'm just speaking from what i know.

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