My 25 year old sister is an alcoholic

Old 11-28-2010, 11:48 PM
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Location: Michigan
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My 25 year old sister is an alcoholic

My sister, who is now 25, has been an alcoholic since she was around the age of 18 and every year she is getting progressively worse. It is to the point now where you can't even have a normal conversation with her because what she talks about makes no sense at all. I moved out of my parents house because I could not deal with my sisters drinking everyday. My brother also moved out because of her drinking. Beer is not my sisters poison, but straight up vodka, rum and whiskey is. She drinks 2 pints daily. It has even gotten to the point to where she is so drunk, she passes out and pees in her bed. She has been in trouble a numerous amount of times because of her drinking but the court never suggests for her to get help which I have no idea why. When my sister had gotten arrested this past September due to an incident with alcohol I wrote the court pleading with them to get my sister some kind of help and my father also went in and talked to the judge, prosecuting attorney, etc., telling them she needed help also....but no one listened, they just shoved what we said under the rug! I don't understand! The night that everything happened the police officers gave her a breathalyzer and she blew so high that they said they would have to take her to the hospital before they take her to jail to make sure she is going to be okay....and guess what, they never ended up taking her to the hospital!
My sisters alcoholism has tore my family apart entirely and no one knows what to do. My parents constantly fight due to her excessive drinking. My sister has also recently lost a job due to passing out drunk while on the clock. Since I don't live at home I talk to my mother on the phone daily and 95% of the conversation I have with her each day is her telling me about how my sister was drunk again. My brother even video taped her a few times on the things she does when shes drunk and when he showed her, she denied that the person in the video was her. My sister refuses to get help because she doesn't think she has a problem. Is there anyway for my family to get her help without her having a say in it? There has to be something somewhere out there that says you can force a family member to get help if they are endangering their life....isn't there? If not, there definitely should be...because in all honesty an alcoholic does not know how to think for themselves anymore, they let the alcohol do it for them. Can someone please, please, please give me any kind of suggestions on what to do because if she continues down the road she is currently on, I know for a fact she will not live to see her 30th birthday.
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:53 AM
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emptyworld: Welcome to SR. You have come to a very supportive place.

I too am from Michigan. But i do not know the laws here as far as what steps your family can take to get your sister into treatment.

As scared as you are for your sister that something has to be done NOW to help her, the best thing you can do for your sister today is to commit yourself to your own recovery program (namely Alanon which is a 12-step program for the friends and family of alcoholics). Also reading the stickies at the top of this. Also independent reading. There are tons of good books out there on alcoholism and the effects on the family. At some point you may be able to talk to an addiction counselor about how to help your sister (as in an intervention), but that requires several family members who are all on the same page about how to help your sister - which namely involves the willingness to stop enabling your sister.

Please remember that you did not cause this, you cannot control this, and you cannot cure it. But you do have a Higher Power who is working on your behalf and on behalf of your sister.

Others will come along with good wisdom for you. Hang in there. Keep coming back.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:29 AM
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Welcome to the SR family!

I am sorry that your family is experiencing the chaos of living with alcoholism. Alcoholism is a family dis-ease. It affects everyone. It is also progressive and gets worse without treatment.

Please make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed. The permanent (sticky) posts at the top of this page contain some of our stories and loads of wisdom.

Here is a sticky post that contains steps that have helped some of us:
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sojourner (11-29-2010)
Old 11-29-2010, 07:38 AM
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It can be devastating to watch a loved one destroy their life by using drugs or alcohol. Drug addiction is never an easy topic to discuss. The answer is a hard one to listen to. If she does not want help or doesn't believe she has a problem, there is nothing you can do.

For an adult addict, the one course of action is to stage an intervention. This is where the friends or family members, along with a treatment counselor approach the individual. This straightforward tactic forces the addict to acknowledge her addiction. The hope is that the individual will volunteer for a treatment program. Talk with your sister calmly and non-threateningly. Tell her that not only is she hurting and possibly killing herself, she is hurting the ones who truly love her. Tell her that you are willing to stand by her and support her if she goes through rehab. And when she is released from rehab you will still be there for her. Explain that she will receive a variety of therapy to turn her life around can provide the hope she needs to seek treatment.

The Michigan Mental Health Code provides that a person "whose judgment is so impaired that he or she is unable to understand his or her need for treatment and whose continued behavior as the result of this mental illness can reasonably be expected, on the basis of competent clinical opinion, to result in significant physical harm to himself or herself or others" may be subjected to involuntary commitment. I recommend you conduct an internet search for Michigan's Baker Act and contact your local professional authoritives. You will need to file some paperwork with your local court.

Involuntary commitment is the practice of placing a person to a psychiatric hospital or ward against his or her will, in compliance with mental health laws of the state. Commitment is normally time-limited and requires reevaluation at fixed intervals.

Most states require a formal court hearing if the individual is hospitalized involuntarily more than briefly. Commonly, the commitment process begins when a law enforcement officer or a designated mental health professional determines that a person is in urgent need of psychiatric evaluation. If this evaluation indicates a need for further hospitalization, a court order must be obtained. Physicians, psychologists and/or psychiatrists present written reports to the court and in some cases testify before the judge. The person who is involuntarily hospitalized may be provided with legal counsel, and may challenge the commitment through habeas corpus rules.

Armed with this knowledge, hopefully you can save the life of your loved one. However, the ultimum decision of your sister's recovery will still be hers. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink. You remove the other person’s dignity if you try to make their decisions for them. Your recovery is your responsibility.

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Old 11-29-2010, 08:11 AM
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Welcome to SR.....I'm glad you found us but I'm so sorry that your family is being affected by alcoholism. It is a disease that invades and destroys families but there IS something you can do about it.....but it may not be the answer you are looking for.

Most of us initially feel as though we need to do something to get them sober. We love them. Surely there's something we can do so we go through some very predictable behaviors trying to "make them better or get them help". We (the family members) become as sick as they are.....and unfortunately parents often become the sickest. This leaves the siblings of the alcoholic living in the shadow of the disease.

My son is the A in our family. My daughter, like you, separated herself from the situation when she was able. She also separated herself to some degree from me (her mother) because I was my son's enabler. She did the healthiest thing she could do for HERSELF. She wasn't going to make me magically recognize that I was part of the problem and she certainly wasn't going to be able to get her brother sober.

We did do an intervention for our son. It is a scary process and one that can backfire. We were lucky. He did go to treatment and he stayed there. When he got out he remained sober for four months.....and relapsed and things went downhill from there until recently (four years later).

The good news is that while he was in treatment four years ago, the facility provided excellent resources for the FAMILY. And we all (including my daughter) participated in all of the family programs. That is where I began my recovery (and no.....I am not an alcoholic......I am a codependent and I needed help to stop my behaviors that were contributing to my son's addictions, health issues for myself, and the dysfunctional dance that becomes the "norm" in a family with an alcoholic.)

You have taken a great step in separating yourself from the dysfunction that is currently existing in the house. If you want to help your sister, read all you can about codependence and alcoholism. Go to Alanon meetings (they can seem a little strange at first but you get use to it and eventually you understand what those meetings accomplish). Encourage your parents to go to Alanon meetings. There are some really great books out there. You can buy them as gifts for your sounds like they need them. They are living in the middle of the battleground.

But the most important gift you can give is to yourself. Take care of you first and foremost. You may not understand this now but it is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself, your parents and your dear alcoholic sister.

gentle hugs
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