Dealing with loved one who won't seek... - British Liver Trust

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Dealing with loved one who won't seek help

AClark92 profile image
10 Replies

Hi all,

I'm posting as a family member of someone with end stage cirrhosis. My SO's father was told two years ago he was cirrotic. He has been an alcoholic the majority of his life (I don't say that word with any judgment, it's just the truth - he is an addict) and even since his liver started failing, he has refused to stop drinking. His longest dry spell was 2-4 months, I believe, but since then he hasn't gone more than a few days without drinking. We have tried talking to him many times about rehab and therapy - as a sufferer of a few mental disorders, it's obvious that he is depressed & that is the core of his behavior (at least now), but he has refused to attend even the free therapy sessions we had for him with an addiction specialist. He will not go to rehab, regularly take his medication, or really do anything other than sit and drink (then deny it) even when we call him out on it and tell him he's killing himself (he knows this), and hurting his family doing so. He recently lost his job due to the illness and is now on SS, still spending his money on beer. He is a grown man and despite please from his own child and parents, he has not changed anything in his behavior significantly since the diagnosis 2 years ago. The really sad thing is he would have been on a transplant list, had he been able to stop drinking.

So really, I'm just looking for advice on how to cope with the whole thing. My SO recently flew down to help look after him & her grandparents (I was stuck attending a wedding) and had tried to help him schedule therapy appointments & talk to him about a transitional living home. He has made no effort to schedule anything (and we can't legally make mental health appt for him) and basically stonewalled her at every junction, even keeping her up at night with his drinking until 3-4am. We have tried approaching him with love, compassion & understanding, as well as anger and hurt - nothing seems to move him.

10 Replies

It is strange but when I was a drinker, the more I was told to stop, no matter how lovingly I was told, I drunk more and more. It is hard to explain this reasoning but I kind of relate. Later I realized I did not want to be told to take it easy, so I begun to drink out of sight and in the garage where no one would see me.

Later, without physical warning, I ended up in the ER almost without blood due to varices rapturing; that is when I was scared and stop and follow all my vitamins, diet and doctor appointments. I had to literally start from the ground up.

In other words, it may take him that hard of a fall to realize how much his life matters. I am not suggesting you all should stop encouraging him. I am just sharing with you how clouded ones Mind is when an addiction has a hold in our lives.

Good luck and I wish him the best beating this addiction.

AClark92 profile image
AClark92 in reply to

Thank you for sharing, meteocal. I can see how being told to stop may have an adverse affect. It's so interesting how our minds work against us in certain situations. I'm sorry you ended up in that situation, but am very glad to hear you were able to recover from there.

As for my SO's father, I know he has been in the hospital many times, but don't know if he has yet gone to the ER. I truly hope it doesn't come to that, but if so I just hope he has a real chance to turn things around.

Thank you again, be well!

Barnetaccounts profile image
Barnetaccounts in reply to AClark92

My heart goes out to you and anyone else who is having to deal with the frustration of watching some effectively “drinking themselves to death”. He will only stop when he wants to and no amount of encouragement will help in any way shape or form. The people who need the help are all the affected family members. Have you sought out the help of al-anon a sister organisation of AA whose members are in very similar circumstances to yourself and your family. They will share their experiences with you and hopefully you could get some benefit from the experience. I have never attended as I am a member of AA and have remained clean and sober for over 15 years. If you require any further help please just ask.


radiojohn profile image
radiojohn in reply to Barnetaccounts

I agree 100%. My late wife was an alcholic and only once did she acknowledge that she might need help. Took her to an open AA meeting. Our next door neighbour was there so she never returned. The more you go on about it the worse they get. I found Al- Anon - absolutely brilliant you will never be alone. BTW wife died of cancer- had a pint and a fag in her death bed - went very happy!

davidh1965 profile image

Recently stopped any alcohol intake after being diagnosed with ESLD but a relatively low UKELD score (will not get me on a transplant list). Tried before but it never seemed to matter that much and there was never a good enough reason to quit. In an earlier life I was working away during the week and drinking with ‘the lads’ most nights (way above what would now be considered a safe level). Intake now is about 25 units a week but mainly binged on the weekend due to work commitments.

For me, I had to change my entire social life and approach to going out. If your circle of friends is geared to the traditional 3-4 pints a night with the chaser at the end, no matter what you think, you are not going to enjoy that environment if not drinking. I was also surprised by the number of so called friends who despite being aware of my situation tried to convince me ‘surely a social drink occasionally can’t hurt.

Same goes for drinking at home, never been one to drink on my own but again it’s really easy to clock up a stupid amount of units at parties and social gatherings etc. If you farther is drinking alone then it’s probably the lack of anything else to do, particularly if he has lost his job and the routine that went with it (probably the perfect storm).

I guess my take would be to find him a purpose to life other than drinking, easier said than done but if you are focused on a task to a timescale then in my opinion you are less likely to drink. Not sure if he is well enough to pick up some charity work or would be willing to do so.

It also seems that it has become acceptable or at least tolerable for him to drink as he pleases in his current setting. Is there any way that this can be changed or some kind of restriction placed on him, not talking about punishment, but a consequence for his behaviour?

Bubbles201271 profile image

I feel your pain and frustration my dad is 74 and been diagnosed with cirrhosis his been an alcoholic for the last 14 years, had 3 detoxes which he orchestrated as was feeling so ill all to last about 2 months at the best. He recently went down hill very fast lost 3 stone in 2 months had constant sickness and diarrhoea was basically a skeleton in a chair. Didn’t eat for a month not s thing and actually had stopped drinking as he felt so ill. Fought tooth and nail to get him into A and E and get someone to look at him to see how ill he was. His had enlarged liver,spleen was starting to go yellow. He had portal hypertension and Endoscopy revealed most of his insides have been affected by drinking gastritis hiatus hernia,tears in his oesohagus They pumped him with everything going and actually got him back on his feet to a good level. Was told DO NOT DRINK. to my dismay found about 2 days ago he was drinking. I’m finding it so hard as now he will go down hill again very fast unless he can stop it. I just can’t beliieve it. It’s stsrting to make me feel ill now had every bug going recently as so stressed picking up everything. I feel for anyone going through this nightmare x

Pitsam11 profile image
Pitsam11 in reply to Bubbles201271

In bed with s migraine after spending the night with my alcoholic mother. I was so stressed too and catching bugs ugh! Determined to do better and hoping you can too tho so sorry about your dad. My mother won’t quit either. She peed herself last nite and blamed it on drinking water - not the bottle of champagne. Ouch.

Unfortunately while he is as he is .... basically in denial there is very little you can do. What I did when I realised my late husband was drinking more than he had lead me to believe, was see my gp and told him about his behavior, mood swings, depression etc. Gp said for me to make an appointment and tell him it was to get some help with his depression. When I took him, the gp had him admitted to hospital immediately where he was detoxed. When he came out a 1 to 1 councellor was in place for him.

Although he stayed dry for 3 months, sadly it was too late for him and died an horrific death in intensive care and only admitting to me he was an alcoholic 3 days before he died. I wish I could offer more hope but alcoholics really are their own worst enemy and don't realise the hell they put their families through.

I wish you all the best


Pitsam11 profile image
Pitsam11 in reply to

This is so sad I’m so sorry 😔

Pitsam11 profile image

Ugh I’m

In a similar situation. It just seems some people are willing to take the bottle to the grave. It’s so conflicting for loved ones. I ask myself to look at my alcoholic mother’s situation from every exhaustive angle: should I be more forcible, am I not loving enough? Should I make decisions for her? Respect her independence? Ultimately I’m on this site now to learn to remember my own life and that of my other family members who insidiously give up so much for the one in the room who’s drunk. I heard this great saying: how do you know an alcoholic is in the room? Because everyone else there is sick. So whilel I feel bad for your alcoholic, I feel worse for you. Boundaries and limits to what you’ll give - or give up.

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