Still drinking after major internal bleed?

Hello to everyone. It's been a while since I've been here.

My friend almost died three weeks ago. He called me from a pavement going through a (second) ghastly internal bleed. He was vomiting copious amounts of blood and called me to get him an ambulance. After 40 agonizing minutes of waiting with him and thinking he would die in front of me, it arrived. It was the most frightening and horrendous experience I believe I've ever witnessed. Once in hospital, the doctor in the HDU told me he was minutes away from death. All as a result of alcohol. He discharged himself after five days and went home. A week later he was hospitalized again with a huge and painful blown up stomach. I had to go to his house to get something for him and to my dismay, found in the dustbin two empty whisky bottles. These I assume were consumed within his six days back home after the bleed that almost killed him. I went to the hospital with a very heavy heart. I mentioned nothing, fearing being accused of prying. He came out two days later (no stomach drain for various reasons), but with an endoscopy scheduled for beginning of August.

He came to visit me yesterday and produced a bottle of wine. I said flatly no, I cannot drink with you and I was met with 'why not? what do you mean? I can still have the odd drink'. I pointed out that he almost died and cannot drink again. I refused to drink it with him. He finished the whole bottle within a couple of hours of being with me.

I don't know how to go forward with this situation, how to help, what to say to him. Any advice would be appreciated.

10 Replies

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  • Hi, its so sad to hear your friend is unable to put his health ( his life), before alcohol. Such is the strength of the addiction. My sister died in 2010, aged 41 after having several massive bleeds over a couple of weeks in Hosp. When she was admitted she thought she had a hernia causing her stomach to swell, I had told her it was assites. I have to believe if she had survived she would have stopped drinking, but I'm also a realist, she hadn't had a day without drinking for more than 20 years. She stopped at a supermarket on the way to the Hosp and bought a litre of vodka. ( we found it and receipt in her car when we moved it from the Hosp carpark).

    I don't know what to say other than you have to remember you are not responsible for his decisions. You don't have to blame yourself for being unable to get through to him. He has encountered the results of his addiction, and chooses to ignore them. I think you are right to not engage or enable him when he drinks around you. I told my sister about a year before she died that I wanted her to come and stay with me, I would help her cut down her drinking, she wouldn't have to worry about money and bills etc, yet she declined, coming up with excuses why she couldn't. Ultimately she could have just said, its gone too far now I won't stop, because I believe that's what she thought. Like my sister, your friend may not realise that he is not necessarily at the end, that the liver can do amazing things if alcohol is stopped.

    I know how hard it is for you, there is not a day goes by when I think should I have insisted she stay with me, should I have fought harder to make her give up. I also know that it wasn't my choice to make.

    You can only do what you are currently doing, be a good friend, tell him he is worth fighting for etc.

    Take care

    E x

  • I think E has said it all x

  • I am really sorry about your sister.

  • HI needful

    Sorry to hear about your friend, alcohol has taken him. He would have been told absolutely no alcohol by doctors a long time ago I should think.

    The bleeds are a sure sign that his Liver is nearly gone, its all scarred up and the veins are popping because of the restricted flow through the Liver.

    If he stops alcohol then he may get some Liver function back for a while and may live for years yet. If keeps drinking it doesn't sound like he is going to last much longer than a few months and might even die at any given moment. As you know he already has nearly died.

    It may be time to perhaps ask him what his last wishes are and funeral arrangements. I know it sounds a bit blunt, but it may also be a way of making him face reality. Try not to feel guilty, this terrible addiction has taken probably decades to get to this stage. there isn't anything you could have done.

    I have a friend who drinks everyday for 25+ years. not always large amounts, but atleast 12 units a day and 20units on the weekend nights. He bloods 5 or so years ago showed a high enzymes. Trying to explain to him that even though he feels fine he is doing damage that may end in a horrific and sudden bleed out is like talking to the wall! Its so frustrating! To make things worse he now has a girlfriend and she is a heavy drinker too, she can down 3 bottles of wine, for a woman I find this very worrying! I have very little chance of convincing 2 alcoholics to stop, they encourage each other. They cannot see that their biggest bond is their addiction and it may kill them both sooner than they think. I share your frustrations.....

  • I used to be an alcoholic. A year of interferon treatment that did not kill my hep c made me never want to drink again. I know bleed outs first hand and yes it too bad you had to see it, its horrible you had to. I was alone, asleep, had been sober for 10 years, still am. I watched my own. I never called an ambulance, I did not want anything but to be alone and quite. I do not know how I did that. Look, this is bad for you. You must love this person, this human. I would walk out of my own house if I had to and leave him alone sitting at the table with his wine and his death. No one changes an alcoholic. Its miraculous anyone gives it up. This is a serious group of people fighting together to live so you are in the right place. The best thing is to stay away from him drinking. I have no idea if anything or anybody can save him. I am 65 this year, I became a cyclist when I gave it up. With liver cancer for two years I can cycle 40 miles. I cycle like I drank. Everday I am thankful for my liver disease and that interferon. I am finally happy. Best wishes, you are a good person.

  • Thanks to such kind people for getting back to me - it is a blessing to know that there are others out there who have experienced this ghastly stuff first hand and who can give me some support and guidance. Catfish, how you went through the bleeding at home alone, I can't imagine and I wonder how you survived it, but each person is different I guess. My friend has had to be banded three times now, without which, I doubt he would still be here.

    Leaving him sitting in my house drinking his wine would certainly have made the point. It really didn't cross my mind...

    Its so encouraging to know that it IS possible to overcome the grip of alcohol. In fact, perhaps there is hope for my friend after all, as yesterday he actually attended an appointment he'd had made at an alcohol help group. He was very cynical about it, having walked out of an AA meeting following his last bleed in February, saying they talked about god and it was patronizing and awful and vowed he would never go to them again. So I really didn't think he'd go to this new support group yesterday, but he did and he emailed me freely to say that he has agreed to do a 5 day detox as an outpatient (he would not have dreamt of considering the inpatient option as he hates hospitals with such a passion that he feels literally like a prisoner). He goes back to them next Monday when I assume he starts the process and I can only hope that he goes through with it. Does anyone know what such a detox program entails, especially if you're still at home? Any drugs? Would he have to go to see them daily?

    Thank you all again and I wish health and happiness to everyone on here.

  • Hi

    I went on a 7 day detox as a 'live in' rather than an outpatient, but I don't know if they do this kind of thing in other counties - mine was called Birchwood in Birkenhead and it was exactly what I needed - look it up.Its not a hospital, just like a house with a few nurses who were also ex alcoholics turned psychoanalysts ( sort of), who gave you one to one talks, and librium for 4 days to stop the D.T's. It's probably not a long enough stay for most alcoholics but if one really wants to give up as I did but was frightened of going through the rattle of detox ( as the last 2 times I'd tried it alone I'd ended up throwing up so much I was puking blood and ended up in hospital anyway.) then it's perfect.

    You have to attend lectures to keep you busy all day ( OK some are a bit preachy but you can't have everything and I'm sure some people got things out of them.) You have to be residential and if you leave before your 7 days I don't think you get a second chance. But it's agreat idea and it worked for me.

    As for the state of his liver with having all these bleeds - you could try to re-assure him that it's not necessarily gone too far, it doesn't have to be the end. If he stops now he could be going for years - I know people that are still walking around now after this happening to them 15, 20 years later because they stopped. And stayed stopped.

    Try to find a place like this - you can try for self referral, but in hospitals in Birkenhead, if they see someone they think really wants to stop, they'll offer you it on the spot when you've gone in after a bleed or with bad D.T's.That's what happened to me. The place only takes about 15 people at a time so it's really nothing like a hospital.

    See if you can convince him if you can find such a place - as you said he seems to have begun to acknowledge what's happening and to do something about it, so there's still a chance.

    Hope all this helps - it did me.

    Spuds

  • Forgot to say that it was free too which helped. There was nothing put in my way or any excuses I could make why not to go even if I'd not wanted to.

    Good luck - I hope your friend - and yourself - are as lucky as I was

    Spuds.

  • I hope he gets over his attitude about AA. I did not like it either but after treatment I did not need it or a drink. I preferred suffering to drinking. Remind himhe is going to AA to save his liver, his life. He is not there to judge how others are staying sober. A lot of those people still have strong livers. Keep practical helping your friend. Its not about what he wants any longer, he wanted to get drunk, stay drunk and did now his liver is trying to fail. That is his only reality and honestly his only concern.aloha

  • Thanks to those who replied. I really appreciate it. My friend ended up cancelling the detox as he was offered a bit of work, which he accepted (he desperately needs cash). It seems to be helping him, but I don't know how he's doing with his health, or if he's still drinking. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he's turned a corner.

    Again, thank you for your support and best wishes to all.

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