Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
I'm sorry to hear about your brother.
First of all, it would be impossible (and inappropriate) to diagnose your brother with having alcoholism over the internet. That can only be done by a licensed mental health professional after having seen and worked with her and completing some assessments. Within the parlance of the program of AA, however, "only you can know if you're an alcoholic."
With regard to your feelings regarding his behavior - your concern (and anger and frustration and confusion) is very common among those who choose to live with or around the alcoholic. A great place to begin to address your concerns is Alanon.
But before we move into that, a bit about alcoholism:
With regard to medical treatment for alcoholism, most general physicians don't have sufficient training to address the problem medically. Even general Psychiatrists (medical) and Psychologists (non-medical) are often woefully undertrained in chemical dependency. You may wish to consider consulting with a Psychiatrist who has training or is identified as an Addictions specialist. Some medications currently in use for alcoholism or alcohol abuse include:
- Naltrexone (to reduce alcohol's positive effects);
- Antabuse (to reduce cravings for alcohol and to produce adverse effects if drinking occurs);
- Campral (to reduce cravings for alcohol if you've already stopped).
Even addictions specialists will tell you that, to be frank, a good alcoholic will always find away to "work around" medications and will resume drinking behavior.
With regard to treatment for alcoholism, scientific, peer-reviewed research indicates that the most frequent solution for alcoholism is "spontaneous recovery" - meaning that the individual stops or reduces consumption himself, without intervention... never to return to alcohol abuse or alcoholism. (Some question if these individuals are truly alcoholic.)
Despite the scientific literature, most experts will agree that AA is the best choice for treating alcoholism. Traditional psychotherapy has not been found to be particularly effective, nor has cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral therapy to teach problem drinkers how to "control their drinking" (e.g., Sobel & Sobel).
As you probably know, AA is largely a spiritual program - and many individuals initially find the "God concept" difficult to grapple with. You've probably also heard that you can define God as you understand him. This isn't easy for most alcoholics.
I would encourage your brother to start attending AA meetings. He should watch for the people he sees there... and look for the similarities, not the differences. He may find himself wondering about someone there who seems to say things that make sense. He may be older or younger, an alcoholic or an addict, but he looks happy and talks about recovery. It's your brother's job to approach this person and ask him to be his sponsor. AA works, but it is a "we" program, not an "I" program. If he's willing to accept the hands that are being offered to him, he may well find himself on a journey that will not only help with his alcohol problem, but may help with his sober problems as well.
Finally, if she can do nothing else, remember the big four (taken from the story "JOIN THE TRIBE" in the 3rd edition of the Big Book):
- Don't pick up;
- Go to meetings;
- Get a BIG BOOK and read it;
- Find a sponsor and talk to him.
These are considered the keys (along with the 12 steps) of recovery within AA.
In case you haven't checked, there are AA meetings around the clock all over the world. Check out: http://www.aa.org/lang/en/meeting_finder.cfm?origpage=29 to find one near you. Even Singapore likely has meetings... but you can also check the site for on-line AA meetings as well.
The AA website would also have literature such as "The Big Book" (http://www.aa.org/bbonline/ ) and Alanon literature for those in relationships with alcoholics.
Alanon is the sister organization of AA - and is for all the folks who must contend with having an alcoholic partner, spouse, child, parent, sibling (etc.) They can be reached at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/ - and you'll also see postings for local meetings. I strongly recommend Alanon for you - as it will help you to cope with your feelings about this "alcoholic tornado" in your life... and help you come to some rational, manageable decisions about how to proceed.
Some excellent reads to consider include:
That will really only come with delving deep into some literature (books) such as the following:
Discovering Choices (Alanon. http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/b30.html)
(This is a brand new publication from the Alanon Family Group Headquarters. They offer many books, and smaller literature (articles, pamphlets) that you might find helpful.)
Why Don't They Just Quit (Herzanek, Hicks, & Lawrence). I've heard many clients and family members refer to this book as helpful.
Courage to Change (Alanon again).
Another Chance: Hope & Health for the Alcoholic Family (Wegsheider-Cruse).
I *do* wish you both the best of luck in your struggles. Alcoholism is "cunning, baffling, and powerful." I hope you (and certainly your brother) find the patience, strength, and courage to do address these concerns. You BOTH deserve it!
* FEEDBACK ENCOURAGED. Please contact me prior to leaving negative feedback so that we can resolve the matter. I am eager to work with all JA clients to provide them with useful/helpful answers. Thanks again.
Actually, in a way, I *did* provide an answer. (I'm sorry, it was probably a bit too "hidden" underneath all those words...words...words...)
Alanon (and just plain old good mental health practice) would tell you to leave him alone. If he "does something drastic," perhaps it will get him into enough trouble that he will seek treatment. Leaving him alone will be very challenging for you - and that's why I recommended all of the books and the Alanon meetings, etc. It's possible that your brother may drink himself, literally, to death. There is nothing anyone can do to help him with this... as he must seek his own treatment.
I really do encourage you to get to Alanon.