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Aiding or enabling?

Old 08-01-2014, 09:27 AM
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Aiding or enabling?

This is my first post here...i'm in my 30s, and my father is an alcoholic. Its been an issue for a while, but came to a head with a DUI last year.

I had been ignoring the issue the for a while, but couldn't anymore. My mother is still with my father, but she truly doesn't understand addiction. She yells, lectures, makes him make promises they both know he can't keep, makes threats she doesn't follow through on, etc. Her anger is the only keeping her from despair, because she doesn't want to leave him.

Anyway he was clean for about a year, then got some bad health news and some bad work news, and slipped. Mom caught him, and it was back to the races. He said he had slipped, and thought he could get back to doing well without us finding out, but started to fall into a lot of his old bad habits that had facilitated his drinking.

The past few weeks he has been doing well. He had stopped going to AA when he relapsed, but now hes back. In addition, he agreed to voluntarily have an ignition interlock placed on his car in an "action speaks louder than words" sign to the family that hes getting his act together again. All the reports go to my mother. It seems he's serious about getting back on track.

During all of this, one thing he said to me is that he can take not drinking today, and he can take not drinking tomorrow, but when he thinks about never drinking again he has a really hard time with that. He wants to be able to mow the lawn on the weekend and have a beer or two. And he thinks he can, someday, do that. When he hears that he can never do that, it makes him resentful and it acts as a pretty powerful trigger.

Another family member has a big birthday coming up, and we're having a big party. He has asked my mother and I whether or not we think it would be okay for him to have a few beers. He's leaving it to us. I don't really know what to make of that.

On the one hand, he's being upfront with us, he's asking, and he's been taking steps to re-establish trust with us, the whole concept of its us vs. the disease, not me and mom vs. him and the disease. And this is the most forward he's been with us and most communicative hes been throughout the entire process, definitely a track we want to keep going.
But on the other hand I don't know if saying he can drink is just going to erase all of that progress. I don't know what they would say about it at AA.

I feel like if we say no, we trigger him, and he's mad at us/himself. If we say yes, we trigger him, and we'll be mad at ourselves. Ugh. I'll say i'm so heartened by the steps hes taken, i'm inclined to tell him sure, have a few beers at the party. And I feel horrible for feeling that way.

Any words of advice?
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:39 AM
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My advise is to tell him you pray he makes the right choices, and step back and let him take charge of his own recovery, or not. Only he can do what is right or not. Those decisions have to come from within himself. Have you and or your mom thought about going to Alanon for support for yourselves?

He is a grown man and will have to decide what he is going to do. He will also have to suffer the consequences or the benefits of those choices.

Let Go and Let God. You cannot control his actions, but you can control your reactions.
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Old 08-01-2014, 11:16 AM
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This kind of thing ticks me off. An alcoholic asking for permission to drink. The simple answer is NO. Not now not ever.

But, he is an adult and must decide for himself. I would say " Do what you think is best for you dad." And walk away from the conversation. He is trying to hand off his sobriety responsibilities to you and your mom.
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Old 08-01-2014, 11:21 AM
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And just for the record, AA's message is total abstinence.
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Old 08-01-2014, 11:33 AM
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Welcome to the Forum!!

There's no harm in living life 1 day at a time, but there has to come a point when total abstinence is the solution.

Your dad though is an adult and can make his own decisions, it's not your responsibility to be managing his life, sure you care about him and want to see him be well, but as you say either answer has it's downfall so let him make and live with the consequences of his own decision.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:04 PM
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You dad is responsible for his own choices. He is trying to put that responsibility on you and your mom, which is really unfair, but also pretty typical for an alcoholic who is still not dedicated to his recovery. He knows just how to suck you guys in by offering you the illusion of control because you've both been on this roller coaster with him for so long.
Take your mom out to lunch/dinner then go to an Alanon meeting together. It will really help make dealing with your dad much more manageable for both of you.
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Old 08-01-2014, 11:21 PM
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An alcoholic cannot drink, period. That's not negotiable. However, he is an adult and can make his own sh*tty choices if he's so inclined. Asking you if he can drink is basically his way of drinking guilt-free because YOU said he could. But then he'll drink anyway because YOU said no and that was just too much for him to handle. Typical dry drunk bs. Honestly kiddo, I'd mentally prepare myself for relapse if I were you. He's already said he won't do forever, and that's the only option for an alcoholic to recover. What are your boundaries when he starts drinking again?
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Old 08-21-2014, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by SpiderJ View Post
I feel like if we say no, we trigger him, and he's mad at us/himself. If we say yes, we trigger him, and we'll be mad at ourselves. Ugh. I'll say i'm so heartened by the steps hes taken, i'm inclined to tell him sure, have a few beers at the party. And I feel horrible for feeling that way.

Any words of advice?
My Mum is an alcoholic and very ill as a result. The next drink could cause liver failure and that's not the worst effect of her drinking!!!

Anyway, I'm an alcoholic (recovering/recovered - whatever) I go to AA and ACoA.... This is what I told my Mum at the last event when she was 'screaming blue murder' for a drink...

I said: Its up to you whether you drink or don't drink. Your doctor has told you that the next one could kill you, so you know the possible consequence of your action. The bar is right over there, I won't buy you a drink or countersign it. Its your choice!!!

She drank btw and lived to tell the tale.... this time!!

Good luck to You and your Mum and Dad.

Last edited by makomago; 08-21-2014 at 06:20 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-29-2014, 10:18 PM
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Is he an adult? Then it's HIS decision, not anyone else's. Of course, if you go along with the dilemma he's projecting onto you, whatever you say will be the perfect excuse ... to drink again, the perfect reason to blame someone else, to avoid responsibility for what is his, not yours.

Al-Anon meetings and Al-Anon sponsors have made all the difference for many friends and family members; leads them to their own recovery from the effects of living with addictive behavior. (Al-Anon helps me stay sane even while I stay in relationship with someone who abuses alcohol.)
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