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Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 14:44
by hoolahoop

I have just signed up to this site as I have just made an agreement with my brother to help him in one last attempt at support while he tries to get off the drink. He has been drinking for almost 15 years on and off and has caused so much hurt and pain to all of the family throughout the years. We have all stuck by him with every detox/rehab/cold turkey attempts, watched him go through some awful personality changes, have been abused physically, mentally and all that jazz that we family's go through. He has been in prison through drinking, in hospital on so many occasions and is starting to show real signs of his body beginning to let him know enough is enough. It is so difficult to watch your loved one slowly killing themselves and causing hurt to everyone around them while they do it. I have gone through phases of being totally involved and trying to support the family to phases where I can no longer be the support and had to back away. After another scary night of my brother being drunk and hurling abuse in every direction possible I have decided that I have to give this one last chance and then I hate to even say this but I will have to walk away if it's not successful this time.

He has finished off the alcohol that he had left over this morning (about 2 pints of strong cider) and we have stocked up with energy drinks, protein shakes, fruit and food for when he is ready to eat as his body tends to hit into hypoglycaemia quite often when he hasn't got alcohol in him. Is there anything else people can recommend to help him out over the next few days? Are there any foods or drinks that will help him through it? He was due to go into a non residential detox programme today which has now been put off till Thursday for him to get himself clear of alcohol. So we have 3 days till the real support comes in.

Any advice would be great from everyone on here. Have been trawling all the health sites to get more information on all the symptoms but I know every last one of them already and none of the sites give any real advice on how to help them. Thanks for taking the time to read this, i'm sorry if I shouldn't be using this site but i'm desperate to know what really can work from real people that know.

Thank you all. Reading some of the other topics have been great too.

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 15:23
by mo rolfe
Sadly we are all trying to cope with the same problem , I know how you feel as I went through the same problem with my sister for about 4 years , trying to get her to give up drink was hell but she did do it in the end but now she is on drugs so don't know what is worse , I now have no contact with her but do miss the old her .

I am now going through it with my husband who has a big problem and drinks non stop in the house while he treats me and my children like dirt , I have tried to help but am getting no where while he is making myself and his mum ill .
Hope u manage to get it sorted


Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 15:32
by hoolahoop
Thanks for the reply Mo, what a horrible situation for you both sister and now your husband. Cutting contact seems like such a horrible way to go but I have so much respect for you for doing it in a way. All the professional advice we get as the family is to cut him out, he has to reach his rock bottom to make the real decision to get back out of it properly, but it is so difficult to do. . and I would be the first making that stand which I know would not go down well with other members of the family.

There are no right answers are there. . . it is so sad to know how many people go through this, and I really wish that magic wand cure was out there.

Hope things with your husband improve! If he is making you and your mum ill that is a terrible position for you to be in, you have to make sure you look after yourself as only when you are well can you look after others. Big hug to you, so nice to finally meet people who understand what this is all about. Look after yourself. <:)>

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 15:38
by hoolahoop
Hi Tom

Thanks for the message. . . I know it has to come from him. . . I understand that completely. Just wish I could fix it for him I suppose.

He says this is it for him and he is going to sort it out so I just want to be able to support him through this part of it in the right way. I really hope this time is going to be it but part of me already knows it isn't. Is that fair? Probably not, I don't know how or what to do other than hope. The reason he is doing it now is because Dad has told him if he doesn't he will have to move out (which means no where for him to go!).

I know I can never understand what he is going through or been through but I don't want him to think we don't love him and want him to be better.

Thank you for your love, much appreciated today. ;)?

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 16:17
by hoolahoop
Thank you for your reply Zoe, was lovely to read

He has got loads of Vit B tablets from previous attempts to come off it and he is also taking Omeprazole (which I think is to stop the stomach bleeds he has had) and Benerva(?) tablets which are Thiamin.

Never heard of the milk thistle thing before i'll have a search around and see if I can get some, going to stock up on banana's and fruit. He's not a big chocolate fan but i'll get some anyway just in case he fancies it.

GP wont prescribe him much else as he has been through this so many times with them I think they don't trust him any more, and he also has a history of trying to overdose. A positive sign though, he has given me his keys and money and asked me not to let him leave the house till Thursday's Detox Appointment. ;)?

Your advice has been wonderful, thank you. I'll keep you posted. xx

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 18:35
by Oldenough2knowbetter
Hi hoolahoop

He's lucky to have a sister like you and I hope Thursday comes around quickly.

Milk thistle is readily available in holland & Barrett, Boots too, it won't be difficult to find.

My daughter was on Omeprazole for a stomach ulcer, it helps with inflammation.

Good luck and please feel free to post anywhere or ask anything, there's always someone around to help or just to talk to.


Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 22:01
by hoolahoop
Thank you, it's nice to know that i'm doing ok at all this. . . I know I can't actually do anything for him really. Have been here many times and thought I had lost the will to go through it again but knowing that this is his last chance with staying at dads house I have to give it the one last go with him.

He is refusing to eat anything today, say's he is being sick and bringing up blood - which is due to a hear in his stomach lining and has been seen in hospital within the last couple of weeks. I'm just worried if he doesn't eat much he is going to feel worse with no energy or sugar going in.

Is not wanting to eat normal symptom of just coming off the booze (he did drink a lot yesterday and had a little top up this morning of a few pints of cider)??

In complete honesty. . . I am so used to him telling whatever lies he can to either continue drinking or to get attention or to make the world see how awful it is for him, I am struggling to believe some of the things he says, even now. He has a classic go to tool of getting out of starting the detox - which he has done 3 times already in the last 3 weeks - of pretending to cold turkey, pretending to have DT's then getting either his girlfriend (who has only known him a short while and has no clue what's going on) to call out an ambulance or he himself calls nhs direct, tells them all the symptoms he knows they need to hear to send out an ambulance and then either refuses to goes into hospital the day or 2 before his planned detox start.

I have nightmares that one day he will really be in trouble, and because he has pretended for so long, I just step over him (the way I have done many times in the past) and leave him to die.

Is faking tremors and fits a common thing for people addicted to alcohol?

I'm questioning his intentions now the day has gone on as I have realised he just hasn't got any money left. I think i'm just writing this to get it out. Sorry to anyone reading this. . . i'm just brain dumping I think.

I have so much respect for you all on here, for all the honesty and advice and support you offer everyone and each other. I'm a little tempted to show Dan this site but I wouldn't want to upset him with my posts.

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 12:07
by Boris Bike
Zoe's list is fab so please do try to get some of those things in.

Bananas are very good for someone who isn't quite ready to face much in the way of food yet. Toast and marmalade was another favourite in my earliest days of sobriety. My appetite returned after about ten days and I started to eat regularly and well again.

I also found that I kept myself very hydrated by mixing fruit juice and soda water. I didn't realise it at first but I seemed to much more enjoy the soft drinks with the fizziness added by the soda. Sainsburys own brand is very cheap to pick up in packs of four bottles but other supermarket brands may even be cheaper.

Have a good look around other threads as there as a ton of useful personal experience to draw on.

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 15:18
by delp
Hi hoolahoop
Thankyou so much for your post.
I am going through something similar as a sister of an alcoholic.
How is your brother doing?
My brother was admitted to hospital on Monday, and finally admitted he had a problem.
They put him straight onto the detox programme.
He is now on day 6, and being let out of hospital tomorrow, having coped really well with detox.
I am now really worried that when he comes out of hospital, he may relapse.
I know it is wrong, but I feel I need to come up with some sort of solution, to fix him, to stop my mum having to see her son relapse again.
I also worry that, because he seemed to find the detox programme easy, that he will think, I can do the detox again if I need to!!
Is coming down as a hard ass a good thing?, being the prison warden?
Any advice anyone?

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 15:31
by caroline95
Hi Delph, I've just replied to your post on the New Members thread.As difficult as it may seem, for what it's worth my advice would be to take a step back now and let the professionals and your brother get on with it.Hard though it is, you can't 'save' him, he can only do that for himself.Lots of good advice on this thread - take care, and post whenever you like, there's always someone around.Good luck.

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 17:33
by Boris Bike
Delp, it is very difficult to know what to do for the best. I would recommend that you just let him know that you're only at the end of the telephone if he's struggling. Or email. You might also want to gently assess whether he's making use of all his support when you speak to him from time to time as if he is engaged with those things he will be more likely to succeed. If he seems to be straying from his support give him some reminders or nudges back in the right direction.

Everyone has their own life to lead and so this may not be possible, but you could potentially say to him "even if it's 3 or 4 in the morning you can phone if you're desperate", however a phone call at that time of the night isn't something everyone can cope with if they have work commitments or are sharing the house with family members, so don't say it if it would cause a problem.

It's all just "being there" really.

I guess the "prison warder" approach would certainly be effective on some people. It would have been a terrible approach to use on me, though. Part of what I liked about alcohol was the whole two fingers up at anything I perceived as trying to control me, so anyone trying to do that with me would have just caused more rebellion. Maybe you could put it to him as a suggestion? Say something like "if you want me to, I will guard over you but I *will* be strict!" and say it in a smiley, half-joking way. That way he can either assent to having you take on that kind of authority figure role or reject it as not for him?

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 19:20
by delp
Thanks Boris I appreciate your suggestions
The support network at home is very strong, both myself and mum and dad live very close, we will be doing everything we can. I am worried that the councellors have a months waiting list. They have been made aware through the hospital that he is doing detox, but they cannot fit him in to see him for a month!!
This is very annoying, as it seems to me that my brother and the family have been left to deal on our own, and then they will step in when it is easier. Also, surely he is at risk of relapsing early on and this is when he needs the most support and motivation.
I will point him in the direction of this website, hopefully he will find help and reassurance here.

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 20:20
by caroline95
Delph, I really feel for you, having gone through something similar to your experience with my Mum, many years ago.But what you say about your brother being at most risk of relapse in the early days, in my experience, isn't the case.I do emphasise my experience, because everyone is different, but for me, the early days were relatively easy, it's when the post-detox euphoria wears off that the problems really come to the forefront.It's a long journey, just make sure you take care of you as well as your brother, and keep posting x

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 20:37
by Boris Bike
I agree that it's not ideal that the services don't seem to have joined up very well, Delp. Ideally there wouldn't be the gap. From reports I've gathered over the years (I used to post on another forum for people with depression) a month wait is actually very good, would you believe! Waiting times of 6 months or even a year are not uncommon for counselling.

A few years ago there was a lot in the news about greatly increased funding going in to counselling services to bring waiting times down, but I suspect that's all gone West what with the current economic climate.

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 08 Oct 2011 22:22
by hoolahoop
Sorry I have been away for a while. . . Thursday came and went and my brother decided not to start the re-hab. . . all very sad and frustrating but as we all know, he will only do it when he is ready so I shall keep my heart and head strong for when that day comes.

Delph, i'm so sorry I haven't replied to you sooner. All the advice you have been given is great, all I can say from personal experience is to never expect immediate results with any of it. . . the counselling being a month off is hard to deal with I can understand that. Has your brother or anyone looked into local Alcohol support services outside of the NHS? I live in Bristol and we have numerous great support groups/organisations that can provide help for all of us, I hope you have something similar to that to?
delp wrote: it seems to me that my brother and the family have been left to deal on our own, and then they will step in when it is easier. Also, surely he is at risk of relapsing early on and this is when he needs the most support and motivation.
. . . this is something I really struggle with as well. But unfortunately due to it being an alcohol addiction it has to be their decision to get the help and stick with the help. Addiction often comes with at least a Dual Diagnosis within Mental Health, sometimes depression, anxiety, some sort of trauma etc are underlying the drinking, but none of that can be dealt with till the drinking is gone. Being on here has made a big difference to me in just a short week, talking to people and creating a good support network for yourself will help you through. I do hope you have some sort of organisation near you that you could get advice from, just having someone on the end of the phone for advice is great. . . equally this forum is the perfect place to look if you have any questions.

As for personal help for your situation. . . Boris said it perfectly "It's all just "being there" really." While he is sober and working at staying sober just be there, keep him busy or just keep him company. I have found boredom is a big factor for my brother, when he sobers up he gets busy, but then normal life carries on for everyone and he can't deal with the times he is alone and bored. We can never fix it for them, but while they are trying to fix themselves we can support them in whatever way is possible.

As for being 'prison warden' i've tried and failed many times. . . that will completely depend on your brother though. This time around (for the first 2 days at least) my brother asked me to do it and he stuck to it, but as soon as he was feeling a bit better and bored that quickly changed. All the advice the 'professional's' have given our family is to let him go and stop 'enabling' his drinking. The most difficult thing to do but i'm getting to close to understanding why. Your brother has done amazing finally admitting his problem and getting through the first 6 days. When he comes out tomorrow, I would just offer to be there in any way he wants you to be, talk if he wants to talk, go out for walks, let him know how much you love him and want to support him in his recovery. Ask him what/if you can do anything to help, even if it's just day to day stuff like going to the supermarket together or sorting out post from the last week.

I hope it works out for you and all your family. It sounds like you have a good strong network there for you. Please keep us updated and if you have any questions or just need a vent then get back on here. It is helping me and the people on here are so understanding and just plain lovely for even being here and replying.


Love and luck to you Delph over the next few day's/weeks, I shall endeavour to check in daily and give updates on my brother, maybe we can help each other through this. <:)>

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 09 Oct 2011 14:14
by delp
Thanks guys for all your support.
I think the more I look on this website, the more I can get some understanding of what he is going through/will go through, which I think has been a difficult wake up call.
I think, being new to all this, I figured, ok he's done the hard bit, in admitting he has a problem, and now he's done detox he should be on the road to recovery. If he chooses to drink again, then that's his stupid fault.
Now I realise that this is not the case, and we have a long road ahead of us, which is really daunting!
I think I will pass the website on to my mum and dad, as I think that they are thinking the same as I was. Although I worry because I want to protect them from the worst of it. They don't even know how much he told me when he came clean about how much he drinks.
Anyway, he is due home shortly, I am cooking Sunday dinner. Hopefully my cooking won't make it worse!!!
Thanks again

Re: Sister of an alcoholic desperate to help him. . .

Posted: 09 Oct 2011 21:20
by Boris Bike
Oh Hoola, sorry to hear your brother isn't going to do his detox. That must be very frustrating news for you. But I guess if he doesn't want to do it there would be little chance of success if he went. I hope he starts to make some kind of positive progress soon.

I hope you have a nice afternoon / evening with your brother, Delp. It's possible that it will reap dividends if you send your parents to have a look here. I tend to think the better informed people are the better decisions they make. It can also help to have things demystified: the unknown can be scary. Then again, whenever I have a problem I research the hell out of it and one doesn't always welcome the information one finds...