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Question
Posted by: Desperate daughte | 2010/01/26

Mentally Ill mom

Hi, My mother is 49 years old and in the past six years developed a serious drinking problem. She went to AA meetings and even did a weeks stint at a rehab centre. Things got better but then she and her partner were involved in an armed robbery where she was beaten fairly badly. Shortly after that she had a seizure and was hospitalized for a week. Doctors couldnt find anything physically wrong but diagnosed a series of mental illnesses including chronic depression. She went on medication but then started drinking extremely heavily again. Since her seizure she has now become COMPLETELY unreasonable, forgetful, irrational, dillusional, aggressive, uncooridinated and just, well, crazy. The family have tried speaking to her and asking her to get help but have had no success apart from one attended AA meeting. She passes out regularly with a cigarrette still burning in her hand (literally burning into her hand)and is driving recklessly (she used to be a good, cautious driver before. All of this still occuring even when sober. Someone mentioned the possibility of bother schizophrenia and bipolar as her moods can change to any extreme at any given time.
To get to the point, can we force her to get help at a place like Tara Hospital? And if so who do we contact? I am afraid that if this is left alone she will hurt herself or someone else. We really dont know what to do :-(

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Alcohol will have undermined the efectiveness of any medications for her depression. The armed robery was of course unfortunate, but remember once one is alcoholic and one's brain has grown used to a certain high amount of alcohol being present, when that level drops - for instance one is injured in an accident, and for a time does not have access to one;'s usual alcohol intake, one can have fits, due to that alone, and I'm surprised if the doctors caring for her at the time didn't think of that. But they often don't think to ask about alcohol intake, and most patients don't volunteer the information.
For the dangerous driving, as it threatens her life and that of innocent others, maybe someone should tip off the police so she can be stopped and lose her license pending treatment - which may motivate her into more serious treatment.
Similarly, as Lisa says, a court, especially if she is involved in some alcohol related offense, can order her into more serious rehab and a dollow-up on probation. Short stints in rehab without proper follow-up are useless.
It would be reckless for anyone to diagnose schizophrenia ( this doesn't at all sound like schizophrenia ) or Bipolar Disorder, unless and until she can be expertly assessed when she has been sober for some time.
If anyone is genuinely believed to be suffering from a mental disorder such that they may be a risk to themselves or others, there are sexctions of the Mental Health law which could be invoked to arrange compulsory assessment and even treatment - if you have a really good GP he should know about this, and similarly any psychiatrist who has been treating her.

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: Lisa | 2010/01/26

You can apply at court that they send her to a rehab. center. The court also will make a ruling that she are not allowed to drink for 5 years, if she do, she will go to jail. Talk to your local prosecutor, or social worker.
Good Luck

Reply to Lisa
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/01/26

Alcohol will have undermined the efectiveness of any medications for her depression. The armed robery was of course unfortunate, but remember once one is alcoholic and one's brain has grown used to a certain high amount of alcohol being present, when that level drops - for instance one is injured in an accident, and for a time does not have access to one;'s usual alcohol intake, one can have fits, due to that alone, and I'm surprised if the doctors caring for her at the time didn't think of that. But they often don't think to ask about alcohol intake, and most patients don't volunteer the information.
For the dangerous driving, as it threatens her life and that of innocent others, maybe someone should tip off the police so she can be stopped and lose her license pending treatment - which may motivate her into more serious treatment.
Similarly, as Lisa says, a court, especially if she is involved in some alcohol related offense, can order her into more serious rehab and a dollow-up on probation. Short stints in rehab without proper follow-up are useless.
It would be reckless for anyone to diagnose schizophrenia ( this doesn't at all sound like schizophrenia ) or Bipolar Disorder, unless and until she can be expertly assessed when she has been sober for some time.
If anyone is genuinely believed to be suffering from a mental disorder such that they may be a risk to themselves or others, there are sexctions of the Mental Health law which could be invoked to arrange compulsory assessment and even treatment - if you have a really good GP he should know about this, and similarly any psychiatrist who has been treating her.

Reply to cybershrink

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