My dad's addiction is becoming impossible. Anyone else found a way to deal with this behavior?

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Another story about my dad, which I write with a mixture of dread, exhaustion, and amusement.
After his latest hospital stay, we moved Dad to a new facility where he has an aide and some assistance with bathing, cleaning, etc. The new place allows no smoking in the apartment, but residents smoke in the courtyard just outside his window. Whenever we have him over, we let him smoke outside or we go in his courtyard and let him smoke there, but he tries everything he can think of to get us to leave a pack with him. He promises he won't smoke in his apartment, but he's been lying to me about his smoking habit for 30 years and I trust him on this about as much as I believe him when he says he's going to quit. It's cold outside and there's just nothing like a nice smoke in your favorite chair in front of the TV. Plus, his dementia is at the point where even if he weren't a manipulative addict, he would forget that he's not allowed to smoke in his apartment.


So yesterday we picked him up and after a nice lunch at my house, he started the routine of pressuring my fiance, Ff, to get him a pack every few minutes. We drive back to his place and on the way we go into a convenience store to get him some beverages, and I have to frantically whisper to the poor lady that he can't have smokes, please. I feel so bad to put other people in this position, but if he gets a pack he'll smoke in his apartment and then he'll get kicked out.


So we get back to his residence and he actually goes up to the front desk guy and asks him where he can get some cigarettes. At this point Ff and I are laughing to let off tension, because the situation is so ridiculous and its so stressful to have to say no every two minutes. It is especially hard for Ff, because he is someone who loves to say yes so Dad knows he can manipulate him.
So we found the Activities guy who is really great and who knows our problem. We gave him a pack of my dad's smokes and he told my dad that whenever he needed one, he should just find him.


We left knowing that my dad was going to be harassing everyone he came across to ask where he could get a smoke, but at least maybe it would get him out of his apartment and he'd meet some people. Maybe the Activities guy would become his new best friend.


Around 9:30 that evening, Ff and I are lying in bed watching a movie and Ff's cell phone rings, it's Dad saying "If you could just pick me up a couple of packs and bring them over today...." Ff doesn't tell him I'm right there, so we try not to laugh as Dad goes on to say "Don't listen to Kirsten, she's making things up about how things are here--this is where I live, I can do whatever I want here!" So you see how he tries to manipulate.


It's so tough because his time with Ff is one of the few things my dad really enjoys, mostly because of the smokes, but I feel like I need to always supervise their time together because Ff has a tough time saying no when Dad tries to get smokes to bring back to his apartment. Ff actually begs me to supervise so he's not put in that position; of course my dad thinks that it's just me being controlling and insisting on always accompanying them.


He is also drinking about a half gallon of scotch every week, and I tried to limit that last week and then decided to give up on that one as I only have so much in me.


This is making me want to avoid Dad altogether which is sad because there are moments when he is very sweet. The constant saying no just gets so exhausting. It has crossed my mind to just let him do whatever he wants, and then he’ll smoke in his apartment and the fire alarm will go off, he’ll be sternly reprimanded and then at least we’ll have that to refer to. Anyone else found a way to deal with this behavior?

Answers 1 to 8 of 8
Top Answer
I think your plan to let nature take its course has some merit, but will Dad even remember the incident when you refer to it later?
Dad smoking in the apartment to get caught and using that as a reference for him to not smoke in the apartment again is logical thinking and I'm not sure your dad is capable of logical thinking.

I use to smoke until I got sick and had to be in the hospital. I was there 5 days without a cigarette and that was a great way to quit. However, when I came home I was climbing the walls wanting a cigarette. It was miserable. I was miserable.

I sympathize with you and I also sympathize with your dad.
I wonder if any of the stop smoking aids would help your dad? Recently there was a thread where it was suggested that the only lighter be secured in one spot. In your case that might be the courtyard. You might try searching this site. Enter smoking and you will find many threads on the subject.
I smoked inside for years until I quit. My mom smokes inside. I can almost guarantee it won't set the smoke detector or fire alarm off unless he catches something on fire. (Unless there is some new super sensitive alarm system that I don't know about - mom's building is fairly new so I doubt it.)

When my mom moved to my town, she insisted on buying the one apartment in town that has a strict no smoking on the property rule. There were lots of other options, but no, she swore she was going to go off property to smoke, and that it would be good for her, help her quit. Ha ha ha! She broke the rule on day 1.

Over 2 years later, and there is nothing I can do about it, even now that I am staying with her and looking after her. Dementia has made her stubbornness about it worse. I am constantly surprised there haven't been any complaints, because I was hoping maybe a good walloping fine from the strata council might set her straight. Now I am afraid she is going to get confused or forgetful and start an actual fire. (A couple of worrisome things have happened already.) There are actual fire detectors (heat sensors) in the building, thank goodness. But it's still a huge worry and all I can do is control her access to the ability to light the darned things. (Took the knobs off the stove, hid the toaster, secured the lighter to one spot in the apartment so she has to smoke in that spot.) IF she were threatened with a notice to sell/move out (not sure how that works with owned apartments), then she might get frightened enough to quit, but probably not until then.

I doubt your father will ever relent, unless he has dementia and some day forgets he smokes. (That happened to my dad.) The one thing I haven't tried, but am thinking of trying, is an e-cig. There are some that actually look like cigarettes. It's not just the habit but also the addiction that makes it so hard to change. At least with an e-cig they still have access to the addictive substance.
I quit with Nicorette gum for what that's worth. The fruit flavour gives a nice kick to the back of the throat that was very satisfying to me. I think it might be harder for an older person to quit using the gum though.
It's safer smoking outside. A neighbor started a fire twice in her house because of smoking. My father had to break down her door to get her out. Thank God she wasn't burned but her underware was.
Like you i would be worried about the smoking because of the fire risk. ado they have a sprinkler system in the room. i would also be very concerned about the amount of alcohol he is consuming. Who buys that for him. How are his liver function tests. Do the drs think his dementia is due to alcoholicism. Have you tried watering the whisky down. he"ll probably notice the difference but it might be worth a try.
Oh veg. Most of us are on this forum because we are parenting our parents. In your case, to the extreme.

I have no answers. Just a big hug from me to you. Dysfunction sucks. Hang in there.

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