What to do with alcoholic parent with no money?

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First, I've been reading the other posts on here for over an hour and can see this is a very supportive group. So I thank you in advance for your responses. If you want to skip the backstory, jump to the **.


My father-in-law is an alcoholic and a smoker. It's not unusual for him to go through a 30-pack of beer in one day. He lived with us for 6 years after our daughter was born and helped us out with her (we both work full time). At first he was very careful about not smoking or drinking during the day, but as she got older and more independent he started to slide. By the time she was three we had to put her into day care (very expensive in our area) because we did not feel it was safe to leave her home with him.


At that point he seemed to give up on life. He's never been a social guy but he stopped even eating dinner at the table with us. Just stayed in his room all day except when he went out to smoke. I should mention the drinking and smoking are very long term - at least since my husband was a kid. I also suspect he has some sort of depression.


About 3 years ago we got him on social security for disability (he can't work due to a back injury from a car accident years ago). He lost his driver's license for drunk driving and we refused to help him get it back. So he can't drive and he can't work. SS brings in about $900 a month. At first he was giving us a portion of that (rent he called it, though we never asked for it). But pretty soon he stopped giving us anything and spent it all on alcohol. We tried to limit him but short of outright taking away his money there wasn't much we could do. He has no desire to get clean.


About 2 years ago he walked out on us because my husband told him not to go near our daughter when he's drunk. He somehow got to his nephew's, who took him in for a few weeks. Then his sister volunteered to take him in. He flatly refused to move back in with us, ever. And to be honest we were happy to see him go considering he was becoming a safety issue for us and our daughter.


Now the sister is saying she can't keep him anymore. He's out of options for relatives to move in with. He's been hospitalized twice in the last year for bleeding ulcers and other issues. He was flatly told by the doctors he needs to cut down the drinking and smoking, and again he says he just doesn't care. My husband and I believe he has no desire to live.


**So that's where we are. He spends his $900 from SS on drinking and smoking despite knowing it's going to kill him. He can't drive or work. We've had him on housing waiting lists for every town in the area and the state for 2 years but they are at least 5 years out. He's 59 so doesn't qualify as a senior citizen. I don't even know if those places would take him if they knew his full medical history. We don't have enough money to pay for him to rent an apartment, and if he did live on his own we'd probably have to help him out with groceries and such since he'd spend all his money. He will be out on the streets soon. I don't know what to do.

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That's a tough situation to be in. I can understand how frustrated you might feel. I agree with Staaarr above, about attending Al-Anon. I'd try to get support about what you are experiencing I've been told that there is much to learn about enabling and whether is actually helps a situation.

I'd be careful to focus on your child's safety. There is much stress associated with growing up in the home with an alcoholic. I'd keep that min mind.

If your FIL refuses to get sober, I'm not sure how you can change that. That's his choice, but, you can control what happens in your home. I'd try to get support to have that resolve.

He's fortunate that you want to find him alternate housing, but, that's really his job, right? Is the only reason that he doesn't do it, because he knows that his family members will take care of it?

Can you speak with his doctor? Will a doctor sign off that he needs daily assistance with his care, like bathing, meals, medication, etc? Some states provide payment for Assisted Living for some seniors and the disabled. You said he is on disability. It depends on the state. They consider income, assets and need, per doctor's recommendation. ( I'd be careful in paying expenses for him, as that could be considered income and it could effect his eligibility for benefits.)

There are some religious based programs for alcoholic men that provides them with room and board for free, but, they have to commit to being sober.

Are you in the state of Florida? I might consult with an attorney for legal advice to see if there are any legal options for commitment to an alcohol detox program.

Is he a veteran? I might check on what they may have available.

I hope that will get other responses. I also hope that you find some things that help.
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I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I can honestly understand both sides having been a former smoker myself. I get that he doesn't care about anything other than drinking and smoking as he only gets $900 a month and cannot drive or work. It is very depressing. I also understand how family cannot take him in any longer. It is too detrimental to everyone, including enabling him to continue living as he is.

My only useful suggestion would be to go to Al-Anon. You will find lots of others dealing with exactly this.

Unfortunately, if he isn't willing to get help to stay clean, there is likely nothing you can do other than to allow him to be out on the streets. He will hopefully then hit bottom and find himself willing to get help.
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