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jellypants's avatar

Does my mom have a drinking problem?

Asked by jellypants (28points) April 16th, 2009

The latest incident was when she got very drunk by stealing vodka from my room before a dinner with relatives and we only found out as she started screaming and crying in the car on the way to dinner. Obviously we turned around.

At home (we all live together) I had to stay with her in bed as I wanted to keep her hydrated and was worried she’d asphyxiate if she vomited but she proceeds to say very difficult things to me like “I hate my son.” and “You only love me because you have to.” and “I want god to take my life.”. I know it’s not her but it’s difficult to hear.

I don’t know what to make of this as the truly bad incidents happen less than a few times a year Last time it a fundraising event I had spent all year helping to organise where she got so drunk that she vomited all over the car on the way home. She drinks at home but not much at all and goes a lot of the time without.

My parents talked about it but neither of them think it’s really a problem. I suggested that we remove the liquor in the house, given her contacts to counsellors she can talk to, but she hasn’t taken up either offer. She did say that she’ll seek help the next time it happens but I feel like that’s planning for failure. My concern is that there’s a negative progression as this time she took alcohol from my room (not hers), drank during the day, and was so inconsolable in the car that I was worried for our safety while we were trapped on the highway.

Once again this happens only a few times a year but beyond what I’ve done I don’t know what to do. What else can I do? Does she have a problem?

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25 Answers

anoop66's avatar

i guess she does. maybe talk to her clearly and calmly when she’s sober. Or get her to join a group like Alcoholic Anonymous, so that she can talk to people with similar probs

asmonet's avatar

1. Stealing from family.
2. Emotional Instability.
3. Depression.

Remove the alcohol. Give her information and resources. Keep a list of them yourself. Document the behavior. If she denies it, you have proof. If, god forbid, something happens medically you have a history to help her.

When it starts, walk away. Do not engage.
Give her a clear message each time that her drinking causes her to lose you.

Do not drink near her. Do not talk about it near her. Do not take her places you know will have access to alcohol. If you do, be prepared to leave if she orders or is served any.

Don’t make a fuss, just go and let her know you won’t be involved or be a witness to that sort of behavior, you’re doing this out of love and you want her to know that.

Do not take her phone calls if she is intoxicated in any way. Shut off your phone if you have to. She needs to know you can no longer be counted on to be her emotional and mental crutch.

See a counselor yourself. Now.
You won’t realize how much this kind of burden weighs until you do.

And good luck.
I’m all too familiar.

asmonet's avatar

I wish I was more naive on this one, but thank you. :)

anoop66's avatar

@asmonet lol, i have no experience when it comes to drinkin, neither in my family

asmonet's avatar

I should add that while you don’t think it’s her talking it’s her right now. Saying things like she wishes her life would end and that she doesn’t believe anyone loves her are little peeks into her mental wellbeing, there are plenty of community health services in every county in the US. They offer sliding payment scales if it’s too much a financial burden to allow as many people as possible to get the help they need.

Your mother is in a bad place, and she may not ever come out of it on her own. You must be firm, but supportive. Only engage in positive behaviors.

And remember to never behave in a way you wouldn’t support her behaving while around her. She needs everyone in her life, and you have to be strong, and you cannot let a couple of beers slide once at a family party and chastise her out at dinner.

The rules are the rules.
If she’s gonna get better you both have to live by them.

augustlan's avatar

I cannot improve on asmonet’s answer(s). I’m sorry you are having to deal with all this, and wish you and your family the best of luck.

asmonet's avatar

Refresh, I edited. Sorry. :)

jellypants's avatar

Thanks for the support augustian.

@asmonet As long as it’s outpatient treatment money isn’t an issue, she just doesn’t seem motivated to take the help. The other problem is that my father and I have a difference in perspective, I’ve suggested that we remove or at least keep liquor in storage (which is hard to get to) in the house but he thinks that it won’t allow her to operate in situations where there is alcohol. I’ve also suggested she see a counsellor or support group but he doesn’t believe those are effective, that the change has to occur as an individual.

I suspect the drinking is an outlet for stress (exacerbated by new difficulties of late) and agree that she likely would qualify under the criteria for clinical depression in the DSM.

My problem with ‘checking out’ when she’s drunk is that it leaves my dad to deal with her and I just can’t leave the burden to him and also she tends to scream very loudly which can disturb the neighbours. Blerrr I don’t know, it’s unfortunate you have experience with his but I’m grateful for the insight.

asmonet's avatar

Your mother is what is called a binge drinker, and is an alcoholic.

I suggest you ask your father to humor you for a day and go to speak to an addiction specialist or a counselor familiar with the issues. He needs to understand the severity and the effects of her behavior. It’s a small request and he should oblige. You are concerned and are just looking for ways to deal, I don’t know of a father who would turn down a child in pain and looking for help.

Perhaps, because you are her self-appointed guardian angel, you’re alleviating a portion of your father’s burden and responsibility. You are the child in this, regardless of your age, this should not be your job. By supporting her, you’re damaging them both, in addition to yourself.

I may be wrong, as I don’t know him but it sounds very much to me as if he is in denial about the issues. Perhaps if you took a step back, made him pick her up, made him accountable for his partner’s behavior he would come to understand the issues more.

And as for the neighbors, I honestly and sincerely believe that allowing her at this point to be accountable for her actions is best. If she screams, her neighbors will alert the authorities. Living in a bubble of familial protection hurts her.

If she never has to face the consequences, she will never realize they exist.

I hate to say it, but alcoholics in my experience must be treated like growing children, emotionally and mentally. They’re a little bit broken, and cracked. And you have to guide them, you have to let them fall. They have to learn. They are however, adults. And there are limits to what you can and should do for them, nine times out of ten, the should is far more important.

Your mother doesn’t seem motivated because she has no reason to be. Her husband denies the problem and her child picks up the slack, am I right? When you’re protected, there’s no impetus to change.

cyndyh's avatar

@jellypants : It doesn’t sound like she’s operating now in situations where there’s alcohol.

…and I was going to add some things about your dad having to deal with her full force to feel like she needs help if you step back and things like that, but asmonet said it much better than I could.

Good luck to you and your family.

jellypants's avatar

@asmonet This tidbit from your CDC link is something that never occurred to me: “Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.”

In all honesty I just don’t have the mental will to confront my father on these issues right now, he’s going through some really difficult things himself right now. But I will provide the info on getting support confidentially to my mother and resolve to completely ignore her behaviour when she gets this way, and try to get my father to do the same.

@cyndyh This is what’s confounding me, as about 360 days of the year she’s fine, we go to restaurants, have wine, she goes to functions, we even used to have wine for dinner together at home. But it’s those odd moments where the hammer comes down. I do agree that I need to ‘take a step back’. Thank you.

asmonet's avatar

If you start down the road to helping her and removing yourself from her life when she engages in destructive behavior I can almost guarantee you it will get worse before it gets better. She will act out, she will use it as an excuse and try to justify her behavior by saying she was right all along and no one ever really cared. Gently and firmly remind her that you do and that’s your motivation. Then walk away.

You can’t control what she does, only what you do.
Stay strong, don’t give in, don’t make exceptions because it hurts you to see her in pain. It takes far more to help her than to accommodate her.

Sorry I keep double posting and all before you’re finished replying, it’s a tough situation and one that you should be fully aware of. I feel an obligation to be as thorough as possible because my heart really goes out to you. Alcoholism is not new to my family and I have one family member who is still struggling with it. I will admit, I have not done everything I should, and you should know you probably won’t either. But you have to try. Because if you give up they most certainly will as well.

asmonet's avatar

Good luck, jellypants. I wish the absolute best for you and your family. And if you need to vent, you know where to find me.

I’m sending a PM you way.

Response moderated
rooeytoo's avatar

I would suggest you go to Alanon meetings. You can find where they are by visiting the AA or Alanon websites. Also encourage your mother to go to AA. Alanon is for friends or relatives of people with addictive problems, they will help you to deal with your own feelings and help you to find the best way to deal with your mother whether she seeks help or not. Remember the 3 c’s, you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it, you can only take care of yourself.

Response moderated
cdwccrn's avatar

What’s up with that, carcar?

Your mother has a drinking problem. Untreated, it will get worse, I am sorry to say.
Do what you can to extricate yourself from enabling her. I wish you the best.

Jack79's avatar

If she can go for long periods without drinking then perhaps alcohol is not the problem. But it’s obvious that it’s not the solution to whatever problem she has, either. I’m thinking her problems lie elsewhere, perhaps things that you don’t (and should not) know about. What you can do as a family is try to solve that, and make sure that she does not use alcohol to drown her sorrows (yes, get rid of it around the house and force her to seek help).

It actually sounds like a much easier case than you think, if you act upon it straightaway. Counselling will do wonders for her, exactly because she’s ok most of the times and the problem is still relatively containable.

Good luck with that :)

cwilbur's avatar

It’s a drinking problem when the drinking itself causes problems with her relationships. And it sounds like drinking to excess causes her problems.

Mr_M's avatar

@rooeytoo is right. You’ve got to get to Alanon. They’re there for relatives and family members of people who abuse alcohol or think they do.

And you have to act now. Delaying this will make your mom worse and CAN destroy the family members as well.

Darwin's avatar

I agree with those who say your mom has a problem. Technically it might not be the alcohol per se, but she is using the alcohol to make her problem worse. She needs counseling, you all need to get rid of the alcohol in the house, and you and your dad need to to Alanon (or Alateen) so you can learn how best to help her.

If you don’t, one of these days she will act on her words and then you won’t have a mom and your dad won’t have a wife.

You need to pay attention to what @asmonet is saying. She sounds as if she has been there.

asmonet's avatar

@Darwin: Unfortunately, a pretty good guess on your part. :-/

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

That is more than a drinking problem. The drinking is just a symptom. She uses alcohol to try to cover or dull her emotions and feelings. The drinking has to be addressed, but the other issues have to be dealt with also. Otherwise, dealing with one problem will not help the overall situation. Sounds like she definitely suffers from depression at the least. I hope you can find some way to help her. My best thoughts and wishes for you and your family. I know how it is to have someone with those problems. Someone close to me.

Dr_C's avatar

@asmonet said it all.
Yes your mother has a problem but it’s treatable. The thing is you need to address both the problem and the underlying cause.

If you can find the reason for her drinking (beyond a family history of addiction of course) it might help you better understand her situation and can give great insight to treatment options.

@asmonet your brain is sooooo sexy to me right now

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