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  1. #1
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    Jul. 11, 2000
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    Way down south in the land of Sugar Cane
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    Default Alcoholism and Denial

    I just found out a relative may have a drinking problem. The relative totally denies that there is a problem. He had to go to the ER for what they thought was a stroke (older person) turns out blood test showed he was very inebriated. He said he does not remember drinking. Reflecting on behavior of the last few months it suddenly occurs to me some of the odd situations could be explained by this issue.

    How do I move forward trying to help if he totally denies drinking at all?


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 3, 2006
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    Spooner, WI
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    Default

    Denial is the biggest hurdle. Intervention can work. Hitting rock bottom can work. Sometimes nothing works. The best word of advice is to educate yourself about addiction. That's all I have. Good luck!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    15,209

    Default

    You don't protect him from the consequences of his drinking.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 25, 2005
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    MA
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    Default

    He's probably lying. Alcoholics, or any addict, will do anything for their substance or addiction of choice. That's why it's an addiction. Most alcoholics are actually functioning human beings- and they hide their addiction very closely, as opposed to the popular image of an alcoholic falling down drunk all the time.

    My Dad was a functioning alcoholic from when I was about 5 to when I was about 25. When I was in college he had gotten worse, then was laid-off, though the entire immediate family suspects he was laid-off instead of being fired for passing out during meetings or forgetting important appointments. Following that he was a classic depressed alcoholic for several years, sleeping a lot, wandering around the house, once my parents came to visit me at college and they stopped at a rest stop on the way home. My mom said she came out of the bathroom to find that a man that looked like her husband had passed out and collapsed with a crowd of people standing around him, and then she realized that was her husband. My mom knew for a long time that he was an alcoholic, and at some point while I was in college all of us kids knew as well. She tried to get him help, but he wouldn't go, and then the entire family had a meeting about helping him, which ironically included other functioning alcoholics, and shortly after that he got a DUI while heading home from a liquor store. The judge said either find a program or we'll find one for you, by this day. No joke, he was looking for one, but didn't enroll by the deadline and the State cops showed up at the door. He ended up in jail for a weekend, which obviously does not have alcohol, and by his court time on Monday was in a bad state and they sent him straight to a detox program, where he stayed for about a month. A typical stay is less than a week. At one point, a doctor brought up the possibility of perpetual care (basically they were worried his body wasn't going to start functioning properly again). But it did, thank god, and maybe a year after that he was hired by a prominent company in his field. He does drink glasses of wine in the evening now, which it out of our control since he long-distance commutes, but appears to be staying healthy and functional in a non-alcohol induced way.

    Anyways, that's my long-winded story, it is hard to deal with at first but it does get better, and thank god the system does work sometimes.


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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2010
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    1,751

    Default

    Denial is such an integral part of alcohol abuse that I wonder if it isn't a change induced by alcohol to some part of the brain. It can be very very frustrating.

    Memory loss is also an unfortunate part of alcoholism.

    I would suggest you read "Under the Influence" and "Almost Alcoholic" - both are really good books about alcoholism. Also consider Al-Anon or other recovery programs.

    Alcohol may be legal, but that doesn't mean it hasn't really fouled up the lives of legions of people. Educate yourself! and good luck!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2005
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    Default

    I briefly had a roommate who was a drunk. She prided herself on being a 'functional alcoholic' (her words). I'm talking about passed out drunk almost every night. Evil drunk, too. Very accusatory.

    Lying and denial was a big part of her everyday life. She had a source for pills, and would pop handfuls when the inevitable boyfriend would come to his senses and dump her. We tried to intervene, but she got hateful. Just nasty. Someone finally convinced her to go see a therapist. She went once and proclaimed that the lady said there was no need for her to be in therapy.

    She once broke her own arm banging on the footboard of her bed after the guy she was seeing dumped her. Everyone got different stories "I tripped over the dog", "I was running to the bathroom in socks and slipped", "I fell down the last step".

    I no longer associate with her. I can't surround myself with that toxicity. The lies are just sad. I hope she eventually shapes up, but no one has yet to be able to convince her to. She doesn't think she has a problem.


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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Alabama
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    Default

    There is nothing you can do, because he will deny to his last breath that he drinks too much, or has a problem. You can all get together, and do an intervention, but it needs professional help to facilitate this, and then there is rehab to pay for, and that's only if he agrees to go. Health plans usually pay for limited rehab, but public programs probably have long waiting lists. It's sad to watch someone hurt themselves this way, but there isn't much you can do except not enable him.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


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  8. #8
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    Feb. 23, 2005
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    Spotsylvania, VA
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    Default

    My alcoholic BIL convinced everyone in his family that his physical condition was due to his treatment for lymphoma. He even shaved his head.

    You cannot help someone who does not want help....and that's most alcoholics. They have to hit their definition of rock bottom and for some it's six feet under. Lose their family, lose their job, no problem, there's always the bottle.

    Rules yu must remember:
    To an alcoholic there is NOTHING more important, more valuable than their addiction. Family, career, health, self are NOTHING compared to their addiction
    Alcoholics LIE, to themselves and to their caretakers.
    An alcoholic will break your heart without a second thought



    Sorry
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2002
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    You cannot do anything - the addict has to come to the realisation on his own that he is sick and tired of being sick and tired and only the addict can break the denial. Family and friends can talk, badger, rant and rave til the cows come home and it will do no good. The only time people can really intervene is if the addict is a clear danger to himself or the courts mandate it. Best you and the rest can do is Al-anon. Addiction affects not just the addict but the whole family and close circle of friends.
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

    Member: Incredible Invisbles


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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 6, 2000
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    Decatur, GA
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    Default

    I work in an addiction facility and am oh so familiar with denial. I don't believe people have to "hit bottom" and am really not sure what that means. If he is having a stroke and ain't getting the message there isn't much you can do. I don't think that you guys should participate in the lying though. Call it like it is. Tell him he has to stop drinking. When he says he hasn't been tell him he is a liar. It takes a spiritual transformation to stop drinking and some people just won't get there. Ever. Heavy drinking usually has a corresponding personality that makes change hard, as they know everything already. But, it is definitely possible, I see it everyday. Good luck.
    “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
    ? Rumi


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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2011
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    Warren County, NJ
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    Default

    [QUOTE=carolprudm;7120145

    Rules yu must remember:
    To an alcoholic there is NOTHING more important, more valuable than their addiction. Family, career, health, self are NOTHING compared to their addiction
    Alcoholics LIE, to themselves and to their caretakers.
    An alcoholic will break your heart without a second thought[/QUOTE]

    This is so true. Until the admit it and are willing to make changes, there's nothing you can say or do.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2000
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    Way down south in the land of Sugar Cane
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    Default

    Thanks for the comments. Only time will tell but I am planning on going to Al Anon meetings and talking to his primary care physician. I realize that this is one problem that I cannot fix. I am blessed to have a great support system to remind me that I may not be able to help him if he will not help himself.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
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    In my car, between work, home, and the barn!
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    You don't protect him from the consequences of his drinking.
    This. Don't make excuses for him, don't put him to bed when he's passed out, and tell him he was drunk should he ask why he spent the night on the floor. He may honestly not remember drinking... sometimes I think denial goes with memory loss. If the consequences of drinking are always staring him in the face, he'll have a harder time not dealing with the problem.

    Ultimately, though, you can't make him do anything. Recovery starts and ends with the alcoholic, and if they don't want to be sober there's nothing you can do to force it.


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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 12, 2001
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    Default

    it's genetic-,they don't feel normal without the drug. all the "tough love" stuff, and "hitting bottom", and AAA are crap, proven to not work. Try drugs- many alcoholics are trying to self- treat depression/anxiety, thus drugs for depression/anxiety solve the problem.
    oh, and the definition of "addiction" is "out of control". Addicts CANNOT control themselves. It's not a moral failing, it's biochemistry. If they weren't addicts, they could quit. But they can't. They have NO CONTROL. Their brain chemistry is in control. Just like fat people who can't put down the donut, or smokers who can't put down the butt.
    You have to FORCE them to quite- first step is toss them into a rehab. Suddenly quitting alcohol can be deadly. Once their brains are clear, you put them on the appropriate drugs and hope for the best.


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep. 6, 2000
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    Decatur, GA
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    Default

    Wendy, you are quite wrong in almost everything you stated. There may be some genetic components to addiction but it is definitely a behavioral problem. They don't feel normal without the drug because they have used it so much before that they have hijacked the reward system in the brain. Sex, food, hugging cause feel good hormones but not like a shot of whiskey! Now, sex, food, hugs don't come anywhere near making them feel good so they have changed their brains. Second, "proven not to work" is just not true. I won't defend AA except to say that their numbers are never going to be great working with this population of people, relapse is part of a chronic disease. Lastly, many addicts (most) have underlying mental health disorder. But, psychiatric drugs, antidepressants in particular, are very very ineffective and can only have any kind of success at all if combined with a cognitive behavioral therapy plan.
    “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
    ? Rumi


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