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Little sister abuses alcohol and refuses to stop

Old 08-18-2014, 01:27 AM
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Little sister abuses alcohol and refuses to stop

Hi all,
I'm 28 years old and my little sister is 2 years younger than me. As a bit of background, we have both been diagnosed with depression/anxiety problems. My anxiety is very severe so it has always hindered my drinking and I dislike feeling very drunk, makes me too anxious. On the other hand, my sister self-medicates with alcohol. She drinks when she's anxious, sad, stressed, whatever.
When my sister went away to college at 18 in another city, she started abusing alcohol and drugs regularly. I did not know the extent of this until I was maybe 21/22 when she called me, sick and hungover from taking too much E and drinking. She had me promise not to tell our parents, which I didn't. I worried about her all the time, never really knowing what she was doing because she lied constantly. When she was 23, she moved to the same city as me. This was a huge relief for me because I thought away from her alcoholic, drug-obsessed friends, it would get better and I could keep a better eye on her.
When she moved here, she continued to abuse alcohol and drugs. She stopped using drugs I think about a year/year and a half ago, which I am so proud of her for. And for a while, she was much better about controlling her drinking. But for the past few months, she has really spiralled out of control. She cancels on our plans most of the time because she is hungover. I have to go over at least once or twice a week to bring her painkillers, coffee, food, clean up her vomit and generally take care of her. When she's drunk, she has huge gaps in her memory, just hours that are totally blacked out. She picks fights with her boyfriend and can be very violent. I love my sister so much and part of me is happy to support her. But the other part of me is growing more angry and resentful everyday. The other day, she went out during the day with her bf and they came home and went to bed at 10pm. She has terrible insomnia and went out at 11pm by herself and got drunk. She came back hours later and started a huge fight with her boyfriend. The next day, she called me hungover and I came by with tylenol, advil, coffee and movies. She told me about the previous night, smiling like it was funny and it made me want to slap her. She told me that she fought with her boyfriend again in the morning on the phone, and that he was 'mean' to her. She doesn't seem to be able to understand where others are coming from. Or she doesn't care to. Any criticism of anything she does is 'mean' and she absolutely turns everything into a personal attack.
A day doesn't go by that I don't worry and have to hear from her to know she isn't dead. I've had so many panic attacks just from not being able to get a hold of her for a day. She lies about how much she drinks all the time (tells me she had 2 beers then admits she also had a bottle of whiskey) and lies even more to my mom, making it impossible for me to talk to her without exposing all her lies. She fights with her current boyfriend constantly because of her drinking as she is an especially nasty and angry person under the influence.
She mentioned to me this week that her boyfriend told her she has alcohol problems. I agreed that I thought she might have a problem with drinking. This was met with lots of sarcasm and dismissal, refusing to entertain the thought. This topic is often met with justifications like, 'I can't have fun without it,' 'everyone else gets to enjoy it, why shouldn't I,' etc. etc. Having an honest conversation with her about it is nearly impossible because she is very sensitive and embarassed. She doesn't seem to take anything seriously at all. I understand how difficult addiction is and I know I can't help her unless she wants to help herself. But seeing her do this time after time, I'm losing a lot of patience, sleep and sanity. She regularly texts/calls me in the middle of the night, she has no regard for waking me up. If I'm seeing friends/going to an event, she doesn't care either. I feel like I'm constantly on call for whenever she needs me. I'm beginning to hate her a little bit and it feels terrible.
I think it's partly my fault. Maybe I should be drawing some lines and making boundaries. But I want to be supportive as much as I can and hopefully get her through this. I'm just so fed up with her selfish, blase and careless attitude. I also feel incredibly selfish for being so angry and fed-up, which you are welcome to tell me if I am being.
What should I do? What can I do? She doesn't want to go to AA, she doesn't want to go to rehab, she doesn't want to see a therapist. Basically, she just wants to keep doing what she's doing. She doesn't seem to care about losing her partner/friends or hurting her family. I'm sorry if this seems very harsh, usually I am much more calm and sympathetic. But I am so sick of tired and worrying constantly and her calling me away to care for her. I try not to do anything except be supportive, informative and caring. I don't guilt her or try to lecture her, just be a friendly ear and care for her while she's sick. I wouldn't be so frustrated if she was actually trying, that is the real issue.
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Old 08-18-2014, 04:05 AM
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Hi rouge, I'm a sober alcoholic, and also have a sister who did enormous damage to her life and family with over drinking. We tried everything, finding her therapy, warning her, making suggestions, nothing worked. Eventually she reduced her intake, but it wasn't anything we did, it was because she met her future husband. Boy were we grateful to him. You didn't cause your sister's drinking, and you can't cure it, and you seem to realise that. But you're correct in thinking it's time to put some boundaries in place.
Set her up with a unique call tone so you don't have to answer at night, or even put your phone on silent. Drunk diallers are a real pain and you have NO obligation to answer. If she's in real trouble she can still call your parents. You can also ask her not to call you when under the influence.
Don't feel you have to keep any secrets for her. Alcoholics love secrecy because it means they don't have to face up to their own behaviour.
You've taken on a lot of responsibility that doesn't belong to you. She's an adult and only she is responsible for her behaviour. Creeping around her, taking her tylenol, keeping her secrets is just enabling her. Step back, make yourself do it, and give her the dignity to find her own recovery.
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:50 AM
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Welcome Rogue,

I think Codependent No More by Melody Beattie might be a good start for you to learn and consider your boundaries. Secondly, I recommend trying Al Anon meetings bc these people will have been there and can relate to you.

SR is a super resource too!
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Old 08-18-2014, 11:19 AM
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You aren't her caretaker. She's a big girl and can figure things out for herself. You should be enjoying your life and not spending all your free time cleaning up your sister's messes. It's not your responsibility. If she ever wants too get sober, she'll find out how on her own. That's IF she ever wants out. You can't force it. But you also don't have to watch her destroy herself. No part of this is your responsibility.
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Old 08-18-2014, 11:45 AM
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While you're going round, clearing up her messes, soothing her hangovers - and all the other things an adult should be doing for themselves - she has absolutely no incentive whatsoever to do anything about her drinking. Not surprisingly, you're at the end of your tether.

For your own sanity, you need to stop rescuing her and protecting her from the consequences of her own behaviour. Don't keep her secrets or cover for her any more. Don't clear up her vomit any more. In fact, don't have anything to do with her whilst she's intoxicated in any way.

You are absolutely right when you say she just wants to keep on doing what she's doing, and while you keep on doing what YOU'RE doing, that's exactly what will happen - at a huge cost to your own wellbeing and self-esteem. Far from telling you you're selfish, I suspect that you're being nothing like selfish ENOUGH.

There's a huge difference between being the kind of greedy, grasping selfishness which has no regard for others, and self-love and self-care. The latter are healthy and desirable.

I'd been in Alanon for about eighteen months when I attended an open AA meeting - it was a well-publicised occasion and members of the public were encouraged to come along. All the alcoholic shares were about the circumstances that had brought them there, the early days of recovery and how far they'd come. There were some truly remarkable people at that meeting, and I have an enormous amount of respect for alcoholics with years of recovery behind them - but one of the things that really struck me was that for all of them, actually making tea and coffee in the meetings in the early days was a big deal for them.

I reflected that an Alanoner wouldn't think to mention making drinks. We're used to looking after people, making sure everyone else is OK, clearing up messes, smoothing over conflicts and all the other codependent behaviours.

It also struck me that a pairing between someone who's completely selfish, self-absorbed and entitled, and someone who is totally self-sacrificing, is a perfect fit. Both are very unhealthy in their different ways, but a situation like this can continue indefinitely until one party says "Enough!"

You can't do anything about your sister. Alanon meetings would help you to handle your own painful feelings, support you in regaining your boundaries and sense of self, and help you detach from your sister with love - if you feel ready to attend them. Frustration arises when we want to control another person's behaviour - it's the insanity which arises when we try to control something we cannot.

(((HUGS))) and good luck with all this.
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Old 08-19-2014, 12:47 PM
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I agree with Rosalba, if you watch Dr. Phil, Intervention, or even go on YouTube and watch some videos about alcoholism, you will find that we are actually in a passive way, "contributing" to their continuance of drinking, and ultimately death by enabling them in this way. I always thought enabling was buying them alcohol or drinking with them; but helping them do things that they need to do themselves, is another form of enabling, and sadly, can actually kill them in the end. I did all that stuff for my AH that you are doing for your DS, but when I stopped, not only was it a relief, I kinda started to hope and wish for stuff to happen that would "wake him up" so-to-speak. Like one night he came home drunk and passed out in the yard, at some point he got up and went and laid out in the middle of the gravel road/driveway (we live in an RV park in a camper.) I saw him out there when I woke up in the morning, just shook my head, giggled, and went about my buisness. Finally, someone staying at the Super 8 next door came and knocked at the door, "does that guy 'belong' to you?" I said, "yeahhh, he had to much to drink AGAIN!" the guy acted like I was Satan for leaving him out there like that and informed that the cops were called. I was just like, "oh ok, whatever." I would never see that guy again, who cares what he thinks. My husband eventually came around and did not believe me when I told him the story.
My point is, I have gone to that level of "not enabling." I refuse to pick up beer cans laying all over the yard, I refuse to wake him up when he pisses himself, I refuse to go get him when he's out somewhere and gets himself in a jam, i DO turn off the phone! And the best part about it is, not only do I no longer "fret" over these incidents, I actually pray for them to happen, because every time is one more step closer to a possible "rock bottom" and "recovery" for him. I encourage you to changing your thought process about this. Next time she gets drunk and you refuse to go bail her out and clean up her "mess" just be peaceful at home thinking, "YAY! Maybe she will finally get it over time when she has to clean up her own vomit!" Also, don't keep secrets for her from your parents or anyone, they likely know anyway, even if they are in denial.
Maybe I have a warped sense of humor, but when my AH does stuff like I mentioned, and you have too, it's similar to how sometimes you just wish with all your might that you could get back at someone/revenge for something awful they did to you like egging their car or putting a flaming bag of dog poop on their doorstep (only hopefully you/I/we don't actuallyfollow thru with it) but in a way, it's as if they do the "revenge" on themselves. Plus, I get the satisfaction of knowing maybe, just maybe, he is one step closer to recovery, cuz has to "feel" the "consequences" of his choice to drink. Just my take on things! ;-)
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:28 PM
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Hi all,
Thank you so much for your advice and kind words. I always had the idea that enabling a person with an addiction problem involved getting them the substance, taking it with them, encouraging it, that kind of obvious stuff. I can totally see how my behaviour enables her to continue on doing what she is doing. I think part of the problem is that I feel extremely guilty whenever I don't come running or I'm not checking in on her, because I think if someone happens, it'll be my fault. Which I realize isn't true, but it is hard to argue with the anxiety disorder.
I know I don't have a very good approach to helping her. I don't want her to not trust me. I also don't want to make her feel ashamed so she can't confide in me. I don't want to push her away with anger or make her think she's a worthless burden. So it feels like I have very little I can do or say to her to help. This is a huge part of the frustration.
I have known about Alanon for a number of years, as my old therapist recommended it to me when I first started worrying about my sister. I think it will definitely be helpful in coping with a lot of this guilt and worry.
Thank you all again so much, you were all so helpful and it reassured me that I wasn't a horrible, selfish person for feeling the way I did.
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Old 08-19-2014, 10:58 PM
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Have you ventured into the Adult Children of Addicted/Alcoholic Parents forum yet? We know a ton about guilt. You're more than welcome to come over to that side to talk, too.
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