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Addressing alcoholism/addiction

Posted by helen 
Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 02, 2019 09:48AM
Has anyone experience with dealing with a family member who you know is self destructing with an alcohol and possibly drug addiction that hasn’t been addressed?
I’m at the coal face and trying to work out the best approach.
Currently I’m the sister he respects and relates to so not sure if I am right to be honest and upfront and if this is the only way forward?
I want him to have someone he still likes yet there is an urgent need for honesty.
Yes I can google or phone a helpline but asking here first.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2019 09:48AM by helen.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 02, 2019 10:03AM
Hi Helen,
From my own experience, there is only one way.
Gain help for yourself, through Al-Anon.
There is nothing you can do for the Alcoholic, they need to seek help themselves.
Fortunately my Alcoholic gave up drinking by herself without any professional support....... absolutely miraculous. She had many quality years of sobriety before she passed away.

Tipping drink out, hiding it, etc doesnt work.
Nor does going on about it.

As long as your Alcoholic is safe and not abusive.
Abusive behaviour, mental and physical should not be tolerated. Police should be contacted should this be the case.
Often it takes a crisis before they will seek help.

Alcoholics Anonymous or a Drug and Alcohol Centre and even GP's offer direction for the person suffering from this dreadful illness, should they reach out.

Please ignore judgemental people, that doesnt help anyone.
Dont approach the subject when the person is under the influence, if you need to speak to them about your concerns, do it when the person is sober and not off their face.
Kindest Regards,

Raewyn G

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2019 10:07AM by Raewyn G.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 02, 2019 10:53AM
I have a step daughter who is now in recovery from addiction to alcohol, meth, cannabis and multiple other illegal drugs. It has been a massively stressful time. I know every case is different, but the essential pathway is almost always a long period of denial until the addict reaches the point where they can no longer avoid the prospect of their imminent annihilation. It is only then that they might look for help and rehab. In our case we continued to support her financially even though we knew it was enabling her continued addiction, because the alternative was homelessness and probably prostitution. It is like being on a knife edge 24 hiurs a day, every time the phone rings you wonder if it is the police.

For our girl, we managed eventually to get her into a good rehab unit, and from there once she had detoxed she joined NA, and that saved her life. NA and AA are disparaged by many, but they really work.

All I can say is that there really is nothing much you can do other then to continue to let your brother know that you love him and that you will be there for him when he chooses to clean up/dry out. Don't pretend to believe his lies, and keep your cash and belongings safe, an addict will steal without mercy.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2019 10:58AM by TPANDAV.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 02, 2019 10:43PM
All the above is true, and I can't stress enough how important it is for you to look after YOU, while at the same time supporting your brother. Al Anon is the organisation that supports the family and friends of alcoholics and they are equally as good as AA is for the victim of alcoholism. You have taken the first step in protecting yourself by reaching out to us for advice; take the next step and contact Al Anon. I wish you well.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 03, 2019 01:10AM
Thanks for your wise words.
He doesn't live in NZ, there are no kids involved and he has managed to live as a functioning addict.
So working and earning etc...

Things have been brewing for a while and then suddenly erupted this week.
He says it's her and she says its him and I am the one in the middle trying to understand.
I have said it to them quite plainly that I think they both need help and there shouldn't be a drop of alcohol in the house - ever.
Nor any "weed".
They will do what they do - sigh.

My parents are both mild mannered people who have no addictions and no strong personality traits but combined they must have set off some fireworks somewhere in their genetics.

Thanks again, I appreciate your advice and kindness.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 03, 2019 02:32AM
Helen, what you have said in your last post puts an entirely different perspective on the situation.

You say that your brother is a functioning 'addict' ie has a job and is earning money. Your first post gave me the impression that he was a hopeless, unemployed, drinking-all-day type of person.

You say that he is in a relationship, that things erupted this week and that each is blaming the other. That can happen in any relationship with or without the involvement of alcohol, however, I'm picking that in this case the relationship is the trigger for the drinking and that she is blaming him for the financial pressure that his drinking is putting them under - a circular argument to which there is no answer.

That said, even though you understandably want to support your brother, I don't feel that it is your place to be telling them how to run their household or their relationship. You may actually end up doing damage by driving a wedge between them and you will cop the blame.

Therefore if I were you, I would extricate myself from being in the 'middle of it' while quietly being there for your brother. I believe he needs to be encouraged to think hard about his relationship in the long term and to seek professional relationship counselling (either by himself or as a couple) if he is of a mind to pursue it. Once the real issue is resolved, the drinking issue may well follow suit.


Barbara Anne
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 03, 2019 02:50AM
Thanks Barbara Anne.
My last post may have been milder than things actually are, the first was after an eruption but to be honest I don't really know.
They are both drinking too much, it isn't just evenings and it is a problem.
It is a horrible mess but thankfully no kids to worry about.
They have their own business which seems to be keeping afloat although my guess is that hangovers and drinking are impacting on it.
But they are not reliant on anyone else financially.
I know things are spiralling and I thought this week he had hit the bottom and was ready to take ownership but unfortunately not.
As everyone says you have to wait until they hit that place where they are ready to accept help.
It is an emotionally abusive relationship but I just can't say one is worse or better than the other.
I just want to get some strategies in place as to how best I approach him.
Up until this week I have never mentioned his drinking but now it is coming to the surface and I need to be honest.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 03, 2019 04:40AM
Helen, my husband is constantly telling me "You can't fix everything and you can't help everybody". I know he is right but some of us find it hard to deal with.
Reading through what you said, the problem is deeper than the alcoholism and drugs. They tend to become a crutch and are blamed for a problem.
Never blame your parents for carrying some sort of gene that their offspring can fall back on as an excuse. In the end we are all responsible for what we do and say, or is that too simplistic? None of us is perfect and he is lucky to have a caring sister as you.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 03, 2019 05:10AM
Thanks Marnie smiling smiley
My sister has a personality disorder so I therefore wonder what happens in the gene pool but yes you are right, we do need to take ownership of our actions.
I have often looked back at my grandfather being a recovering alcoholic and wondered if it is genetic but actually I think if you look in many families you will find addictions somewhere along the way.
We do have to take control of our own lives.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 05, 2019 04:33AM
Alcohol and/or drug addiction is seen as a self-destruction but it can be seen as self-medication. It's what they've found gives them relief from internal struggles. They can be unaware of what they're repressing.

People use food, shopping, gambling, promiscuous sexual behaviour, etc, in the same way.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 05, 2019 05:36AM
J1 Wrote:
> Alcohol and/or drug addiction is seen as a
> self-destruction but it can be seen as
> self-medication. ...

Indeed. In a pre-sentencing forensic psych report our girl was formally diagnosed with a complex personality disorder as well as various drug-induced psychoses, and it all seemed to make sense in a tragic sort of way. However, now that she is drug-free and in solid recovery she is not exhibiting any of those symptoms, and it seems that the "personality disorder" was actually the result of long term drug and alcohol abuse, particularly meth addiction. It's a vicious cycle in which the original unhappiness is exacerbated by the drug use so more drugs are used, the unhappiness escalates further and so on until the addict reaches breaking point.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 12, 2019 07:55AM
Sadly after watching 2 friends dealing with alcoholism I agree with TPANDAV, there is nothing anyone can do until the addict reaches breaking point. It is tragic and impacts on everyone.
Re: Addressing alcoholism/addiction
July 12, 2019 10:04AM
In my experience with my brother, two months sober with a month in prison for drunk in charge and losing his job as a high school teacher, his first port of call was a pub and he started all over. He had initially come to me for help as he was about to face a charge of DIC and had to prove he had been 2 weeks without alcohol. Enter sister. My husband and I bent over backwards to help him and he was able to stop taking antidepressants and sleeping pills. He was used to getting up at all hours of the night and cooking a meal for himself. Usually sausages or bacon and eggs. He got fat.Slept all day. By the end of his 16 days with us he was a walking miracle. Could out pace me on our hills. He was one healthy specimen of humanity. All in all he had been a good 2 months sober but the lure of the booze after his release from prison was too addictive to avoid. I gave up. Told him I'd never help him again and I haven't. He now helps himself sort of but still drinks more than a normal person would. I have offered to help him again as he's now reached a stage where he's falling over everything in sight and breaking bones in his body.
Used to be I'd drive down to his place and bring him back home but no longer. We each and everyone of us have to sort ourselves out or the stress levels that accumulate will do us in.
My father was able to consume an entire 12 bottle crate of whisky in a week and even when he died his liver was still good although he did need to have a kidney removed which resulted in him having a heart attack and exit dad. I think we are all programmed to live a certain amount of time and some things will undo us. In my father's case he was a chain smoker and drank huge amounts of whisky with milk - milk and whisky during the morning hours then whisky and water afternoons and whisky and milk evening. He always appeared stone cold sober. I have a glass of wine and want to go to sleep. Such fun.
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