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Gift for alcoholic sister

(16 Posts)
Mamafoof Thu 11-Apr-13 09:01:48

I've posted on here before about my sister. She is in her late 20s and is a chronic alcoholic. We had a very happy childhood in a civilised religious family and no-one knows how we all got here - but we're here. 10 years plus and she has never had a steady job, lost all her friends, and constantly drinks. My parents are in despair but finally took the steps to get her her own flat as her living with them was causing serious problems which had an affect on their health too. I have had to stop calling her as I physically and mentally cannot bear watching her do this. It is having an effect on my family too as I get into such moods after speaking to her. Her mental health is deteriorating - it's so worrying.

Anyway, for the last few years, I still used to send her a card and quite generous presents for Christmas and birthdays which I think she appreciated but am sure she ended up losing the gifts. She has got so bad that I am not sure she will even treat her gifts properly now. I don't even know what she likes - basically because her only interest and purpose in life is to drink. she knows (i think) how serious it has become but is powerless.

I am not going to ask for advice on how to deal (like i did before) as i know all we can do is wait for her to realise what she is doing and be there for her when she does. It's her birthday coming up. I am going to buy her a card but should i get her a gift? if so, what on earth do i get her? i want to get her something that will make her realise she has to stop - like a self help book but she never reads anything. Or I should i just send her a card? I am sure she will be expecting something given my gifts in previous years. I will of course not be giving her money. I just don't want her to think i don't care and use that as another excuse to drink.

Grateful for your thoughts. And sorry if anyone else is going through the trauma of a loved one who is an alcoholic.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Apr-13 09:03:02

Get something she can't sell. Flowers, for example.

shemademedoit Thu 11-Apr-13 09:20:38

A 'hamper' of food items? Basics plus a few luxuries? Something she would need, use and couldn't/wouldn't sell for cash (to buy booze).

weegiemum Thu 11-Apr-13 09:21:09

Really nice treat toiletries?

LadyVoldemort Thu 11-Apr-13 09:24:30

IME alcoholics don't have much of an appetite so food stuff is out.

Maybe something that might help boost her self esteem like some fancy make up?

My mum is an alcoholic and I gave up buying her gifts years ago. The only thing she appreciates is alcohol so was a waste of my time and money to buy anything else. Now all she gets is a card and I go round for a cup of tea and cake.

NeverMindOhWell Thu 11-Apr-13 09:27:02

Trust me, if its not alcohol or something she can use to buy alcohol, I doubt it would be appreciated. She will reach her rock bottom faster if she thinks she's lost her family as well. Send a card, write in it the reason that you're not giving a gift this year, tell her you love her but you don't love what she is doing to herself and when she is ready to seek help you will be there.

MichaelaS Thu 11-Apr-13 09:27:48

A spa day or home beauty therapy like a facial? Return to glory are great if you're in or near London. Make sure it's not a saleable voucher though.

Maybe some pamper time would help her self esteem and she can't drink during the treatment at least.

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 09:29:23

You can't control it, or cure it, or persuade her to stop - she already knows it's a rubbish way to live.

She is making a choice to continue for whatever reason.

Your perception of your childhood sounds like it was great but perhaps there is something you don't know, about the way she experienced it.

I am really sorry for all of you. Please don't try and make her stop - this will make her drink more. You need to step away. No attempts however subtle to try and control her behaviour, she will know and it'll be counteractive.

A card with much love expressed in it will do the world of good if it is genuinely meant.

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 09:31:15

and please no comments in the card distinguishing between your love for her, and disapproval of what she is doing...she knows this...you need to know it yourself, but not to remind her of it.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 11-Apr-13 09:32:11

I would send a card with no gift of any sort.

She may well have sold on the gifts to buy alcohol rather than lose them.

Talking to Al-anon may well help you.

unobtanium Thu 11-Apr-13 10:10:57

Hi Mama, I know exactly what you are talking about -- my beloved brother. It is terribly painful and it's very hard to accept that there is nothing you can do to help. I would suggest just the card, very carefully worded.

You may have to step back and content yourself with sending the odd card, calling to check up. Is there someone living very close who can keep an eye out? This is what saved the day for my brother -- we waited until he was at death's door, literally, until we conducted our second (and this time successful) intervention.

But even from there it's a long and uncertain road to recovery.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through, and wish your family all good luck with this.

Mamafoof Thu 11-Apr-13 11:18:59

Thanks so much for your responses - very grateful for your thoughts. I am inclined to just go down the card with a message route with maybe some flowers. I did give her a spa day once which needed to be used within 6 months and she managed to drag herself in on the last day - so suspect she won't even turn up this time. She appreciates toiletries etc but I feel a bit fed up of buying her fancy gifts and she just carries on regardless and i barely speak to her.

Mandaragora - thanks for your wise words. I know that my perception of my childhood may not be the same as hers. She has always said she feels insecure so think the issues stem from that - but sometimes people have this horrid illness without it being determined by anything. And yes, I do need to stop expressing my anger and disappointment - but it's just so hard to be passive in this situation. I'm scared it will never end. Is it really possible she may never get better?

Unobtanium - thanks and so glad your brother sounds like he is on the road to recovery. I know that if my sister ever gets there, that the hard work only just starts. She has been ill many times and some awful stuff has happened - I wonder what it will take for her to hit her rock bottom sometimes.

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 12:39:53

It is possible she won't recover. I'm sorry to say that. On the other hand she might smile

I haven't been an alcoholic. I've been anorexic though and I see many parallels with it, I may be wrong, but there you go.

What I needed was for people to step back - not to try and make me get better for them, but to allow me the space to get better for myself.

It is always a risk.

but I remember well, that it set me back when people interfered in any way however kindly it was intended. It felt like they were taking my control away from me and to get it back, I had to do even more of what I was doing, which I didn't really want to do - the not eating thing - just to get control back.

I wanted to eat but only could allow myself to if everyone left me alone.

At that point I didn't want gifts, or anything else - I just wanted someone to say, I love you, and not even mention the anorexia. Barely anyone could see past the physical state of me, into the real me which was the one thing I needed someone to do.
I don't expect this helps much but that's where I'm coming from anyway. The best thing you can do is to stop worrying about her illness - on her behalf as it were - and just treat her like your sister, ignoring the alcoholism as much as possible. Obviously don't enable it, but do remember there's nothing you can do about it and that it isn't your problem, it's hers.

Once she takes ownership of it she may have a chance, but not before that.
Good luck x

OhLori Thu 11-Apr-13 13:00:08

Agree so much with Mandragora, and for the same reason self-help books would not be a good idea. Maybe toiletries a bit boring, but I think if they are the right kind that she would like, its very much about self-care and a loving gesture. Or a small piece of jewellery.

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 13:05:46

It can be a loving gesture, that's true. Though having nice things to use doesn't mean a person will take care of themselves better. My sister sent me posh bath stuff and it's still in its tin several years later...I didn't feel I was worth it. iyswim?

the card and the sentiment expressed in it is the nicest thing you can do, it will be appreciated.

Alwayscheerful Thu 11-Apr-13 13:10:18

TK max sell some lovely shampoo and conditioners, could be classed as aluxury or practical gift but they are usuually appreciated.

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