Social Question

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Any thoughts or tips for dealing with someone with a serious alcohol problem?

Asked by Adirondackwannabe (36545points) December 31st, 2010

I’ve got someone I have to try to help with a major league drinking problem. They drink every single day, but recently it’s gotten worse. They’ve been drinking at work and their boss and coworkers are aware of it, early in the day, just about all the time. They recently showed up for a lunch date completely hammered. The family was able to get them to go to the crisis center, but the crisis center wouldn’t take the person in because their BAC was so high, .36. This was after 2 hours with no alcohol. After the BAC was down they checked this person into the hospital and they went through the night with serious DTs, vomiting, the works. The next day the person signed themselves out of the hospital, denying they had any kind of problem. I don’t think the immediate family is going to be much help for various reasons. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Please keep this person’s id quiet if you know who I’m referring to.

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38 Answers

Taciturnu's avatar

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if the person doesn’t want to get help.

I would suggest staging an intervention. You can hire an interventionist, or do it on your own.

Gather a few people who you think would have an impact on the person. (Maybe even include their boss, if it feels right.) Everyone there has to be willing to take a tough love approach, and be willing to never enable that person again.

Each person should write a letter to the person without being accusatory, but expressing their real emotions however angry or hurtful they may be. They should also state what they are no longer going to do if the person continues drinking. (“Should you continue drinking, I will not give you any more money/You can not stay at my house any more/etc.”)

If you’ve ever seen the show “Intervention” on A&E, model it after that.

I did my own intervention with a friend who had a pill problem. During the intervention, it was revealed that her father had a problem with heroin. They ended up both going to treatment.

None of this is an exact science, and it can get messy and very emotionally draining. Addiction is an ugly disease. If the person doesn’t want treatment, they may not have hit “bottom,” and reality is death is bottom for some people.

If you know anyone in The Program, they could offer some insight into services. I also suggest going to an Al-Anon meeting for yourself. You may or may not find it helps.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck. This person is lucky to have someone who cares.

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zenvelo's avatar

don’t enable him in any way. If he checked himself out of a detox saying there’s no problem, then an intervention or dealing with the consequences of his drinking are the only things that may get through to him.

He needs to be at a point where he goes to treatment or loses his job; goes to treatment or he loses his place to live; goes to treatment or he loses his family.

Alcoholism is a deadly disease. The hard part is getting the alcoholic to comprehend that, and that the solution is in his (and only his) hands.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They’re in complete denial at this point. They’re also the main breadwinner and health insurance provider for the family, which includes one pregnant daughter. I just can’t comprehend a .36 BAC by noon. Thanks for your responses.
Edit; This in social so if you have any good jokes you can throw them in. I can use the levity.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Good luck with helping them.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Thanks. Right now it’s like pushing a rope uphill.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Alcoholism is possibly the only disease that has to be self-diagnosed before other people can help. Until the alcoholic truly recognizes the seriousness of the situation, you can’t help.

This is going to sound heartless, but it comes from 11.5 years of dealing with alcoholics on a daily basis: leave the person alone. Take care of yourself.

The first thing you have to know about alcoholism is that 100% of practicing alcoholics die from the disease. Period. All. Alcoholism is a fatal disease, and if you let it, it will mangle you, too.

Trillian's avatar

Don’t waste your time. You cannot help someone who abuses substances, they have to want help themselves. That generally doesn’t come until they hit rock bottom. The only thnthat they can succeed in doing is to drag you and others down with them. Stay away.

bkcunningham's avatar

@hawaii_jake you are absolutely correct. Everyone involved needs to understand their role in this. You have to accept your role and come to the realization that you, just like the alcoholic, are powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable. You can only deal with yourself. I really believe in the 12 step program for alcoholics. I especially believe the 12 step program is beneficial for family members to get some sanity and serenity in the midst of the madness and turmoil of loving an alcoholic.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think it was DT’s if they were there just that night. They were vomiting because they were lucky their body was awake enough to get some of the alcohol possibly still in their stomach out of their body.

That person sounds pretty far gone, and heading for whatever will be their “bottom.” hopefully they find it before they really hurt themselves or somene else.

If it were my friend I would tell them what I had observed, they might deny it of course, and that I will always be their friend, enjoy their company, think they are beautiful and smart, and whatever compliment applies, but I am only willing to be around them when they are sober. And, if they ever decide they do need help, I want to help them. If they insist they have no problem, then I would say I am glad, because I want to be able to spend time with them. Most likely I will not see them for a while, because really they are out of control.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JLeslie It was their second day without alcohol. The crisis center sent them home the first day, then the hospital admitted them the next day and the DTs started late in the afternoon. Does that time frame sound about right?

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Oh. Yeah that sounds right then. Definitely possible.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

This gets better and more fun all the time. Thanks for your responses.

gailcalled's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: Can you take videos of him when he is really hammered, really violently ill or having serious hallucinations? One picture is worth…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gailcalled That’s an excellent idea. They’re in such denial that might help.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe here’s the thing. You can’t embarrass or shame someone into sobriety my friend. I know @gailcalled heart is in the right place and it sounds like a good idea. But you can’t directly change an alcoholic’s behavior. Most likely in their sick mind, they will just feel more isolated and ashamed, but it won’t stop their behavior. If you are able to shame the alcoholic, it will most likely make them want to drink more. I know it is very difficult to understand, but the only person you can have any affect on is yourself. If you focus on changing your behavior and focus on yourself, you will, in the long run be helping the alcoholic.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I tend to agree with @bkcunningham. The alcoholic already feels like shit about themselves and insecure usually. Maybe it would be a wake up call to them, but they will hate you and be embarrassed. In my experience addicts carry around tremendous amounts of shame. I always say shame rots the soul.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie nearly every alcoholic describes a point of surrender that they reached in their drinking. Nearly every recovering alcoholic can pinpoint this point of surrender in their lives when they finally gave up and quit fighting the disease. This is where the true path to recovery starts.

An alcoholics friends and family need to come to a point where they quit trying to “fix” or manipulate the alcoholic into sobriety and start taking care of themselves instead. If an alcoholic’s friends and family don’t recognize their roll in this disfunctional relationship, when/if the alcoholic does reach recovery, their best chance of maintaining their sobriety is to cut ties with their still sick family and friends. You can’t force an alcoholic who is recovering to maintain their sobriety any more than you could make them quit drinking. You have to learn to take care of yourself first and foremost.

Jeruba's avatar

I strongly recommend Al-Anon for you and whoever else is affected by this person’s drinking. Al-Anon is a program for those of us who are living with someone else’s alcoholism. If you attend one meeting and don’t find it helpful, attend another one. In many areas there is a large selection of meetings to choose from.

I also second the comments of @bkcunningham and @hawaii_jake. And I’ll add a remark made by someone in my life: “You can’t scare an alcoholic.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Don’t enable them in any way. If they pass out in your yard, leave them there (assuming they won’t freeze to death, of course.)

Kardamom's avatar

A professional intervention is a possibility, but it is not a guarantee that the person will go into (and stay) in treatment. And you have to get family members and friends to agree to the whole thing in advance and have them talk to the person and explain to them why their drinking is detrimental to the health of the person and how the drinking negatively impacts the friends and family that are willing to be part of the intervention. Sometimes you can’t get the friends and family to go in on something like this, because it is very painful.

I agree with @Jeruba that Al Anon is a good organization for the people, family and friends, of the drinker. Whether the drinker stops or not.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

OH MY GOD, I TOLD you not to tell anyone about my problems! Sheesh!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Sorry, I thought if I left out the chocolate part no one would figure it out. :)
Thanks for your responses. All of them helped. I’m glad I asked this. You’ve helped me and the rest of the people involved.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I had a friend who attended AA for her problem, and she took me along to some of the meetings. I also read books on the concept. One of the things that kind of surprised me was how much people enable the drinker without realizing it…cleaning up after them, getting rid of evidence, not allowing the d rinker to suffer the consequences of embarrassment (if they could help it.) Mainly they enabled in order to avoid embarrassment back on themselves (the spouse of the drinker.) Anyway, passing out in the yard was one example. That would be hard, I would think. To have to “tolerate” mortifying situations instead of “doing something” about it.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III one of the curious things about enabling is that the enablers think the alcoholic’s behavior reflects on them, when actually if they let the alcoholic suffer the consequences, the neighbors and society look at and put the onus on the alcoholic and are more supportive of the family.

Dutchess_III's avatar

One would hope so. But there are always those who would say, “How could you let him do that! Why didn’t you do something?”

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, it is a sticky wicket, because I would think that in some circumstances, the spouse might be held liable if they didn’t “assist” the drinker by picking him up from jail, or dragging him off someone else’s lawn, or by paying for something that the drinker broke. Not sure how any of that works, but it would be very embarrassing for the spouse not to clean up the mess. Even though maybe no one would be actually blaming them.

The spouse’s best bet would be to actively tell everyone around them what is going to happen and how he/she is not going to clean up the mess any more and she hopes that everyone else will go along with it (like the person’s boss, his friends, his family etc.) That would take a lot of guts on the spouse’s part to do that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III @Kardamom Not only the possibility of “how could you let him do that?” But also for women they have societal pressure now to not tolerate abuse or bad behavior from men. Women are judged for staying in a relationship where the man is a jerk, whether it be from alcohol or he is simply an asshole. So if the women is ot going to leave, I think she tries to cover things up.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom wait…“sticky wicket”..? The only time I’ve heard that term used was in a romance novel set at the turn of the century and amongst royalty…..!

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III Not sure where you’re from, but it’s a pretty commom (if archaic) term. I don’t think people in their 30’s or younger would use it very often.

Either way, this situation is “problematic.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

I liked at @Kardamom! I’m from Kansas and I got called a little for using the word “druthers,” which is common around here. Are you from back East?

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III No I’m from California, but my relatives came by way of the Southern states. But I’ve heard the term used by lots of people, but I guess most of them were at least in their 40’s or older. We use druthers too.

If @Adirondackwannabe had her druthers, this person with the alcohol problem would ask for help. But since that is not likely to happen, the friends and relatives should get some help for themselves. Because this is going to be a long hard road.

JLeslie's avatar

Sticky wicket is not an unusual term to me, I am 43, but from the northeast, my parents are from the Bronx. I don’t use druthers myself, but it is another one that is not unusual to me. Now, there are quite a few southern terms that sound very south to me, and in fact my husband’s company had to create a list for their 800 operators not to use, because they take calls from all over the US, or the sayings were perceived as unprofessional or uneducated.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I had my timeline a little messed up. They had the.36 after they had scraped a bridge with their car. They have stopped the alcohol this weekend and are setting up a counseling plan. I’m glad you guys mentoned the shame. There’s a lot with this person. I think the fact that they could function (almost) at .36 may have shocked them enough to work on the problem, but I’m not sure the support net is strong enough. They’re about an hour and a half from me.
Sticky wicket and druthers I’ve heard a lot. NY. (Adirondack is a he. No biggie. :))

Kardamom's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe oops sorry

I am very glad to hear that at least there is a start to the solution for this person. I just hope that the family can get together and come up with a plan for how they can all work together as a united front to continue to help. Good luck to you. : )

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Kardamom :) The family is almost all up here where I am. There is one daughter near her, the pregnant one. That’s why I’m concerned about the support net. We’re trying.

Kardamom's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Is there any way that the person with the problem, could temporarily move in with someone up by you and the rest of the family? Of course that would be with the stipulation that the person would be in some kind of treatment. No one wants to just take in a drunk with no specific guidelines drawn up.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Kardamom That’s a great idea. It might get them through the first thirty days or so. If they went away to rehab, they have to take a leave of absense from work anyway.
Thanks guys for all your answers. I should have gone to an al anon meeting for real. I didn’t have a clue on some of these things and I thought I was well read. Thank You.

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