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Hello,

I've joined the forum this evening in the hope of getting some support and advice about managing my alcoholic father. Sorry in advance for the long post! I wasn't sure how much detail to go into!

My dad has been a drinker for as long as I can remember. He is a functioning alcoholic, but this varies from day to day. Him and my mum split up around 7 years ago as a result of his drinking, and I have been his main source of support since then. My dad lives alone since he split with my mum. He needs lots of help with practical things as he struggles with reading and writing and has no idea about using computers.

We tend to go in cycles where he is ok for a while but then drinks heavily for a few days- at these times he is highly irrational, angry and bitter. He is unable to move on from anything bad that has happened in his life but is also unwilling to seek help. We had quite a long period of him doing fairly well, but unfortunately he was knocked off his bicycle earlier in the year and fractured his pelvis. He hasn't yet been able to go back to work and this has led to a spiral in his drinking and I've reached the point where I am struggling to cope with his behaviour. He isn't good when he has lots of time on his hands to sit and drink.

My main issue is I don't know what to do to support both him and myself. He calls me several times each day which I can find quite frustrating, and also upsetting if he has been drinking. He doesn't call for a chat - it's generally to talk at me about things that he is upset or angry about. If I don't answer he keeps calling. Quite often he will lose his temper if i try to rationalise with him and this leads to him shouting at me and hanging up, only to call me again quite soon after. Tonight I have blocked his number after a particularly unpleasant call and he has left me several voicemails - I resolved not to call him back tonight but am finding this difficult!

My main problem is I don't know what to do. I feel guilty no matter how I deal with him - I have tried telling him it's too much but this doesn't get us anywhere and leads to him being upset and me feeling guilty. I worry about what could happen if I don't answer the phone and find it difficult to ignore his calls. I don't visit him often as the visits are often diffcult but, again, this makes me feel guilty. He also spends money like it's going out of fashion and I find this difficult. It won't be long before he uses all of his savings and I worry what will happen to him then - he has asked me to give him a certain amount of money each week to help him manage it, but this is difficult to sustain as he lives about 20 minutes from me and I find it difficult to juggle bringing him money regularly along with everything else.

Sorry for the long, rambling post! Once I started typing my fingers didn't want to stop!
Hi Corally,

Welcome to the forum.

Can I ask how old dad is? What support did the hospital arrange for him on discharge after the broken pelvis?
What work does he usually do?
Does he own his home?

How old are you? Do you have a partner or children?

I'll be back later.
Thank you for your reply :-)

He is 65 and lives on a canal boat. He previously owned the house he lived in with my mum but they had to sell when they separated.

He was working as a kitchen porter in a busy restaurant so it is quite an active job. He cycled 10 miles each way on his electric bike to get there and back as he lost his driving licence. He wants to go back to work but isn't keen on returning there. He is managing to get about fairly well and his boat is moored in a town so the shops are local for him. It's just taking him quite a bit of time to get back to full strength, although I suspect his drinking isn't helping this.

He went into a physical rehabilitation hospital for a couple of weeks after his accident where he had physio. They offered him carers when he was discharged but he chose not to take these up. I don't think they were aware of his drinking problem - he coped quite well without it in hospital and doesn't admit to having a problem.

I'm 32 and married. We don't have children but do have a lovely dog! I work full time in quite a busy and emotionally draining (At times) job.
If he chose not to accept carers, that was his choice.
If he chooses to drink, that is his choice.
If he needs lots of help, then he has to accept carers, not rely on you.
You can't change him, and you should not be expected to step in because mum left.

Sadly, nothing you ever do or so will change him, however much you would like it to.
Hello Corally and welcome to the forum.

I'm afraid that until an alcoholic can acknowledge that they a problem there is not a lot that anyone can actually do but I think you might find this link to Al-Anon helpful
https://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/

Al-Anon is connected to Alcoholics Anonymous but is for the friends and families of alcoholics - they have plenty of advice on coping with "problem" drinking so it could be worthwhile your time to explore their website.
Hi Corally
I had a friend who became an alcoholic and trying to support her was very difficult. Theres something in long term alcohol abuse that affects the brain cells and so it is pointless trying to rationalise with them. It might help you to think of it like he has dementia and stop expecting 'normal or logical'answers or behaviours

I echo the comments above that he has to decide for himsel thathe has a problem and that he needs professional help

...more tomorrow battery going
Welcome,

Sorry you are having to go through this on your own, substance abuse or dependence of any kind is a terrible affliction with an awful lot of stigma about it, and is very destructive to both the individual and those close to them.

Theres a saying about how in order to solve a problem we must first acknowledge one exists, and I think there is a very small silver lining in your situation, in that your father seems to at least acknowledge the problem exists where he does not trust himself to manage his finances because of the drinking, allowing some of this task to yourself.

And also how you mention he improved for a time, and then deteriorated following an accident, suggesting up till the point it got out of control, the drinking was just a coping mechanism for things going wrong in his life, so there is a clear need for emotional help i.e. dealing with stress beyond the alcohol issue itself if he were to get clean of it... for example the bicycle incident might had left him with some PTSD (which can be difficult to live with) its like the drinking came back as a form of numbing himself to the experience.. I've had traumatic experiences and while I've abstained from going this route to deal with them, you often wish you could just numb them away because no matter how tough you are, its horrifying

In spite of this, echoing the previous comments ;

Needs to acknowledge the drink is a problem, wants to quit and needs help to do it.
Needs to be aware there may possibly be need for mental health intervention post-alcoholism or simply land up relapsing the moment something else goes wrong.

Hes not beyond help, but it needs to be meaningful professional help/intervention far beyond the scope of what we could do as care givers (plus medically getting off of booze or any addictive substance unsupervised can be dangerous)... and honestly in the current climate that sort of support is very hard to come by. I also think while your doing the best you can in a very difficult situation the problem with substance abuse is those close to the person often unintentionally can become an enabler for them.

So you would want other people involved in this process because it is simply not fair for you to be in the firing line of someone who will be detoxing from something which is really hard to quit for good.

Will leave a few links, maybe they will be of some use to you in trying to find what you need, as always I would recommend going through your GP.. your father may not approve but then the GP won't sit idly by and allow someone to slowly kill themselves either.

https://www.talktofrank.com/get-help/fi ... t-near-you
https://adfam.org.uk/help-for-families/ ... anisations

You can also contact CUK regarding support available to you

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/talk-to-us

Hope you stick around,

Best wishes to you both, I hope you get some sort of break through
Good morning,

Thank you for all of your replies.

My dad had a very traumatic childhood and this is something he comes back to regularly when he has been drinking. I have suggested to him that he gets some professional support to help him with this but it's not something he's willing to consider.

I feel very responsible for my dad and will always answer the phone if he calls, no matter how many times this is. I feel like I have got to the point now though where I need to take a step back as he is having a real impact on my wellbeing.

I am going to try and seek out a local support group for families of alcoholics to find some friendly faces. And I think I am going to have to start protecting myself and my relstionship with him more by limiting how much I speak to him when he has been drinking. I find it really difficult but how I've been managing it so far hasn't been working for me or him so I need to try something new!
I understand that you feel responsible for dad, but he is a grown man who is responsible for his own actions.

Put your answerphone on, and leave it on, always. Then you can vet the calls, and you decide whether or not to answer, and when. A bit of "tough love".


Would it be possible for you to vist or call him at a definite time every week? So you both know that is "his time"?