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Hello all,

Glad to have found this! I have been reading non-stop since! Both parents are alcoholics, bi-polar smokers. They are in their early 70's now, drank and smoke their entire life. Both were functioning professionals before retirement.  In 2009, the day before Easter, I got a call from my sister (my only sibling and we have never had a relationship), my father, while carrying a large stereo speaker, fell down the stairs at my parents' home at 11:00am and was flown to the ER with major head trauma.  My sister pulled me aside and informed me that both mom and dad were drunk. Dad was in a coma for a month, went through PT and OT for months, was in dementia unit for months, then released back home. During the time my father went through this, my mother sold or gave away his tools and belongings, sold the house, moved to a condo. Mom was drinking from morning to night, not giving dad his meds,(he also has diabetes) not feeding him, and allowing him to drink at his will.  He started having seziures because of this, and my mother then admitted that she wanted nothing to do with his care, that they were talking about divorce before dad's fall, so we placed him in assisted living, where he does not have access to alcohol.  He's not happy about this, but, healthier!  His brain damage is extensive, he does not know me sometimes, but he knows this- HE WANTS A DRINK. He's in a good place right now....My mother had since practically drank herself to death. Mother called my sister and said that she couldn't get out of bed one day, we both rushed over to a house of filth. No trash had been taken out, fast food packages everywhere, empty vodka bottles, burn marks in her bed and carpet, etc.  She spent a month detoxing then refused after care. She wound up back in the ER, detoxing again, and my sister got a POA.  We sent her to a nursing facility to recoup, she did well, after 6 months there, she went back home and continued the cycle.  we have just moved her into independent living a month ago.  She does not come out of her room except for maybe a meal a day at the dining room.  Will not drive to any dr appts, but will go get her vodka twice a week.  She lays in bed drinking, and watching tv all day and night.  She refuses to go outside to smoke, and has been warned twice not to smoke in her apt. She denies that she has a drinking problem and just wants to be left alone.  I took her Christmas decorations for her apt. the other day, she was in bed so drunk she couldn't get out.  So I informed the staff, and left.  She has called me since telling me that she didn't appreciate me getting the staff involved with her life.  I give up.

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Alice in Wonderland

Oh, DKV,  
  I haven't seen any more posts from you, either.  Your words were sarcastic and hurtful.  I can only wonder how many times you were on the receiving end of sarcastic, hurtful words.  That's one of the dynamics we take for granted, isn't it?  One of the patterns we were immersed in.  Hurtful, ridiculing, disaffirming words are one of the ways that alcoholics control others.  It's a major victory when we say, "No, not me, no more.  I cannot change the example I was given.  Oh, but I can refuse to follow it.  I will not live my life controlling others; I'll live my life controlling me."  That's one of the things that I thank God for about ACOA and Al-Anon.  Please don't be afraid to come back.  It's about growth and healing, apologies and forgiveness.  This is a community committed to getting better one day at a time.  Peace to you.


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Alice in Wonderland
Leisa wrote:

I wanted to let you know that I found this message board just in the nick of time!  I was feeling myself getting pulled into an alcoholic's muck and mire and now I feel better about my decision to not get more involved. 

My 77-year-old father was recently hospitalized in the VA hospital in Houston.  My father lives on his own.  I live in San Diego.  His long-time girlfriend/co-dependent caretaker had been keeping me updated on his condition for the last few months prior to his hitting bottom.  I did all I could on a long-distance basis including contacting his attorney to try and get the girlfriend power-of-attorney to get my father some help.  However, the girlfriend is beginning to come to her senses now that my father is coming out of the Adovan haze he has been in since going into the hospital.  She informed me over the weekend that she would be going on a week's vacation and that I HAD to go to Houston to be with my father during that time.  Something in me keeps saying, 'No! I wont' - I can't!' 

During all this time, I had gotten in touch with the organization A Place For Mom, which provided wonderful assistance with alternative living possibilities for my father.  Also, although I am afraid the VA bureaucracy would be a nightmare to navigate long-distance, I also attempted some contact with them to try and find assistance for my father.  The bottom line though, is that once he leaves the hospital, he has a HUGE decision to make - does he pick up the bottle again or not.  This is something I cannot help him with.

I was beginning to get sucked into the whole co-dependent thing between my father and his friend when I found this message board.  Now, I realize once and for all that I can only be there for my father if he wants me to help him get settled in a living facility where he can live with assistance, no longer drive, and stay sober.  My plan is to write to him and let him know that if he wants me to help him do this, I will take time off work, fly to Houston, possibly get powers-of-attorney and get him moved into a facility.  Otherwise, goodbye. His girlfriend is shocked that I can take such a detached position.  But, I divorced an abusive alcoholic 11 years ago and I won't get pulled into this arena again!

I have been the last of this man's 4 daughters to maintain contact with him.  I thought he was worth keeping in touch with, even though he has been destructive for so many people.  Perhaps now my problem is feeling responsible for him because of his age.  But just because he is 77, frail, vulnerable and will now be alone does not make me the bad-guy.  My father has brought all of this upon himself by not admitting nor addressing his disease.  This is still hard for me to do, but I still have to stop myself from jeopardizing my marriage, my young son's life, not to mention my job and my finances to run to the aid of a distant father who may or may not want my help!

Can anyone offer me anything further that I have not taken into consideration in trying to maintain my sanity in this insane situation?    My father will go home later this week and I need to be strong in believing that my actions are correct in this situation.

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Alice in Wonderland
Hi Leisa,
    Wow, what a good head you have on your shoulders!  In response to your question,  "... offer me anything further that I have not taken into consideration..."  I'd like to share what someone shared with me.  The simple advice was, keep your safe distance and send a card once a month or so.   

I did.  I picked out simple cards from Dollar Tree.  Sometimes they marked holidays like Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, etc., if no holiday then just "Have a nice day" kind of cards.  I avoided humor because alcoholics can so easily twist it to try to start some drama.  I avoided any cards that expressed feelings that I didn't feel.  I'd write a very, very brief note, almost something I might say in a meeting, for example, "Today I'm so grateful for this rain after all those dry days.  It's washed the dust out of the air and the plants look so pretty."  Then I'd sign it and mail it.  For a while, I did it just because I had asked for advice and this was what was given, and it certainly was harmless.  After doing it a while, I realized that every card I sent was an exercise in practicing gratitude and in detaching with love.  I sent love, I sent it from a safe distance for me.  When I cleaned out her apartment, she had not saved a single one.  I was able to just chuckle, painlessly.  Sending those cards helped me to be stronger -- maybe that's why she didn't save any.  Somehow with that alcoholic antenna of hers, she sensed that each card was strengthening a healthy boundary between us and strengthening me, too.  

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Alice in Wonderland
ChuChee wrote:
I'm so glad to have found this board. It's such a relief to realize I'm not alone.

My father is 71 and is the sole care-taker of my mother who is wheelchair bound after a freak accident caused her severe brain damage leaving her with a mental capacity not that different from that of my 5 year-old son's.

My father is, and has been, drinking since shortly after her accident.  He always enjoyed a good drink and had been known to be the "life of the party" from time to time....but it never rose to the level of "problem" status until after her accident.

He now starts drinking by late morning and drinks all day....straight sister and I figure he's drinking roughly 2 litres of the stuff every 3-4 days.  In the last 10 days he has fallen at home gashing his left eye so badly on the counter it swelled shut and then last night gashing the back of his head open so severely it required stitches.

The scary part is that he DROVE HIMSELF to the hospital ER drunk and now this morning, they won't release him to drive home as his blood alcohol level is STILL TO HIGH (If you can &*&ing believe that!)

He called my sister to drive down and pick him up from the hospital (she lives a mile away from him) but luckily she called me first and I, in no uncertain terms, told her there was NO WAY IN HELL I would go pick him up if it were me....there was no way I would enable those kind of choices on his part.  She took some convincing but stuck to her guns and called him back and told him to take a cab and was the recipient of the usual verbal tirade from him about how he "didn't need a *&^*ing lecture from her".

I am not particularly worried about him.  He is obviously not going to get any help until (unless) he decides to.....especially in his case as my father ironically enough has a PhD in counseling psychology......if he chooses to drink himself to death that's his (very sad) choice.

The issues I have are as follows and I welcome input/advice/ideas from this forum:

1. He is obviously not competent to take care of my mother any longer.  She is falling at home repeatedly and injuring herself.  She has bruises on her knees and hips from the repeated falls.  He is not bathing her on a regular basis and she literally smells.....How do I remove her from his care/get her better care?

2. He is a public safety risk at this point due to his drinking and driving.  I am literally concerned for the safety of others on the road and worried he will kill someone while drinking and driving.  Can I have his license taken away?  Can I report his driving to the hospital while legally drunk to the police and get him a DUI?

Any thoughts appreciated.
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Alice in Wonderland
Hi Chuchee,  
Good for you and your sister in insisting that he phone a cab.  In the midst of all this drama, thank you for your concern for your mother and for caring about the rest of us on the road.  I appreciate you.

In the U. S., things can vary from state to state.  So, I'm going to submit some ideas to you and hopefully one or two will be useful to you.

Re:  Rescuing your mother
"A Place for Mom"  might be a good resource for information 
Every state has departments that deal with family issues, Child and Elder Protective Services.  I don't know what it's called where you live.  Perhaps you could find it online, or the vintage way, phone Information and ask for a number.
Every county has a department of county agents who specialize in everything from commercial gardening to child care to family issues.  They might be able to advise you.

Re:  Your Dad
Here, the local police might just become your new best friends.  Phone and ask for an appointment to speak with an officer about your father who is driving under the influence.  They may have an unwritten process in place.  For example, they might advise you, if there is a next time your father phones for a ride when he is drunk, to phone the police and leave his location, license plate, make, color and model of his car.  So, write down that info and make a copy for you and your sister.  Keep it in your purse, on your phone.  
Do your father and mother have primary care physicians?  Phone and see if they will give you complimentary office visits to discuss your concerns with both your mother and father.  They might have some good ideas or good referrals. 

Re:  You
Remember, remember, remember to detach with love.  Alcoholics feed on drama, don't give him any.  Around him, guard your heart, keep your peace.  When you need encouragement, compassion, strength or comfort, come here or some other safe place.  But not him.  
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Alice in Wonderland
Toni wrote:

My 75 year old widowed mother is an alcoholic.  Straight vodka everyday, all day.  She slurs, stumbles and passes out.  I am 54 years old and I am so mad.  I go from anger to pity.  For six months out of each year I have to leave my husband, children and grandchildren to care for her.  Now the doctor says she probably has bladder cancer from the non-stop smoking.  I am so angry with her.  She is not lonely.  My brothers spend most days with her when I am not there.  I just want to shake her to make her stop.  How am I supposed to watch someone I love slowly kill themselves.  I would almost rather her just jump off a bridge and get it over with.

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Alice in Wonderland
Hi Toni,
Your post reminds me of when I used to pray, "Please let me die, it's just so lonely and painful here with them."  Other times, bear with me I was just a child, "Dear God, what about this, You could have me kidnapped, or what about boarding school, or send me to a convent, or anything, just separate us, please."  I just wanted the pain to stop.  God bless you.    Nobody died or went to boarding school or a nunnery.  Through ACOA and Al-Anon I learned to accept her free will, to detach, to detach without drama, to detach peacefully - peaceful for me, not her - and then, to detach with love. 

Lately, I've been feeling sorry for God. God accepted her free will, too. God had wonderful gifts and plans for her.  How rejected and sad must God feel over every alcoholic wasted life.   Thinking about that makes me aware that God understands, God really "gets it."  That's comforting to me. 

God bless you, Toni. 
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Myself and SO live together (both 25) and my mom lives alone down the road who’s 55, she is a hardcore alcoholic and has been drinking since her sister passed away when I was 12. My parents divorced shortly after. She’s lost her license, her job, has a criminal record for drinking and driving. She drinks a 26er of vodka a day starting at 6am. She’s broken many bones, her leg, cracked her ribs, has pancreatitis etc. She never eats. My siblings moved far away and completely blocked her out of their life. Same with my dad and her mom. I feel it’s all up to me and my SO which causes major stress for us.. we want to get married & have a baby soon but I’m so stressed with her problems and wonder daily if she’s alive. She manipulates us so bad .. I don’t know what to do. If I block her out of my life she’ll die because we’re all she has..... she’s in the hospital once a month at least. She slurs her words and falls down I’m so shocked she can live on her own. She never eats she weighs 90 pounds. It’s disgusting watching this... she won’t get help. She always blames her drinking on something. “I miss my sister” “my childhood was bad” “my dog died when I was 5” “the neighbor was rude” etc etc etc. Going insane! Any advice
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Adult children of alcoholics often have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility for their parents, which often leads to situations such as the one you now face.  My younger self also faced this. Your comment, "if I block her out of my life, she'll die," is one I absolutely believed.

The thing is, this may or may not be true.  In fact, if you are offering your mother assistance and it is not helping her move in a positive direction, consider the possibility that you may actually be (lovingly and inadvertently) enabling her to further her dysfunction.  Sadly, if you allow this to continue indefinitely, it may destroy both her life and yours. 

As a person who has kids around your age, I want to clearly and openly say that it is not selfish to want to live your own life.  It is not selfish to want your parents to take care of themselves.  It is not selfish to let your mother, another adult, face the consequences of her choices. 

It may be painful to watch, but it is not selfish.  Instead of rescuing her, you may want to focus your attention on how to manage the effects of living a life with a parent who has addiction issues.

Your mom's life may in fact fall apart if you walk away, but it is not your responsibility to be your mother's crutch.  If she hits rock bottom, it is not your fault.  Sometimes hitting rock bottom is the one thing that gives people with addictions the wake up call that they need to address their issues and take ownership of their lives.  

The bottom line is that your mom needs professional help, and you are not a professional.  Until she is ready to accept help, there is not much you can do.  As hard as it is to sit by and watch a family member self-destruct, sometimes that is the only way they will let go of their addictions.

You may find the following site very helpful.

Best of luck, and stay strong.

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