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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I recently found out a relative of mine is an alcoholic. They

Customer Question

I recently found out a relative of mine is an alcoholic. They don't drink every day and can even go to bars and restaurants and not drink on that occasion (hence why I didn't know I guess), but none the less when they do drink they can't stop until they are drunk at which point they become extremely aggressive and argumentative.

Due to an alcohol related family feud it took me a lot of years (until I became almost an adult myself) to get this person in my life. Sadly as life goes most of my family excluding my parents are now deceased and I am terrified of losing this person. I have been told they are in denial and so won't accept help, I am old enough to understand that you can't help someone who doesn't want help. But at the same time I can't face losing another family member especially as we'll lost one recently.

I know it sounds a bit pathetic for an adult to say but I feel like my family is just slipping away... I know I can't help the person if they don't help them self but there must be something I can do!! I can't just watch then slowly drink them self to death.

I am not this persons only relative but I feel I need to do SOMETHIG I am not prepared to just watch another family member pass away. Especially as it took me so long to even get to know the person. I have only seen them when they are sober and they are a lovely person it's like A totally different persoln after they have drank I believe.

I want to talk to them and tell them how I feel but I'm scared, not because I think they would hurt me, I'm almost sure they wouldn't but because I am young... At 20 years old I can't really lecture them on life. I am scared they will see it that way and instantly get defensive, I may be young and inexperienced but I know a defensive person isn't going to want help. I don't know how to approach the situation and what to say. Other than talk to them I don't know how to help but I feel that I have to try and do something.

P.s sorry for the essay I tried to give you a lot of info so you can help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.


First, let me say I can imagine how difficult this situation must be for everyone. On the one hand you are young and they represent for you one of the few links you have to family, to not being completely on your own in the world. On the other hand, you know that they are being self destructive with this alcoholism.


And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to think about and consider seriously. My focus here in my answer is going to be on you. Why?

Because you are very correct that you will not convince them to change their ways. And it's not just because you're 20 years old. Even if you were 40 or 60 you would not be able to convince them. This is a reality of alcoholism and of most addictions. Not you nor anyone else in their family can make them leave the bottle until they are ready to face it themselves. This is the reality you have to accept as the starting point. Okay?

You are clearly a good-hearted person and you very much want to help them. My concern, though, is about something called enabling. You can Google this and learn about it. Enabling is where you try to help, but wind up actually enabling them to stay an alcoholic. This can happen without realizing it.



Therefore, to have a relationship with them without having it become an enabling relationship or without becoming disenchanted and angry with the person, I recommend that you look into joining Al Anon. That's the part of Alcoholics Anonymous that is for the family. Here’s the meeting finder:

http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/meetings/


Not all meetings are the same. So if you don't hit it off with one group, find out where there's a different meeting. And they have written materials that can be very helpful to you both in how to have a relationship and how to encourage someone to seek help in a way that has most chance of them actually listening.

So, try to have a relationship with them. But don't do it without first being educated and having support. Okay, I wish you the very, very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Think I just replied but I don't see it posted above?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for you advice and suggestions its great, one last thing though, I briefly googled enabling and I am confident as I am not the child of this person that I am not enabling them because I'm not the one who has to bail them out etc.. Do you think it would be appropriate for me to talk to them when they are sober, as they are perfectly reasonable then and just tell them: I am there fore them in their recovery should they choose to get help, and be honest and say I am scared you will die! But I love you and always will no matter what but the choice to recover can only be your choice, I will do all I can to help with your recovery.I will only help with the recovery by the way thereby not enabling them. Do you think to say this would be ok and maybe give them a nudge in the right direction? Then at least I can always look myself in the mirror so to speak and say well I tried, and I told them I'm here for them...Thanks Dr Mark.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
I think that might be very beautiful. It may be very inspiring to them.


But here is the concern and you are right to be concerned:


Inspiration lasts for a brief minute. You know how you can see a movie that is very inspiring and you say as you're watching you're going to change this or that and by the time the movie is over you're very committed to this. Then 2 weeks later, you don't even remember any longer; it's faded slowly away.


Inspiration is like that. And the problem then is that you will want to try to keep them inspired to get them to actually act on the inspiration from such a beautiful conversation and statements from the heart by you. That's where the difficulties represented by enabling can occur. We are not, it's true, referring to the type of enabling of children to parents, but of other family where you become more invested in trying to get them to change by helping and they become only invested in whatever help you are offering and not the change.


The point is also of your being hurt. So, in sum, yes, this is a beautiful conversation and it may be helpful but be watchful and don't get too emotionally invested, okay?


I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thanks for all your help, I appreciate your kindness and advice.

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
You are so welcome. I want you to know that I sincerely believe you to be a good human being with a wonderful caring nature. This is a very promising combination for a great life.


All the very best,
Dr. Mark

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Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice