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I may be in the wrong place, but I'm concerned

Old 01-03-2011, 03:26 PM
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I may be in the wrong place, but I'm concerned

I myself am not an alcoholic, but over the holidays I discovered that my mother is. She has been hiding it for at least two, possibly closer to five years.

The morning after the discovery I spoke with her about the incident. She made excuses to explain what I saw, but I finally got her to stop and say "thats bad" when I pointed out she described alcohol as a "tool" she was having trouble using.

I asked her to go to an AA meeting for me. She said she didn't have time and that she wants to do it privately, on her own. I insisted that she get help because something like this is too big to do on your own. I looked up the nearest AA meeting for her, as well as several therapists specializing in substance abuse and offered to pay for the sessions if they couldn't afford it right now. I told her I would check up on her in two weeks to see how she was progressing.

Its been two weeks, and she still hasn't attended a meeting or contacted the therapists. My father found two more bottles (empty) and poured out half of a third.

I'm at a loss now. I want to help her and my father before irrepairable damage to the family happens. How can I show her what she is doing and better encourage her to seek help? I need my mother, and my father is a good man who doesn't deserve what she says and does when she is under the influence. Is there any advice for family here?
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:36 PM
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Yes you're in the right place Bella. Welcome to SR, here you will find a lot of people that are/have been in your shoes. Here's a good sticky from the "best of" section I like to share with newcomers. I followed each suggestion as if my sanity depended on it. I hope it helps you as much as it did me. Keep posting!

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...ml#post2051022
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:42 PM
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Please find an Alanon meeting for you in your area. They will help you alot and there are wonderful pamplets to take and read. Really .
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:26 PM
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Hi Bella and welcome...
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:35 PM
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Bella19 and fellow Texan, I found SR when I was doing an internet surf on dry drunk syndome. I'm a codependent with a capital "C" and through the support of the members here I'm slowly regaining my sanity. It seems like everyone here on SR found their way here in their own unique way. Many who come to SR are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about change. We all come to SR because we want and need help. SR members share our own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can easily get caught up in the behavior of another person. We react to the alcoholic's behavior. We focus on them, what they do, where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become ill.

This illness is called codependency. Family secrets. Guilt. Shame. Repressed anger. Low self-esteem. Compromising your own values to avoid another person's rejection or anger. Those are just a few red flags of codependence. Codependent meant the person who enabled the alcoholic. Today's psychologists have a broader definition. "It really is about unhealthy emotional dependencies."

You wrote "I'm at a loss now. I want to help her and my father before irrepairable damage to the family happens. How can I show her what she is doing and better encourage her to seek help? I need my mother, and my father is a good man who doesn't deserve what she says and does when she is under the influence. Is there any advice for family here?" I am a big supporter of codependents using the "LOVE" approach to our alcoholic love ones.
"LOVE" stands for:
Let the drinker experience the negative consequences of drinking.
Optimise your time together when the drinker is sober.
Value the drinker as the person you love(d).
Encourage change.

"Only God can turn a mess into a message." "A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step." "We aren't bad people trying to get good. We're sick people trying to get well." "Before anything can change, you first have to start setting limits. You have to figure out a plan to change things; one that makes sense. Then move through those steps -- not allowing any backpedaling."

SR is based upon the 12 Steps of Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a program that is meant to be worked with another and with God.

On the Steps:

Willingness comes from the pain, the healing comes from the steps.

Step 1. Surrender
Step 2. Sanity
Step 3. Serenity

There is a difference between “relief” and “recovery”.

Steps 1-3 bring relief
Steps 4-9 bring recovery..
Steps 10-12 maintain it…

Be willing, Be ready and let God do the work! Humbly acknowledge who I am in relation to God!

Just my personal opinion. Take what you like and leave the rest.

I'm very familiar with our Capital city and know there are several AA and Al-Anon meetings in your city. You are the second Texan that I welcomed to SR today. I, personally, am from S.A. Please feel free to PM me for anything!

Love and Peace,

Phoenix
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:37 PM
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Wow, thank you for the link Jazz. I've been talking with my father most of the day and working out logistics of how I could move back home for a few months to make sure she went to meetings and therapist appointments and didn't buy more alcohol at the store. Which it sounds like would have set me back majorly, created a lot of resentment on all sides, and done none of what I wanted it to do. =/ Which is disheartening.

If I can't tell my father that I'm moving home to help him with her and make things better... what can I say? He gave up taking care of the bills himself a year ago. She has full access to their finances and has taken them from 13k in savings to 17k in debt. I want him (even before coming here) to close out the cards and take all matters of money away from her, giving her only a little cash for necessities each week. He's already started a secret emergency fund for himself in case something happens but... is it the right thing to do? Seperate their finances and have him take more control so he isn't taken down with her?

To Phoenix--

Hi! And I actually joined therapy myself about 3 weeks ago-- a cognitive behavioral therapist. I've been out of the house for 8 years, and I've noticed I tend to overextend myself for friends to the point it hurts myself. Currently in the hole about 4k because of it. I know I need help. I thought my mom was fine though, until just recently. Now I am wondering if she hasn't been addicted to something (overeating/shopping) when I was living at home. Alcohol just being the newest and most socially unacceptable form. Its a lot to think on.

Last edited by Bella19; 01-03-2011 at 04:42 PM. Reason: responding to additional post
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:39 PM
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Sorry I forgot to post LOL.
I moved this for Bella to the right location

Welcome Bella - you're among friends here
D
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:24 PM
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Welcome, Smart girl, Bella...
You have come to the right place.
Keep reading and posting, you will continue to understand the disease, and to learn how to help yourself. That's all any of us can do.

When we focus on ourselves, wonderful things can happen all around.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:20 PM
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Are you prepared to take over the lives of two grown adults? Are you prepared for when those grown adults do not cooperate with your plan for how their lives should be run? Hi Bella, I am an adult child of an alcoholic and have done what it seems you are planning to do several times and with several people. It has always backfired on me and made my life chaotic and unmanageable. I'm not sure how much my efforts ever helped anyone. I sincerely suggest you check out a few AlAnon meetings in your area. Please think long and hard before deciding to rule someone else's life, whether you think the life they are living is "right" or "good" or not. to SR.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:36 PM
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You can't help people who don't want help.

Your father starting his own emergency fund is a brilliant idea - make sure she doesn't know about it / can't get access to it.
If he's going to start shutting down the credit cards I'd recommend doing them one at a time, and making up some reasonable sounding excuse for it in case she questions it. (Not as easy now with the new laws, but I'm sure there's something she'd believe).

Nobody can force her to do what you believe to be the right thing for her, though, and trying to force her into it will only cause resentment. You can't control her, only your reactions and interactions to/with her.
He needs to take steps he feels comfortable making to minimize the impact to himself, like the emergency fund, etc, but again - he can't control her actions, he can't "fix" her problem for her. She has to want to get better on her own, and trying to force her to get to that point will only make matters more difficult.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:43 PM
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The hardest thing is when we really get how powerless we really are over other people and their diseases. The one place we do have power is with ourselves.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:59 PM
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Bella19, you asked "If I can't tell my father that I'm moving home to help him with her and make things better... what can I say? He gave up taking care of the bills himself a year ago. She has full access to their finances and has taken them from 13k in savings to 17k in debt. I want him (even before coming here) to close out the cards and take all matters of money away from her, giving her only a little cash for necessities each week. He's already started a secret emergency fund for himself in case something happens but... is it the right thing to do? Seperate their finances and have him take more control so he isn't taken down with her?"

Is your father on-board with this? That's a WHOLE LOT of money we're talking about!

I suggest you read the following article. Subject: divorce, related to being married to an alcoholic and me being a wuss! I found this a very interesting article and gave some very helpful advice that might help you answer some of your questions.

Google Answers: divorce, related to being married to an alcoholic and me being a wuss!

Another good thread to read is the "Classic reading for Friends & Family of alcoholics (Classic Reading)"

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...c-reading.html

Phoenix
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:14 PM
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Thank you for the reads Phoenix, I'll check them out. I'll be looking for an alanon or the friends/family version of it in Austin.

I understand as much as I want to I can't control her reactions or force her to accept treatment even if I get her there in body. That doesn't stop me from wanting to do all I can-- getting the horse to the water so to say. Logistics on options was an early reaction. Information (this message board and websites and meetings) is step 2 to figure out which of my options/approaches has the most potential for a positive effect. Step 3... profit? plan in progress, but I think the first thing I am taking from this board is don't forget to take care of myself first. I have to be mentally healthy to help my other family through this too, and to not resent her and make it harder for her to come back to us.

My dad isn't "on board" with all this so much as just standing there weathering the storm as best he can. He wants her to get better, waiting for it really. It was my idea for the emergency fund when I found out how much debt there was. He wants to do something but doesn't know what and he's never really asked for help on anything. But he respects my oppinions and will consider any information I bring him. If all I can do is print out the 10 ways list, mail it to him with a meeting list he can go to, then I'll make sure he is better protected that way.

I can't leave it alone entirely right now though. The more I learned from family members who live near my parents and knew but didn't say anything the more I am convinced my dad will stay with her until it breaks him. The things she said echo in my mind-- so painful I can't ever imagine him being able to forget no matter the apology. If it was said to me I wouldn't have been able to lift my head afterwards and he just stood there like it was familiar territory. I don't want to leave him alone with that.
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:48 AM
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hi bella-

it might take you awhile to fully understand that you can not force a drinker to stop drinking if they don't want to.

try to shift your focus from "fixing" your mother, to assisting yourself and your father.

for example, both of you would learn good tools for coping with an alcoholic in alanon...do you think your father would attend? also, why not invite him here to SR, so that he can educate himself.

one thing that you can do is to stop enabling her drinking. i think it's a good idea to remove the household finances from her responsibility. additionally, does she drink and drive? if so, there are steps you can take to remove her ability to do so. and certainly, she should not be in charge of any children if she is drunk.

none of us here have had any luck in begging, pleading, bargaining with the alcoholic to change. please, spare yourself the years of pain that we have gone through ourselves. i would recommend that you reconsider moving in with your parents, as you will go down with that ship.

as for your father, it would be good if he educated himself on alcoholism, through reading here and also alanon. then the way forward will become clearer for him. and perhaps he would be willing to get a therapist to help him deal with the verbal abuse?
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:13 AM
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Besides printing out the 10 ways, Under the Influence, Getting them Sober, and Codependent No More are really good books to help loved ones of alcoholics understand the disease dynamics and get educated about how to help. Of course there's no substitute for support through groups or a knowledgeable therapist either.

My knee jerk reaction would be to suggest your Father take back the family finances ASAP. I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I let my ex run the finances and hoped for a good outcome, I would be living in a box right now. There's an appropriate saying use here often, put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:35 AM
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My father is of the oppinion he lived the first 30 years of his life without a computer, he doesn't need to learn how to use one now. But he will likely attend a meeting. Whether he continues will depend largely on how comfortable he is there. If its very factual, there are other men, and the religion is not specified as christianity- he'll keep going.

I'm an only child, so its just him and one elderly dog at home. Finances have been a large argument for them ever since they got married, and I don't think her drinking is severe enough for him to go for that struggle right now. She gets drunk maybe once every one to two weeks by my unerstanding. Which... is bad, but it has lots of room to progress. She's functional, even got a promotion and is standardizing the curriculum for nursing students accross several states. I think she shops during the day when she can't drink to get a release-- even if its only 2 hamburgers she can't eat. (Gastric bypass surgery). She drinks only at night to "help her sleep."

Maybe with the meetings, dad will see this as a more permanent problem and step up to reclaim financial responsibility. My student loans are in their name and will be out of deferrment in about 3 months-- 800 a month will suffocate them if they don't start prepping now. He didn't even know about the upcoming payments till we started talking finances after she removed $400 from my savings account I had when I was a kid to cover their bills one month without asking. : ( She put it back after I explained that was unacceptable. But she still took it without asking to cover up excessive spending on her part.

One of my roommates actually has the codependent no more book. I borrowed it about a week before I started therapy myself, but haven't actually started reading it yet >.> Guess I should do that.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:42 AM
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What, specifically, are the signs and symptoms you are seeing that cause you to believe she is an alcoholic?
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:04 AM
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When she drinks, she never fails to get drunk- slurring words, crying, screaming, accusing my father of being responsible for her not being happy. This happens every one to two weeks. Sometimes more, sometimes it goes a full month without an incident.

She threw out all the alcohol in the house herself saying she wasn't going to drink anymore. But then continues to buy cheap whiskey and hides the bottles around the house. She lies about how much she drinks. She says she wants to stop, but she hasn't stopped. She's isolated herself from other family members-- her own mother is afraid to visit because mom was so out of control she hit her in the chest right after a mastectomy. Dad had to take her to the emergency room once because of alcohol poisoning. She blacks out when she drinks (if she is telling the truth) and claims she remembers everything, but doesn't know what she says, who came over and helped dad get her into bed, or even going to the hospital and spitting on the ER nurses and telling them they didn't know their jobs that there was nothing wrong-- nevermind the toxicology report which finally confirmed for Dad why she was acting the way she was.

She also replaced all decorations showing wine/alcohol with coffee images-- including repainting the bathroom from wine red to coffee brown. It was instigated by my dad breaking one of the chef holding wine decorations after another binge from her. But she knew why, she knows she has a problem even if she wont admit it to anyone else for more than the duration of a conversation.

Last edited by Bella19; 01-04-2011 at 11:09 AM. Reason: more info
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:24 AM
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You mentioned gastric bypass surgery..are you aware that many people who have the surgery go on to have problems with alcohol..the theory is that they were food addicts and once that coping strategy is removed, other compulsive behaviors pop up..drinking being at the top of the list?
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:28 AM
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Yup. I did a google search when I got home from my holiday trip and a LOT of information on it came up, which is why I was looking at substance abuse therapists rathre than just an AA program for her. I figured she started the excessive spending spree-- really demanding my dad losen up on the finances -- about a year after the surgery. Which meant she lost 80 lbs and realized it wasn't making her happier so she went through the check book until it hurt. Now that they're strapped due to recession and my dad going from working 6 days a week to 4, she's opting for the cheaper and less healthy coping mechanism. I was hoping if she accepted treatment, we could get to the root of it and stop the addiction from transferring to something else again. This is with my very limited psychology studies so I know I could be very wrong.. but a professional would not hurt, if she would go.
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