How do I care for my mother who is addicted pain medication and alcohol?

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A kind of moral question: I am angry about my 82 year old mother's overmedicating herself with her pain meds and then wanting alcohol on top of it. I am her caretaker (a recent change) and I have old memories and anger about how her behavior affected my life. She complains about pain that is a 4 on the scale and medicates herself so that she can not play a simple card game. I'm disgusted, but every time I take her meds away, she whines at me until I give them back. I don't think I want to handle this. I don't think I'm capable. She is on a walker. I fix her meals, take care of her well-being, Dr's extc., make sure she is safe and taken care of, something she never did much for me. Am I making too much of this?

Answers 1 to 5 of 5
No you are not making too much of this.
She is making your job much harder.
My mom got knee replacements at 85. The first one went well but she was in a different ward after the second. They kept her doped up on vicodin for the rehab & subsequently sent me home an 85 yr old junkie. She screamed when I took away her vicodin & my husband had to intervene. She got over it.
Could you talk to her doctor about an intervention???
Thanks so much. Children of alcoholics (even at 60 years old) do not always know what is normal. Yes, I've taken away her moraphin patches before, under great protest. I guess, I'm just unhappy about having to deal with again. I've had breast cancer, chemo etc, etc. and have been out of work for over a year. My own life has its own difficulties. I'm not sure how to get some help with this, but your encouragement and confirmation means alot.
Top Answer

If you know she's going to get twisted like a pretzel, why do you keep giving them to her? Substance abuse escalates, so what are you going to do when she has built a resistance to her current meds?

This is the time for tough love: (1) don't keep alcohol around the house; it enhances the effects of the meds; (2) keep the meds locked in a safe place and only give her the dosage prescribed. She's an addict, she's supposed to whine when she doesn't get her way. And since she can't force you physically, she'll manipulate ... "I'm in pain! ... My back is killing me ... I have a migraine ... My ass hurts," etc., etc., etc. Beware of "secondary gain" situations such as "I'll help you with the cleanup but I'm gonna need an extra Motrin afterwards, okay honey?" That's another manipulation tactic.

Remain firm!!! ... Whenever she asks for more and more meds, use this: "I got three words for you mother: NO." If she'll still not satisfied, tell her you're checking out nearby rehabs first thing in the morning where she'll be reciting the AA/NA philosophies and practicing those 12 Steps and the Serenity Prayer day in and day out for a whole month, and maybe longer if she doesn't straighten her act up.

You're the one in charge. Make it clear to her that self-destructive behavior isn't going to be tolerated any longer. ... Not on your watch.

Good luck my friend, and keep us posted.

-- ED

My mother-in-law, who lives with us, was in the same situation. I told the pain dr that she drank, and he told me she could not, she would kill herself. I said "You tell her, your her dr giving her the meds". He did tell her and of course she denied it saying she has one drink a day(one long big one). We had stopped buying her booze, but she got a friend to come visit once a month and she would buy her month's worth. finally she got so constipated she had to go to the hospital for 2 weeks and they gave her no pain meds. then to the nursing home for 3 weeks and all they gave her was tylenol. At home i bought generic tylenol with no recognizable label on it and she though she was taking pain meds! Of course, while she was away, we found her stash of booze and removed it. When she screamed and got angry with us, my husband brought the booze back over and slamed it on her counter and told to go at and kill herself. then he went back and took it away-afraid we could get arrested for elder abuse! She finally figured out it was tylenol and did not want to take it and has been clean for 4 years and remarkably is in no pain. that part is God, she now spends her time reading her Bible.
I do not know if this would be appropriate for the elderly but there is a drug called suboxone (sp?) that worked wonders in a relatively short period of time re: my 22 year old daughter's addiction to pain meds and alcohol. She had tried many other treatments (including 12-Step) and was desperate to help herself, nothing worked... this drug did, all is well.

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