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Can you help an addict who doesn't want to stop?

(25 Posts)
CtrlAltDelicious Sun 14-Jun-15 15:27:49

My best friend is an alcoholic of 30 years and suffers with an eating disorder as well. We live 250 miles apart and have been there for each other through some tough times. I've always known about her problem drinking but it seems I didn't know the full extent of it and I thought her eating disorder was in the past.

Her relationship with her fiancé sounds fairly awful from her accounts but in his defence, it must be extremely difficult watching someone you love killing themselves. He is not abusive or violent. Sorry, I'm giving the very abridged and vague version because I don't want to potentially out my friend and she doesn't know I'm posting here.

Anyway, her fiance contacted me today. According to him it's becoming out of control and he sounds out of his mind with worry. Last week she got beyond drunk and got on a train with no phone or money, which involved the police. She didn't tell me this. She's also bingeing and purging daily. The thing he kept saying is "she doesn't want to stop. She knows she's killing herself but nothing is strong enough motivation to stop." And he's right. She's a highly intelligent woman but the way she deceives herself and justifies her actions are remarkable. I love my friend and miss her so much. I want to tell her how I feel about her addiction but I don't want her to shut me out.

To cut a long story short - how do you help an addict who doesn't want to stop?

Thanks if you read all that.

AnotherGirlsParadise Sun 14-Jun-15 15:29:10

You can't. This MUST come from her. I'm speaking as a recovering alcoholic myself.

HermioneWeasley Sun 14-Jun-15 15:29:45

No. They have to reach rock bottom and decide for themselves that stopping is better than continuing.

The 3 Cs of alcoholism
You didn't Cause this
you can't Control this
You can't Cure this.

I am so sorry - it's hard to watch. flowers

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 14-Jun-15 15:31:40

"To cut a long story short - how do you help an addict who doesn't want to stop?"

You cannot.

The 3cs re alcoholism:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

(Note the last one in particular).

CtrlAltDelicious Sun 14-Jun-15 15:34:59

Thanks. I knew that answer was inevitable. She's had some recent health scares which I thought would give her a wake up call but they haven't. Her doctor says she must cut down slowly and not give up at once, but all she seems to hear in that message is "keep on drinking." I just don't know what to do.

CtrlAltDelicious Sun 14-Jun-15 15:40:16

AnotherGirlsParadise If this is too personal, please just ignore, but what made you stop? My friend has 2 children - both young adults - who she's so proud of and who need her. I can't fathom why she can't find something to motivate her into stopping. Sorry if I sound too simplistic - I'm just frustrated and really really worried.

ALaughAMinute Sun 14-Jun-15 15:43:38

I did everything I could to help my alcoholic brother but sadly he died two years ago.

Just be there to offer support, that's all you can do.

QuiteLikely5 Sun 14-Jun-15 15:43:39

Although I agree with the above and her needing to want it to stop could her fiancé call the GP for a home visit because it sounds like she needs admitting to a clinic.

tribpot Sun 14-Jun-15 15:44:40

Her doctor is giving her cheap advice. I think he must know she won't stop, but putting her in touch with alcohol support will cost more money than pointless warnings. He could be giving her medication to help with the withdrawal so that she could quit - but he isn't. Or rather, she says he isn't, since I'm guessing no-one else has been in the room with her.

The best thing you can do is urge the fiance to tell the doctor the full extent of the problem. And to seek proper, probably residential, support for her. Some info here and here.

perfectlybroken Sun 14-Jun-15 15:46:56

I used to work with heavy drinkers and their families. I learnt many things, one of which was that however much someone loves their alcoholic spouse, they cannot help them, even if the person is willing to receive help. Moreover, the spouse will get dragged down themselves, as is happening to your friends fiance. My advice to anyone in that situation would be to continue expressing love (if it is felt) but otherwise withdraw, probably by living separately, until the person is without doubt recovering from the disease. It is a disease and can affect anyone, but is do so hard on the family. Xx

noddyholder Sun 14-Jun-15 15:48:59


BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 14-Jun-15 15:49:15

No, of course you can't help them. Not if there's no motivation from them to put an end to their self-destructive behaviour.

I had a dear friend in the grip of cocaine & alcohol addiction. No matter how concerned I became and supportive I was about getting clean, it made absolutely no difference. For my own sanity I had to cut her off completely in the end. Standing by and witnessing the constant drama cost me too much.

CtrlAltDelicious Sun 14-Jun-15 15:56:13

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, it's much appreciated. The info on residential support is interesting and something I hadn't considered.

Currently, I'm 100% she wouldn't entertain doing this. Tribpot you're right about the doctor's advice. WHY isn't more being offered? As you say though, nobody really knows what he's advising her. Would the doctor talk to her fiancé? I think she would see that as a massive betrayal, as she would also if she knew he'd contacted me. I'm going to look into this residential support now.
Thanks again for posting.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 14-Jun-15 16:05:54


Residential support will not work for her because she is not wanting it. Everyone around her including the medical profession continues to enable her.

You can actually help your own self by talking to Al-anon; they are very helpful to people affected by other's problem drinking. You need to detach from her.

CtrlAltDelicious Sun 14-Jun-15 16:16:01

I can't detach from her, she is my very dearest friend. We both came from very difficult backgrounds and have similar traumatic events in our pasts. She, being older than me, helped me when I went on a destructive cycle, which, thankfully, is well in the past. I'm already 250 miles away from her, which means I can;t be there as I;d want to.
I actually will speak to al-anon. It hadn't occurred to me to do so, so thank you for that suggestion.

Regarding the enabling. I suppose you're quite right. would her finacé, for example stop doing that. If she chooses to buy wine, vodka, etc and drink it to the point of passing out, what can he do about that? I'm starting to get angry with the medical professionals who work with her though. Why is this addiction not a priority? Surely future health issues are going to directly stem from the alcohol?

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 14-Jun-15 16:36:24

You need to detach emotionally from her though for your own sake. She will drag you down with her otherwise if you try to at all help her. That's a very hard thing to accept but you can only help your own self ultimately.

What you have to realise as well that she could well go onto lose everything including this fiancé and she could still drink afterwards.

The medical profession cannot do anything for her either if she has no will to stop drinking.

Alcoholism is truly a family disease; it does not just affect the alcoholic but all around them as well. Her fiancé needs to be apart from her, he is not helping at all by being with her. They are no good together as they are currently. I feel particularly sorry for her daughters who are likely wondering what they can do as well. They will not be unscathed by their mother's alcoholism.

HermioneWeasley Sun 14-Jun-15 16:39:03

OP, what do you want health professionals to do? Until she wants to stop there is zero anyone can do, and she clearly doesn't want to stop.

I was lucky, I quit when I was not a problem drinker, not a full blown alcoholic.

Maryz Sun 14-Jun-15 16:42:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ALaughAMinute Sun 14-Jun-15 16:50:41

Nobody can help her until she decides she wants help. Sad but true.

I went NC with my brother in the end because I didn't want to watch him die.

Self preservation first!

fishfingersinmysandwiches Sun 14-Jun-15 16:54:36

No. Is the short answer.

Sorry op.

Isetan Sun 14-Jun-15 16:55:17

The health professionals are prioritising scarce resources where it's most likely to be effective, on people who want to change.

I get your anger and frustration but for your own sanity, you have to accept that you can't distract or stop her from continuing on her destructive path.

CtrlAltDelicious Sun 14-Jun-15 17:01:40

I take on board what you're saying. As Maryz said, it's actually her fiancé who needs support here.
Thank you everyone x

ALaughAMinute Sun 14-Jun-15 17:05:52

OP, you are clearly a good friend. Stay strong and look after yourself. flowers

shirleybasseyslovechild Sun 14-Jun-15 17:36:47

No one can help her if she does not want to address her issues.not you , not her fiancé. Don't blame the medics.

airforsharon Sun 14-Jun-15 20:50:39

"her doctor says she must cut down slowly"

if she's drinking to such an extent, and has been for a long time, his advice is correct, just stopping and going cold turkey could kill her. She would need a period of gradual, medically supervised withdrawal.

A PP's suggestion to contact Al Anon, and suggest this to her DP if he's not already in touch with them, is a good one. Al Anon helped me deal with my DH's problems, I think I would've sunk without them.

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