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"My Brother is a Chronic Alcoholic. His Wife is His Chief Enabler.What Can Be Done to Save Him?"

by Adina K

My brother (who I love very much) is in his late 40's. He has been an alcoholic for approx. 25 yrs. Currently he is a part-time, anti-terror/law enforcement consultant,( he even admitted that he is on 'auto-pilot' when he currently gives lectures/presentations. I kid you not.)

Having retired from a VERY successful, HIGH PROFILE career in law enforcement in 2008, He is (at least until recently) the poster man for what is termed 'highly functioning' alcoholic, at least career-wise.

Over the years I (and the rest of our immediate family) have attempted to enlist the aid of his wife to insist he enters rehab. A top addiction intervention specialist clearly stated, that without her full cooperation such a process would be useless.

Moreover, our family assured his wife that we would support her (in whatever way needed) if she divorced him, assuming this is what it would take for him to straighten up, realizing that rock bottom was about to result. No dice.

Moreover, despite continually allowing him to drive drunk with the kids in tow; (avoiding a near head on car crash with his 10 yr old too), having taken him to a hospital ER with near fatal alcohol poisoning; blacking out in front of his children; and many other near misses, his enabling wife still insists she 'has it under control'.

What 'it' is I have no idea. In fact, he continues to drink in their beautifully appointed home. In effect, he has his cake (alcohol) and eats (drinks) it too.

Most alarmingly, (even though I refuse to have anything to do with him for the past year), I have seen him at family events and his appearance is going shockingly downhill. Aside from knowing that he has been battling (on and off) severe skin itching for the past year, his face is very gaunt,( it appears he has developed either anorexia or bulimia, or a combination of both) has an unhealthy pallor, and most disturbingly, it appears that he has the onset of Dupuytren's Contracture.

His left ring finger is distorted looking, and to keep it from full view he tries to hide it in his pocket, something he has never done before. In general, his hands do NOT look as they always have. I can't think of the last time I saw him when wasn't drunk, or just plain buzzed.

BOTTOM LINE - is there any way to pry him loose from his enabling wife, just long enough to get him into in-patient treatment? Presently, there is little doubt he has the emotional wherewithal to ask for help.

The set-up he has at home is tailor-made for an addict. As such, there is no incentive for an active alcoholic to leave his nest. By the way, out-patient treatment would never work in his case, he requires in-patient.

My family is convinced, that if he does not get immediate treatment, he will not survive long. It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion, with his wife as his conductor, slowly pulling his train off the tracks. Why? THAT would take a team of mental health professionals to figure out!

Thanks in advance for any assistance! Answer

If there is no buy in from your brother's wife, it's difficult to see how you can do anything to help your brother. Because his wife ultimately carries the greatest influence and is the person that's got to be most supportive since she is with him every day.

But if you really think he's a danger to his own health, you need to look at whether there are any kinds of ways to get your brother involuntarily admitted to an alcoholism rehab program.

Some countries do have mechanisms that allow for that, and is something that can be court ordered. But again, if his wife doesn't support that, it's difficult to imagine how any court would agree to it.

So you're going to have to find out whether that's something that is possible in Israel and how to go about initiating it. A reputable rehab centre should be able to tell you, so that would probably be a good place to start.

Apart from that, there isn't a lot you can do. And even if you did manage to get your brother into the best rehab in the world, there are no guarantees he'll change.

Because going through a treatment program is only a stepping stone to lasting recovery and sobriety - his success would be entirely dependent on his willingness to change and the amount of work he'd be prepared to put into doing so. That's why finding a recovery program to commit to is even more important than the treatment itself.

Hopefully at the very least you can get your brother into treatment somehow, but the rest is then entirely in his hands. All the best

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