WWYD...friend reveals alcohol issues

(13 Posts)
houmousandcarrotsandwich Thu 21-Feb-13 08:56:06

I've hardly slept with worry after this happened yesterday...(sorry if a little long)

Went to see a friend who has 2 DC 4y & 18 months, with my own DCs. I suggested we took kids to local pond to feed the ducks, which is a 10 minute drive away. She hesitated then said she couldn't as she's already had 3 vodkas (this was 11am) and over the driving limit. At first I thought she was joking, she didn't appear the slightest drunk. She then went on to tell me, this is how she copes with the long repetitive days of being a SAHM (she does a little book keeping, but works from home). She said it makes her calmer with the children & never gets so drunk she cannot function. In her defence her children are always clean, dressed,no evidence of neglect.
I know she has been on anti depressants for nearly a year (something we have talked about in the past, as I have had depression episodes on and off my whole life and I think she feels able to talk to me about it). She said the drinking started just before Christmas, to get her 'through' the festive period & it has continued.
Her DH doesn't know & she said he would be so disappointed in her, that she couldn't tell him. On reflection, I'm not sure he even knows about the anti depressants.

So...what do I do?
As a friend I told her she can always talk to me (although I am in no way qualified to give her advice) & if ever there was emergency and needed to drive to phone me and I would drive. I obviously suggested she needed professional help, but she insisted not. She doesn't want social services being alerted, which she believes would happen if she went to her GP/HV (would it? I don't know)
Feel I'm in over my head here as I want to help, but don't know how?

Tolly81 Thu 21-Feb-13 11:21:41

That is a really really tough one. Clearly she needs help but she's obviously not able to admit it to herself yet. I think it would've worth contacting Al-Anon which is the charity for relatives and friends of alcoholics and I hope they will be able to give some good advice on how to handle this and get her help. Also, it may be a bit weird but Anne Robinson's autobiography is excellent and she was an alcoholic when her children were a similar age. Could you lend it to your friend? Good luck.

Tolly81 Thu 21-Feb-13 11:27:58

As for the GP question I'm pretty sure they would have to refer to SS as they have a duty of care to both her and her children and the children cannot fend for themselves iyswim. But they wouldnt take them iff her - they just need to know she is accepting treatment and controlling her drinking. Tbh, I think if she's not willing to tackle her drinking soon then you would have to alert SS anyway - this level of drinking is hazardous to her health (and that of her children) and you're not doing her any favours by covering it up. Maybe give her some time to tackle it herself but don't leave this situation in the longer term as her drinking will get worse left unchecked.

annh Thu 21-Feb-13 12:59:12

I'm sorry I don't have any experience of this but I think your friend is lying if she says this has only been going on since Christmas. She would not have gone from not drinking while in charge of her children during the day to needing three vodkas by 11 a.m. in the morning 7 weeks later.

houmousandcarrotsandwich Thu 21-Feb-13 16:39:24

Thanks for all the input so far.
Will look into Al-Anon when I've more then a few minutes (when the kids are in bed tonight).
I feel like I should have known something was going on, but it has come completely out of the blue.
Text her at lunch and she said she hadn't had a drink yet today, but not sure if she's telling the truth. Her kids always seem so happy. Sorry ranting my confusment now!

ShakyStart Thu 21-Feb-13 17:52:23

Just wanted to say my s-in-law died last May at the age of 36 from alcoholism. Thankfully she did not have any children but it left my brother devastated. Her demise began probably about 4 years before she died when she left her job due to some issue with another member of staff she had there. She was supposed to be doing some freelance consultancy work from home but she obviously had time on her hands to drink from morning till night. Unfortunately, she had probably been drinking like this for a couple of years before I, together with my bro confronted her about it. She had a drink in her hand and a bottle of squash in the cupboard, we grabbed the bottle of what was meant to be orange squash smelt it, it was full of vodka and we told her she clearly has an alcohol problem, we're going to be here for her, we love her and please will she admit she's got a problem and seek help. She smashed the squash bottle out of my bro's hand and point blank denied she had a problem in spite of the fact that the squash reeked of vodka. She never admitted to drinking too much, never therefore admitted she had a problem and not surprisingly, she became hostile toward my bro and I and my brother and her eventually split up. She went to move in with her mother and sadly, her health declined substantially to the point of her being immobile and dying in hospital within a year of their split. It was an incredibly sad situation, the saddest I've ever had to deal with and I've had a lot of grief in my life. The fact that your friend admitted to having had a drink in the morning to me seems a good sign that at least, unlike my S-in-law she's not in complete denial that she's even been drinking. It's also positive that she didn't drive while in that state. However, she is in denial of the impact that this drinking will have and is having on her life. You mention that she seems to function in spite of drinking and again, my S-in-law in the first couple of years was just like that, it wouldn't always be obvious that she'd had a drink, she got used to the drink and was a functioning alcoholic. Eventually, however, that all changed and her body and actions began to show signs of strain.

Clearly, I'm in no position to provide advice, but can only draw on experience. I know that our family should have acted sooner, I think we were guilty of ignoring for too long what was staring us in the face, that she was drinking, clearly was depressed and needed help. All I can tell u from experience is that this must not be brushed under the carpet. I do believe her family need to know what's going on including her husband as soon as possible. If this is ignored it will not get better on its own and I would hate the thought of these children being left without a mother. Almost certainly the need for alcohol will be spurred on by her feeling depressed and it's the root cause of the depression that needs tackling (easier said than done). Quite clearly as with my S-in-law, you alerting her family to the problem is likely to result in her being hostile to you and she may cut all ties with you because of it, but potential loss of the friendship is worth it if you are ultimately putting her first- one day, she may even thank you for it. I truly hope your friend and her family manages to tackle the situation and that she finds happiness.

Tolly81 Thu 21-Feb-13 20:14:13

That's terribly sad shaky. I came back to this thread as its been playing on my mind to just emphasize what I said before about telling someone. Shaky is right - she will probably be hostile but it does need to be done. Give her the opportunity to tell her dh but set a time limit - if she hasn't done it by a certain time then you do it. Encourage her dh to go to the GP with her. She is already drinking an alarming amount and this will only increase sadly. Good luck, let us know what you decide.

houmousandcarrotsandwich Fri 22-Feb-13 13:54:34

Thank you for your input, shaky that is such a terrible waste of a life.

Have organised my friend to see a councillor next week, (im paying for her to go privately, which I know she will pay me back for, but I didnt want to wait) I have already spoken to the councillor to explain the situation and they were great. Apparently they will draw up a contract with her that she must get sober in a set time frame, or SS will become involved (as I have explained the children are fit and healthy and of course I will keep an eye on them too) They have asked mento be her 'clean up buddy' by being in regular contact with her and (if she agrees) to randomly breathalise her. I would also contact them if I feel things are getting worst/have a problem.

I have begged her to tell her husband, she has said she will think about it. And because she is willing to go to councillor, I feel I shouldn't force the issue.

houmousandcarrotsandwich Fri 22-Feb-13 13:55:37

Ment to say it was Al anon who put me in touch with this local councillor, thanks for mentioning them Tolly

ShakyStart Fri 22-Feb-13 16:13:51

Wow you have been incredibly proactive, you are clearly a great friend to have. It sounds very positive to me that she is willing to discuss and seek help from the Counselor. Admitting that she's got a problem is the first step to recovery so whilst it'll be a long hard road for her it sounds to me like there will be a positive outcome, which is great. Good luck

Tolly81 Fri 22-Feb-13 16:59:37

Well done houmous it sounds like a good plan, really hope it goes well.

Missgiraffe1 Sat 23-Feb-13 10:48:44

Houmous, as a child who grew up with an alcoholic mother (a functioning one, we always had clean clothes/uniform, nice food, homework always done, house spotless etc) I applaud you for being so proactive. Unfortunately, the cracks will start to show eventually if she keeps drinking (as she will need more to get the same effect), that is what happened in my situation. By the time I was 15, I was obvious to most people (painfully so to me) that my mum was an alcoholic. The children will therefore be affected eventually.
My mum got sober and stayed sober for almost 10years. Unfortunately, a serious of events led to her taking a drink again and, 2years later, taking her own life. I will never get over that. My teenage dd will never forget the difficult couple of years leading up to that. We are all scarred.
I don't mean to scare you, I am just emphasising the horrific effect alcoholism can have on a person/family.
Obviously, you personally cannot make her stop drinking, but your support &intervention could make all the difference at this early stage.
You are a very very good friend. Wishing you and your friend all the very best. X

Chiggers Sat 23-Feb-13 20:38:16

OP, you're a good friend for letting your friend know that you'd drive to hospital if any of her DC needed emergency treatment, BUT, it's your friend who has to sign the treatment consent forms for the DC, as well as speaking to the Drs. If the Drs are able to tell whether she had been drinking by the smell of her breath, they may well get SS involved.

As a former severe problem drinker, I can say that the main reason I gave up drinking was because I didn't want the Drs in A&E looking down on me because they could smell alcohol on my breath. It just wasn't worth it, so I had to make a choice between giving up booze or losing my DC. I chose to kick the drink into touch. TBH, I MAY have a small drink at Christmas, if I can be bothered to have one at all.

An old friend once told me "You can drink all you want, and the booze only makes you think you can cope, but your problems will still be there in the morning and those problems are best sorted when you are stone cold sober".

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