Family Matters
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Stressing out a bit about my Mum...

Sorry this might be a bit rambly and long.

I live OS and went back home for a couple of weeks over Xmas. Mum was in a treatment centre for alcoholism for 10 days in October, and she had been dry since then - but she did start again while I was there, drinking a couple of glasses of wine at two social events (I didn't say anything at the time).

I talked to her on the phone last night and asked her straight out if she was drinking again, and she said yes. I gave her my opinion as non-confrontationally as possible, which was that it's much too early for her to be drinking again and that she really needs to get counselling (she had to cancel her first post-treatment counselling appt and hasn't yet re-scheduled). She responded that her and Dad have had an extremely stressful month (which is true) and that she didn't want to have to deal with it, but that her and Dad talked last night and she is going to get things back on track at the start of Feb.

I think these are the main issues:

-She still doesn't see her drinking as a real problem, as many of her friends/relatives drink more heavily.

-She is cynical/sceptical about counselling

-She has a bit of a martyr attitude, but also seems to not be facing up to the issues she needs to deal with.

I am just wondering what else I can/should do? Can I give an ultimatum, like 'I'm not speaking to you until you get counselling' kind of thing? That just seems harsh to me...

My sister is also worried but is much more angry/frustrated about the whole thing, and I worry that we are interfering/pressuring my Mum too much. Mum does seem to get more upset when my sister talks to her about this stuff than when i do...



Re: Stressing out a bit about my Mum...

  • If I were you, my first action would be to get myself into counseling for family members of alcoholics - and see if your sister can too.  It'll do a lot to educate you on her behaviors and choices, and how to cope with or handle them when you do confront her about it. 

    Is your dad an alcoholic also?  Whether he is or not, I'd recommend the same course of action for him also - it'll better equip him to support her for success in her program.


    Waiting for some innocuous creativity... I'll let you know.
  • Start being confrontational about it.  If you see her drinking call her out about it, if she tells you she is drinking call her out about it. 

    She is drinking because everyone around her is stopping at "You really shouldn't drink."  There is no real consequence for her to continue drinking.  Her husband is still doing what he always had, her children are still doing what they always have, her friends/family are still doing what they always have.  Make consequences for her, give her ultimatums (and stick to them).

    You should also seek out counseling or AL-ANON. 

  • Thanks ladies for your advice. I will check out Al-Anon.

    Dad isn't a drinker but he had a nervous breakdown about 18 months ago and is still recovering - and also just got diagnosed with prostate cancer, which they are having to deal with as well.

  • She's an alcoholic. She's in denial. That means she is on step #1.  Step one. All the rehab, everyone else who drinks more, the tough month, the stressful times ... it means she still on #1.  There are 11 more.

    AA Steps

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

    Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

    Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book)
    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • It sounds like your mom doesn't want to deal with her problem.  You and your sister can't force her to get clean.  Your mom has to be ready to quit drinking.  She'll have to have her own turning point, and most likely it will be her lowest point in her life.  You need to see an counselor.  It can help you deal with your mother.  if you feel that your mom has such a problem, maybe you and your sister can have an intervention and flat out tell her if she doesn't quit drinking then you and your sister will 86 her...but make sure you follow up to your threats.  Nobody likes empty threats.
  • Thanks again, this is all good to hear - livinitup, I appreciate you posting that, but I don't believe in God and neither does my Mum, so I don't think that approach would be the best for her.

  • You should go to Al-Anon.  It's a support group for friends and families or alcoholics.  You can't do anything to help your mom except love her -- help yourself.  Trust me - it sounds crazy but it works. :)
  • Mom wont get better until SHE wants to get better.  No amount of ultimatums or arguments will change that.

    And yes, get thee to Al-Anon or a similar group. 

    Currently Reading: Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
  • I also strongly suggest Al-Anon for you too.  They use the 12 steps, but "God" is whatever "higher power" you want it to be.  So don't worry that you are joining a religious group.  If you don't like the first Al-Anon group you attend, find another.  Although the basic principles of the program are the same, each group is different because the members vary.

    A few things to know: 

    - a true alcoholic can't drink and stay sober; so don't expect your mom to be able to drink "normally" in time....she won't be able to.

    - she's in denial now about her alcoholism; the symptoms you mention are typical of alcoholics.

    - you didn't cause her alcoholism, you can't control it and you can't cure it.

    - she needs to want to quit or any treatments and interventions won't work.  (You are already seeing how her last treatment didn't make any difference.)

    - it's not your place to create consequences for her drinking, nor should you prevent her from experiencing the natural consequences of her addictive behavior.  If you don't want to talk to her or be around her when she's drinking or drunk, warn her (while she's sober!) that you think she has a drinking problem and you will not be around her when she's indulging in her addiction because it is too painful to see her harming herself and those who love her.  Then, follow through and stay away from her when she's drinking.  If she calls you while drunk, tell her you won't talk and hang up.  Your honesty and follow-through will make an impression on her.  But remember, it's still her choice to stop drinking and alcohol is a powerful addiction. 

    Good luck!


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