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My Daughter's Alcohol Dependency is Complicated By Borderline Personality Disorder

by Veda

My daughter is 32 years old and has struggled mentally since about the age of 11. She always was more of a problematic child, with a 'make me' attitude displayed even at the age of 2 that worsened with puberty.

At the age of 15, while sleeping in the trundle next to a neighborhood friend, she was sexually assaulted by the girl's father. His wife came in and yelled at her, delivered her home, dumping her in the driveway, at 2am.

Since that time, she has been an emotional roller coaster ride that the entire family has been terrorized by; later on, this included her son. These was just a few of the incidences that contributed to the worsening of her illness.

She wants to have a close relationship with me, but she bounces from blaming me for all her problems, then everyone else and then burying herself in alcohol. She used to drink more hard liqueur but seems to feel that beer is not a problem nor wine.

I'm not sure how to be there for her as a mother, yet, deal with her honestly and straight forward. It's difficult enough dealing with the denial of the typical alcoholic, but combined with the mental illness, I'm stumped.

After the death of her ex-husband, the roller coaster ride was steeper, with sharper curves. She overdosed on pain pills, cocaine and fentynal patches. After her release from the hospital, she signed guardianship of her son over to her brother and his wife.

This lead to a total psychotic break & a 45 day stint in the state psychiatric hospital. She seems to have no recollection of that time. As she has done all of her life, she blames everybody else for everything bad that has ever happened in her life or even for her own bad behavior.

She makes excuses for everything she does that's wrong; the proverbial, "the devil made me do it" syndrome. Her brother's have nothing to do with her anymore and she is no longer allowed to call her son or see him. I am the only family she has that still reaches out to her in love, in whatever capacity that I can.

I do not allow her nor them to discuss anything negative about each other. I do not allow them to put me in the middle.

Any advice on how to maintain a relationship with her, without ignoring the problem, or enabling her to continue down a destructive path? Any advice how to maintain my own emotional cool and not allow her problem to become mine? I cannot fix her, but I do want to help her as much as I can, with the true love she needs and cries out for? I do the best I know how to draw boundaries and maintain them.

She is completely ruled by her emotions and most of the time, believes what she is feeling is correct and justified. HELP! It would be so much easier if she were simply an alcoholic & there is nothing simple about that. Answer

Hi Veda. Your daughter has experienced some severe trauma, especially that sexual assault she experienced as a teenager ... and that's obviously just exacerbated her problems, making her feel she's the victim, which in turn justifies her drinking and other erratic behavior (in her own mind at least).

She clearly needs some focused therapy and counseling so that she can attempt to heal the wounds of her past. It does look like she's been down that road with all the psychiatry she's been for before, but just because that doesn't seemed to have worked, doesn't mean there aren't other avenues that may help.

Getting her into an intensive addiction treatment program would probably help immensely because most treat dual-diagnosis disorders - so she'd be able to receive help for her alcohol dependency as well as the personality disorder as you put it.

But all that boils down to how much she actually wants to change, and face up to the demons that cause her so much unhappiness today still. Because if she's not willing and committed, the best treatment in the world won't help her.

Which comes back to your question - how do you maintain a relationship with her, while preserving your own sanity and peace of mind? In one word - boundaries. You have to totally accept you can't change your daughter - so don't even try. You have to make it clear to her that you're not her emotional dumping ground - if she wants to feel sorry for herself or be a victim, she has to do it on her own time and not when you're around.

Without boundaries you're always going to be made to feel responsible, be made to feel guilty, and think there is more you should somehow be doing. With the end result, your well-being is compromised.

So it's critical that you put clearly defined boundaries in place with your daughter, and also learn to practice healthy detachment, so that her emotional baggage doesn't become your emotional baggage. Your daughter will use you as her emotional dumping ground, as long as you continue to allow her to. So you have to get clear in your own mind about what's going to be acceptable and what isn't going forward.

Because by allowing her to play victim and blame the world for her problems, you're actually also just enabling her behavior. She has to realise that while she can't change what happened to her, she is responsible for how she feels in the moment, and that her mental/emotional well-being going forward is entirely in her control.

P.S. I know what you're going through is incredibly hard Veda and hopefully I have given you some suggestions that will make a difference. But I'd like to suggest you also take a look at Help! My Child Is An Addict because it goes into a lot more depth that space constrains don't allow here - and I think the additional info it contains really will help you.

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by: richard


The producers of this short film are both recovering addicts who have both spent time living and indulging with drug addiction in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Today they are both clean and sober with multiple years of recovery

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