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Is my mum an alcoholic?

(11 Posts)
worriedaboutmymum Wed 09-Jul-08 14:17:23

Does anyone have any knowledge about alcohol dependency? My mother has always had a much lower tolerance for alcohol than she thinks, with the result that she often becomes a slightly annoying drunk at family dinners etc. Occasionally she shocks me by being completely drunk at odd times - once I phoned her at 11am to tell her something, and then half an hour later she called me again with no recollection of our conversation. Turned out she'd downed a bottle of wine. But most of the time she is fine and doesn't really seem like a 'problem' drinker.

BUT - yesterday my dad had to go into hospital for an operation. My mum took him there in a cab and waited in the pub for him to come out of theatre. She drank 2 glasses of wine while in the pub, then bought a little bottle (1/3 of a bottle I think) of wine to take back to the hospital with her, and had pretty much finished that by the time he came round. By that time she was completely incoherent. She then became very maudlin and abusive towards him, finally storming out of the hospital. She called me as she was wandering the streets with no idea of where she was and unable really to string a sentence together. My sister went to collect her and took her home, where she was very sorry for herself and melodramatic, and claimed she wasn't drunk at all. This morning she can't remember any of it.

My feeling is that when alcohol interferes with your life to the extent that you can't support your loved ones when they need you, you are an alcoholic. Do you think this is true? And if so what should she do about it? She says 'maybe I should go dry for a bit,' but I wonder whether there's much point in that.

cariboo Wed 09-Jul-08 14:25:41

I am so sorry to read this, wamm! My mother also has an alcohol problem but fortunately it's only in the evenings (so far!sad). I know better than to speak to her after dinner as she & my stepfather usually get thru 2 G&Ts each plus at least 1 ltr of wine every evening. She slurs, is silly, unreasonable & never remembers what she said the following day. It bothers me terribly but when I've confronted her with it, even as gently as possible, she heatedly denies any problem with alcohol. I've learned to live & let live, so to speak because I can't change her - God knows I've tried. My only fear is that she'll need to drive the children somewhere after dinner (they sometimes stay overnight with her) & have warned dd(8) to never, ever get in a car with someone who's been drinking. She knows to call home if there's a problem. I wish you much strength & courage - I hope you get farther with your mum than I did with mine.sad

SubRosa Wed 09-Jul-08 14:43:13

Yes, your mum is an alcoholic. My dad was like this and would never admit to a problem. They will never change until they admit/accept there's a problem.

Lots of positive thoughts to both Wamm and Cariboo, and I hope Wamm's dad recovers well from his operation.

worriedaboutmymum Wed 09-Jul-08 14:45:45


She has finally, on the basis of last night, admitted that there is a problem. So she's saying she may dry out for a while. But is that enough? I can't see the point of just drying out for a bit. Would it stop her wanting to do the same thing again if another stressful situation arises?

madamez Wed 09-Jul-08 14:49:33

IF she has admitted that there is a problem then that's a good start. The best thing to do next is probably for her to see her GP or contact one or other of the help-with-drinking organisations: she may find it easier with some support. If she is very resistant to the idea tell her that it is worth finding out information about what help is available and no one is going to force her to do anything she doesn't want to do (OK, sounds like she has a drink problem, but it does not sound like she needs to be sectioned and up until then no one can force an alcoholic to stop drinking against his/her wishes).

janestillhere Wed 09-Jul-08 14:49:43

Yes she is unfortunately.
Everything you said I went through with my mum.
We lost her to alcoholic liver disease 3 months ago.
The personality changes are a bad sign, as are forgetting things. It can be gradual slow brain damage from alcohol.
my mum didn't admit there was a problem until near her death.
Only SHE can be the one who helps herself. You can't make her. Am so sorry. x

worriedaboutmymum Wed 09-Jul-08 14:53:31

oh jane I am so sorry.

janestillhere Wed 09-Jul-08 14:59:22

I did everything to try and help her and it was pointless. She would go in to hospital with jaundice and swollen limbs etc and weeks after they detoxed her and helped her to walk etc again she would be discharged and would drink again.
I rang her gp once and begged her to help me help my mum. She said 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink' meaning of course I couldn't make mum do anything she didnt want to.
My thought at the time aprt from 'thanks a bunch doc' was 'yes, but if it was bloody chardonnay she would.
It's terrible for you and I truly am gutted for you. x

worriedaboutmymum Wed 09-Jul-08 15:36:38

Poor you. It sounds horrific.

I feel optimistic that my mum has accepted that there is a problem before it has got to that stage. But I suppose I am anxious to make sure that while she has a bit of momentum, she really makes the most of it and does whatever is most effective.

forgottenfreetime Wed 09-Jul-08 21:29:13

It might be an idea for her to have a talk with her GP. He/she might be able to help her with a number of things. She might have been drinking heavily enough to have withdrawal symptoms which might need medication. It can be dangerous to withdraw from very heavy drinking, very quickly. Also it might be that there are reasons for her drinking (known or not known at this stage)and she might be referred to a community alcohol team or to a community mental health team, to try to help identify and address those issues. You're right to try to capitalise on her moment of insight - it may not last but it just might! I hope it goes well for you both

wigparty Thu 10-Jul-08 11:42:42

Wamm, I'm so sorry to hear about your Mum. I hope she finds the help she needs.

Janestillhere sad. That must have been truly awful to go through that with your Mum and be unable to help her.

I really hope this isn't an insensitive question (I'm worried about the drinking of family members and also myself to some extent), but how long had your Mum been drinking and at what level? I'll totally understand if you don't want to answer this.

I hope everyone's who's going through this manages to find some help and support.

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