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Wife is mentally ill and alcoholic
Please can I have advice about where I can turn to for help. I am 67 and my wife is 61. She is an alcoholic and matters have reached a point where she is so bad that I can't keep looking after her. She has reached a blood alcohol level of over .4 (NOT .04) several times. She has been to one clinic after another and while she is there she's fine but as soon as she comes home she starts drinking again. I am in despair because I can't stop her drinking (she buys the stuff herself and starts screaming and crying uncontrollably if I try to take it away), can't force her to eat (she is thin and weak), can't do much to help if she falls on the floor as she has often done, can't persuade her to take any exercise. She is often in bed sleeping or crying for most of the day. She also has severe depression and irrational thinking.
My doctor says the only thing I can do is to wait until next time she is taken to hospital and then refuse to accept her discharge to home. He says the hospital will then get a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to find care for her. But what if she dies? I love my wife dearly. I don't want to separate from her and she would quite possibly die of grief if she was separated from me. Is there any alternative to find long-term care for her? Clinics will only take her for a few weeks. Would there be any home care packages that would be available? I will pay whatever it takes. I just want to see her well and happy. At present she is wasting away and I can't stop it. I sit by her bedside and watch and my heart is breaking.
I suppose the position is different in different states. I'm in Victoria, near Melbourne.
Hello Blackboy, thanks for posting your comment and from what you have told us it's a situation that isn't easy to rectify, especially if she drinks to an enormously dangerous level.
As you say she will be OK once she's in a clinic but as soon as she comes out, it's easy to start drinking again, so that leaves a big question, two weeks drying out is not long enough and I'm sorry I'm not qualified to make this determination, only have known people who have gone into a clinic, dry out and then start again afterwards.
Can I just post this now and will get back to you.
Hi Blackboy, thank you and can I just say once again that I'm not qualified but have seen this happen before with other people.
The only person to stop is your wife, no pleading or no begging will do this unless that's what she wants to do, I feel the pain you are going through.
The one problem is that if she's not eating nor exercising and sleeps all day is that her health is going to deteriorate and need to be hospitalised I'm sorry to say.
Her doctor can prescribe some medication which stops people from drinking, but will only work if the person wants to stop.
Can I ask whether or not she wants to have any counselling, however, I know from experience that this may not stop the
This is a situation where I'd like to talk to you, but unfortunately, I can't, please get back to me when you are able to.
I'm so sorry to hear of your predicament and how dreadfully sick your wife is. It is so hard watching someone go downhill, especially when you know there is something can be done.
You may not be able to help your wife, but you can most certainly get help and understanding for yourself; there is a fellowship called Al-anon - https://www.al-anon.org.au/ - which is for friends and families of alcoholics. Alternatively, you can call 1300 252 666 for more information. You can also attend any meeting at any time. There are lots of meetings in Melbourne and surrounds. All you need to do is pick up the phone.
In the meantime, you wrote that you have been advised to not accept her coming back home if she is hospitalized again, and that is EXACTLY what I too would suggest. Tough love works better than any form of enabling ever will. If she is to get well at all, she needs to realise that it is her, and her alone that is pouring this poison into her body. So I know this next bit is gonna sound harsh, but for example; if she falls on the floor then unless you think she is has done some serious damage, like broken a bone, or is unconscious and make choke on vomit or something, then leave her there for at least a little while until or unless she agrees to go to hospital AND an AA meeting. I would also strongly recommend medical supervision along the way; 0.4 is VERY high BAC.
For more information about AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) you can do one, two or all three of the following:
1) Go to the website - aa.org.au
2) Call 1300 AA AA AA (1300 22 22 22) to talk to someone about AA and what happens there.
3) You can attend any open AA meeting, along with your wife, or alone if she won't go, and maybe get a phone number or make contact with another woman (we suggest men for men, women for women) who may be able to come see your wife and at least 'plant the seed' of recovery into your wife's mind.
I know this is dreadfully difficult and so hard to watch, but tough love really can work ..... if she accepts that she needs to change. So rather that sit by and watch her die, stand up and encourage her to follow you into a place of recovery. If she won't go to AA, set the example by by going to Al-anon.
I hope that helps at least a little. I'll be thinking of you.
When you say you have 'tried' Al-anon and she has 'tried' AA, I feel as though you are talking past tense? As in you went along to Alanon and it didn't 'fix her' so you stopped going?
I feel the need to tell you at this point that those fellowships are there to provide ONGOING support. Twelve step support groups are a bit like employment; once you get to the job, you need to keep working at it, improving on it, and working at it some more in order to keep the job.
Or, if you like, it's a bit like eating; one meal is not going to sustain you forever. Barely for a week in fact. You need to KEEP eating. KEEP 'working' (going to meetings) and keep up with building the relationships and the networks with others so that you are not relying on just one person for your happiness.
What she has is a disease. A very persistent, progressive, horrible, hurtful, destructive disease. And maybe, just maybe, living seperately could be helpful? I know it's not ideal, but who says that husbands and wives who don't live together, don't succeed in still having a relationship?
You didn't cause this, you can't control it, and nor can you cure it. I know you want nothing more than for her to get well, but at what cost? It's cliche, I know, but sometimes you gotta give in to win. Maybe letting her go a little, and finding some sort of permanent care, even though it's not what you want, could be the answer?
I don't know. I just know that recovery is hard, yes, but not impossible. Certainly not for you. Please please PLEASE at least consider going back to Al-anon for yourself if not for her.
I wish I could give you better news or more help. I really feel for you. I don't know what else to say except that I/we are still here for you and with you for as long as you need. And as always, I am still keeping both you and her in my thoughts and prayers. xo
Hi Blackboy, I feel the pain this is causing you, so can I ask you to copy and paste this:
If your wife is hospitalised overnight and then released the next day all they are doing is making sure she dries out, that's not much help unless they follow up and check on her regularly, unfortunately, the decision has to come from her to stop, but with any addiction, it's not that easy.
She can have so many different people talking to her trying to advise her to stop, this happened to me when I was depressed, but it went in one ear and out the other, there had to be something else to do this.
Have a read of the link and hope to hear back from you.