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My Mum is an alcoholic . . .

(20 Posts)
ellenrose Fri 07-Jul-06 15:54:00

She has been heavily drinking now since I was 6 or 7. For the longest time it was something she tried to hide and no one outside of the family ever noticed - she always came across as “having a good time” at parties etc. but as time went on, she started drinking earlier in the day and it affected her behaviour. It is true to say that my brother, who is 6 years younger than me, possibly does not know what my Mum is like sober or certainly is not familiar with the woman I remember so dealy and miss so much.

It was hellish through my teens as I could not understand her behaviour or why she would want to do such a thing and couldn;t stop. She would “borrow” money from my brothers bank account to pay for the alcohol when she was running low and would blame other family members behaviour when asked why she drank.

She eventually started to admit she had a problem in that she confessed she was an alcoholic but then always followed it up with stories of my step Dad, my brother, my sister, our grandparents, the people down the road etc. which in someway was meant to justify the amounts she consumed every night.

Her mother passed away a couple of years ago having battled with Leukemia for a number of years (she contracted MRSA whilst in hospital) and my Aunty was diagnosed with Cancer in the same year. Whilst this was tough on all of the family, my Mums drinking increased even further and her behaviour becomes violent and scary most evenings.

She has now been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and has undergone the surgery to remove the lump this week. There is every chance that her drinking was one of the causes and they also found that she has a fatty liver whilst in hospital. She will not talk to anyone about the fact that she desperately needs to cut down/stop and I really want to be able to help her but have absolutely no idea where to begin.

I regularly loop through just about every emotion - complete anger and frustration, terrible sadness and a sense of loss of the woman I remember when I was little and have no clue what to do for the best. My oldest child has witnessed her angry outbursts and scared him and I do not want the others to see the same but I also do not want to punish her - I just want her to be better.

So sorry this is so long. I have looked into Al-anon etc. before and whilst it is very helpful in understanding my emotions, I still do not know what to do to help my Mum. She has gone to AA but always describes having plenty of justifiable excuses why she drinks every night. I am not disputing the things that have happened to her but want her to be able to leave them in the past and be able to live what is left of her life with the family who think so much of her.

meowmix Fri 07-Jul-06 16:07:15

oh honey, i really feel for you. I was in a similar situation until my mother died 8 years ago. The thing is you can't help her unless she wants to change the way she lives.

My mother dried out for a period of about 2 years but that was after some seriously nasty incidents. In the end I had to cut her out of my life to get her to address the problem, but sadly she went back to the bottle because she'd stopped drinking for me not for herself imho. Like you I remembered and needed the gentle mother but she wasn't there anymore - she was replaced by the addiction

Practical things you could do:
- speak to her doctor in the hospital and be brutally honest about the situation, he/she may be able to bluntly state what needs to be said in a sufficiently direct way and shock her into action (you can do the same but she won't listen to you - her desire is to get back to her drinks and thats louder than your voice). They may also be able to recommend a treatment centre.
- keep her away from the kids till she sorts this. It seems really cruel but honestly you can't have her scare them and do you want them growing up with this? also it'll force her to realise the choice she's making - grandkids or the bottle
- keep going to al-anon. You need support through this.
- remember that an addict is the most selfish, manipulative, least self--aware and irresponsible person possible, the person you're dealing with is the addict not your mother

BUT you have to understand that YOU cannot solve this for her. The addict wants to make it your problem, its part of the disease, but that will not solve the problem.

I'm not sure any of this will help - if you want to talk more then feel free to CAT me.

anorak Fri 07-Jul-06 16:09:50

Hi ellenrose, my mother too was an alcoholic and sadly she died of alcohol at the age of 58. We tried everything we could think of to help her, but her desire to drink was stronger than her desire to beat it so there was nothing we could do.

It is fabulous that you want to support her but you have to realise that the key to getting well is inside her and unless she decides to accept your help you won't be able to do anything for her. So sorry, it is such a waste, isn't it?

anorak Fri 07-Jul-06 16:11:36

x posts meiowmix, just repeated some of what you said, didn't I?

zippitippitoes Fri 07-Jul-06 16:13:17

You haven't written eloquently about how you feel.

Could you write her a letter which you could give her at the end of your next visit.

zippitippitoes Fri 07-Jul-06 16:13:53

sorry sorry you have written eloquently

ellenrose Fri 07-Jul-06 16:22:37

zippitoes - I have about 10 of those letters which I have written and never given her. I always felt better for getting it out on paper but I also knew that it only told her how I felt about it and its affect on me and my family. I am sure that anyone who has tried to appeal to an alcoholic to stop also knew that it had to be their decision and I know that she should not be doing it for me. When I have explained that I could not bring the children to visit her any more because of the state she was in (even when sober she is often confusing as her memory has been affected) she says she understands but it is not enough to do anything about it.

Alan Fri 07-Jul-06 16:24:25

did you keep the letters? could you give them to her?

i dont know i always think it is more significant iof it is in a letter as it is permenant iykwim. Whereas if you say something you could blame it on the heat of the moment. A letter takes more thought

meowmix Fri 07-Jul-06 16:48:31

Its worth a try with the letter - but have to say this never worked with my old dear and in fact pretty much gave her an excuse to drink "I'm so upset by that letter I'd better just have a quick gin to calm my nerves...." type of thing.

Anorak - I think we agree because unfortunately its 100% true. ER I'd love to be able to give you a magic solution but the only person who can do anything here is your mum.

This is going to sound cruel and heartless but trust me, I've been through this. You need to make sure that you have the support you need and that you protect your family from the addict (sorry if that the addict stuff sounds a bit therapy speak I just found it was a way of letting me love my mother while hating her behaviour)

zippitippitoes Fri 07-Jul-06 16:51:08

I thought that about the excuse but she will drink regardless so my theory is it's worth a try and if nothing else she will have something to take out and look at and know you really do care

meowmix Fri 07-Jul-06 16:53:37

plus you'll feel you've done something, which is no bad thing.

ellenrose Fri 07-Jul-06 17:05:39

Meowmix - completely understand re the "addict" description - I feel like I have to differentiate between my behavious towards the addict and that towards my Mum. I know I have to protect my kids as I do not want them to grow up with this as an acceptable type of behaviour but I always give in whenever there are big family events because she would moan to grandparents, sisters etc. and then I get it in the neck because they do not know why I have stopped the kids seeing her.

The reasons I have not sent the letters are exactly as you describe in that I always thought it would give her another reason to carry on drinking. She often says that she knows that people do not visit/are upset with her because of her drinking and thinks we would not help her so she might as well carry on.

No magic answer I know but thank you all for taking the time to respond. It is nice just to know that I am not alone - there are times when I have doubted my own sanity trying to keep up with all of this

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 07-Jul-06 17:16:44


The only person you can help if a parent is alcoholic is your good self. You need to ensure you have support of your own from your own family unit, GP and Al-anon to name but three.

I would agree that you need to protect both your family and yourself from the worst effects of her alcoholism.

You cannot save someone who may not want to be saved and you cannot yourself try to take on ownership of her issues re alcoholism.

She may well have to reach her own rock bottom (she is not there yet) and lose everything in order to stop drinking however, even then this may not be the impetus she needs to stop drinking. She needs to stop drinking for her own self - she cannot do it for anyone else.

An alcoholic's primary relationship is with drink - absolutely everything and everyone else comes a very distant second. Alcoholics are also very selfish in nature and do denial very well (I see your Mum has mentioned that she is an alcoholic but then tries to justify her drinking by talking about step dad and other family members).

Keep talking to Al-anon; they are very good with working with people whose family members are alcoholics.

crazychilledmummy Sat 08-Jul-06 21:03:40

My mother is an alcoholic. I haven't seen her now for over 10 years - my choice in order to save myself and my sisters. You clearly love your mum and want to help her but you cannot continue if it is making you so upset. I too remember my mum when she wasnt drinking and she was the most fabulous mother. One time when she was sober she said to me that she would kill herself rather than hurt us but that she drank to dull the pain and then couldnt stop. I tried to help my mum. so many times. sometimes it worked but then she would always revert back. Despite what she is doing I'm sure she loves you and wouldn't want to blight your life through her actions - maybe its time to let go ?

ginia Sat 26-Aug-06 09:50:53

I have lived with an alcoholic mother since my early twenties and I am now 37. Nothing I could ever say or do would make her stop. I made the very hard decision, after my father died, to walk away from the problem. Many people may think that I am a hard person for doing this but for myself, my husband and my daughter is was ultimately the best decision. I have lived in hope that she may hit rock bottom and realised exactly what she has lost but the sad reality is my mother will always find a level below rock bottom and still carry on. Her one and only priority in life is alcohol. She has had numerous bad falls due to alcohol and each one gets worse and worse. I am resigned to the fact that someday I will get a call to tell me she has died. I gread that day but unfortunately that is the reality of the situation.

Buneye Thu 21-Jun-07 11:21:32

Are any of you guys still out there? I know none of you has discussed this in a while but... my Mum is also an alcoholic, has been since, well long before I was born (I'm now 27). My Dad dies when I was 14 and I have two younger sisters. I have always felt guilty about my Mum, felt sorry for her and supported her but she has not wanted to help herself. I have cried yelled and screamed but nothing has got through. She claims she has hit 'rock bottom' before but then picks the bottle up again when that was forgotten about. I think I have finally reached the end of my tether. I think I want to walk away from her, leave her and never look back, She makes me so miserable and I need to concentrate on my own life. But I'm scared as I know I'll fel guilty and she'll say sorry and I'll forgive her AGAIN and then she'll betray me by drinking. What should I do?? Any advice would be welcome

feetheart Thu 21-Jun-07 11:42:10

HUGE sympathies, its awful isn't it and alcoholics are past masters at the whole guilt thing. Have you been in touch with Al-Anon?
We got HUGE support from attending meetings about 2 years ago. Helped us put things in perspective and gave us the strengh to re-assess how we dealt with things.

CAT me if you want more information.

ChristyC Thu 21-Jun-07 11:44:59

Hi Buneye,
I am reading these threads today as I am in a bad situation with my husband due to alcohol abuse, although he doesn't drink daily. I understand and sympathise with everything you say and so feel for you. Last night, I was trawling the web, looking for divine inspiration (It never came!) and came accross a site which deals with how we deal with events and emotions - you should check it out, its quite a revelation and I really mean that. It may not change your mothers behaviour or problem but it might just help you to cope with it. Its called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy and you should try the self help form. It really clarifies your mind and just spending an hour reading through and thinking about your emotions helps enormously. I'm sorry I can't be more help.

mylittlestar Thu 21-Jun-07 12:09:41

I have been in a similar situation with my own mum. I know there is no magic answer and despite your best efforts, they have to stop because they want to, nothing else will work.

My mum had a lot happen to her too, and drunk to block it out. Nothing I said changed things.

I remember tipping water to her bottles of vodka when I was little... thinking if I could water it down she wouldn't get so drunk

The turning point for her came one day when she collapsed at home. I was a teenager and my sister was very young. I found her on the bathroom floor and called an ambulance in a blind panic. I was convinced she had taken an overdose (she'd said she didn't want to live anymore a few times in her drunken state) and that's what I told them.
The came and took her to hospital, barely any clothes on, just as she was found. She came round, and it gradually transpired that because of the drink, she had simply passed out. They kept us waiting with her in a cubicle barely dressed for 9 hours.
The humiliation of that day and the effect on me and my sister hit her hard. And that's the day she stopped.

I wish I had an answer for you. It's heartbreaking. But I just wanted you to know that sometimes there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just can't see it yet xx

Sakura Fri 22-Jun-07 00:57:33

ellenrose, I have no advice to add but I just want to offer my sympathy and say that I understand how desperate you feel
My mum is an alcoholic, but unlike yours, she was never a gentle mother- she was abusive when she wasn`t drinking, so now for me, her drinking is the cherry on top.
It must be harder for you, because you remember a kinder, loving person who has been replaced by the drinking person.
Please look after yourself- the drink will drag you down with her. as long as you are still in contact with her,it will take longer for her to reach her `rock bottom`.

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