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Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

Last post Apr 18, 2009 9:33 PM by Souchef . 13 replies.


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  • Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    This is a very serious issue to me and my family.

     

    We had a tragic death in the family yesterday, and I have an Aunt who is a serious alcoholic. She was told the news, and as she gets drunker during the day she wants to talk. She always manages to make any situation about herself (I'm just so broken hearted I can't stand it, etc.) and goes from giddy to crying jags and just drunken jibberish, or she'll just turn on you and be downright mean and hateful.

     

    I am trying to deal with other things and help other family members, and don't have the desire (or the strength) to deal with her foolishness. I'm sorry if I sound callous, but she's a mess and just won't help herself. I know she's sad, but we all are. I hate feeling guilty by avoiding her but I'm at the end of my rope.

     

    Other than just not answering her phone calls (which I absolutely refuse to do anymore) does anyone have exerience with dealing with a situation like this?

     

    Thanks, and at least thanks for letting me vent here.

     

    FG

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    I have dealt with many people like this. There is nothing you can do until they are ready to help themselves. Staying away from them is the best thing you can do. When they are ready, they will probably ask for help-then you help them by getting them into AA or something like that. Another alternative is an intervention but that's really rough to pull off without someone getting hurt. Good luck.

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    Marie K McConnell
  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

     I'm sorry FG.  I'm sorry for the tragic loss in your family.  If this is not her child or spouse, you really owe her nothing...and don't need to accept any guilt for not wanting to deal with her.  Sometimes we just come to the end of our own road and need to take care of what we can and not worry about the rest.  She will only get better when she is ready and you don't need to enable her any further by "being there" for her, especially when others need your help and kindness at this time.  Best to you and yours.  Beachie.

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    Food Guy, your doing the only thing you can do at this time. Distancing yourself from her self-inflicted misery.You cannot help someone that is not willing to help themself. No need to feel guilty. She is an "adult" and you have enough on your plate dealing with your own grief and helping the ones that you can help.

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative
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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    {{{foodguy}}}}

    I'm so sorry for the tragic death in your family and so sorry that you have to deal with the unpleasant Aunt.  I have never...thank God had to deal with this!  I'm afraid I would be tempted to pick up that phone and then when she went into her jag I would say ~" Please call me back when you sober up, because I just can't handle your irrational rambling and crying when you have been drinking!" 

    JMO

    Molly

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

     John, let me first say how sorry I am that you are going through this right now. The loss of a loved one is hard enough without having to deal with someone elses "illness" on top of that. 

     

    mkmac4 is right that you can't do anything for her until she wants help for herself. You cannot force someone out of their alcoholism. But understand this...her behavior (from what you've described) is very typical of alcoholics or addicts of any kind. In your aunt's mind...this IS all about her. Not only is she using the alcohol to numb her pain, she is using the attention from family members in order to feel loved and sympathized with. Keep in mind that she is not doing this maliciously. She's not sitting at home wondering what she can do next to get everyone's attention. But her brain (kind of like one of those subconscious things) feeds off that attention and will come up with ways to draw it out of people. It's hard to explain unless you have dealt with this before.People with addictive personalities are very difficult to deal with. Most "normal" people like you and me do not get along with people who have personality disorders or addictions because they tend to suck the life right out of us. It's draining to be around someone who has such a needy personality. You need to know that your reaction to her is not callous or mean...it's normal. And the frustrations you have concerning her are normal. 

     

    I don't know how close you are to your aunt...if there is a strong loving bond between the two of you or not. If there is, you may have an opportunity to draw her in close to you and quietly let her know that you'll be there for her if she wants to get help. Maybe another family member has this connection with her. It won't happen before the funeral or memorial service though so just be prepared to deal with her for that. Addicts are always the loudest at funerals. No one hurts more than them, no one is suffering as they are. You will have to ignore the drama and deal with your own grief at that time. Help other family members get through this. When things have settled down (next week or so) that may be a better time to approach her. You have to do it in a loving way and if she fights you...back off and let her waller around in her own misery. Continue to let her know that you love her and support her, but give her her space.

     

    There is no set of rules for dealing with people like this and the info I've given you may or may not work with her...it all depends on her personality. DO NOT let your temper get in the way. The worst thing anyone can do, when dealing with alcoholics, is escilate the situation by yelling and screaming. Remember that yelling and screaming are forms of attention too and you don't need to feed into all that. It doesn't help anyone feel better about the situation either. John, I hope this helps you. Maybe to at least, understand the mind of an addict. You all will need to deal with your grief in your own way, even your aunt. Don't think that because she's numbing her pain with alcohol that she doesn't feel. She's hurting too.

     

    Take care of yourself and your family. Remember that her behavior is fueled by her alcohol and isn't who she truely is so don't take attacks from her personally. Just use your best judgement in dealing with her. Let someone who is particularly close to her, deal with her...especially if you feel like you're about to explode. Please let us know how everything is going. I'll try to help more if I can.

     

    Take Care

     

    Shannon

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

     I think it is absolutely reasonable to say, "It sounds to me like you have been drinking too much for us to have a conversation right now.  Please call me back another time when you are sober."

     I have done so.  If necessary, hang up then.  And never let anyone bully you by calling you back right after you hang up.  Just say, "I'm sorry" and hang up again.  As many times as it takes until the relative gets the message that you will not be their emotional dumping ground.

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative
    My condolences on the loss of your family member. I don't think you should feel guilty about not spending time with the Aunt. There are other, more responsible people who need you more at this time. I know from experience that the more you cater to the Aunt, the more she will suck your soul dry.
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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

     My Friend.. I am so sorry for your loss....as far as Auntie goes.. it has already been said... she is never gonna get it...I have done it.. they don't get it... but you just have to say "call me when you are sober" ini the meantime I have no time in my day to talk to a drunk.... she won't get it until she is ready to get help.. but it will get you off the hook for a few days....

     

    I am so sorry you are having to deal with this....tough love is hard,... we both know that..... 

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    Old age ain't no place for sissies . -Bette Davis-
  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    My niece and nephew watched their mother, an ordinarily healthy, busy, vibrant woman with no history of medical problems, die as the apparent result of a pulmonary embolism and this drunken Aunt wants to tell me over and over and over how broken hearted she is because she will miss her so much, interspersed with hysterical crying jags, and then to ask when the funeral is, over and over and over.

     

    How many ways can I say that my main focus is to try to take care of the family and when the plans are made everyone will be told. It's highly unlikely that she will attend, and as someone said before, if she does, she will be the one howling and keening.

     

    As I said, one call was enough, and thank God for caller ID.........she probably calls me repeatedly because I am geneally patient with her ramblings.....I have to let this go and let her husband and her own kids deal with it........which they're not good at. Its like nobody notices........how can you not notice that your wife/mother is so drunk she passes out, falls between the toilet and the tub, and has to be carried to bed?

     

    How can you not notice that your wife/mother pours herself a 16 oz. water glass of Jack Daniels the minute she rises in the morning,, how can you not notice that she stands infront of the picture window from morning until night, starring out, smoking one Camel after another, and downing glass after glass of JD......bemoaning all of her misery and everything wrong with her life, and look the other way?

     

    This is my Mother's youngest sister. She will call and cry to me; my sister, my sister, my sister, how is my sister? I love her and miss her so much. But she has never once been to the Nursing Home, 14 miles away, to visit Mom in the three years that she's lived there.

     

    I'm not a yeller, I really try to be more of a listener and an encourager.........but, sadly I've checked out. I'm done.

     

    Thanks for your encouragement and suggestions.....I'll try my darndest not to get taken up in her mess and feel guilty over it.

     

    FG

     

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

     {{{{{{{ FG}}}}}}}}  nobody said its easy.... we both know that....hang in there.. and use the caller ID... it will save your sanity!

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    Old age ain't no place for sissies . -Bette Davis-
  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    I'm so sorry for your loss.  

    As for your drunken aunt, this is the advice that was given to me when I was dealing with an alcoholic.  Repeat this several times so you have it memorized, and then if you do pick up the phone when she calls, say, "I don't care to talk to you when you've been drinking.  Call me when you're sober."   Then hang up.   Do this every time she calls, and don't say anything else.   She will either get the message, or will quit trying.   But if I were you, I just wouldn't answer the phone at all when she calls.

    You do not owe this woman anything.   Trying to deal with an alcoholic will eat you alive, as others have said.  For anyone who must have contact with an alcoholic, I would advise them to go to Al-Anon.    That is what her immediate family should do, but it sounds like they are iin denial about her situation.

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  • Re: Help with dealing with an Alcoholic relative

    First, my condolences on your loss and prayer for you and your family.

     

    Everyone is right, the best thing to do is distance yourself from your Aunt. She will not get help until she either seeks help or hits rock bottom.

     

    I have had to say "I'm done" also and some times it's not easy.

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