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My father was an abusive alcoholic until I was 11...smacking my mom around for years and scaring/keeping me a nervous wreck...after he quit drinking I learned to love him and helped my mom care for him the last 2 years of his life....now my mom has dementia among many other ailments..brain stem stroke mini strokes heart attack afib multiple falls fracturing back tailbone and breaking an arm..diabetes..long story short I have always hated alcohol and never wanted anything to do with it...after caring for my mom (she's been in rest home for last 3 months) I finally had test done as like most caregivers I had neglected..I already had hbp gerd arthritis bulging discs knee replacements bone spurs in spine neck and shoulders and am bipolar for 27 years with panic disorder..needless to say I came to hate the person my mom had become and realized I could no longer handle it after thinking how can I get out of this situation or get her out of it..sad I know...but I started drinking and taking xanax as a coping tool...and I am an emotional eater gained 55 lbs in the first year my dad passed..it doesn't help that I have a near non functioning thyroid...like lizzywho61 I am also a medical train wreck...I don't want to end up being an alcoholic like my dad and popping tramadol for pain and xanax for nerves...how's everyone else cope??

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Memyself ~ Why don't you talk to your local Dept of Aging social workers and see what programs there are for you and your parents? I know my area has a respite program, plus different day outings for seniors and companionship programs.  I take it the level of care your parents receive currently is "independent living?"  There are some area programs your parents will qualify for and could be of benefit to them.  
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I have major stress. I was dx with GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder). Had since child but has really raised its head in last 5 yrs. Im caregiver to both parents,82, neither drive. Im 49. Married. 14 yr old son an 19 yr old son at home. I do just about everything for them. My Dad is non compliance on just about everything. He makes it miserable now after 5 yrs of taking his fit throwing. Guilt trip crap. Abusive name calling when I call him out on stuff. His actions or non actions affect me an my Mom. My Mom is the little wifey. Whatever he wanted she would do. Co-dependent. His way or highway. Very strict on me an my older sister. YES, I HAVE A OLDER SISTER. Lives in another city just 1 hr an half away. Hardly does stuff to help me or give a break. These are our parents golden yrs an anyday could be the last an you would think after 2 or 3 yrs of fighting with her about this an that about parents she would get a clue an come every other wkend. I have depression now since 2014. Taking care of 2 families. Ridiculous. I just sold their giant house an property rt before they were destitute an running out of money! I did it alone! No realtor on my part. My Dad was a hoarder in later yrs. They moved out in June 2016. So been a yr at a "retirement community ". 3,349$ a month. We(my husband an sons mainly) had to clean out what they really wanted fr the house an could fit in apartment. Then I had to find a estate sale person because it would have taken us 6 months just to go thru the 50 hammers, 30, screwdrivers, 2 boats(rotted), 3 vehicles, jammed packed 30x40 shop you couldnt walk in. An in hous(4,000sq ft). Tons of stuff. Old furniture. Freezer, washer dryer, etc...nightmare. so had it in Dec 2016. Then the rest we had to get rid of. Pain. Then sold it in July 2017. A yr to do it all. A yr of h*ll. Fights with sister over the junk (she can have it ALL!!) Fights with parents about "you sold that . You sold this!" When they couldnt even buy their own meds. I was buying them an taxes on that place until sold, etc.. now we sell an they want to move fr retirement community. Food is awful. They both are diabetic. Kidney disease. Dad has multiple helath probs. Congestive heart failure. A-fib. On blood thinner. Sleep apnea but wont wear mask. Legs fr knee down are terrible . Prob in a yr amputation coming. I USE to work at hospital here in surgery. Iv done those before. My Mom is over wt now. Put on 11 lbs since been there. Dad fattest ever been. Both use walkers. Multi meds an multi Dr's. Im the taxi. Im the pill loader. Im the medical records keeper. Im the grocery girl. Unless my sister isnt busy an can come an go do that!. Wow! I clean apartment like kitty poop, trash, make sure meds taken. An I call an make sure meds taken. I spend night once a wk to give my mom a break. At least she tries a little to be compliant. My Dad is up all night going to bathroom due to not stopping water intake, like heart dr said, around 8pm. Or he is eating an blood sugar is up in morning. 57u lantus then 55 u lantus p.m. Sliding scale Humalog starting with 1u. Today sugar at 12 was 301!! Cause he argued in front of everyone at dining room at my Mom an said Im having the full glass of tomatoe juice (sodium an diverticulitis) an a slice of lemon cream pie. Im sick of it. I love my-Dad but he is just existing rt now. All he does is eat, sleep, up for nurses 3x a day. Go to bathroom. Cant even get dressed by himself. Cant put socks on. Has has sm stroke in cognitive area. Cant work microwave or t.v. control. Put oxygen tubing on wrong. Criss crosses it. I try to tell him thats wrong but he gripes me out. Doesnt listen to me or my Mom. So to respond to this posters post. I dont blame you for taking a drink every now an then. But, watch it. Im on clonazepam(longer acting anti-anxiety med than xanax.). Iv tried 10 anti-drepressants. I see a therapist to an psych. If you could find somewhere to go an talk about whats going on it helps. Write it down in journal. Walk. Listen to music in ear buds. Respite care sounds necessary. People have no idea how stressful an sad an angry an depressing it is. I want to be a daughter again. Not a caregiver. I want to visit. Not work an gripe out my Dad for running over my Mom with his walker on purpose. No he does not have dementia. No idea until they do what we do everyday. But we wont have that guilt either one day. Just...now what do I do?? Prayers to all an to me!
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To just simply answer the poster's question: yes, I did start drinking more, and started taking benzos, during the time I was caregiving to my father. I think in my situation, though, one can't divide out what was caregiving stress vs what were symptoms of mold illness... and panic attacks are one of the first major symptoms of mold-related illness. So who knows WHY I got as much anxiety as I did, but it was debilitating, to be sure.

If you need something to function, then take it. If you're abusing substances, legal or not, then get yourself the help you need because sooner or later you will have to deal with that dependency. It's much better to do it yourself, to put yourself through a slow withdrawal, if that's what you need to do.

If you think you need to stop, then... there are ways, and you're not alone. I stopped the Klonopin with help from online support groups plus reading about The Ashton Manual guide to withdrawal from benzos.
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There is a middle ground where one isn't simply "zoning out" OR "white-knuckling" caregiving life. Anti-anxiety meds, specifically benzodiazepines, can be helpful if the person can use as intended and in moderation to help with the enormous amount of anxiety one can get from caregiving to elderly. If you can't use as intended, if you have an addictive personality or addiction runs in your family, then you're likely better to do without. There are several anti allergy medications that do off-label or double-duty use as anti-anxiety. Get one of those, upon Dr. approval, because they tend to be less habit forming than benzos. 

Whatever the habit is, you don't have to w/d cold turkey. There are things you can take and step down.

I didn't know that benzodiazepines were THAT habit forming and I took them for a couple of years in the middle of caregiving. I'm glad I've weaned off of them and it wasn't the easiest thing to do. I wish I would have known and understood that I could just take them as/if needed. I took them daily because that's how they were prescribed. But... if you can get by with taking intermittently, that is much better, imho, and you won't have the physical dependency.
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I just wanted to hop in, FWIW .. in support of NAMI. Find a local chapter where this is a support group and GO! You will find it of enormous help.

I did so in years past, dealing with a daughter who was mentally ill and refused to cooperate with any healthcare initiatives to address it. NAMI saved my life. I was sinking right along with her.

I too, got an rx of Xanex at that time, but was terrified of becoming addicted. I don't remember the dose I was rx'd .. but I recall taking only 1/2 pills and only about 3 or 4 x's and I ultimately disposed of them. Didn't want to become addicted. They were great to be able to zone out and away from all of the mess. The few times I took them. But I could see, .. zoning out, wasn't going to be any kind of viable solution.

I can't say enough good things about NAMI and how helpful it was in my situation.
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Byathread,
Please see your doctor.
Bipolar? Xanax and alcohol are not a good answer, and are not the treatment for bipolar. You will need help to adjust your meds. Don't go this alone.
There is much hope for the correct treatments for all your issues, start with a good psychiatrist, and logging in to NAMI. There may also be a local chapter in your area, please call them. The thoughts you are trying to medicate can be treated.
So sorry that you are having such a hard time right now. It was a good thing you are reaching out today!
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Step away from the booze, you already know that you shouldn't be mixing it with xanax, and given your family history and previous abhorrence for alcohol it is obviously self destructive behaviour. You need to find other ways to take the pressure off, how to do that depends on your circumstances.
Exercise - even a walk around the block.
Respite - daily if possible, an entire day to yourself as often as possible, and occasional vacations. Social outlets - make a point to reach out to friends and family, or do what many of us do and make cyber friends.
 Reevaluate - periodically weigh the pros and cons of the choice you have made to be a caregiver, and detail your exit strategy. When you are at your lowest and not thinking straight is not the time to be looking for solutions, having a viable plan in place, even if you aren't ready to use it yet, can take some of the pressure off.
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My daughter was prescribed Xanax over and over. Very difficult for her to get off them. Doctors would give them because she convinced them she was on a large quantity (and she was) and they knew she couldn't stop cold turkey. That's why I thought the article was good. It shows how a person can innocently enough start off using whatever to manage a situation and then it becomes a habit and the next thing you know it's an addiction. You are lucky JessieBelle. A person who has a family history of alcohol might have the genetic makeup that makes it addicting. But I agree, a doctor can manage. My daughter was very persuasive but her doctor would only allow her so many a month. They would be gone in a few days at one point. She became so afraid to take prescriptions that even when she needs to she won't until all else fails.
My dad was given xanax and it really helped him. He had the same bottle for years. So, it just depends on the person and the purpose. I think my dad felt relief just knowing they were there if he needed them.
Walking and exercise, eating right, drinking lots of water, meditating, yoga these things will also help keep depression and anxiety under control but they take more effort on a daily basis and sometimes things get out of hand and the xanax or the drink can help.
It's what we do 90% of the time that matters the most IMHO.
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I got the feeling she started drinking and taking Xanax not long ago. Xanax is great for panic attacks. I have had recurrent episodes of panic disorder in my life and Xanax and an antidepressant helped me through them. Fortunately I had no problem with physical addiction, so had no trouble stopping the Xanax. I don't know why some people get physically addicted and others don't. Doctors now are only supposed to prescribe Xanax short-term. I know doctors can use their own judgment on this.
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There are two substances that I have heard one should never stop cold turkey if they are abusing them for fear of death.
Xanax being one and alcohol the other. So according to your level of usage, be careful.

Your post reminded me of something I heard years ago about a "hot potato". This is where one person picks up the drinking (or other behavior) when the other person of influence stops. I googled that just now and didn't find exactly what I was looking for but did find this great Huffington Post article. It might help to take a quick read to see if it applies to your situation. I'll PM the link to you. It's about why we 'self-medicate' our own depression or anxiety.
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I drink one beer right before bedtime while I watch a show on the computer. This is like my me time.

If you have the Xanax, you shouldn't need the alcohol. The two together can give you very poor judgment. Really, Xanax by itself can, though it is a very useful drug for panic disorder. I get the feeling you need to start into therapy and trying to wean yourself off the alcohol and taking fewer drugs. Only you can decide to do that. Have you tried some simple things like drinking water (like you would a soda) and going for walks. These things are actually very good for panic. Alcohol tends to make you pull in and isolate, which is not good when there is panic disorder. Hope you can find a way of coping with this and leave the alcohol out of it.
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