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anyone know anything about al-anon? Or other ways to support an alcoholic?

(5 Posts)
motherdaughter Mon 13-May-13 00:17:38

My dad is an alcoholic. I call him every night - have done since my mum died 18mo ago. Sometimes he's sober and we can have a good chat about stuff but more often than not he's been drinking. Sometimes he's just a bit drunk and tells me the same thing half a dozen times, other times he's slurring his words so badly I can barely understand him.

I know he's depressed and I know he suffers from anxiety and he deals with that by drinking. On a bad day he'll start at breakfast time. He tells me what he thinks I want to hear so I have no idea what is really going on with him or how much he's drinking. One day he'll admit he's gone out and bought a bottle of whisky and had a little; the next day he'll tell me he's only had a little because there was only an inch left in the bottle... the following day he'll be appalled that I could think he's drink a bottle in 2 days.

I feel guilty if I don't phone but I can't stop myself from commenting on his drunken state and needling him when I do, and then I end up feeling guilty for being crap and unsupportive.

His drinking is really stressing me out. I have 2 preschoolers, I work pretty much full time, I dread the evening calls and I hate the way I spend the rest of the evening angry. Somehow his drinking is dominating my life and I need it to stop. I need my children, my husband and my work to take their appropriate places in my life without me being distracted, unfocussed, impatient and angry.

Regardless of what he chooses to do, I need to find a way to manage my reaction to his drinking. I've looked at al-anon. I can't make the local meetings because I'm either at work or putting kids to bed but their 12-point plan sounds as though it might be interesting and helpful but they don't seem to publish much information about it. I don't want to buy lots of resources without knowing a little more.

Can anyone advise?

NanTheWiser Mon 13-May-13 12:49:17

Hi motherdaughter, so sorry to hear you're trying to deal with this. My first husband was an alcoholic, and the thing to remember is:

You didn't cause it
You can't cure it
You can't control it

I can't advise about Al-anon as I didn't use their services, but I do know they are very good at supporting those affected by a loved one's drinking. A shame you can't make their meetings, can you phone them for advice?

I think you need to step away (I know that's going to be awfully hard to do under the circumstances), and NOT phone him every night, as it is so stressful for you.
There is nothing you can do realistically to help - alcoholics really have to help themselves, which usually means reaching "rock-bottom". Would he visit his GP for help with the depression and anxiety? Perhaps with you?
Sorry I can't be of help, but I do feel for you - living with this is AWFUL. My experience was over thirty years ago, husband finally left (I had a small child at the time) and he died 18 years ago from cancer at 55.

motherdaughter Mon 20-May-13 20:50:42

Hi Nan,

Thanks for you response. I imagine the stepping away with a small child has to be incredibly hard. Good to know that there is another side beyond the crap.

Since I wrote this he has actually rung the local alcohol advice line and taken himself in to talk to someone. He's been sober for nearly a week now. Their advice was to drink water if you felt you wanted alcohol. So simple but so far it seems to be working. He's still got a long way to go but seems to be making real progress!

NanTheWiser Mon 20-May-13 22:18:13

Hi motherdaughter - how encouraging to read that he recognises he has a problem, and has taken the first step to face up to it. That must be quite a relief for you! The fact that he has stayed sober for a week is quite an achievement, but it is very early days, so I'm sure you'll be giving him plenty of support. I wish both of you the very best of luck, and hope he can build on this success.

Nepotism Tue 21-May-13 22:55:47

ExH is an alcoholic and totally in denial. I only attended one Al Anon meeting but it was a revelation. Meeting so many different people with such a vast range of experiences was very helpful and helped me reach the decision to leave.

I think they're happy to help over the phone. Good luck, it's very hard to walk away but sometimes you have to put yourself first.

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