Still drinking after banding?

Hello all. I'm writing about my friend again with cirrhosis who was very recently hospitalized for a week following a ghastly night of bringing up blood and undergoing a banding procedure, which it seems, probably saved his life. He's been home for around three weeks, but is still drinking which concerns us enormously. He was told he must stop drinking. He brought a bottle of wine when visiting me last weekend and I said I felt uncomfortable about it and suggested he took it home, but that we have a glass each from my bottle. He was quite defensive and said words to the effect that "I'm not going to restrict myself". Can someone advise how to deal with this situation? We can see him ending up in the same situation again, in hospital. He saw his gp yesterday to pick up a new prescription (beta blockers I believe), but on seeing him, the gp didn't prescribe anything, but told him he should go to A&E as he suspects 'lower internal bleeding'. My friend said there was no way he was 'going back to there' (to the hospital, which he absolutely hated). He said he might go on Thursday. I'm at a loss as to know what to do or say. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

20 Replies

  • I'm sure he has already been told that if he needs a transplant he'll need to be six months dry before he gets one. Not only that but once you've been diagnosed and told you shouldn't drink, like he will have been, you open up a whole can of worms persuading the medics that you won't start drinking again, if they find out. There will be tests like liver biopsies that will deter quite accurately if he's been drinking, and I believe this is protocol before transplant so you can't just lie.

    That's the hard truth, however I can sympathise as although my cirrhosis wasn't caused by alcohol, I had been told to stop but continued after diagnosis, social pressure, and stress from the disease itself probably factored into that.

    I also thought that if I stayed away from hospital it might go away. This is probably where your friend is at, in denial.

    He needs to face the facts that he could seriously be putting his life on the line.

  • Hi there and thanks for your reply. We're not aware if a transplant has even been proposed - he's very secretive about his medical information. And we don't think he'd have the courage to go through it anyway - he's terrified at the idea of any operation. Plus he had kidney failure two years ago and is on constant medication as a result, so I don't know if a transplant could even be considered in the circumstances.

    I think you're right about the denial element. He sticks his head in the sand with it all and clearly doesn't want to face facts, which causes friends and family a huge amount of worry.

    Thanks again.

  • You'd be surprised, I've definitely heard of double kidney and liver transplants, so kidney disease in itself won't count that out.

    Difficult I know, intervention sometimes just isn't possible with a adult.

    Being petrified of a liver transplant is the normal response. Your friend does sound ill and varicies are a sure sign of cirrhosis. I'm no medic and can only speak from experience but when you've got cirrhosis it can stay stable if you change your life style to suit, or it progresses. You could die of other causes before it gets to liver failure, or it will progress to liver failure.

    How old is your friend?

  • You sound very knowledgeable, thank you! He's only 48.

  • That's fairly young in terms of liver disease, which will be very much in his favour, but of course, the treatment he gets probably depends on him.

    Thanks but there are lots of much more medically knowledgeable posters on this forum, I can however speak from experience.

    Good Luck

  • I'm sorry. But, there is not really anything you can do or say. Your friend shows very strong signs of being an alcoholic. He will not stop drinking even when his kidneys have failed, he's throwing up blood, and has been diagnosed with cirrhosis. He can't even have one visit with you without insisting on having wine and getting defensive about it. This is alcoholism.

    You can't save his life. Only he can save his own life. You can't convince him to save his own life. He has to decide to do that on his own. My best advice to you would be to try and accept this, and perhaps seek support for yourself through Al Anon. I don't think he is dying of liver or kidney disease - these are just side effects. He is dying of alcoholism. That is where he needs to start his treatment, if he decides to do so.

    I'm not a doctor, either. This is just based on my life experiences. I'm sorry.

  • Your friend is on the road to self-destruct unfortunately and like Chynablue says only he can turn this situation around. You can offer all the support in the world but if he doesn't make the decision towards abstinence then he will eventually suffer liver failure or a catastrophic internal bleed (think Charles Kennedy).

    Transplant won't even be discussed at this stage so that isn't an issue just now, most doctors will not refer an active alcoholic to a transplant centre would be a waste of time and a potential waste of an organ which would have potentially saved someones life.

    Your friend would need to be 6 months abstinent before being considered for transplant and would have to since a pledge of life long post-transplant abstinence.

    Look after yourself in all this, let him know you will support him and that you do care and only have his best interest at heart and that you have no desire to watch him suffer a horrid death due to the booze.

    My thoughts are with you, Katie x

  • Thank you both, very much. You've said what I basically had reached a conclusion on myself. It's taken so much of my mental and physical time over the past months (including cleaning his house after his ghastly experience before hospital) and all for no result really. Enough becomes enough and there is nothing anyone can do or say. It's his life and it's up to him to be responsible for himself. He so clearly wants to be left alone and so that has to be the case. As his sister pointed out, we can only be here to pick up any pieces if and when that might happen.

    Thanks for your support. It's much appreciated.

  • (((hugs)))

  • needful1

    When a drinker gets to the stage of internal bleeds its extremely serious, its either severe Alcoholic Hepatitis or Cirrhosis. Both of these can kill you at any time.

    From what you are saying it sounds very much like he has Cirrhosis, not just "early cirrhosis" but the "end stage of Cirrhosis". Every single swig of alcohol is bringing whats left of his Liver closer to failing. His Liver can no longer repair itself and will be heavily scarred. Thats what causes the bleeding, blood cannot pass through the scarred Liver so it backs up in the veins and starts to swell the veins, they then burst. The portal vein has more pressure than the jugular, so you can imagine just how awful it is if a large vein bursts. We are talking PINTs of blood being ejected out of the mouth, rectum etc, as already mentioned, Charles Kennedy died this way.

    The beta blockers are to try and bring his blood pressure down so the risk of bleeding is less. His kidneys are already in bad shape, essentially I would say he is actually dying right now. If he stops drinking and lives as healthy as he can he may be able to recover some damage and have a few extra years, but I feel he has already given up and knows the game is up.

    There is some hope for a transplant, but with his kidneys damaged too he might be too ill for this to be an option. But obviously only the doctors can decide this, the process of evaluation is little bit beyond this board really.

    The doctor advising him to go to ER is not something ive heard very often, even in others with quite advanced disease. I think he does need to go, some bleeds if they arent major can still make you ill, you are still losing blood, he could pass out and if not found that could be it.

  • Its impossible to affect an alcoholic. Not only is this out of your realm of experience, its out of his too. He will drink until he understands how dangerous it is or he will die drinking. Respect your feelings, you are uncomfortable. Step back if you have to. Good luck.

  • Thanks to all who continue to give their advice and support. Best wishes to you.

  • alcoholism is a terrible disease. It sadly, has nothing to do with will power. Drinkers are very adamant about no one telling them how they should or should not drink.

    Alas, we all have to hit rock bottom before we stop..but even then, some of us just pull out a shovel and keep digging.

    non alcoholics don't understand (nor should they) how consequences for their loved one's drinking get worse and worse, making them drink more and more.

    Alcohol works that way. It truly is cunning, baffling and powerful.

    Most the time interventions do not help.

    My family eventually just stopped speaking to me. altogether.

    Because they could not stand by and watch me kill myself.

    There is Alanon for partners and loved ones of alcoholics.

    What I would say is, don't drink around him, and if he wants to drink..leave. No one should have to watch people die.

    Drinking is absolutely not good if you have varacies..and if he he having bleeding lower in his body..he is in serous medical trouble.

    You cannot get anyone sober.

    to be honest, sadly, most of us die from our disease.

    In AA they tell us..about getting's not for those that need it..its for those that want it.

    I'm so sorry about your friend, and I don't mean to preach..but it's better that you know the truth, and prepare. His GP told him to go to A&E and he didn't go. When there's internal bleeding..well..that's normally very end stage. The fact that he has varacies means he is already in end stage liver disease.

    ON a brighter note..he CAN get sober..and he CAN get better..I did! :) and I was blessed to get a transplant in Oct. of Last year, after cerebrating 7 years of sobriety..I am a completely different person today, and have amazing relationships with my family, friends and my partner..

    thinking a good thought for you and your friend...

  • I disagree with alcoholism having nothing to do with willpower. It is a serious disease, with that I do agree. I stopped drinking in December 2013, just before Christmas. Prior to this for a number of years I drank with any excuse that presented itself including drinking in the mornings, during the day, in the evenings, all through the night & into the next day again. I drank alone or I drank in company with others who drank alcohol or were drinking pop. It made no difference to me. I ruined a perfectly good career & just about managed to sell my house before it was re-possessed. There is a lot more to it all that I'd prefer not to go into detail about. In the end I was admitted to Hospital following an Outpatient Appt with my Gastro Consultant as I had been unable to pass stools for nigh-on a month & my abdomen had swollen up. I was kept in for a few days. I was absolutely terrified. I made my mind up then that I had to stop the alcohol. I used that as a starting point to slowly wean myself off alcohol - which was fine in Hospital, but what would I do afterwards? I didn't stop drinking straight away, but I decreased the amounts with a plan to have my last alcoholic drink-up on my Birthday. I took each day as it came, all through Christmas, New Year, Easter, Summer bbq's & holidays. Before I knew it a year was over & I celebrated my 50th Birthday with Diet Coke!!!! Then it was Christmas! Now, it's 2016! I did have a glitch earlier on this year & had some wine - I made that choice, to just have a couple, because I was testing myself! It was a PLANNED glitch & a dangerous way of proving to myself that I could also have the luxury of saying yes or saying no. My sobriety has been possible because of my willpower, I believe. It wouldn't work for everyone because all Alcoholics are different and I suppose I am still an Alcoholic but a non-practising one! I also know that there are always people wanting you to fail & join in with them for a drink - I don't entertain those people because the only person I will be kidding is me! I hope your friend finds something inside himself that will surface enough to give him the courage to stop. Life really isn't better with a drink!

  • That brings up a good point - if an alcoholic or someone accustomed to drinking in excess wants to stop, it is usually better to taper off over time. It depends on how much they typically drink and for how long. Having a doctor's help is even better. If a serious alcoholic stops drinking cold turkey, it can kill them.

    Withdrawals are not something that are just uncomfortable and you just have to push through it - they can have serious consequences including death. I have seen doctors insist that patients be admitted in the hospital to be stabilized with IV fluids and monitored when they try to stop drinking. I knew a guy that died from this. His friends and family insisted that he stop immediately and bullied him into it. I'm sure they meant well! But his heart stopped during withdrawals. It was too much for his body to handle and he was in bad health to begin with from all the alcohol abuse. He was 27.

  • That's so sad. I knew I had a big problem but could have an even bigger one to just stop. I did build up to it - or wean myself down off the alcohol. I just haven't as yet got the willpower to give up smoking! It's not easy when you have an "addictive personality" as I found out when I started analysing various things I started doing instead of drinking alcohol, such as going mad eating ice cream, then carrots, then ice lollies! I'm currently trying to stop glugging Diet Coke by the bucket load! I also do the same with tea! I took up swimming years ago & that took over for a while. ............ Thank the Lord I don't use drugs!

  • For me I would have stopped long before I did if it was about will power. I had to have a hospitalised detox. I believe if he is a alcoholic of my type he won't be able to cut down, once alcohol is in my body game over. I still drank for 6 months after I had to make the decision to switch off life support for my husband. The last words he spoke were ill not drink again, promise.

    Not a death that I would wish on anyone, but at that time I wasn't ready to save myself, my rock bottom came later, I tried to stay stopped on buckets loads of will power and was so miserable it was obvious that I would drink if I didn't change something. Thankfully I did and have not needed to drink for 13 1/2 years.

    I hope all those who are trying to stay stopped find a way that works for them


  • Very well done Anne. I think if you can recognise the things that may be triggers to the drinking, that helps or at least did with me. I got rid of a few people with whom the only real commonality we had was alcohol. I have my good friends who I have met since I stopped being drunk - they only know me as a non-drinker, which is a good feeling for me because they aren't big on the boozing & our socialising is fun because they drink & they don't get stupid! You must feel brilliant after all that time Anne. Amazing!

  • Hi there, thanks so much for your long response. It's a very difficult situation indeed. It's interesting that you say to leave if he drinks. It's his birthday on Saturday and a birthday meal is on the cards with just three of us. We're sure he will drink, so do we say we won't go if he does? I fear he will end the friendship with me if I put my foot down about it.

    Fantastically well done for you and your success story.

  • Agree with everyone else this is only going to end one way if he continues to drink and it won't be pretty. Just read the tributes at the funeral of an old mate who was the same . he had cirrhosis and jaundice for years and continued to drink ending in liver failure. Why don't you try telling him he's a selfish bastard for wasting valuable NHS resources and putting his friends through the wringer. Give him a guilt trip. Just a of luckier

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