Decompensated cirrhosis help for a dri... - British Liver Trust

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Decompensated cirrhosis help for a drinker who can’t/won’t stop.

Pink1day profile image
13 Replies


A family member has decompensated cirrhosis, he is jaundice and has swelling of the legs. He can’t sleep at night constant wake ups saying he needs to go for a pee but nothing there, he walks so slowly and is getting bad leg cramps. He drinks 3-5 pints of lager a day - more at weekend. Socially he will not give it up, says his life is over without a drink. How can we make him stop? Says he doesn’t want to drink every day (so his views are changing) but we don’t know how to get any help. Because he won’t commit to fully stopping the alcohol workers won’t help. I’m sure if he could see an improvement he would try more to stop but he sees no hope in sight. Does anyone have any similar experiences? What can we as a family do?

13 Replies
AyrshireK profile image

Unfortunately only he can make the decision and without his will power then the supports can't kick in. The symptoms he's displaying means he is at a very critical stage and unless he acts quickly he may not get another chance, the fact he's needing to pee but not doing so might suggest his kidneys are really struggling. Is he under a liver doctor?

Someone medical needs to impress upon him the need to stop drinking but it sounds like he needs medical help to do so - not just the support to but actual medical detox but until he accepts that help no progress can be made.

He can't just stop on his own if he has such a long standing habit and it could be dangerous to do so. The best shot he probably has is being admitted to hospital and getting medically detoxed and his other symptoms dealt with.

He needs medical help and fairly urgently - especially with the jaundice, oedema (swollen legs) ........... does he also have ascites in his tummy??

Has he been informed much about cirrhosis - the BLT has an excellent guide explaining the illness and the stages that the symptoms may kick in. He's getting towards the end if he doesn't get help and cease the drinking soon.


Pink1day profile image
Pink1day in reply to AyrshireK

Thanks everyone. I’ll keep trying that’s all I can do. He just gets ratty with me when I go on but I’ve got to try! He doesn’t have fluid around his admonen but he’s always had a big belly so hard to tell and because he’s always cold he’s always got his coat on now. I’d notice if it was big though surely.

DavyGravy profile image

Hi Pink

It is heartbreaking for families who are in your situation watching a loved one self destruct, I'm sorry you are going through this.

As Katie says, with addiction, only the addict can decide to break it. All you can do is try to get through to him. You can lay out the truth, that he is killing himself, maybe it will scare him enough to make that decision to stop. You can ask him to do it for himself, or to do it for his loved ones, point out the fact that his addiction is destroying the family, every day he is hurting all the people who love him. Beg, bully, threaten... but remind him he is loved.

Tell him it is not fair to leave everyone behind in pain. Ask him if there is something, anything that you can do that would help him to stop drinking. Is there an underlying problem that makes him drink, ask him if he would talk to someone, a doctor, a therapist?

If you try everything and he still will not give up then there is only one awful outcome. This will impact everyone around him, the stress of seeing a loved one like this is unbearable, it is important to make sure that you and those around him do not let the stress get too much.

I hope you can find a way to get past the addiction and get him to listen.


LemonMeringue15 profile image

I'm afraid you can't, is the simple answer. I'm in a similar position with the father of my children. I gave up a long time ago but the family who still speak to him would feel like you do. It's frustrating and heart breaking but there is nothing you can say or do that will stop someone drinking if they don't want to. Try and look after yourself as you'll need all your strength for this journey.

Kettl profile image

I am going to tell you what I found very very difficult and frustrating to hear from others. You can not change them but you can help your self. Encourage him to get medical help as soon as possible. Join ALANON for your self.

Aotea2012 profile image

There’s very little you can do unless he decides to stop. If he’s prepared to do that then he can access a huge amount of support from alcohol support services to help. Until he realises that the answer is not at the bottom of a bottle then the only thing you can do, sadly, is watch. No amount of persuading and pleading will get him there. In this situation all of the family need to look after themselves and get as much help as they can form each other. It’s very sad but until he turns the alcohol switch off there’s little you can do.

Positive001 profile image

Hi Pink.I find it harrowing that he says his life is over without a drink... the truth is his life is over if he continues to drink. I can tell you from experience my husband was severely ill for 4 years with numerous symptoms caused by drinking to excess and developing cirrhosis. I was living with an addict and a seriously ill man, trying to juggle work and taking care of our 2 children. Cutting a very long story short. after throwing him out and leaving him at his Mother's, he realised what he was losing, admitted he "may have a drink problem, " he got help. He had a weekly home visit from a 1 to 1 councellor and for 3 months he stopped drinking and l allowed him home at weekends. But after a massive nose bleed l called an ambulance and he was taken straight into HDU. 2 days later he was in ICU suffering from liver failure, kidney failure and broncho pneumonia. He was wired up to machines, blood running down his chin when he tried to talk, tubes going in 1 side of his neck and out the other and he was yellow from head to toe. The care he received was 2nd to none but on day 10 in ICU l was told there was nothing more they could do for him and the kindest thing would be to top up his dire morphine and let him go. Devasted, l sat beside him, held his hand, with his nurse beside me as we watched his last breaths and heartbeats disappear from the screen til he had gone.

This is the reality of a life with alcohol ... a wasted life of destruction and a horrible undignified, premature death !

Good luck. You truly are going to need it.

Laura x

pushthrough profile image

I’m so sorry to hear this. My aunt was the same way and she died young because of it. Some people just can’t stop. I don’t quite understand why when it’s life or death but that’s because I stopped.

redpoint72 profile image

oh dear love.... I do understand.... positive 001 is so right. I learned the hard way.... I was decompansated in 2018,massive distended tummy,went to docs.....sent straight away to North staffs hospital was also jaundiced then,also muscle loss. I was a heavy drinker.....but for several reasons. it doesn't do to judge a book by its cover!!. I was in for a week....diuretics' didn't work,so had to have a paracentesis.... the drain was OK....oh the relief could breathe properly again....the drain bag filled that quickly....drained several litres away....was put on ensure plus nutritional help with my muscle mass. but unfortunately I was discharged before Christmas .at Christmas I started drinking again......things seemed settled. oh god,come. mid Jan.....oh dear.....still I get so I nearly lost my life... I started coughing up blood,at 8 in the kept going until 1 in the morning.....i had completely filled a bucket of blood......i was struggling to breathe......i went out of my bedroom,along the landing knocked,on my parents door...but collapsed.Blue light ambulance,again north staffs hospital.....the paramedics were amazing .at that point I didn't feel worthy of their help.... I had caused the problem.but I still new I was a decent bloke. so big varices....had to be banded. if u could show this to your family member ... I STOOD IN FRONT OF A MIRROR IN THE HOSPITAL TOILETS, YELLOW,AGAIN TISTENDED TUMMY,GAUNT,EYES SUNKEN IN.....AND I SOBBED MY HEART OUT,AND SAID WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME,AND STOOD AND STARED. that was enough for I've not drunk in just over 3 years....its not been easy,to say the least. the lovey folk on here have helped tremendous but sometimes a softer approach can work. I've been tested recently after loosing my my lovely dad...but stayed strong. tia,has also been a world of strength to me. but its true,u need to do it for yourself,no 1 else can do it for you seeing myself in the mirror was my wake up call for me. unfortunately stopping liquor...doesn't make everything alright.....recently had bloods done and ultrasound.....bloods not so good...ukeld score above 50.....stilll enlarged spleen,repeat bloods in a month...not usual 6 months ....what I've said probably won't be of any help. others on blt website are better at explaining things. but my very best thoughts chris


Positive001 profile image
Positive001 in reply to redpoint72


DQ33 profile image

My brother was diagnosed with decompensated liver in July 2020 astices drained and seems controlled on diuretics stopped for a few months but has been drinking a bottle of vodka a day for the past year. I wonder how long he will survive! He does not work and constantly tired

Pink1day profile image

Dq33 I hope things turn around for your brother. I wish there was something we could do to make them stop!!! Wishing you all the best.

Pink1day profile image

Thanks all for your inputs and advice

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