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To not know what to do about mums alcoholism

118 replies

Subeccoo · 24/12/2019 10:33

My mum is an alcoholic, has been all my life.
It's just an accepted part of the family, she drinks too much and that's the way it is.
Various family members myself included have told her and offered support over the years, my brother and I are virtually tee total to present a healthy lifestyle in front of her.
Our dad likes his beer but in no way to the extent and refuses to engage in discussion about it. I pulled him aside recently after a particularly bad episode but he just says she will not see a doctor or give up alcohol.
She is sick, really sick. Her skin is yellow, she eats nothing, her movements are slow.
There seems to be nothing we can do and I don't know what to do about it, I'm convinced she'll die really soon.
Irony is she's drinking very little at the moment, but has a small glass every day.
Has anyone dealt with a family member going through this?
What do you do? Just watch them fucking die?

OP posts:
Subeccoo · 24/12/2019 13:32

So my brother called the Dr. They were very kind but said they would need to speak to her, so we went en masse to ask her to.
It did not go well.
She point blank refused, attempted to say she would after christmas but admitted she wouldn't and she cried a lot, we had to stop as she was hysterical.
My dad followed us into the kitchen after and said that he's been trying to get her to the Dr for months.
So that's that. Literally that. My siblings have left and I'm stuck with all the christmas prep to do and work at 4.
At least she knows how we feel, that's all we can do.

OP posts:
bluejelly · 24/12/2019 13:47

Thanks to you.
That sounds really tough.

Madein1995 · 24/12/2019 14:13

I am so sorry for what you're going through. I'm an addict, not alcohol but pills, and thought I would give you some advice from the other side of the wall so to speak. I'm trying to help a friend who's going downhill fast with addiction so maybe some of what I've done might help.

First off, show her you love her but don't enable it. Looking at your shit is uncomfortable trust me I know, but it has to be done to even get better. Knowing that you're loved unconditionally is massive. Provide emotional support eg texts, see her for days out etc, don't cut all contact with her.

Unless shes abusive. If she is abusive towards you then refuse to engage, if she's at yours request politely that she leaves if she becomes abusive and if she won't then call the police. Do not give her money, od not give her food - because all you're doing is freeing up the food money for booze.

Don't rescue her - ie calls from police stations, bailing her out etc. Don't lie for her. It's hard but it's two fold - one she's not escaping the natural consequence of her behaviour and two you're not entangled in a Web of lies.

Listen and try to understand if possible, give advice if asked. Don't be offended if she doesn't take that advice. One thing I've struggled with with my friend is seeing him go downhill and being unable to stop it. The bottom line is I can't stop it. Myself and plenty of others have given lots of support. We've offered to go with him to drugs services or debt advice, we've given plenty of advice. I can't make him take it.
I've given the advice. It's not my responsibility to fix him and this was a massive hurdle for me. Just because someone is hurrting doesn't mean I have to fix them. If I take on the fixer role I end up pressured to give him my script, or talking on the phone at 1am, or worrying and that isn't fair on me.

You need to put yourself first and put boundaries in place. It's easier said than done but it isn't your job to fix your mum and you can't anyway. All you can do is offer support when it's posskvle and set boundaries to keep yourself safe. And that means emotionally safe as well as physically. It isn't easy - I know that - but it will benefit you.

Incidentally, no one's advice made me change. Loads of lovely mumsnetters tried. It wasn't until I was offered a job and possibly couldn't take it and escape my misery because of debts built up due to drugs, that I opened my eyes.

I'm not perfect now. I've relapsed lots and I'm still on a script. I am still crap with money and run out by the end of the month. But I'm no longer spending 700 a month on drugs and I can now afford to pay sensible loan repayments, transport, rent and a few treats.
Unfortunately I'm an addict which means no one else can help me unless I'm willing to help myself.

I urge you op, put yourself first. Addicts will take whatever they can from you and I include myself in that statement. The drink and drugs come before everything, and we will bleed you dry if you let us. So don't let us.

Madein1995 · 24/12/2019 14:16

Would she try na or aa? It's not gotta be the whole steps and religion shebang - I don't do that - but just being somewhere with people who understand is really helpful. And home truths are always better received coming from another addict!

I was very anti na and refused to go, until my friend suggested I should as I might like it. Went to prove her wrong and proved myself very wrong. I've made brilliant friends through na, all of whom really understand and are a great support. There are the die hard na book puppets but there's also lots of normal, happy people

Ihavethefinalsleigh · 24/12/2019 14:20

I've been through this with a family member, so my heart goes out to you @Subeccoo.

Ultimately, there was nothing we could do and she died at 58. We tried, goodness me, how we tried, but alcohol won. I'm so sorry @Subeccoo Flowers

Subeccoo · 24/12/2019 14:38

She's not abusive and money is not an issue, she's got all the money in the world at her disposal.
Unfortunately my dad does enable it, alcohol has always been a part of their lives and he really doesn't see that he's part of the problem.
Like I said before, she's barely drinking a drop now but it's the not going to the Dr that's the problem.
There is no way we'd get her to an AA meeting.
I've wanted to post this for months, I'm so glad I did, you're all helping you really are.

OP posts:
Madein1995 · 24/12/2019 16:16

sub it sounds really difficult, particularly as she's not really drinking - maybe that points to her knowing she needs to stop and that she's poorly, but being too afraid to go to the Dr? It sounds backwards but I was the same with my liver function test - I was in pain and logically knew it best to see gp, but I put it off. Because of I didn't go, I might be ill but I might not, I could convince myself and go on with life happily. If I went to the gp and it was bad news, well then that'd be it, there was no escaping it.

I don't really know what to say except to say I'm so sorry, and give you hugs

Madein1995 · 24/12/2019 16:22

I'd echo other posters that the jaundice is a serious sign. I know people from na who had alcohol induced jaundice yet managed to turn it around - the key is that they sought medical advice. Which is no help to you I know 😒 if it was a child or teenager you could drive them to a and e and make them be seen. Unfortunately you can't force your mum to go.

Although she broke down crying which says she might want to change, she refused to go to the Dr. Is there any way you can cajole her (and I know this sounds daft, I'm grasping at straws). Or ring an ambulance to come out? Because the state she's in it could be very serious, very quickly. I'm not sure what powers etc paramedics have, but maybe they could do something? And it might bring home to your mum just how serious things are. That she has the whole family worried sick and that refusing to get treatment while drinking herself to drink (that one glass is still one too many) is ntot an option.

LakieLady · 24/12/2019 16:25

So sorry, OP. I'm afraid there's nothing you can do, she has to want to do it for herself.

I lost a beautiful friend to alcoholism 9 years ago. She was 47, talented, clever, witty, with a lovely home and husband and daughter. Bloody heartbreaking.


CarolinaPink · 24/12/2019 16:26

I'm sorry to hear this, and I understand because my dad was an alcoholic. There is absolutely nothing you can do if your mum won't acknowledge the problem. I'd recommend you visiting AlAnon Thanks

Ihavethefinalsleigh · 24/12/2019 16:26

My relative would not go to the doctors. We spoke to the doctor on the phone but she wouldn't discuss anything, although she did listen. She said she couldn't do a thing unless my relative went to see her.

Fretfulparent · 24/12/2019 16:40

How frustrating for you all. Is she aware that she is terminally ill?

FrauleinF · 24/12/2019 16:43

I'm so sorry. I echo the others telling you to contact al-anon.

You didn't cause this.
You can't control it.
You can't cure it.

I speak as someone who lost her mother to Alcoholic Ketoacidosis five years ago. I always knew she liked a drink, but had no idea how bad things were until she died suddenly and I was suddenly clearing out hundreds of empty vodka bottles stashed in every corner of the house. She was a functioning alcoholic, holding down a decent job she had had for over a decade and was much loved by all her friends - none of them had any idea. Most of them still don't, as I thought there was no point in tarnishing their memories of her with all of that.

I beat myself up over what I could have done, had I realised, particularly as I had moved away from our home tow, but my logical mind takes me back to the three principles above every time. It really is in her hands only.

FromEden · 24/12/2019 17:02

Its amazing how deep denial can go. She won't be able to just ignore it for much longer. If she is yellow and has a swollen abdomen with ascites, she could have a health crisis at any moment. You have to keep trying to get her to seek medical help.

Shitty situation OP , I'm sorry Flowers

Fretfulparent · 24/12/2019 17:06

Sounds like she has decompensated liver cirrhosis

MissConductUS · 24/12/2019 17:14

Another vote for al anon.

I'm a recovering alcoholic with 25 years of sobriety. She likely does want to stop if she's truly down to a small amount per day but she can't imagine a life without drinking or is afraid of what will happen if she abstains completely.

Keep trying to get her to the GP. She has to take that first step of asking for help.

So sorry you're going through this. Flowers

Shannith · 24/12/2019 17:52

You poor thing. Al anon will help you but I can give you some practical insight on the physical side.

I'm an alcoholic. Just got my 9 month sober chip from AA today. I was very very ill this time last year and it's only now that I fully understand how close to death I was.

I had the same symptoms so can tell you my experience if that helps.

She has cirrhosis. This means she has a scarred liver. The bit that is scared will not heal.

The jaundice is a symptom and is t what kills you.

The acieties are a problem. She needs to be in hospital. They can drain the liquid.

Other things that tend to follow in/go hand in hand are tears to her osphagus (sp) and ulcers in her stomach.

There is a high likelihood of rupture and due to the pressure a swollen liver and fluid on the stomach this can mean serious internal bleeding and bleeding to death.

If she starts throwing up brown blood or brown bits it's ambulance time.

It's so awful. Her liver is failing, how fast? Pretty fast. She needs to be in hospital on a Gastro ward where they can detox her, drain the acieties, pump her full of vitamins and whatever else she is lacking through not eating, possibly tube fed if she is very underweight.

Then lots of meds to stop any more ulcers/possibly cauterise any she has.

Lots of massive interventions. Or she will die.

I had this. Repeatedly. I kept drinking. It's a disease that kills. It kills because a hospital can save a life and the person just goes home and drinks.

My liver consultant put a DNR on me.

After my last and certainly final hospital admission I went to rehab (I paid) and then did AA.

And I'm sober. Just stopped taking diaretics for the last of the asities. 9 months ago my prognosis was weeks to a few months.

I stopped drinking, did AA properly, took all the meds, got healthy and slowly fitter.

I was given another chance. I pray your mother gets this. I'm proof you can come back from death. I'm now healthy (liver will never be norma, but it works enough) I'm even quite fit.

No one who knew me at the stage your mum is at thought I would survive.

Please get her into hospital any way you can. I'm feel so sad for you that I can't tell you it's all going to be OK.

It can be, but she'll need a lot of medical support and to never drink again.

It's a bastard of an illness - what it does to those who suffer it and everyone around them.

Strength to you and your mum.

Shannith · 24/12/2019 17:55

Sorry, it's not jaundice that kills you - that's just a manifestation of what's going on inside - your liver packing up.

Shannith · 24/12/2019 17:57

Sorry to be dramatic but I think she is beyond getting her to talk to a doctor.

It's not far of being blue lighted.

zafferana · 24/12/2019 18:45

The symptoms you describe are end-stage liver disease OP. It's too late for AA. Make your peace with her. Say whatever you need to say this Christmas, particularly if you are then going away. I'm so sorry, as this must be horrible for you and your siblings, but there is nothing that you could've done differently, so please try to take some comfort from that. It's always been her life and her choice how to live it.

Zofloramummy · 24/12/2019 18:56

Hi OP my nan died from cirrhosis but it was an auto immune illness (she didn’t drink at all). We first realised things were entering the end stages about 6 months after she turned yellow. She had as cites drained as they formed but it was when she became confused that things were really on a downward spiral. She lasted a week after that. It was a peaceful passing in the end, she wasn’t awake and had lots of IV morphine.

If your mum won’t go to hospital then watch her closely for confusion, it’s a sign of toxicity as the liver is no longer able to function to clean the blood. My only advice is spend as much time as you can with her and tell her you love her. Alcoholism is a disease as real as any other and she is paying the consequences. I am so sorry.

Magicstars · 24/12/2019 20:45

Sorry to hear Zoflora. Not the same situation as you, but I went to al anon today for the first time; it’s fir families & friends of alcoholics. I think it will help me & might be worth you trying it too. All the best


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Zofloramummy · 24/12/2019 21:44

That’s very kind magicstars but it was a few years ago that my Nan passed away. She was virtually teetotal and was just very unlucky to have a rare auto immune disease, I can appreciate that al anon would be really helpful for those dealing with alcoholic family members though. I was commenting more on the time line that my Nan had from jaundice to being at end of life.

I’m glad you found some support today though.

Raver84 · 24/12/2019 21:53

Just want to offer a hand hold. My mum has been an alcoholic for 30 years and it's so horrible to be part of. Mum won't accept help, lies to health professionals about her symptoms and has become bitter. I had a rough upbringing and I have come to realise no matter how many wake up calls she gets she won't change. I am there for her when I can be but I prioritise myself and my needs and that of my family. Try and step back and make time for you. She will not change at this stage to keep hoping is sou destroying.

Subeccoo · 24/12/2019 23:44

Cheers everyone (ha)
I've read everything everyone has said, appreciate it all.
Not got much left to say, today has been the culmination of what 40 years (I'm 40) of watching her do this can do.
One of the worst things is arguing with my siblings, we're so close, this isn't us but now we're all dealing with it differently. I don't want us to grow apart because of this.
I will reply again, I really appreciate your support, thank you again x

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