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I need help re my alcoholic brother

(14 Posts)
Jux Mon 27-Feb-17 19:10:29

He was the kindest, most patient, funny person you could want to meet. I don't know what went wrong really, but 11 years ago he was pretty OK, probably what you'd call a heavy drinker but not an alkie. We (dh, I and dd) moved from London to Devon around then and sometime since he's become a lot worse.

In that time, when I went to visit I'd find more and more empty bottles at his flat. It used to be well kept and tidy, but became filthy, untidy and full of empties. I even paid for professional cleaners to come and clean the bathroom and kitchen, after dh and I had taken all the bottles out, and empty fag packets.

Some years later he was made redundant from his high-paying techie job, and though he works at home he doesn't seem to be making any money. He's living on his redundancy payment which was very generous, and money he's inherited.

When he was made redundant he sensibly gave up his ridiculously expensive London flat (rented) and came and lived in a sort-of-self-contained flat in our house. We told him we expected him to keep it clean etc, but it's practically impossibly to actually get in there now - the floor is covered in empties, the bathroom/loo are filthy and the kitchenette is just about OK for making a cup of coffee but you wouldn't do anything else in there. He eats in the evening with us.

He now becomes angry very quickly, not like him at all, and over nothing. He couldn't work out why my laptop was experiencing a particular glitch and he just got cross and insisted it was because I was doing a particular thing - which I wasn't doing at all and never did.

I've asked him to help with computer related problems and he's always been great. If he can fix it he does, and if he can't we have a laugh about it, but it's not really a big deal. Now it is. Now he gets angry; he's lost patience.

Is this what happens with alcoholics? Bits of their brain regulating that sort of behaviour are dead and so the person has less ability to restrain themselves?

I would like to go to Al-Anon but there are no meetings I can get to easily. I have ms and work pt, so am pretty knackered most of the time and can't generally get out and about in the evenings.

What I really want to know at the moment, is about the behavioural change. I just feel bewildered when my lovely, patient, kind big bro gets so cross about so little so quickly. It leaves me feeling upset and confused and bereft.

Can anyone explain what's happening to him?

Thank you; and thank you for reading my splurge. flowers

aginghippy Tue 28-Feb-17 09:10:38

I don't think bits of his brain are dead, as you say. It's more that he doesn't care about his behaviour or his relationship with you. He only cares about his next drink. That time he is spending fixing your computer, he would rather be spending drinking.

If he ever gets sober, you may be able to see the kind and funny side of him again. But it may never happen. It would be up to him and not something you can have any control over.

So sorry you are going through all this.

juneau Tue 28-Feb-17 09:42:59

Alcohol abuse causes changes in the brain over time. These often result in personality changes, such as snappiness and irritability, forgetfulness, low tolerance for stress, impaired impulse control and many other things. If your DB has been abusing alcohol for years it's not surprising that you've noticed some serious changes in his behaviour and temperament. It goes with the territory, I'm afraid, and unless he addresses his alcoholism and gets help things will only get worse, not just with his mental health, but also with his physical health.

What can you do on that front? Well you can't force him to accept help - unfortunately. You can talk to him, try and reason with him, etc, but if he's not ready to accept help then he won't. He'll deny, minimise, lie and might even get verbally aggressive. That's to be expected, but it might be worth a try. I suspect you've already done this though, since having an alcoholic living in your home it's hard not to talk about it from time to time!

Is he under the care of a doctor or addiction team? Could you persuade him to go to the GP and engage with health services? That might be a start. Tell him you're worried about him. Tell him you've noticed personality changes - that he's not the person he used to be. But be prepared for him to deny whatever you say - it goes with the territory. If you can't make it to Al-Anon meetings they have a helpline you can call for advice. www.al-anonuk.org.uk/

Jux Tue 28-Feb-17 22:22:14

Thank you both. Yes, he's been drinking for years - he's 60 now. He lost his licence about 30 years ago, and he could have got it back but he's never bothered, I assume because he would then have to control his drinking.

I did talk to him about it, maybe a year ago. I told him he was becoming irritable, snappy and generall unpleasant to converse with. He stopped going out for a couple of pints before supper, but that was the only thing he did that got him out of the house, so not a great thing, but at least it meant he didn't have the pints on an empty stomach, and then having a bottle of wine on top.

He insisted that he was drinking less. He tells me that he only has one bottle a night. I know he used to plough through 2. Tbh, I think he still does, but has the second when he goes back upstairs.

Thanks for the link. I'll explore that in the morning.

Lucisky Sun 23-Apr-17 19:32:35

I too have an alcoholic brother. I feel your pain. You personally cannot stop an alcoholic from drinking, that has to come from them. Protect yourself. You can't change him, but you can change your attitude towards him. Alcoholics will destroy you emotionally if you let them. If you cant get to Al anon, there is still a lot of info available on the net. Read about enabling, it will change your attitude. My brother now has terminal cancer caused by alcohol consumption, there is nothing I can do, but I no longer beat myself up about it. Be strong, read as much as you can, don't blame yourself or go down the "if only"route. Wishing you strength.

usernumbernine Sun 23-Apr-17 19:39:15

Jux my darling you didn't cause this, you can't cure it and you can't fix it.

As others have said, read about enabling. Also have a google of Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome.

Much love to you it's the hardest thing to be involved with.

user1494395310 Wed 10-May-17 07:59:19

It's good that you are looking for a chance for your brother to recover. If you ignore this progressive illness of your brother, then it will get worse. I would suggest you to follow a good therapist and get to a meeting. My brother was also an addict and what helped him was an alcohol addiction therapy from Calgary( edgewoodhealthnetwork.com/what-we-treat/alcohol-addiction/ ). My brother was addicted to alcohol ever since he was young. But the therapist provided an ongoing support on his journey to recovery. I’m sure that the support you can get from an addiction treatment center will change things for the better. Best advice is not to give up and just go for it.

Karcheer Mon 29-May-17 19:40:56

The best thing you can do for your brother is give him so hard love.
If it were me I'd tell him he has a week to tidy and clean the flat and that alcohol is no longer allowed there. If he is unable to do this then he will have to leave and you and your family won't have anything to do with him until he is sober and regularly going to AA.

PacificDogwod Mon 29-May-17 19:51:04

Oh, Jux, how very hard for you! thanks

Have a look at the Al-Anon website - it is aimed at those whose lives are affected by somebody else's drinking.

As said above, you did not cause his drinking, you cannot cure it and you cannot control it - I am so sorry.

Does he have a GP? Would he go for a 'check-up'? Would he allow you to go with him??

For people who have arrived in a position where they wish to look at the damage alcohol is doing in their lives, there are a fair number of ways to get support. If you google 'Alcohol + your area' you should get an idea of what is out there.

Stop enabling him. Set rules that you can live with and that you think he would be able to stick to. Tell him that he can no longer live in your flat if he does not stick to them. Tell him you will no longer provide dinner for him. Tell him you expect him to see his GP/attend AA/do whatever you feel would be helpful. And then follow through, hard as it may be.

You trying to find answers or trying to figure out 'why' he is behaving the way he does will sap your energy and not achieve anything.

People can stop drinking alcohol or at least reduce harmful alcohol intake, but it is only them who can do it. Not their family or friends or loved ones.

Wishing you strength.

Jux Thu 31-Aug-17 23:31:53

Thank you again. There's nothing positive to report, I'm afraid. I have done most of those things. He insists that he drinks far le than used to, he knows I hate it and he knows that when he has drunk too much he becomes unpleasant - so he just drinks 1 bottle a night downstairs with us, and then climbs the stairs unsteadily to his floor where he drinks himself to sleep.

Last week, he'd fallen asleep in front of the tv and it was so loud it was ridiculous, so I girded my loins and went up. He was hard to awaken, but eventuallt he did. I asked - lightly with an almost smile and laugh - how much he'd drun and he told me to fuck off.

As I went down stairs there was resounding crash, he'd fallen. I started back up calling "oh gosh are you OK?" But he told me to fuckoff again. So I did.

The next day, when he first came down and was sober, I asked him how he was after his fall. I'm not convinced he even remembers it. I don't think it'sthe first time he's done it either.

I haven't been able to do the reading you have all kindly pointed me to as rl has been a bit hectic in the run up to the new term, and with my own ill-health, and dh is about to have major facial surgery too.

I am not strong enough to do more for my brither atm, but as the surgeries take place (I'm on the list for cardiac surgery too!), I shall read and work myself up to strength. And then deal with it!

Jux Thu 31-Aug-17 23:34:22

Sorry for typos blush

DonkeyOaty Thu 31-Aug-17 23:47:42

Jux I'm so sorry. It is a truly dreadful disease.

Short term you have dhs surgery to deal with as well as your own ongoing health issues so let things just bimble along as best you can. Long term? He'll not recover unless he wants to. Tough love will most likely mean he has to leave and you wash your hands of him which is a tough proposition. Or he'll have a health crisis.

You didn't cause this.
You can't cure it.
You can't fix it.

Much sympathy my dear.

Jux Fri 01-Sep-17 15:33:26

Donkey?! Is that you??!!! Haven't seen you for ages, hope you're doing OK. Thanks for your post (and all of you), yes, I shall let things bimble along for the moment (love that phrase!).

Seeing you has cheered me up, thanks!

DonkeyOaty Fri 01-Sep-17 15:39:34

All fine here thank you. Sandwich generation stuff going on wrt elderly Mum and teen children why did I have my kids so late but can't complain.

Thank you for asking!

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