Alcoholic Mother--Need Professional Advice

  1. I'd like a little bit of advice from anyone who works with alcoholic patients or has an alcoholic family member. Mom is 64, active alcoholic for 25+ years. She has cirrhosis, ascites, a-fib, severe jaundice. Has not been diagnosed with pancreatitis, but I have my suspicions. Has had a heart attack in the past and never knew it.

    She is getting more and more confused. Her meds were a mess. I spent an hour on the phone last week helping her get them all organized (take what pill when, etc.). Today she told me she's been dizzy for a few days and now has chest pain midsternal and straight through to her back. Shortness of breath. Hadn't been taking her meds. Convinced her to call the ambulance (I live in PA, she's in FL). When they got there, she had them check her vitals and they told her she wasn't in a-fib. She didn't even remember calling EMS--she thought either me or my sister had!! The one paramedic told her she was wasting their time and money by calling, and that she should have just gone to a walk-in clinic. I am furious about that!!!

    My sister stopped by my mom's and then called me. She talked with my mom, and basically my mom is just sick of living like this and is accelerating her drinking so she can speed up the process and die. She has wanted to die since my dad passed away 25 years ago.

    I know my sis and I can't stop her from drinking. Even if she did quit at this stage, she'd be very sick for the rest of her life. We are starting to try to look at this as if it were a terminal disease, like cancer, etc. Are we terrible people for not having her committed, 302'd, whatever? We HAVE been through all the interventions, the rehabs, being the supportive daughters, the watchdogs, etc. My sister cried on the phone today. She NEVER cries. This is taking it's toll, especially on her because she sees mom often and feels so helpless. We love our mom, but it's like we just want this over with already, because we know that the end result will be her death anyway.

    She's not who she was. Her mind is going, she's started falling recently. Sorry for the long vent, but I'm going crazy. Of course, next week is finals week too, so all this REALLY helps!
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    About Siouxz2

    Joined: Dec '04; Posts: 73; Likes: 4


  3. by   Still Riding
    I'm sorry you and your family are going through this
  4. by   leslie :-D
    God, i'm sorry your sister, you and mom are going through this.
    realistically speaking, your mom will not stop drinking....i'm looking at safety issues here.
    would it be realistic if she would move to an assisted living facility?
    to have her committed to detox and dry out, i would say she would just start drinking again if she was brought against her will. and that's a key word here....will. it sounds like it's your mother's will to be self-destructive. no one will be able to change that.
    as i said, i think an assisted living facility may be more of an option since she's so confused and sickly.
    as for you and your sisters, i suggest going to al-anon; they're an immeasurable support group strictly for families living with an alcoholic. you don't have to share your story but can merely listen. no pressures at all and they have them all over the country. i think that you and your sister would greatly benefit from attending and there would be people there that could advise you re: your mom, her confusion, her death wish, her physical ailments. trust me, they've all been there and understand your powerlessness and frustration. and i do understand what it's like living with alcoholics and have recently started attending al-anon myself.

    with prayers,

  5. by   germain
    You need some support- any support. Get some now!

    Heres some support I'm throwing your way from cyberspace- CATCH!

    I think you have a very realistic idea about the situation, but I can'
    t help but think it might be easier if your mother were in a different living situation right now. Of course she doesn't want it, but it may be best- even hospice. Adult protective services can help, if you want.
    I know its very hard to find placement for alcoholics, though, but it might take some pressure off of you both and you do deserve that. your mother may even be more comfortable.

    Mostly, I just wish you a lot of stregnth>
  6. by   pricklypear
    I second the advice about attending Al-Anon. Been there, done that. It helped me more than anything. I learned that you can LOVE an alcoholic, but you can't CONTROL them. The very first meeting I went to changed my life. It gave me permission to let go of the guilt, the sense of responsibility. Please, please go...((((((((((((((Siouxz2)))))))))))))))))))
  7. by   VivaLasViejas
    The very first thing you MUST do is to absolve yourself, RIGHT NOW, of any responsibility for your mother's ill health. She is an adult who has evidently never adjusted to widowhood, she is obviously depressed, and she 'self-medicates' in order to escape the realities of her life. It's a shame, but there is absolutely nothing you or your sister can do about it.........please try to accept, for the sake of your own mental health, the fact that you can't save your mother from herself.

    I know from having both lived with a family of alcoholics and being one myself that until a person first realizes they have a problem, and then asks for help, all the begging and pleading will fall on deaf ears. Your mother sounds like she's become passively suicidal.......she is crying out for help, but doesn't know how to ask for it. I'm wondering if an assisted living or a similar type of medically supervised retirement community wouldn't be appropriate; the staff who run these facilities can manage her meds and make sure she gets them in the proper amounts, plus they can monitor her drinking patterns and see that she gets help with her problem (IF she believes, as you do, that she HAS a problem---sometimes that's half the battle).

    There are, of course, nursing homes with locked units that can keep her away from the booze and safe from harm, but that would probably only exacerbate her misery and make her more determined to 'escape'. She really shouldn't be left to her own devices........she sounds very unsafe in her present situation........but I'd try to avoid anything that looks or feels like her choices have been taken away from her. That final indignity could be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back. :stone But whatever you end up doing, try to make sure your mother understands that you're doing it out of love for her, not because you want to control's a fine line between the two, and most alcoholics will swear it's the latter whenever their families try to help them.

    Best of luck. I know how tough it is to try to help an ailing parent from a much is out of your hands before you ever get started.
  8. by   Siouxz2
    My mom knows and admits she's an out-of-control alcoholic. She is still lucid enough that we probably could not have her placed without her consent, and consent is never going to happen at this point. She can't keep her meds straight, but when I suggested my sister go to the doctor's with her to make sure all her meds were correct, she freaked and told us she could handle it, that she wasn't 80 years old. Right. After spending an hour working on meds with her while she cried and said she didn't know how to handle "all her medications (9)." Right now her wish is to just go to sleep and not wake up. I hope for her sake that's the case, and she doesn't end up completely incapacitated. I'm getting ready to call her and check on her, but I'm kind of scared.

    I will check out an online Al-Anon chat tonight. One good thing that has come of all this is that watching her kill herself all these years made me realize I was walking in her footsteps. I haven't had a drink in over 4 months. For that, I am grateful. She probably saved my life.
  9. by   pricklypear
    If she has threatened to kill herself, you may be able to get her commited to treatment without her consent, based on that threat or statement.
  10. by   Siouxz2
    Yesterday Mom was still doing poorly and finally called her doctor. They told her to call 911 because her breathing sounded terrible. I don't know what her pulse ox was, but I guess it wasn't too good. They had her on 2L NC at the hospital and were giving her potassium (she was taking her Lasix at home, but not her potassium because it made her nauseous).

    I went to call her late this afternoon, and another patient is in her room! I called back and asked where my mom was and they (very snottily!) said "she's in CCU!" Apparently, while on the regular floor she got very dizzy and yelled for the nurse and told her she had fallen out of bed, which she didn't. Her potassium and magnesium were both very low and she was having arrhythmias.

    So now they've been pumping her full of K and mag, and she's feeling better. That's all I know for now.

    Honestly, I don't know how much more of this I can take. When I get depressed, I sleep, which is really conducive to studying for my final on Friday. The obligatory migraine is just an added bonus. I really want a drink--I won't have one, but I really want one.
  11. by   pricklypear

    I'm so sorry... Hang in there:icon_hug:
  12. by   warrior woman
    I know how bad depression can get. I have no experience with alcoholism myself, except when my brother had a major problem with it and wouldn't listen to anyone. He finally got help but it was through a process that literally took YEARS, when he finally recognized that his health WAS being adversely affected. Atrial fib, HTN, ect. I'm so sorry that you're going through this turmoil. Please know that there are a lot of people on this board who care a great deal. Take care, and keep us posted.
  13. by   UM Review RN
    I really want a drink--I won't have one, but I really want one.
    As far as her condition goes, please try to remember:

    "We didn't cause it, can't control it, and can't cure it."

  14. by   pie123
    I come from a family of alcoholics: my mother, her mother & father, my great-grandfather, & I have an aunt who was headed down that path, but to my knowledge, she has cleaned herself up...somewhat.
    I can remember being 5-6 years old, & seeing my grandmother being wheeled out of our house on a stretcher after one of her drinking binges.
    My mother started drinking at age 28. Now, she pretty much drinks every night after work, & starts early on her off days. She doesn't think she's an alcoholic because she can still make it to work, etc.
    Personally, I can't stand the taste of alcohol or dealing with drunk people.
    When my mom first started drinking, I liked it (isn't that sick) because she was REALLY nice (she usually was a hard-a** on us when she was sober). Then her behavior became really embarrassing: incontinence; falling down; calling people at all times of the night, & I'd have to apologize for her; attempting to drive; passing out in a field after a party, & being carried home by 4 men, who could have done who knows what with/to her; & the list goes on.
    Sorry I have no advice for you, only to share my story. I know all to well what it is like to have this addiction affect someone that you really care about.
    My mom is averse to any sort of rehab because she does not think she is an alcoholic, simply because she is able to function in everyday life. My grandmother has been in-and-out of rehab facilities, & once she was sober for roughly one month, then she started drinking again. Good luck to you with getting help for your mom.
    Last edit by pie123 on Apr 26, '05