Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
Good morning and welcome to JA.
Please understand that it is both unethical and inappropriate to diagnose over the internet... so I by providing answers/advice today does not mean I can confirm a diagnosis of Alcohol Dependence (or Alcoholism). That can only be done, in person, with a qualified medical or mental health professional.
All this being said, I believe you have reason to be concerned. Your mother's behavior (including accidents), her physical health, and (more importantly) her attitude toward this issue... it's all very concerning.
I would begin your own personal research by learning more about Alcoholics Anonymous. (While I typically provide the link for the US-AA central office, I think this link may be more helpful for you: http://www.aa.org.au/findameeting/
While it is possible that you mother may respond to medications to reduce her cravings for alcohol (or medications that make her sick if she drinks), these medications have truly not been found to be effective with the "far gone." Patients simply stop taking their medications.
Therapy has not been found to be effective in the treatment of alcoholism... unless it's therapy provided by a licensed Chemical Dependence Counselor.
What may be more concerning, and a more immediate need for you to consider: if you mother is experiencing physical symptoms as a result of her drinking behavior, she has moved beyond psychological/emotional dependence to physical dependence. This will require physical detoxification from alcohol if she is expected to successfully stop drinking.
You should understand that, of all the drugs available, detoxing from alcohol can be the most potentially dangerous medically... so I would STRONGLY recommend you consider placing mom in a detoxification center where she can be medically monitored and treated as she gets the alcohol out of her system.
The physical stress of stopping drinking suddenly can result in some pretty serious medical complications, so detox is highly recommended, if this is where your mom is currently at in her disease.
Finally, I hate to say these words - because family members dread hearing them, you mom is ultimately correct. It *is* her life... and if she chooses to spend her last days drinking herself to death, there really is NOTHING you can do. You could take her to the Emergency Room when she passes out, you could have her competence evaluated, etc... but ultimately, if you mom has become addicted to alcohol and is unable/unwilling to seek treatment... the best you can do is take care of yourself and your immediate family.
Alanon is the support group for wives, children, parents, family & friends of alcoholics. Again, I usually provide the US link for Alanon... so I'm sorry if this isn't helpful... but it's what I found: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/australia/
Do you think that puffy face, shaking, anxiety and depression are all symptoms. Its so hard to relate the falls and being sick to alcohol, it just feels like she is falling apart she always seems injured or sick. The issue I face it excessive alcohol usage has been 'normal' in the family, my mum doesn't want to admit there is an issue, surely there is some steps that can be taken a family intervention obviously would not work in this situation.
Puffy face, shaking, anxiety, depression - yes those are all symptoms of alcohol dependence and/or detoxing. Of course, they are also symptoms of other possible medical causes... but when you hear hoofbeats... it's probably a horse, not likely a zebra coming around the corner.
And since you know this "stable" pretty well, alcohol makes sense. (The accidents, too.)
The steps I would take: find a local AA meeting and go yourself.
Buy some of the literature, speak to some of the women there, learn what you can.
See if your mom would go with you to another meeting... or see if one of the women there would be willing to speak to you mom. (This is called "doing a 12th step call" on your mother.)
If mom is unwilling/unable to at least attend a meeting, you have a sense of where things stand.
If you are genuinely concerned about her health, she may require hospitalization to manage her coming off the alcohol. Remember, detox can be dangerous!
How can detox be dangerous?
Finally... go YOURSELF to an Alanon meeting. Bring a brother or sister or friend. You'll need support in the months ahead.
detox can lead to extremely high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, seizures. These are the hard-core side-effects of detoxing. The more minor ones include gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, severe headaches, anxiety, depression... just imagine the worst hangover you've ever had... only it lasts several days.
You can see why detoxing on your own is rarely successful.
My mum is already on high blood pressure, do you think that in this case she would need medical monitoring?
Absolutely... and she may, in fact, be on blood pressure medication BECAUSE of long term alcohol abuse.
I regret that our time is complete for the time being. I would be pleased to speak with you later, if that would be helpful. Please feel free to direct questions to me, or you can open questions to the expert panel as a whole. Also, you should receive an e-mail following the close of our discussion, so that you can link back to it, if you need to review any of the information provided.
Ah, I see you have one last question. I'll wait.
finally ..Should my mums long term doctor have picked something like this up, wouldn't she have an obligation to follow this up. It seems she hands out medication no questions asked
A GP (General Practitioner) can adopt a number of philosophies when treating their patients... some are more intrusive than others... many are very hands-off. In all likelihood, the GP might have asked a few questions... but if you mom denied everything related to alcohol, few GPs are likely to follow-up.
Does she have an OBLIGATION to follow-up? Probably not legally... unless your mom said, "doctor, I need help quitting alcohol" and the doctor ignored her. That would be negligence. Ethically, if all the signs were there, it would have been preferable if the GP had checked it all out, yes.