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Alcoholic mother - is there anything i can do to help????

(12 Posts)
Belgianchox Thu 19-Jul-07 08:52:56

ok, i'm hoping somebody can give me some objective input to a situation that is getting out of hand. My mum has a major drink problem, and has had for many years. We all feel in the family that something has to give before there are dire consequences to her drinking, and as such we would like for her to go into rehab. I was wondering if anyone has had experience of this, and is it actually effective? Also, how long does it take approximately? I almost feel like we're clutching at straws, my mother does not want to be helped, she's been in denial forever and just cannot see that there is a major problem. (or at least doesn't want to openly admit it) At the moment she is on one massive binge drinking session and doesn't see the light of day for weeks on end. I'm really concerned, even though i've put a lot of distance between us over the years in an attempt at self preservation, but now i have children too i and I feel so sad that my kids might grow up not knowing their grandma, or if they do having awful memories of her (she's not a pleasant drunk). Having said this when she's sober, she's great, its almost like she has a split personality.
Ok, this is turning into a ramble, i'm sorry. What would you do/have done in the face of this kind of situation? TIA

HuwEdwards Thu 19-Jul-07 08:55:16

The experience I have read from others on MN is that for all types of addiction it's nigh on impossible to help someone who a) doesn't even acknowledge they have a problem and b) do not want to be helped.

Hopefully someone will come along soon with some constructive advice for you.

Belgianchox Thu 19-Jul-07 09:04:23

I know, and i agree to an extent, but its also so difficult to stand by and do nothing and just watch as she self destructs, because that is what it amounts to. i just know that she won't help herself and that if shes not pushed into something nothing will give.

MrsWednesday Thu 19-Jul-07 09:07:06

I was in the same situation with my mother. In the end we arranged for her to go to a private addiction centre to go through detox and treatment. She was sober for a while but she never really came to terms with her alcoholism, and refused to visit AA or take part in any therapy.

She only managed to stay sober for a short time, and other circumstances (she was diagnosed with lung cancer) led her to decide to drink herself to death, which she managed to do in 6 months.

Sorry this is so gloomy. It's very difficult if the person you want to help doesn't want to help herself. It is terribly sad for you and your children but I think there is only so much you can do - she has to decide whether she wants to do it or not. I was 8 months pregnant when my mum died, and it hurt a lot that even the thought of her first grandchild being born wasn't enough to keep her sober - we tried but she didn't want to be helped.

I hope you find a way of getting through to her. Much love, it's a horrible situation to be in.x

Belgianchox Thu 19-Jul-07 09:17:59

Mrs Wednesday, thanks for posting. Your situation sounds scarily familiar. Part of me is already prepared for an outcome as you describe. Its astonishing that my mum hasn't had more serious health problems given the amount she drinks and smokes. She has managed sober stints of up to six months in the past, but always with the help of ADs (lots) and with the proviso that noone upsets her, or she's back on the drink. She has never had therapy, or very short, quickly aborted attempts - she thinks that its only for holier than thou types, and all a load of mumbo jumbo basically. Don't even talk to her about AA, she won't go there.
I thought too that having grandchildren (mine are also her first) would give her an added incentive, as i have already explained that there's no way i'll be leaving them in her care if she's drinking, but this doesn't see to matter to her.
We would like (my father and sisters) to check her into a private rehab clinic, but could we even do this if she doesn't want to? Do they even accept unwilling people? I feel awful thinking that she's beyond help, but i do wonder if that is the case.....

MrsWednesday Thu 19-Jul-07 09:51:50

My mum definitely wasn't willing, but she was incapable of doing much about it, she was in such a state.

She was in there for about 3 weeks, and she had some kind of medical detox as well as proper food and attentive care. If nothing else, we (my sister and aunt) felt we gave her the best chance to deal with her problems. When that didn't work, it was just a case of managing the situation until she died. Awful really, but there is only so much you can do.

We also tried the NHS but other than prescribing Antabuse tablets, they didn't do much.

I will see if I can find the details of the place she went to if that's any help? It was v. expensive by the way.

meowmix Thu 19-Jul-07 09:55:23

You may be able to get her into a centre but it'll be temporary. Only she can make the decision to stop.

All you can do is try to make sure that she doesn't self-destruct while drinking. Can you help sort finances/housing etc? Be aware though that the more you do the more she will expect from you. Addiction is a selfish selfish disease.

Sorry you're going through it. Be sure to give yourself space and time too. Its really tough on you and you may not fully realise that till its too late.

Surfermum Thu 19-Jul-07 10:04:40

I work in an NHS in patient drug and alcohol unit, I'm not a clinician, I organise all the admissions amongst other stuff. Unfortunately she is the one who will need to go and ask for help. We wouldn't take a referral from a relative, it would have to come from the patient themselves.

In this area she would be referred to one of our community teams who would see her and work with her before referring her on to us - although we aren't the only option, some people have community detoxes. And if she came to us she would be referred for aftercare, either with a community worker or at a day unit. AA is not the only option and it doesn't suit everyone.

It might be worth asking your GP what services are available locally, as it differs from area to area.

Surfermum Thu 19-Jul-07 10:06:29

You might find Al-anon helpful too, they support the families.

Belgianchox Thu 19-Jul-07 10:10:15

She no longer lives in the UK, her and my father moved to Portugal six months ago in the hope of a new beginning.... This was never actually said but was clearly the intention. I live in France, so i don't actually see her much. She knows how intolerant i have become of her addiction, so i tend not to be her first port of call when she's really in a state, its often my poor younger sister who has in the past been slightly more sympathetic to it.
Agree that addiction is so selfish - i appreciate that they can't do much to help themselves, but surely they could go along with help once its offered? I honestly think she actually likes drinking and is oblivious to the pain she causes. When she's sober we tend to pussy foot round her and not actually mention how she is the rest of the time. I always wonder about people who say an alcoholic needs to hit rock bottom before they can start to get better, but when i think of my mum there have been so many times over the years that could be considered rock bottom, i just can't imagine things could actually get any worse for her. Then there's my dad, what kind of life is it for him? Its no fun living with a drunk, my overriding memories of childhood and teenage years are tarred by this, i have trouble dredging up happier memories, although i'm sure there were calmer times.

Belgianchox Thu 19-Jul-07 10:18:11

Surfermum, thanks for the link, I shall take a look.
I think my mum has in the past had some help from the NHS, she's certainly been in hospital on a number of occasions for detox, and has at times had follow-up care. The rare occasions that she has accepted it she just pretends to go along with it all to "get them out of her hair" asap. She is a former nurse herself (was banned from nursing eventually after a numerous incidents), and as such feels that the NHS as a whole don't know any better than her. Its hopeless, it really is.
Am i right in thinking that detox is necessary first but that follow up therapy is essential too?
Mrs Wednesday, were you able to visit your mum while she was in rehab? was she angry that you made her do it once she was detoxed?

Surfermum Thu 19-Jul-07 10:23:43

Aftercare is definitely something we recommend.

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