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Question for children of alcoholics(5 Posts)
My cousin is an alcoholic. Her pattern of drinking is binges every few weeks. So she’ll be sober for maybe a couple of months, then she will drink for several weeks. When she is drinking she drinks all day and night, vodka and wine. She sleeps, vomits in the bed, wets herself, screams and shouts for more alcohol, usually dehydrates herself, and then ends up admitted to hospital (she is a shocking hypochondriac and always has been, before the alcohol became an issue. So she fabricates illness. But I think the amount she drinks makes her genuinely ill). After a hospital stay she’ll come home dry, and will last a few weeks before the drinking starts again. This has gone on for about 5 years.
She lives with her DS age 10, and her DP. He DP is not DS’s father, but biological father left during the pregnancy, and DP has been around since her DS was a toddler. DS calls him Dad.
Her DP works very hard, has several jobs, so is out quite a lot, but is very hands on when he’s around. My cousin hasn’t worked for over a decade. When my cousin is drinking, her DS spends some time at home (when DP isn’t at work), and when DP has to work, DS is taken to grandparents, who he adores, and they adore him.
DS is doing well at school, and talks openly to teachers about Mummy drinking and not being able to wake her up sometimes. Social services are involved, and DP has recently been given shared legal parental responsibility. I’m pretty sure that DS is always physically safe, because when the DP goes to work, DS goes to grandparents. He is rarely in his own at home with a comatose mother. He does, however, witness his mother screaming at his “dad” to go out and buy her vodka in the morning before he goes to work. He also witnesses the vomiting, passing out on the settee etc.
My feeling is that the psychological damage being done to DS is enormous, and that whilst he loves his mother, it would surely be better for him to not have to live with her. I can’t help thinking he’d be better off if he was just in the care of his “dad” and grandparents. My cousin has had masses of help over the years (medical, psychological, financial, practical - you name it, we’ve done it), and has never expressed any desire to remain sober. In fact she doesn’t even acknowledge that she has a problem, and won’t allow anyone to speak about it ever.
But social services and other family disagree, and feel that keeping them all together is better, because she does have sober spells, and for those weeks she’s an adequate parent.
I wonder what people who have been the DS in this situation would feel?
That poor boy. Im an adult child of an alcoholic and it will have an impact on him.
I don't know about rights etc where you / his dad/ grandparents etc stand but his school needs to be aware if not already and hopefully they will start to organise support agencies.
i suggest that you all give him as much time away from his mum as possible or support him in their home.
What do the rest of the family think?
My mother was an alcoholic but as children we didn't know that was what it was called. We called her a drunk.
All of us grew up balanced and sensible. We knew not to discuss it with anyone although we were never told that.
He will have skills that other children his age do not have and may be missing in other areas. He will have been asked for his views at 10 and it is difficult to say either way without all the facts and the options to where he might be placed etc.
The fact he is doing well at school, is able to talk about his problems, will be monitored and treated a vulnerable young carer may mean he has the support he needs and is visible to people who will check on him. Moving him somewhere where he disappears off the radar may not be beneficial? Difficult to say.
My father was an alcoholic who binged for weeks at a time, much like you describe. Vomit, wetting himself, screaming rows with my mother, smashing up the house, throwing things , drink driving with us in the car etc. My earliest childhood memory is of my sibling and I, aged around 4 and 6 finding him passed out (mother was at work) and we thought he was dead so went hysterically to the neighbours for help. He would stop for weeks, sometimes even months, then it would start again. They divorced when I was around 8 so I didn't see as much from then on, but it affected me. I think about it most days unfortunately. The kids need protecting and removing from the situation. I'm still bitter that my mum stayed as long as she did. I adored my dad, but I was happier when they split and I didn't see him as much.
The binging caught up with him, it killed him when I was 16.
I feel for you all. It's an awful situation.
DF drank regularly - not remotely to the extent your cousin does. But what affected me was the shame and embarrassment, also it was an unspoken secret.
Fortunately the DS here is open about it. I think being able to talk about it without shutting him down due to disapproval or embarrassment is very important . I would hope he could voice his worries if he wanted to live with his DGPs but I suspect he would feel guilty if he said he didn't love his DM and wanted to live away from her, kids are very loyal, but he might be able to say that more easily when a teenager.
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