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    1. #1
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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      I am looking for advice. For some background: I was on a website called sober recovery where they had some excerpts from "under the influence" I think it was called, and they posted some text from the chapters on late stage alcoholism. My best friend's mother is in this terrible stage, and the excerpt from the book that was posted, though extremely sad, tragic, and scary, is quite the picture of her life right now:

      "Eventually the reality of what the alcoholic's life has become can no longer be ignored. The rationalizations, denials, and excuses crumble, and the alcoholic is left with the spectacle of his wasted and broken life. He may seek permanent and immediate escape from this crushing knowledge through suicide; he may fear both death and life without alcohol and so continue to drink until death puts an end to his misery; he may experience vague religious or spiritual desires, hoping for a miracle to pull him out of the mess of his life and return his sanity and self-respect; or he may begin to look for help. Tragically, help usually consists of a brief drying out period, after which the alcoholic simply returns to his old lifestyle. He may be given pills or told to report to an out-patient counseling program. With this minimum level of help and support, the late-stage alcoholic has only a slim chance of starting a recovery from his disease.

      The alcoholic's addiction is now obvious to even the most casual observer. He is the classic picture of the Skid Road bum. All the family's efforts appear to have ended in failure, and failure breeds fear, frustration, and resentment. The alcoholic's spouse and children may lash back at him; screaming, hysterical battles may rock the household and destroy any remaining hope of an end to the long and bitter tragedy. The family may suddenly stop fighting and simply give up, convinced that they can only provide the alcoholic with a warm place to sleep and food to eat. Or, having lost all hope, they may pack up and leave him to his misery.

      Whatever course the family takes, they are usually as emotionally sick as the alcoholic. The wife or husband may feel responsible; he or she also feels worthless, incompetent, useless, and unloved, and suffers crippling guilt and self-pity. The alcoholic's children are also battle scarred. All the solid foundations of love, security, and predictaqbility have been knocked out from underneath them, and they are frightened and torn apart with doubts and fears: "Will he die? Does he hate me? Is it my fault? Why can't I do something?"

      The late-stage alcoholic is usually isolated from his friends and relatives. Social contacts have disintegrated. Neighbors lower their eyes. Relatives may be so paralyzed by anger or grief that they, too, stop trying. The alcoholic "problem" is ignored, put out of mind, locked away where it cannot hurt so much. The late-stage alcoholic is not totally alone, however, for he is in frequent contact with the caretakers of our society - the policemen, social workers, doctors, emergency room personnel, and public health nurses. These are the people who will either refer him for effective help or finally pull the sheet over his head."

      AND THEN, this is what gets me because my friend, my mother (friend of my friend's mother), and myself and who knows who else in the family, are struggling wanting to help, feeling guilt, etc. - so THEN, the chapter excerpt says:

      "Help must come fast for the late-stage alcoholic, but it must be the right kind of help. With effective intervention and treatment, even the most advanced, deathly ill alcoholic may recover. The human organism has extrordinary abilities to restore or compensate for damaged tissues. The surviving cells and regenerate, poisons can be flushed out, and the body can begin the slow process of healing itself. Most alcoholics now sober were once considered "hopeless" by the people close to them."

      So, my question is, What is the right kind of help? Does anyone have experience with someone who got out of this stage of the disease? She has had a couple of what they say "brief drying out periods" but she has gone back to alcohol each time. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    2. #2
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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      Hi Frances. Jeez. The most help i can probably give here is that i hear you. I don't know. As you say, she has had 'brief drying out' periods, and she has most likely been given all the recommendations/options under the sun. I can only go by what i know, and that is, the change can only come from within. How i got there, i don't know, i could see 'rock bottom' approaching, so maybe what was left of my pride said, 'get up'. I heard a story of an older fellow, who was homeless, alcoholic, and lived on the street, in Sydney about 20 years ago. Despite repeated attempts by social worker's etc. to help him, he just refused, and remained on the street. After 20 years or so of hardcore drinking and homelessness, something somehow clicked for him. He got sober, and studied, becoming a lawyer at the age of 65, helping other's who were in his previous situation. I don't know what the turning point was for this gentleman, but he found a spark within, and it show's me, that all is not lost, even in the most extreme of situations. I wish you, and your friend's mum, all the best. Take care..............G.

    3. #3
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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      Hi frances. I'm not sure where you are writing from geographically. Have you contacted any re-hab centers or even AA or a recovery program in your area to ask for experienced advice for this specific, late stage type situation? It sounds as though your friend's mother might be in a critical stage where face to face, experienced intervention might be appropriate. That sort of thing is unfortunately not really possible here I don't think. (But it's great that you posted and I'm sure you will get some different points of view to consider!)

      Best wishes to you and your friend and friend's Mom. This is sad.

      DG

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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      Hello Frances,

      Sorry to hear about your friend's mom. In short, I'd also have to say I don't know. I'd imagine an intensive in-patient rehab would be required.

      However, this website brings many blessings. Including information that might be useful to someone else. There is a thread on the Sinclair method. Check it out, people using it will be able to give you more details. The med they use, while drinking, is supposed to de-sensitize you to the 'euphoric' effects of AL over time and reduce or even eliminate your need to drink.

      I have just passed it on to two friends of mine. Both have elderly alcoholic fathers who live in small isolated communities without access to rehab or intensive support. One of them has already had a few strokes and continued drinking could literally kill him, yet he carries on. The other gets very nasty when drunk and is driving his family bonkers. If they could even achieve reduced drinking on this drug, it would be a major improvement.

      Best wishes to you and your friend in your search for answers.

    5. #5
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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      Thanks to all who have replied. my friend's mom has been through a 28 day inpatient program a few months ago, but went back to drinking. She also has gone through her own detox with her daughter's support and ativan, including all the classic withdrawal symptoms, etc. and a few days after that, went back to drinking. Only hours after drinking, she is shaking uncontrollably, which will only stop if she drinks. it is terribly sad. Not to really depress everyone but another excerpt is also very relevant:

      "Even alcohol, however, has lost most of its magic. Now it doesn't really make him feel good; it only eases the shakes and the pain. After just a few drinks, he is either drunk or violently ill."

      Guitarista I think you are right that it has to come from within. I just talked to someone at church who had an alcoholic family member (Ex husband) for years, and she reinforced that. She said there is a lot of talk "in the community" (alanon, etc.) about whether you can help to get an alcoholic to hit their bottom and that the consensus is you can't make that happen. That part is different for everyone. What one person's bottom is is not the bottom for another person. Her ex lost his job, car, family, friends, and still kept drinking. I have to say this has been totally eye opening for me as to how devastating this disease is to the person it affects and to their loved ones.

      Pamima - I'll look into the Sinclair method, thanks for the suggestion.

      And Doggy girl - knowing that she's been confronted about thsi already and has tried unsuccesfully to stop a few times now, do you still think an intervention would help?

      Thanks again everyone.

    6. #6
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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      Hello

      I am very sorry your friend's mum is suffering so- and her family and friends too of course.

      I am currently on week 2 of the Sinclair Method- I won't go into details now because there is already plenty of information on the Sinclair Threads, but I really do recommend this for your friends mum- most of us on the method have already tried many other options and have not been able to stop. The method is discreet, inexpensive, and above all VERY VERY easy- all you have to do is take a pill one hour beofre you drink- as the treatment progresses and you begin having days where you don't drink, you do not need to take the pill, and that basically is that!
      Patients find normally the first week that their drinking will drop quite a lot, however it is normal over the next few weeks it will probably go back to where you started at or possibly even higher. After a month or two, it will begin to taper off- and many people find around the four month mark their drinking is well within 'safe' levels- just a few drinks once or twice a week, and many then decide to stop completely, or to carry on taking the occasional drink (always taking a pill before- this must be a lifelong practice).

      A Sinclairist member has set up a separate forum to discuss the method- please feel free to come and post over there too if you have any questions.

      thesinclairmethod.com • Index page

    7. #7
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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      hi Francis,it is nice your concerned,there are different forms of alcoholism,as normal as it seems,it is not,normal to put Al into ones body,the 28 days she was in,i beleive that is what she was tot,i was recently in for 31 days,it will be a year as of Feb,26/08,it was not a happy experience,going there was a hell for me,as for many others, ,[as much as drinking],i was also stopped for 4 months b4 i went in,most people cant imagine what goes on in there,any more then we no how you feel,when were like we are,[drinking],from the experience i have,and what you say,if she doesnt get help,and go back,for longer this time,[she will die],[SHE KNOW S THAT]her family,and you will be stuck dealing with it.i, think the dog lady said it,,maybe most here are not that bad [YET]she needs to go back to treatment or be committed,i do hope this helps and doesnt offend you gyco

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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      thanks and no offense taken Gyco, I know you are right. But, she needs to understand that she cannot drink. New development as of yesterday - she says she wants to detox again. Unfortunately, the program they are looking at is a 2 week program (actually, her daughter is). Her daughter says she's not convinced that her mother understands that she CANNOT DRINK AGAIN, because her mother keeps asking, can I really never drink again?. And, understandably, her daughter is hesitant to have her go into this very very expensive program if she thinks she can get out and drink "just one" here and there. Clearly and absolutely cannot happen. I never quite understood that until now myself (on here in MWO with the intention of moderation but I do believe and strongly that some people just cannot do that).

      thanks for the input and advice again, to everyone.

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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      Frances,

      As recently as 3 days ago, I was relapsing, so I understand the whole cycle.

      Today I am doing it one day at a time and determined to get through today sober. Period.

      In AA there is a line about at some point the alcoholic cannot live without a drink, nor can he/she live with a drink. This is the jumping off point.

      When she hits that jumping off point, and I pray she does, she will know she truly can never drink again.

      Many prayers and wishes for strength to all of you.

      Cindi

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      how do you help a late stage alcoholic?

      A close family member went through it. I was teetering on late stage too. The 'magic' wasn't really there anymore, I would drink copious amounts in the first hour to try and get a buzz that I couldn't anymore, it was pathetic, black out entirely after that first hour and act in entirely unpredictable ways. This was at this time last year. (I'm 2 months sober though right now, two short lived but scary relapses in the past 6 months. Progress though I guess and I feel pretty different now, committed to being AF.)

      My sister was a hardcore addict/alcoholic who became delusional, had no insight at all into her own condition, all that mattered to her was getting more alcohol, that's all that her life was.

      There are medications available these days like Campral which I have begun taking, but they don't do the job entirely. Rehab should come with aftercare support or some transitional help. 28 days is enough to dry out and maybe get rid of some alcohol fuzz, but many have to relearn how to live their lives afterwards.

      Have they tried AA? The full program involves getting a sponsor and adroitly working the steps, it can produce transformations in people who have been 'rock bottom' and haven't had success with other things. There's a thing called '90 in 90' where you attend 90 meetings in the first 90 days sober, it's supposed to be the amount of time it takes to really reform new habits.

      I found the AA program pretty extreme but perhaps that's what it takes sometimes in cases of late stage and extreme denial. I'm glad for alternative programs like MWO which takes care of a broad spectrum and can hopefully make a difference before they reach this late stage condition.

      I've known of some alcoholics who do reach the realisation that they are going to die unless they do something, it was that black and white for them, and the pain really becomes too much, so that they get help and recover. Wasn't quite that dramatic for me but almost.

      Some people try Antabuse, which makes you feel so sick if you do drink on it that it acts as a pretty good deterrant. It does nothing for the cravings but has probably helped save the lives of folks.

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