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Question
Posted by: Gemma | 2010/03/18

Help for Alcoholics- can they change

I was recently visiting family in Durban, when a relative, that last seen in 1991, popped in. I would never have recognized him. He was rake thin and his hands shook and he asked the same questions several times. He constantly answered his cell phone (which never actually rang) and pretended or believed he was having a conversation with a work colleague and then a female friend. I was totally shocked. He told us his friend had dropped him off as he wanted to see my aunt that was ill. He arrived at aroun 8:30pm, rather late for visitors, and when we mentioned we needed to go to bed, he pretended to call his friend to fetch him. He did this several times to see where his friend was. He then tried to distract my cousin and I by asking us to go outside as his friend, who was female was at the gate and was shy to come down and he wanted to introduce us to her.He finally left and then I discovered that the money I had left on the dining room table was missing.

My cousin then told me that our relative turned to alcohol after some personal problems. This happened a very long time ago, sometime in the late 1990s. He lost his job and basically everything. My cousin said that she thinks he went to AA and for a while was okay and then just resorted back to drinking again. I heard he now stays home and his mum try not to let him out of the house.

I am so shocked because we went to the same school and he finished a year before me. We are both in our mid 30s. He was a really intelligent and handsome guy. I can''t believe that this is him. I heard he will even steal to pay for alcohol.

How does one help someone like this? I know what he was before and it is hard fot me to imagine he could be like this now.

I know he comes from one of those families that would rather ignore the problem than accept it and deal with it. The less people that know about it, the better.

But there must be some way to help him. It is so hard for me to accept that the person I knew has become like this.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

As you describe so vividly, alcoholism causes awful changes in people, and causes problems for many others around them. It is useful not to join in the game of pretending all is well, but to make it clear that you recognize that he has a serious problem which he needs to deal with, with proper expert help ; and that as you are aware he steals things to feed his habit, you annot trust him with access to money or belongings of others.
If he wants to get help, you can offer to help him get to the right specialists, AA, rehab, whatever.
But you can't do the necessary work for him - unless and until he himself admits there is a problem he can['t handle alone, and sincerely engages with prper help, there is no way anyone else can help him

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

3
Our users say:
Posted by: JB | 2010/03/23

Alcoholics Anonymous saved meet from the gutters, BUT

1. I first had to realise that I had a problem and
2. Had to have the DESIRE to stop drinking.

I am in my sixth year of sobriety now. Today I cannot stand the smell of alcohol. So, yes, there is hope.

First try to get him to 1. and 2. mentioned above. I may be a long process, but worth it.

As dr Phil says: you can''t fix what you don''t acknowledge.

Secondly, don''t even try and speak to him when he is drunk. He will argue and won''t remember it the next day.

Reply to JB
Posted by: Admin | 2010/03/18

Thank you for writing to Health24, we have posted your question on the Addictions expert forum - please take a look to see their reply.

Reply to Admin
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/03/18

As you describe so vividly, alcoholism causes awful changes in people, and causes problems for many others around them. It is useful not to join in the game of pretending all is well, but to make it clear that you recognize that he has a serious problem which he needs to deal with, with proper expert help ; and that as you are aware he steals things to feed his habit, you annot trust him with access to money or belongings of others.
If he wants to get help, you can offer to help him get to the right specialists, AA, rehab, whatever.
But you can't do the necessary work for him - unless and until he himself admits there is a problem he can['t handle alone, and sincerely engages with prper help, there is no way anyone else can help him

Reply to cybershrink

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