Parents heavy drinking

Hello everyone
My parents were both very heavy drinkers. Dad died in April 2019 after an incredibly traumatic 18 months which involved 10 hospital admissions all for different things against a backdrop of dementia and heavy drinking . My husband and I cared for him and my mum and it definitely took a toll on me I was in hospital with pneumonia I think I was very run down . Ever since he had died not a week has gone past when there hasn’t been a problem with mum and she is drinking half a bottle of whiskey a day - she is independent to a certain extent I take her to the doctors etc she has a cleaner but the drinking has put her in hospital last week. We don’t have a good relationship she has been verbally and emotionally abusive to me for most of my life - I feel that I have this need to fix her or fix things the question I’m asking is will counselling help me to cope with her and my need to “make it all better” she’s also starting to behave like a toddler so to speak
Thank you for any advice

Binge drinkers/Alcoholics can’t change IF they themselves are not willing to change. It has to come from the person themselves. No one no matter how hard you try will change your mothers drinking unless she is willing to help herself. The abuse comes from the drinking. The following link can give a bit more info. I know it’s difficult and traumatic and sometimes there is aggression. How to Get Help for Alcohol Induced Psychosis | I hope some of the info links may help understand further. I’m not taking sides here but there is reasons behind why someone drinks as much as a drug addict is an addict. People can change if they get help and want to change no mistake as I’ve seen people change their life around from addict to clean from alcoholic to sober. It can be done. But only if the person themselves want change and want to give it up. I do hear what you are saying and it’s soul destroying to see but we love them none the less. For whatever reason your mum is drinking there is a deep rooted problem that she herself needs help with. May it be grief or from something else. But a reason none the less. I hope you find some answers through info links or better understanding. We all are not perfect when it comes to caring; it stresses us and pushes us beyond belief. But stay safe, get help and keep going!

Thank you for the links I will definitely pursue that many thanks :blush:

What discussions have you had with mum re:her drinking. Does she except it’s a problem or does she see it as you think it a problem. Does she actually want to help to change.

What is her behaviour like when drinking.

Hello and welcome!

Have you considered a way to detox for her? It might work. What about counselling for her as well- it might be wise? Too much alcohol is not good for the body as the research has stated that the side effects are damaging in the long term on our bodies. Try locking up the bottles in a safe place in your bedroom. Does she have any hobbies or interests? Can she work? How old is she now? There are a number of ways to get help for her drinking issues too.

One way is to see if you can gently persuade or influence her to join a local gym so she can exercise independently. Another way is to find a support network who can talk to her about some effective distraction techniques and strategies to cope without alcohol. Those are worth trying. Keep a diary for future reference of when she does have alcohol without your permission. Record all incidents. This website has some more information on supporting people with drinking Drug addiction: getting help - NHS

Have you requested a needs assessment?

Hi Sarah
Have you considered joining Al- Anon UK. It supports families who have family members with drink problems. Am sure they will have advice for you. You really have to consider your own well being too.

How old is mum?
Do you live with her?
Have Power of Attorney sorted?
Give up the idea of fixing her, but accept you will never win. Then sort out any care needs by getting others involved. Are you an only child?

Hi bowling bun
Thank you mum is 80 she lives alone after dad died but I see her 4 times a week she’s in complete denial and hides the bottles. I have a brother who does what he can but he has a young family and lives a long way away , his wife my sister in law won’t have anything to do with mum as mum has been so vile to her so I don’t blame her she’s basically driven everyone away with her behaviour which puts all the pressure on me so … I think I’ll
Just take your advice and not over think it
I do have POA thank you

Hi pet 66

I didn’t realise that they offered this support
Thank you I will look at this

Hi Sarah,

Sadly, at the age of 80, mum is incapable of change, however from the experience of others on the forum, long term heavy drinking badly affects the brain.
It’s good that you have POA sorted out.
Many elderly people muddle along OK until something happens, and nothing is the same again.
It may be an illness, or a fall and broken bone.
In your circumstances, I’d gradually find out more about what services are available which could help mum in a crisis.
Also, find out a bit more about the residential homes in the area.
Ask Social Services to do a Carers Assessment for you, as this would be another opportunity to ask what is available locally should the need arise.

Thank you bowling bun I was starting to think about residential care

Sarah, it’s almost inevitable if she won’t look after herself properly.
It’s much better to look round before you are in an emergency situation.
Does she realise the state she is in, or just not care any more?


I agree with Pet that Al Anon are very good - they are for the families of heavy drinkers. They do have meetings. It is normal to want to ‘fix’ an alcoholic but sadly they cannot be fixed. Half a bottle of spirits a day is around 16 units and the max recommended limit per week is 14! If she is on medication, then the affects could be magnified? Yes long term alcohol abuse can ‘fry’ the brain and cause significant atrophy. I agree too about looking into residential care.

My husband used to drink up to a litre of vodka a day when he retired and before this he was on at least 2 bottles of wine. I honestly think it has caused atrophy of his brain. He has cut down dramatically now but even so , not sure it can be reversed.

Thank you Helena I’m convinced the lastest hospital admission was related to alcohol and medication interactions thanks for your response

Thank you bowling bun yes I’ve been exploring all sorts of options every time she says she’ll only think about it so I think we’re heading in a downward spiral and I’m convinced this last admission was alcohol related I’ve had numerous conversations with her about safe levels of drinking but she’s just in denial she says she doesn’t drink
She does have capacity so I can’t make her do anything I don’t think
This forum has really helped me to understand that it’s not my fault and there’s only so much you can do if a person won’t help themselves
Thank you all very much

Hi Sarah. My dad was a very heavy drinker and incredibly lived to be 91. Months before he died he had several falls and was admitted to hospital. They found that the alcoholism had depleted his body of a vitamin called Thiamine (or vitamin B1). Apparently this is common in people who are heavy drinkers.
The doctors gave my dad injections of this and other vitamins and he returned home.
My advice to you (and anyone else who is looking after a heavy drinker) is to be aware that the patient may need a vitamin supplement.
There is more on the internet about Thiamine if you’re interested.

Hi I’m Steph I have been my husbands carer ( he has primary progressive ms it doesn’t get better). Have been in the carers role for so long. And the personal\relationship changes are …well what can I say. All I can say to you is that you are doing an amazingly fantastic and difficult job. Don’t feel alone .