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chrissy81 02-28-2014 06:51 PM

Happening Again
I originally posted here a couple of years back, but then stopped, probably because it was too depressing, and at the time, I thought things were actually going to start getting better, but they haven't. My 61 year old mother has had a drinking problem for the past decade. She and my dad were not big drinkers when we were children (my dad still is not), and alcohol never made a regular appearance in our house until my sister and I were in college and of legal drinking age. She doesn't need it to function (ie, doesn't get up in the morning and drinks) but does it to deal with all of her emotional problems. The short version is that her drinking, we think, was precipitated by the death of her sister and concurrent the realization that both of her children were only going to move further away and never going to be her "babies" again. The drinking progressed from about 2006 to 2010 and then seemed to be okay, but then there was another incident in 2012. I have not lived at home since 1999 and rarely visit these days, so I don't know what it's like at home, but she is retired and is alone most of the day, so who only knows what she's up to. I am certain that the alcohol is starting to damage her brain; she has become overly obsessed with the family dogs, constantly gushing over them; basically, they have replaced us as something she can infantalize. She pretty much hates me now, as my sister has always been her favorite and I have been more strict in my trying to limit contact with her during the bad years for my own sanity. She still loves my sister but is now resentful that she is engaged, and is simultaneously happy and sad about it, so now she's back to drinking again.

She is down here "visiting" my sister for two weeks helping her clean her house to get ready to sell it (sister and her fiance are buying a house together) and my sister is convinced that my mom has been drinking while she (sister) is at work. We think she starts to lose it around late afternoon, as emails from her tend to be more frequent at this hour and are not always typed with correct punctuation (which is odd for my mother). My poor dad has basically given up trying to do anything about it, and honestly, I don't blame him. But something still needs to be done - she tried therapy and AA for awhile, but of course, she quit those because for whatever made-up reason, they "didn't work". I hope she knows that if my sister has kids, my mother will never be allowed to be left alone with them - as it is we're concerned about her being home alone all day at her own house with her dogs, or alone in my sister's house with my sister's dogs this week. She's developed arthritis in her knee, and so she has medication for the pain, so that's a whole other problem, and I am waiting for the day that I get a phone call that she's been killed in a car wreck. Those thoughts had stopped for awhile, because it seemed like things were getting better and I've been busy starting a second Masters degree and changing careers, but now it's all back again.

I know there's nothing I can 'do', I know I can't force her to get help, but I also can't let her kill herself, or endanger the lives of others (even if those others are just pets).

DesertEyes 02-28-2014 09:44 PM

Hello chrissy, and welcome back :)

Originally Posted by chrissy81 (Post 4501078)
.... I know there's nothing I can 'do', I know I can't force her to get help, but I also can't let her kill herself, or endanger the lives of others (even if those others are just pets).

Well... there _are_ a lot of things you can "do", but the trick is that they are _not_ the normal things people would do in order to help an aging parent.

You mentioned a couple of years ago that AA was not a good fit, that you think therapy would be needed. You took the time to visit SoberRecovery back then, and you are here once more. Those _are_ the right things to "do", and is the first thing we suggest to people: Educate yourself about the disease.

The next thing we suggest to people is to investigate what resources are available in your community. In recent years the medical community has expanded it's efforts to reach the elderly, including those with addictions. Have you researched whatever treatment centers are in your area?

One of the best sources of information is a meeting of al-anon. No, not for _you_. The reason I am suggesting al-anon is because you will find people who have already done all the research I am suggesting, and can give you personal referals to doctors, social workers, therapists, etc.

Another great resource is the Salvation Army. Again, not for you or your Mom. The social workers at the Salvation Army are also very knowledgable about services local to your community.

The "keywords" I suggest you ask about are "intervention", "in-patient", and "medical detox". Please note that anything you may have seen on TV about those topics is completely wrong and nothing more than a form of popular entertainment.

The general approach is that at various times during an alcoholics "progression" they will come across "moments of clarity" when they are extremely depressed, guilty, remorseful, or even aware of their condition. Those moments only last a few minutes, and if you have a plan fully established in your mind, and phone numbers at hand, you have a chance of getting them into treatment.

That's the general aproach. In order to create a plan that is specific to your Mother's needs you are going to have to find the appropriate resources, talk to the relevant professionals, get all your family members involved and in agreement (you said you have a sister, but I don't recall if you mentioned your Father). It really is a lot of work, and the idea is to do all the work _before_ your Mother has a moment of clarity. That will give you the best chance at success.

As you do that researach please feel free to come back to SoberRecovery and post whatever questions you may have. That is the whole reason SR exists.

I'm truly sorry you have been forced to seek answers, I can't even imagine how you must feel about your Mother's drinking. Please know that you are not alone, all of us here on SR have experienced some of the issues you are dealing with and we truly understand.

Mike :)
Moderator, SR

chrissy81 03-01-2014 05:09 AM

Thanks for your response. In terms of education, I'm actually getting a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy, so with regard to medical knowledge, mental health, resources available to the elderly, etc, I'm pretty well-informed, know where to look and who to look for, plus she's had these issues with alcohol and depression/anxiety and unresolved grief for a decade, so I've been doing my research, believe me. The biggest issue is that my sister and I live several states away from my parents. We tried recruiting the assistance of an old friend of hers who is a nurse and who knows the various resources in their area, but that didn't work (my mother didn't take her advice). I do not have the flexibility to travel or it would jeopardize my status in my program - I'm not about to let her derail me in my plans, which have been several years in the making (the recession was not kind to me and I am not in anywhere near the place I should be for someone my age. My little sister makes six figures and owns a house). Yes, my dad is still in the picture, shockingly; I think most men would have abandoned someone like my mom. But she has absolutely no respect for him (never really has, in my mind), so he has been largely ineffective in getting her the help she needs because she doesn't listen to him - so he has stopped trying.

I strongly believe her drinking was triggered by a multitude of psychological problems, so unless those are tackled, there is no hope of her ever getting "better". But she refuses to go to therapy, thinks all therapists are out to get her, etc. She saw a few different ones, but none of them "worked", which as I'm sure you can guess means SHE didn't want to work with them. We tried involving everyone a few years ago - my sister and I both spoke by phone to the therapist my mom was seeing, but she got mad about that, said we were trying to 'alienate' her. She hasn't yet proven herself to be a danger to society, so we can't check her in anywhere against her will, and she won't do it on her own. There is a place near my parents that does both in-patient and out-patient/community based stuff, but of course, she won't check it out.

What are some suggestions or advice for people in my situation (live far away from the person with the issue, maybe can't easily make a trip to visit them). There's really no way I can take time off from school, so I'd have to wait until the semester was over. But short of dragging her off kicking and screaming, I don't see what else we can do. I see her once every couple of months, and only because they come visit us (I've visited them twice in the past four years), so I don't know what it's like at home, though from random semi-coherent emails I occasionally receive, I'm sure it's the same. My dad still works, so my mom is alone all day, so she obviously just lies to him, and he's not there to see it. I worry now that she is alone for such long periods of time - we've tried encouraging her to be more social and do stuff with friends, and she sometimes does, but it's not enough, I don't think.

chrissy81 03-01-2014 05:11 AM

To add, luckily, I live in a major metropolitan area where there are tons of Al-Anon groups, so I might try to visit one this week - there are several near me on various days.

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