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Hi, I'm new here. I just moved my 74 year old mother across the country and into my house to live with my husband and I. Things are not going well to say the least.


I moved her in because she is requiring full-time care, which she wasn't getting from her husband. She has fallen several times and has suffered traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, fractures in her neck/back, lacerations to her head and ears, destroyed her knees, etc. She also has arthritis, fibromyalgia and diminished cognitive function (from the brain injuries). I knew she had been seeing pain specialists and receiving meds to treat her horrible pain for many years (20+) and felt confidant they were doing right by her. After the last time she had a serious fall (in ICU 5 days), her two pain doctors said they were stopping some of her meds because they were concerned and I agreed.


After having her here one week, I realized she is still taking a dangerous concoction of meds and it is the reason behind all her falls and injuries. My heart is crushed. The main one causing the most concern is Ambien. When her two doctors refuse to refill them, she went to her GP and got a prescription, which I did not know about. Besides the prescriptions, she is also taking lots of OTC meds like Benadryl. Honestly, I'm surprised she hasn't overdosed yet. What doesn't surprise me is that she's been doing it and hiding it from me. She is a recovered alcoholic and has had various addiction problems years.


Three weeks ago, I took her to meet her new GP and he refused to give her refills of those meds, thankfully. However, my mom wasn't so thankful. She started crying and threw a horrible fit embarrassing me and herself. Since then, I've been talking to her about how dangerous it is and she needs to try alternative therapies. She just won't listen to me and says nothing works but the pills and that she can't live without them.


She's been falling several times a week between 2-3am because after she takes her Ambien, she's zombie walking and tripping, passing out going to the bathroom and crashing to the floor, etc. Every morning after a fall, I ask her what she was doing when she fell. She'll deny it and say I did not fall! So, I started taking photos of her on the floor so she could see what she is doing to herself. I confronted her once again this morning and asked her how much Ambien she has left. She said two months. My husband and I told her we love her, but she needs to start cutting down and stop taking it. That she is hurting us and we can't sleep at night. I even told her if I had known she was doing this, I would have never brought her into our home.


My husband and I just married two years ago. Earlier this year, my husband lost his job due to Covid and is having a difficult time finding work. We have put our marriage and finances on the line for her. We are at our wits end and we just started on our caregiving journey. I'm wondering now how we are going to survive this situation.

She is an addict. Let me repeat that a bit more clearly.
YOUR MOTHER IS AN ADDICT. and has been one for a very long time.
You can not help her. SHE has to make the decision to change.
Before this ruins your marriage, your life send her back to her husband, she is his responsibility to some degree.
If you can get mom to agree to go into a facility to detox and rehab that might be an option. But are you up for "babysitting" her for the rest of her life? And what if she relapses again? Do it all over? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result...
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Reply to Grandma1954
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EASWOL Sep 28, 2020
Thanks for your reply. My mother is an addict. I knew that in my preteens. It's also why I moved out at 15 and got married at 16 so I could get away from her. I've been to al-anon and I know I cannot make her change or make her quit. However, she cannot leave the house because she can't drive and no doctor will giver her these meds again. When she's out, she out. I will be taking her to every appointment, so there will be no more doctor shopping and sweet talking to get pills. I knew this wasn't going to be easy and maybe I made the wrong decision, but it doesn't mean I don't have a choice. I have told her several times I would send her back to her husband over this. She will never agree to go to a facility, but may agree to go back to AA or more likely need NA to get help. I agree it's insanity trying to help an addict and I sure wish I knew about the pills before I moved her in.
(6)
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Take the meds away from her and you dispense them. Even if you have to get a small safe to lock them up. It's very likely she's taken more ambien if they took away other drugs because her body is used to feeling drugged. Same reason illegal drug users will use whatever they can get their hands on to feel drugged.

Take her and all her drugs back to the doctor and tell him what's going on. Then you start the med management. If she doesn't agree, tell her other option is to go to a facility where they will definitely control what she gets and when she gets it. She may require hospitaization to get off some of the drugs. The dr can evaluate how to wean off properly.
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Reply to my2cents
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We went through benzodiazepine addiction with my MIL. Med seeking, doctor hopping, stashing, the works. She actually lied and said the PA at the clinic said she could double her "nerve pills" for ..... a yeast infection. Yeah, right. She was falling all the time, hallucinating, up all night talking loudly to people who werent there. Benadryl in "sleeping pills" she insisted on having made her MUCH worse.

It all culminated in a week long stay on the psych ward at the hospital, and a recommendation to put her in a nursing home. We couldn't swing that financially, and with my background working in a substance abuse treatment center, I had a hunch the problem was more benzos than dementia.

We took control of her meds, put them in a lockbox, and dispense them ourselves.
We got her cleaned up (and please consult with a pharmacist about tapering off all the psych meds), she is on antidepressants and a low dose of Seroquel, and while she's still a spiteful, bitter, hateful, manipulative person (sorry if that sounds harsh, but she is), she is physically much healthier, sleeping normally for her (she gets her schedule out of whack and rats around all night sometimes), and at least we're only dealing with her, not all her imaginary friends as well.

I would make sure she signs a release (or better yet, a medical POA) for you to consult with her doctor -- one you trust, not a pill miller who thinks old people don't matter -- and make an appointment for YOURSELF, to go without her. Outline everything she's been taking, all her addict behaviors, and develop a Tx plan. It's going to be h*ll, and she may need hospital detox, but be totally honest with the doctor and things may improve.
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wiseowl Oct 2, 2020
Love your down to earth manner and the rye sense of humour which we all need!
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EASWOL, you mention below that Mom will be "running out" and will not have access to anything. Addicts will take hand sanitizer or anything else to replace their addiction. You may think you have everything in the house, but that's unlikely.
I am glad you went to Al-Anon, and suggest you keep going.
Remember, for an addict to withdraw abruptly after long use is LIFE THREATENING IN ITSELF.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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I wish that you hadn’t taken her in but that has already happened and you’re caught in the middle of this mess. You showed mercy and unfortunately are now paying the price for it.

My brother was an addict. He died in 2013 due to complications of his drug usage.

I had no choice as a small child but to live with him. As an adult he asked to live at my home. I was already housing my mom but even if I hadn’t been a caregiver to mom I would have told him no.

I told him that he couldn’t live with me. I didn’t have a choice as a child but I certainly did as an adult.

I looked at my little girl that was at home, my other daughter was grown and on her own already. I kept thinking about my daughter and knew that I would never place her in the same situation that I was in as a child.

Plus, I did not want to relive the horror of living with an addict again. I feel your pain. I truly do.

Addicts can’t receive help from others unless they welcome it. Some hit bottom and turn their lives around. Some never do.

Some clean up their act and are doing well, then relapse as in the case of my brother. He even owned a lucrative business at one point. Sadly, he relapsed. An addict has a life long struggle.

An addict’s challenges are very difficult. It isn’t uncommon to relapse and addiction specialists say not to focus on relapses but to keep encouraging them to move forward. I feel for them deeply but we cannot allow their problems to become ours either.

My most important advice is, rehab! They are fighting a disease. Addiction is a disease that needs treatment just like any other disease.

Some people would like to punish someone for an addiction. I am not in that camp. Offer treatment without judgment.

If you are able, please show encouragement and support to her to succeed. Many have succeeded, others as much as they try fail miserably. No one truly wants to be an addict. They have underlying issues.

Sometimes the pain is so deep for the families of addicts that we have to walk away. I had to step away from time to time. I was with my brother at his time of death. I forgave him. He led an interesting life. He was a combination of a loving person who could be a terrific guy at times to a selfish, crazy person that was suffering horribly. It’s complicated for sure.

My lowest point was after helping him in the hospital after a horrific accident. He asked me to go buy heroin for him. I stepped out into the hallway and broke down. A nurse saw me as she was walking by. She asked me to tell her what was wrong. It was hard to tell her but I managed to speak to her. She told me that they were used to treating addicts and they would address it and for me to seek help for myself. She was so compassionate. I will never forget her kindness.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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NeedHelpWithMom Sep 28, 2020
I would like to add to my above posting to educate yourself on the type of addiction. Seek help if you need to. A person can’t just suddenly stop all meds. Stopping suddenly can even cause death in certain circumstances. Be careful. Don’t be hasty with drastic changes.
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This was a really unfortunate decision, and you will need to reverse it; that won't be easy, but it wasn't easy the first time. Your mother, of course, could easily live another two decades with these addictions. Your marriage is very unlikely to survive that long. The answer to me seems clear. You state your mother has long had addictions. You said she was not getting care from her husband. What care would that be? Now you have moved her to be with you.
My advice would be to move her home ASAP. She is not going to change.
Please go to Al-Anon. You will learn very quickly there that you do not change others; your only choices are for your own life.
Tell your mother that you are very sorry, but that it is not working for you or for your husband to have her in your home.
Wishing you the very best. I am sorry you made these choices, but you did, and only you can address them. Your obligation is to your own life, and to your husband. I am so sorry about the cross country trip, but you did it once and can do it again.
If your Mother's husband doesn't wish to have her back then CWillie's idea of Nursing Home (I doubt Assisted Living would be affordable as you say you are using your money for her, and please stop that; you will need it for yourself) is a good one.
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EASWOL Sep 28, 2020
Thanks for your response. I have been to al-anon and know I cannot change her or make her quit. I also know I need to look out for myself and my husband first in this situation. Thank you for that reminder. As I mentioned in another response, she will be running out and that will be it. She cannot drive and will be taking her to every doctors appointment, so no more pills. I've told her I would send her back because of this because it's serious.
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Unfortunately, this sounds like a classic addiction situation. If that is true, just stopping long term use is probably not doable for her. She would probably need the benefit of a drug rehab support system. Also, it’s a very tough journey that can’t be forced well. Pleading and manipulating usually burns up your energy with little results.
Thank goodness the Doctors are starting to see her abuse... if she’s been in recovery before, then hopefully you as her family can appreciate that addiction is a disease (like a cancer). Certainly love (sometimes tough love), balanced with compassion and support are both needed. Frustration and anger adds fuel to the fiery chaos. As her family and caregivers, I hope you would prefer to be or become part of the solution, not part of the problem. Then you can interact in ways that invite her to join you in finding solution.
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Reply to tjdietrich62
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Did your mother’s spouse warn you about the meds she is taking or wasn’t he aware? You state that she wasn’t receiving proper care which is the reason you moved your mother into your home. Maybe he realized that it was futile to try to help her and he just gave up. It might be best to let her succumb to the effects of her self medicating and call 911. When she gets to the hospital, inform them that she’s addicted to meds and that you can no longer care for her as she is a danger to herself. They will be forced to get her into treatment. This is something that you cannot do on your own.
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Reply to Susanonlyone
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Nobody is ever a 'recovered' addict; they are always & forever 'recovering' as you are witnessing with your mother. It's common to replace one addiction for another when getting off of a substance...........to replace alcohol, for instance, with sleeping pills, or pain pills, or even shopping or eating. Addiction is a very very sly and cunning little problem that affects a person on every level of life. My DH likes to say, "To the exclusion of all else, that is addiction." Your mother doesn't want to know or hear about anything else except what she wants. She will doctor shop until she gets what she wants and what her body needs.

That said, you don't have to deal with HER addiction, nor should you be dealing with it. You have a new marriage and an out-of-work DH to deal with, which is plenty.

Give your mother an ultimatum: Get OFF of ALL drugs or move out. Period.

She will choose the latter. Or, she will blow smoke up your butt saying that she's 'off' of her drugs of choice so she can stay in your home. You will know that she's lying because you will keep very close tabs on her. Plus, if she continues falling, there's your answer.

Get her into Assisted Living and onto the medication program where THEY dole out the drugs based on what prescriptions are written by the doctor. Speak to her doctor about her addictions and let him/her know that Ambien does not agree with her. In AL, she will have no other choice but to dry out.

Tough love. It will probably save her life and your marriage and sanity.

Good luck!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Your mother needs more care than you can provide on your own at your house. Her husband is breathing a sigh of relief because I’m sure he was at his wits end. This situation will destroy your marriage and finances, and she will not benefit anyway. Her husband needs to be the one to figure out how long term care will be paid for. You are not going to fix her addiction. She has been living this way for many years. She needs institutional care for her own and your safety.
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