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TW: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

My dad is an alcoholic. Over the past 6 months I've noticed a concerning pattern of behaviour. He is not violent and has never hurt me or anyone else. He is overly stressed and drinks to compensate. This has caused him health problems including extreme dermatitis which causes him a lot of pain and makes him drink more. He had a liver scan 2 months ago and said it was clear but refuses to show anyone the results. With his current behaviour he only has 3-5 years max. I have written him an intervention letter however we live a 2 hour flight apart so I can't really tell him in person. I just need advice on how to tell him, should I send him the letter and let him read it in his own time or call him and read it aloud or pay for flights and a hotel to see him? (I don't have much money but he is worth it) I also would appreciate any ppinters for letter, like anything i should avoid or add in? Please, any help would be greatly appreciated. I don't know what to do and I don't want to lose my dad

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

Hi @YellowButtercup and welcome to ReachOut!

 

You have taken a brave step today to reach out for help and share what is going on with your Dad- we are really glad you found us! I am hearing that your Dad has been struggling with his alcohol use, and you are feeling very concerned for his health and wellbeing. It's so hard to see a family member go through addiction, and your concern for him shows how much love is there Heart

 

You have mentioned that you have written your Dad a letter to let him know your concerns, and are not sure how best to deliver this message; verbally or in writing. What is your relationship like with your dad? At the moment, what feels most comfortable to you? 

 

Addiction to alcohol can be really hard to accept, but once that first step is made when the person is ready, there is hope and people do come back from this Heart Sometimes it takes those around who care so deeply, like yourself, to take this step and share concerns. ReachOut has an article I think you may find helpful too- this article is about talking to a friend about drug addiction, but a lot of the suggestions are also really relevant to alcohol addiction.

 

Going to open this conversation up to other community members, who may have some suggestions or ideas to explore with you too

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

Thank you for replying! My dad and I are close and he is a major part of my life, which is what makes this situation even more heart breaking. However I feel weird about saying all this face to face with him and I'm not very good with confrontation. I would feel much better if I sent him the letter. I'm just a bit concerned he might not read it or it might be to distressing for him to find out that I know as he dotes on me the most. I would also like to know what resources are available to help support him? I think i mentioned that he is under a lot of stress because of his work and my brother and I both having on-going health issues and have big expenses. I feel like that stress might be the cause of the problem as well as a family history of alcoholism. Thank you again for getting back to me. 

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

Hi @YellowButtercup 

I don't have an extensive knowledge of resources for this, but one that I can think of is Counselling Online.

They provide free counselling for people affected by drug or alcohol issues. You can actually use it too, since you're supporting him.

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

Hi @YellowButtercup,

 

I want to acknowledge I have just seen the original post you made overnight, and you have really articulately and compassionately described how you feel and raised concerns in a really respectful and loving way. 

 

I am hearing that there are some pros and cons of each approach, but that something non- face to face would be most comfortable for you. We can understand your concern that he may not read the letter. I am wondering if letting him know in advance how important it is to you that he does and giving him the letter for him to read 'when he is ready' might makes it sit better? What are your thoughts?

 

In terms of resources, the good news is that there are lots of supports available. One service I would recommend is SMART Recovery- they are a service similar to Alcoholics Anonymous but don't require sobriety, so often its a good entry service for people looking to get support with addiction. 

 

There are also lots of online support available where identity is anonymous- Turning Point list online and telehealth services for people experiencing addiction that might be helpful. They also have an online community like this one. Your Dad's local doctor/GP is also a good starting point for local services. Maybe the doctor he went to for the liver function test.

 

Watching someone struggle with addiction can be hard for those closest. What is your support network like? Are there people you can talk to?

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

@Tiny_leaf Thank you so much! That is actually perfect

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

Thank you. 

 

I think leaving the letter for him to read in his own time will be the best option. If he doesn't read it I will reconsider a face to face approach. I will also include those support groups so I can at least provide help in that sense.

 

I am currently seeing a psychiatrist for treatment of PTSD but I have told him about this issue and he has helped me learn when something is too much for me to deal with alone or at all. He is my biggest support with this whole ordeal and gives me good advice.

 

My mom and I are close and talk about this issue often but she has admitted to me over the past few days she has given up and is tired of this whole charade and the constant fights. 

 

I am going to convince her to go to counselling with my dad so they can have an honest mediator between the two of them that isn't me or my brother as the situation is too much for us. I will get the letter to my dad tomorrow. Hopefully all ends well. 

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

@YellowButtercup I'm glad it was helpful!

I just want to say that it's really good that you're establishing boundaries around what you can and can't deal with.

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Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

@YellowButtercup  Welcome to the forums!
I think you sound like a really caring, mature person. It can be so tough watching someone you love struggle with an addiction. How have you been coping through it all? Heart
We have a helpful article about how to look after yourself whilst supporting someone else.
There is also an organisation called Family Drug Support which provides a helpline and support services for people with family members who have issues with alcohol and drugs. They also have a lot of articles with coping tips, suggestions about how to set boundaries and dealing with conflict on their website.

Do you think your dad would be open to receiving help? Has he shown any signs that he wants to change his behaviour?

Re: My dad's an alcoholic and I don't know what to do

(Just a heads up this post is a little long to I don't expect any of you to read the full thing or respond, I just thought you would like to know I have a rough plan of action now and to let you know that I have support and fairly steady life at this point) 

 

Hi @WheresMySquishy 

Thank you, it's been tough telling myself that me confronting him (even through a letter) is a good thing. Over the past 24 hours I've had to deal with myself trying to convince me that this is no issue, everything is fine and to just bury my head in the sand. 

 

Thank you again everyone else who has provided input ( @Tiny_leaf  and @Jess1-RO )

 

To catch you up on how things are at the moment: 

I was visiting my family over the past few days and staying with my parents. My mom and I flew back to our home town (they moved very recently for work) and so i left the letter on my dad's pillow. It was a really hard thing to do because I felt like I was upsetting the boat big tim but my mom reassured me it was the right thing to do and said she was proud I was taking this step.

 

As for support: 

Luckily I have my mom, who is supporting me and I am also supporting her. Apart from her I have a brilliant psychiatrist (who I have been seeing for another issue but has supported me big time in other matters of my life) and my fantastic boyfriend who I can always rely on to have my back.

 

The people I worry about most is, obviously my dad, but also my mom and brother. My brother has struggled with addiction in the past and also drinks too much and frequently and he also has very severe psychiatric problems but falls to go to appointments and take the right medication at right times. He is living with his girlfriend in the same town my parents are now living (he works with them) so I've been thinking of subtly directly him to a few websites under the guise of "you have a family member with addiction issues here's resources so you can cope" in the hopes he will read further. I know he won't take well to a direct confrontation.

 

My mom is also a big worry as she has recently stated she is tired and is giving up trying to help my dad and brother as they tend to gang up on her and reject the help. I am going to ask her to start seeing a counsellor or psychologist or psychiatrist as well as she is very high strung and anxious. I think she will listen to me and it will help me as i will no longer be here closest confidont  as I don't think i can handled supporting her as well as myself.

 

Will he accept help? : 

My dad has shown absolutely no signs of accepting help. 6 months ago my brother talked to him and he said he will do better but hasn't. He also flat out refuses to listen to my mom. Both my mom and i don't think he will do anything to change after reading my letter but that's okay because this is just my first step into making him aware that this is a major issue he needs to change. 

 

Finally: 

Thanks again to all of you who have responded. You have no idea how much it helped me to take that first step - which is always the hardest. I have now made a connection which I will try to engage more with. However I refuse to get too deeply involved to the point my health and sanity are in jeopardy and am very glad they now live further away so nothing is right in my face anymore. I have other issues in my life that I need to deal with first and foremost. I plan to apprpach this in a kond of a "put your face mask on before assisting others" sort of deal