How do you help an alcoholic, xanax addicted dad when he won't do anything the doctors or family members suggest?

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My dad has congestive heart failure, prostate trouble, high blood pressure, is very hard of hearing, and has depression. He takes nine medications, including Xanax. He washes down his meds with beer. Other than a cup of coffee or a glass of tea, beer is what he drinks all day.
He refuses to do anything he is asked to do that will help him get better. He is also on oxygen full time. He frequently becomes verbally abusive, cursing and accusing everyone he knows of being a liar, a thief, and or conniving sneak. To top it off, his wife has dementia. She frequently has to call her daughter to come and get her out of their home because she fears for her life. Then she whines and complains because they won't take her home. They can not stand to be separated but can get along when together. She is driving him crazy because she "can't do anything" and can't remember anything. She will ask him the same question five times in the span of several minutes. He admits she needs help but refuses to get any because he doesn't want her to be "locked up". She and her family are afraid not to supply his beer because he has such a temper. But it is the beer that is the root of all the hostility. He feels like they need someone to stay over nights (not just anyone only a member of his family), she doesn't want anyone, family, friends, or paid caregiver. She said they do just fine at night. Within the last few nights he has walked around drunk and has fallen and cut his head. Does anyone know where to start? I am one of his six children. Two of my siblings live out of state, one is an over the road truck driver and is seldom home. When he is, he needs to be with his family. One sibling, who lives the closest to dad, says he can't deal with it. The burden has been placed on one of my sisters, and myself. Even though I am retired, I am limited in how much I can help because of my husband who is not very sympathetic with the situation. He sees him as an alcoholic, drug addict who abandoned his wife and children for another women. Other words, he made his bed now let him lie in it. The sister who is left to shoulder the burden has a supportive husband but also has a job and two school age children who need her. God bless her! She is trying to do too much. Can anyone out there offer advice. Thank you so much.

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You could have Social Services do a welfare check. If they arrive and he is really drunk, they may be able to intervene and get his wife into a facility. She has AD and he is unable to provide good care.
Sometimes we really want to help people, but if they are competent, we can't. However, I'd try Social Services and see what advice they give you.
Good luck,
Carol
Dear 1daysoon,

I do agree with the comments made about the wife in this situation but do not totally agree with the comments about your dad. True addiction is not a choice. His wife is not competent and some intervention needs to be done on her behalf. The questions I have about your dad are how old is he, how much and for how long has he been drinking and taking Xanax, does his physician know about the drinking? Has anyone ever tried to intervene and get him help? It could be dangerous for him physically to stop without medical supervision. As an alcoholic in recovery who has been sober for several years it astounds me that many people continue to have poor understanding about the nature of the disease of addiction. Both of these people need help and I hope you can find some relief for both of them through sources outside of the family. While your dad may not want help it doesn't mean you need to throw in the towel and write him off. I thank God every day that my family didn't. There is a big difference between enabling and loving someone enough to get them the help they desperately need.
For your father: he made his bed now let him lie in it.

For his wife: Please call Social Services on her behalf. Ideally you would work together with her daughter to take this step, but clearly someone needs to advocate on this poor woman's behalf. Her husband cannot/will not. He daughter is the next logical person to look after her safety and well-being. She is (I'm guessing) probably as frustrated and concerned as you are, and equally in search of what to do next. In my opinion, what to do next is to get a professional involved. Social Services can explain the options available and how to take steps to implement an option once a decision has been made.

Obviously there is way more to this situation than you can put in a few paragraphs. But on the basis of what you have written my first concern is to get help for your father's wife, who has dementia and cannot help herself and cannot be expected to make decisions in her own best interest. A care center may be the best answer for her. No, she will not like that decision, and your dad will not like that decision, and it is sad to have to impose it. But it is also sad (and dangerous) for her to remain in a situation where she fears for her life.

As for you father, Carol is right. If he is considered by law to be competent to make his own decisions, he has the legal right to make them, even if they are bad decisions and self-destructive. That is heart-breaking to those who want to intervene and help them. Social Services can explain options for him, too, and what limited role you can play in making decisions for him. Please take Carol's advice and start there.

In our culture we have two extremely strong values:
1. Respect for each person's independence.
2. Protection for vulnerable individuals.

Unless and until an adult is seen as vulnerable (because of dementia, for example), he or she is presumed to have full rights to make independent decisions. I don't mean to stop you from trying to help, but I think it best to be realistic about what is possible.
1Daysoon, You know, the choices that your dad has made in his life, have culminated into what he is going thru now. He HAS brought this all on himself, and he's NOT asking for any help as far as I read here anyway. But his wife is another matter. She can't help what's happened to her, so she's the one that needs help. My question is: how is this alcoholic drug addicted man getting his drugs and beer? He's either driving himself (hopefully NOT drunk) to the store/pharmacy or someone else is supplying him. I sure wouldn't want to be the enabler that is helping him.
ps: Do NOT get suckered into being the family member who stays overnight. If that is truly a service that is needed, go through Social Services to determine how that need might be met.
To deardaughter: Thank you for your advice and kind words. It is not my mother that he lives with. It is the woman he left her for over 35 years ago. My mother tried for five years to handle his affair, she tried even longer to handle his drinking. Thank God she came to her senses and gave him a divorce.
I appreciate your sharing you story and am truly glad you were able to overcome it all.
1DaySoon, I was in the same situation as you are and I am so sorry you have to deal with this because I know how hard it is. I can only tell you my story, in hope it will someway help you. My mother also has hypertension and is in congestive heart failure (along with many other things). However, one thing that she is NOT anymore is dependent on pain killers or alcohol. Now, if we turn our backs even for a split second and she is able to get her hands on anything to "make her feel better" then she will do it in a heartbeat. My sister moved in with my parents after her divorce. She didn't NEED to move in with them, but I kind of talked her into it because my dad needed help taking care of my mom. After a year, my family moved to a city nearby, in order to help take care of my parents. My mom has been addicted to one thing or another my entire life. My dad was in denial. My sister just pushes things aside and she doesn't deal with them. Myself....I am the exact opposite of both of them. As far back as I can remember, I constantly confronted my mom, dad, and sister regarding my mom's addictions. When I moved near them recently, I have refused to let my children live the life that I lived growing up. I will NOT allow my children to watch their grandmother self destruct, while the rest of the family ignores the situation. I grew up watching how much my mother enjoyed going to the doctor. She loved not only the pills but the attention. Now, that her addictions have caught up with her body....she has many different true doctor appointments. However, she would go to every one of them and list all these different symptoms and they would give her all kinds of pills. Some needed and some not so much. She would take too many pills and would fall all over the place and it was NEVER that she took too many pills....it was new symptoms for her to give to another doctor. She would say, "I don't know why I am so dizzy. I just sat up, and the next thing I knew I was on the floor." I believe my mom overdosed on insulin (due to being under the influence of another). She had a seizure. We couldn't prove she took too much insulin, but I knew that was most likely what happened due to what my sister described the events leading up to the seizure. The neurologist put her on seizure medication that effected my mom in the worst way. She was not able to feed herself, walk, take a shower, or anything. She started to use the bathroom in her pants. She was falling all over the place. The doctor ended up putting her in a nursing home. My husband and I started to wean her off of a TON of her medications. Some from the resistance of her doctors BUT in their defense, they didn't know the extent of how many pills she was taking either. I contacted her doctors many times. I talked to my dad (with much pleading) telling him that she IS sick, but a lot of her symptoms are mainly side effects of all the narcotics that she takes. The nursing home was able to lower the seizure medication. With constant monitoring of the nursing home, my mom received only the prescribed amount of medication. Still being on the seizure medication, she was still "out of it" for most of the time. Once she got home, I told my sister and my dad...she can't drive so they have control now. She is better than she had been in years. They needed to empty the house of all old medicine and keep her clean. Over a year, she started to get better but then all of a sudden she started to get worse. To make a long story short....my sister wasn't locking up the medication and she didn't clean the house of the pills. (She is known to ignore certain situations. Block it out of her head) I think that had to do with her growing up with my mom's addictions.

I could go on and on but I need to wrap this up. Bottom line, my dad finally realized what my mom was doing. It was painful, but I would tell him every time it happened. He saw what it was doing to my sister and to me and my family. My sister locks up all narcotics now in a safe. My sister has still messed up many times. She leaves a medicine bottle laying around, even for a few seconds, and my mom will have taken them. My sister is better but she will think things are better and then we learn my mom has taken 12 pills in 24 hours of a medicine that was suppose to be taken 1 every 4-6 hours (as needed). What I am trying to say is....If your dad can't drive then you have the upper hand. Get him help in a drug and rehab hospital. Medicare pays for a majority of the hospital stay. He can be admitted involuntarily. Call his doctors and tell the nurse.....I know with the new HIPPA Law, that YOU can't talk to me but I need to tell YOU some things about my father. Tell them EVERYTHING!

As far as your mom, she may want help but is afraid to say anything. She deserves to live out the remaining part of her life, not in fear. Please get her out of the situation.

I tell myself everyday that my mom's body is giving out. She doesn't have many more days left before her past and present addiction behavior will catch up with her. However, when she passes away, I will be able to sleep at night. I will know, in my heart, that I did everything I could do to save her. I told people. I shouted it out to her doctors, to my dad, to my sister, and to my mother. I can not watch her 24 hours a day. None of us can. We do all that we can do, to keep the house clean of any narcotics. I have stepped up and tried my hardest to get my mother clean. I have forgiven but not forgotten. If she was to pass away tomorrow, I will cry. I will mourn the loss of my mother but I will NEVER once say to myself that I wish I had done more to help her. I will sleep at night.

I wish the best for you and your family. Don't be afraid to "out" your dad in order to get him help. Don't be afraid to remove your mom. ASK FOR HELP FROM EVERYONE! Take the advice of the help you can get from the people who post and use the advice. Do everything you can do now, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. You will be comforted, as I am today, and you will say....I did everything that I could do, at that moment, to help my parents. I don't regret anything. I would regret if I didn't do anything. Do what your heart says to do. Don't put yourself in a terrible situation that has no good outcome but do what you know you NEED to do. What your heart tells you.

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