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At My Wits End About my Dad's Alcoholism ...

by Lauren
(Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

I'm a 22 year old and extremely worried about my Dad's drinking. He has always had a problem with beer and beer only - no other alcoholic drinks seem to appeal to him.

Over the last few years he has drank more and more as well as having depression related to having a horrific childhood. Things have kind of come to a catalyst recently. He lost his job after being caught drinking at midday at work. He also admitted to drinking in the mornings.

At this time he was consuming 10-20 heavy beers a day which I know are around 1.6 standard drinks. In this same week my grandmother (Mum's mother) died. My Dad & her were extremely close as he never had any family of his own, so naturally it was a difficult time for our entire family not just my Mum.

My Dad however, hit the booze in a big way and the day before the funeral we had to call an ambulance for him as he had extreme migraines. At this time we were not aware of how much he had drank the night before, so when he blew .23 on the breatho at the hospital and was simply told he had a bad hangover, we were horrified.

Since then, things have improved a little. At my mothers persistence, he has eliminated heavy beers from his drinking. Since then, he has been drinking mid-strength which is one standard drink. He has been aiming for four on a week-day and six on Saturdays and Sundays, but the more we trust him, the more of them he drinks.

This weekend he consumed FORTY mid strength beers, and when we questioned him about it, he simply acted as though because they're not heavy ones, he's some kind of champion and we should be proud of him.

I don't know what to do. He is not a mean or violent drunk, just sleeps a lot and cannot remember conversations. Admittedly, we have seen a huge change in him since he started drinking the mid-strength beers - I have not seem him act silly for about three weeks now, and he is more alert than I have seen him in years.

BUT, it is still so worrying when we add up exactly how many standard drinks he consumes. We have tried several times to get him professional help. He is seeing a psychologist for the depression but it sounds as though that is not addressing the alcoholism. I know his marriage is in danger, and I am simply at my wits end.
What next?


Hi Lauren

What next? If your Dad doesn't address his alcoholism and continues in his current vain - there could be severe and potentially fatal consequences. Alcoholism is progressive and there are various stages of alcoholism he has already progressed through.

When it reaches the point that someone loses their job because of their drinking and things generally start to unravel - you know their alcoholism is pretty advanced and something needs to be done urgently. Drinking the quantities your Dad does can only end badly. And despite the fact that he may have moved onto lower strength beers and may agree to control his drinking - you can be sure that won't last or he'll simply compensate by drinking more (like he's already done).

I can relate because my Mom reached a similar point and my sister and I were also at our wits end as to what to do. We went to a local rehab to ask for advice and they suggested on performing an intervention on my mother so as to get her into treatment.

Luckily for us it worked and she's been sober since. It's a drastic measure and you should get an intervention specialist to help you do it - but I think it's time you start to get firm with your Dad and make it clear that you no longer find his behaviour acceptable. Because if you aren't clear about that and tip-toe around the issue (like we did for many years) - all you're actually doing is enabling his behaviour.

So try and get the rest of the family on-side - and then pull in a local professional/addictions counsellor to help you put a plan (intervention?) in place to try and get your Dad into treatment. There are no guarantees it will work, but you need to try something. In my experience Psychologists (unless they've specialised in Addictions) generally aren't equipped to handle a case like your Dad so find a specialist and then take it from there.

Best of Luck

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