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suicide in slow motion

klynn

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I feel like I am watching my sister and brother-in-law commit suicide in slow motion. This story is long and spans many years. I will be brief. They both are alcoholics. Until last November they both had jobs and were functioning at their jobs as far as I know. Since they both have been jobless for several months, their drinking seems at an all time high. My bil is diabetic and does not take care of himself and my sister is not one to help in anyway. Neither one of them seem to be making good decisions regarding anything. My bil is back in the hospital as of yesterday. He has been in and out of the hospital several times the past few months. The last hospital visit, which was a couple of weeks ago, he was told he has cirrhosis and to never drink again. That did not happen. The both continue to drink. Several years ago,my sister battled a liver disease. She was told to never drink again. That did not happen.

I feel helpless. I want them to stop. I want them to get help. Thank for for listening and let me know if you have any ideas on how to get them help.
 

Big Matt

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It's probably too late for BIL. Cirrhosis is not reversible, and if he keeps drinking, he will simply die at some point. Liver transplant is the only hope and he won't get one because of how he wrecked his own liver. Your sister has a chance.
 

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I feel helpless. I want them to stop. I want them to get help. Thank for for listening and let me know if you have any ideas on how to get them help.

Well, there's only so much you can do. It sounds like you're trying hard and sympathetically. Hopefully your sister and brother-in-law think about their loved ones when making such decisions.
 

Panina

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I feel for you. Very hard situation to watch. First of all you are not responsible. They are adults and they are making their choices. If it was my sister I would try to have a conversation with her, sis I love you very much. I am concerned you are not taking good care of yourself with your health...”. Your can gently suggest she gets help with her alcoholism but be aware that she might just cut you off and not talk anymore to you.
 

DaveNV

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I'm very sorry you have to endure this. It sounds a lot like my father and stepmother. I felt like it was my fault they always drank, even though I was a model kid who never caused any trouble. It put me through a lot, and no attempts to have them not drink ever worked. I ended up leaving home two days after high school graduation, and I rarely went back for the rest of their lives. Once they retired, their drinking went into the stratosphere, until it consumed every aspect of their lives. It took me a long time to accept that they were on their own, and I was not responsible. Alcoholism is a deadly disease that can destroy families, and it is exactly as you say - death by slow suicide.

I might suggest you seek counseling in your area, to help you come to terms with things. One such group is Al-Anon, a support group for family members of alcoholics. You may find more specific resources in your area.

Hoping you can find some solace in a difficult situation. Good luck.

Dave
 

Talent312

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For your own sanity, you need to accept that you cannot rescue them.
And don't try. It won't be easy, but othwise, they will ruin your life.

I have a brother who made a ton of $$ and blew it all on cocaine.
He went to prison. I let him live at my home for a bit but kicked him out.
Then, he drove a motorcycle while drunk. The accident scrambled his brain.
Now, at 56, he's in a nursing home forever, but elopes to get booze.

My other brother & I haven't seen him in 3 years, and we don't call him.
His own recklessness put him there, and it's too exhausting.
 
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bbodb1

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There is a reference in A River Runs Through It that seems so appropriate here.
Tom Skerritt's character (Rev. Maclean) delivers this wisdom as part of a sermon:

"We are willing to help, Lord...but what, if anything, is needed?"
It is true we can seldom help those closest to us.
Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give...
or more often than not, the part we have to give...is not wanted.


I know that is a cold hard reality, but there is a point (past which) you have to get on with your life and let them go.
May you find the comfort and the strength to move on.
 

klpca

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I shared this before. I come from a family littered with alcoholism. Nothing that you can do or say will change them. The change has to come from within and from what you have said, they are content to live their lives this way. Release yourself from any responsibility here because guilt is the last thing that you need. It is so hard so watch this unfold because you feel helpless that you can't do anything, and you feel angry that they don't care enough about themselves and their family to make a change.

I haven't been to the meetings personally, but perhaps Al-anon would be helpful for you? There's nothing like talking to others who understand what you are going through. So sorry that you are dealing with this.
 
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bluehende

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Virtual hugs going your way. As many have said, there is not a lot you can do that you have not already done. Addiction is a devastating disease.
 

Patri

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Probably what is so hard for you is if you had a happy childhood with your sister, and life offered such possibilities. Perhaps you even had a good relationship with your BIL in the beginning. Now you have heartwarming memories of the past, and the present sucks for them. Try to enjoy your best life and don't absorb too much of theirs into yours. I'm sure it is difficult.
 

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I'll share an example that is similar to this so that OP understands addiction. My best friend is 59. He's been a heavy smoker for about 42 years. He had a stroke at age 46 and is permanently disabled with no use of his left arm and damage to his left foot. He didn't quit smoking after being in a hospital and rehab for 8 weeks. This past spring he had his third heart attack. This one wasn't especially bad, but in the hospital his lungs started filling with fluid and couldn't work properly due to the damage from the smoking. He went into a coma and came out about a week later and was able to come off of the ventilator. He went to a rehab facility and had a setback which caused him to go back to the hospital. Finally after another two weeks he went back to the rehab facility. This time he came home after 9 weeks total without smoking. He started smoking right away. It will eventually kill him. He knows that and those are his choices. His brother is paying for much of his living expenses, but his disability check goes to cartons of smokes each month. His brother and I love him dearly, but we realized a long time ago that we can't fix him. It sounds pathetic, but it's just another example of what addiction can do.
 

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Might not be able to help but you may want to at least keep trying or let them know you are there for if they decide they want your help. Best not to judge as that may just push them further. No experience in this. I would ban cigarettes as they provide no benefit.
 

Jan M.

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I'll share an example that is similar to this so that OP understands addiction. My best friend is 59. He's been a heavy smoker for about 42 years. He had a stroke at age 46 and is permanently disabled with no use of his left arm and damage to his left foot. He didn't quit smoking after being in a hospital and rehab for 8 weeks. This past spring he had his third heart attack. This one wasn't especially bad, but in the hospital his lungs started filling with fluid and couldn't work properly due to the damage from the smoking. He went into a coma and came out about a week later and was able to come off of the ventilator. He went to a rehab facility and had a setback which caused him to go back to the hospital. Finally after another two weeks he went back to the rehab facility. This time he came home after 9 weeks total without smoking. He started smoking right away. It will eventually kill him. He knows that and those are his choices. His brother is paying for much of his living expenses, but his disability check goes to cartons of smokes each month. His brother and I love him dearly, but we realized a long time ago that we can't fix him. It sounds pathetic, but it's just another example of what addiction can do.

Last week our son called me from the Costco parking lot. As he was walking through the parking lot to the store an older man in a van drove past and had forgotten to close side sliding door on the passenger side. The guy was on oxygen and smoking a cigarette. Not only that but our son said he could see probably half a dozen tanks just lying there unsecured in back seat of the guys vehicle. Our son was too stunned by what he saw to shout out to the guy that his door was open and was feeling bad about it. I worked in a good sized hospital for 5 years back in the 70's, DH's mother was a nurse and DH inspected equipment and electrical systems in a number of hospitals and nursing homes in his 40 year career. DS son knows all this so was expecting a somewhat different response from us than he got. I told him about multiple family members smoking in a patient's room and the patient was in an oxygen tent. Not an isolated incident btw. That is wasn't unusual for patients on oxygen who were on death's doorstep and too feeble to hold their own cigarette to have someone hold one to their lips for them. DH told our son to stop feeling bad about being too stunned to shout out because that guy was a dead man walking. After we ended the call DH husband commented that he didn't want to make our son feel worse by saying that if someone hit the guy or those tanks rolled out and got hit then that guy and anyone in the other vehicle may all be dying today.

I can't remember the name of the author but I remember reading that he supposedly said he was grateful when his book became a best seller and he could quit medicine. He said he was frustrated and unhappy because of dealing with patients day in and out whose health issues were a result of their own actions. Smoking, drinking, drugs, weight, food choices, lack of exercise. That most people would accept having a shortened lifespan rather than give up their habit or change their lifestyle.
 

pedro47

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I can feel your sentiment, just do not feel sorry for them and participate with their problem; in giving them money to purchase more alcohol. IMHO.

Do not take sides and stay out of their drinking problems.
 

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I shared this before. I come from a family littered with alcoholism. Nothing that you can do or say will change them. The change has to come from within and from what you have said, they are content to live their lives this way. Release yourself from any responsibility here because guilt is the last thing that you need. It is so hard so watch this unfold because you feel helpless that you can't do anything, and you feel angry that they don't care enough about themselves and their family to make a change.

I haven't been to the meetings personally, but perhaps Al-anon would be helpful for you? There's nothing like talking to others who understand what you are going through. So sorry that you are dealing with this.

I second the motion on the Al-anon idea. My sister had the same experience with her H that the OP is having. For years she tried everything she could to help him, but it really wasn’t up to her and the repeated “failures” nearly destroyed her. She started going to Al-anon and got the help she needed to get her through her day to day life. He died about 14 months ago, still drinking heavily every day, and although she was sad, she was also very relieved. Now they are both without pain, as awful as it is to say that.
 

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Hello. I share your pain. I too cared for someone who drank too much. The best place for me was Alanon. I cannot stress just how much that group helped me cope with watching someone I cared about throw their life away.
Please find a group near you. They are all online now due to Covid but just going to a meeting or two will let you know if you are in the right place. What do you have to lose? Like we say....we can always refund you your misery. Hope you find serenity in your life.
 

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So many in life understand that from the moment we're born, we're destined to die. It may be sad but, there are those who are determined to end their lives as they want.

Abusive vices are nothing but slow suicide. Then why do so many do it? It may be that's how they choose to stop their pain and heartache. Whatever that may be. We do what we can to help those we care about, but in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill themselves. There are times when all you can do is say I love you and I'll see you on the other side.

"A drug to make you numb. A drug to make you dumb. A drug to make you anybody else. But all the drugs in this world can't always save someone from themselves."
Marilyn Manson
 

bnoble

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I feel helpless. I want them to stop. I want them to get help. Thank for for listening and let me know if you have any ideas on how to get them help.
I am so sorry for this.

I'm an alcoholic in recovery. I took my last drink a bit over two years ago. There are a couple of things you need to know. First, there is no making sense of this, because it makes no sense. Second, you aren't responsible for what they do or don't do. You can offer help and support if they want it, but you can't make them take your help. Third, add me to the list of people who recommend Al Anon. You are going to learn that you are not alone, and find the support of others in your shoes who have found peace.

He said he was frustrated and unhappy because of dealing with patients day in and out whose health issues were a result of their own actions. Smoking, drinking, drugs, weight, food choices, lack of exercise. That most people would accept having a shortened lifespan rather than give up their habit or change their lifestyle.

Jan, I'm going to take strong exception to this. At least for me, it wasn't just about bad choices and not being willing to take care of myself. I can tell you that because I tried to stop, and found that I couldn't. There is a lot more to my story, but here is the relevant part:

I was drinking close to a fifth of vodka per day. I also had a lump on my chest that was getting bigger. (Thankfully, it was benign, but I did not know that at the time). I knew I needed to see a doctor but I also assumed he would want to talk to me about my drinking, and definitely did not want that. So, I figured I would drink "moderately"--which to me meant no drinking on work nights, but getting good and drunk on the weekends. I figured I could do that for a month, and then go in for my first checkup in five+ years, get this taken care of, and avoid the drinking conversation and get on with my life.

I would make it to maybe the 2nd or the 3rd of the month, and the cravings would be unbearable. I figured just one drink would take the edge off. One became two, two turned into four, and before I knew it I was passed out in front of the TV again. The next morning, rather than tell myself it was just one day, I said "Well, there goes March. I'll try again in April." I did that for 3-4 months, before I finally realized I couldn't do it. Instead, I calmly and "rationally" gave up. My kids were in or about to start college and we had the money for that put aside. I had a great life insurance policy that would more than pay off the house and set my wife up with a nice nest egg. With that plus her own career she'd be fine. I figured my job here on Earth was done, and if this was cancer and it killed me, I guess I was ready to die because there just wasn't anything else I could do.

It took several more months and some divine intervention for me to finally look in the mirror and decide that while I couldn't live without drinking, I also couldn't live with it, and more importantly that I needed help. It was still almost six months after that before I would take my last drink--I had a couple of lapses during early sobriety--but with professional help and the help of other alcoholics, I was able to get sober. I no longer have the obsession to drink, and it's been nothing short of a miracle.

If anyone thinks they might have a problematic relationship with alcohol, you are welcome to send me a private message--create an anonymous account if you like. I am happy to tell you more about what it was like, what happend, and what it's like now.
 

Jan M.

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I am so sorry for this.

I'm an alcoholic in recovery. I took my last drink a bit over two years ago. There are a couple of things you need to know. First, there is no making sense of this, because it makes no sense. Second, you aren't responsible for what they do or don't do. You can offer help and support if they want it, but you can't make them take your help. Third, add me to the list of people who recommend Al Anon. You are going to learn that you are not alone, and find the support of others in your shoes who have found peace.



Jan, I'm going to take strong exception to this. At least for me, it wasn't just about bad choices and not being willing to take care of myself. I can tell you that because I tried to stop, and found that I couldn't. There is a lot more to my story, but here is the relevant part:

I was drinking close to a fifth of vodka per day. I also had a lump on my chest that was getting bigger. (Thankfully, it was benign, but I did not know that at the time). I knew I needed to see a doctor but I also assumed he would want to talk to me about my drinking, and definitely did not want that. So, I figured I would drink "moderately"--which to me meant no drinking on work nights, but getting good and drunk on the weekends. I figured I could do that for a month, and then go in for my first checkup in five+ years, get this taken care of, and avoid the drinking conversation and get on with my life.

I would make it to maybe the 2nd or the 3rd of the month, and the cravings would be unbearable. I figured just one drink would take the edge off. One became two, two turned into four, and before I knew it I was passed out in front of the TV again. The next morning, rather than tell myself it was just one day, I said "Well, there goes March. I'll try again in April." I did that for 3-4 months, before I finally realized I couldn't do it. Instead, I calmly and "rationally" gave up. My kids were in or about to start college and we had the money for that put aside. I had a great life insurance policy that would more than pay off the house and set my wife up with a nice nest egg. With that plus her own career she'd be fine. I figured my job here on Earth was done, and if this was cancer and it killed me, I guess I was ready to die because there just wasn't anything else I could do.

It took several more months and some divine intervention for me to finally look in the mirror and decide that while I couldn't live without drinking, I also couldn't live with it, and more importantly that I needed help. It was still almost six months after that before I would take my last drink--I had a couple of lapses during early sobriety--but with professional help and the help of other alcoholics, I was able to get sober. I no longer have the obsession to drink, and it's been nothing short of a miracle.

If anyone thinks they might have a problematic relationship with alcohol, you are welcome to send me a private message--create an anonymous account if you like. I am happy to tell you more about what it was like, what happend, and what it's like now.

I know you've posted about this before but if I'm remembering correctly not in as much detail. I'm always pleased to see you sharing your story whenever the opportunity arises because when we open ourselves up to sharing a difficult experience there is always the chance that hearing our story will really help someone else. Brian I give you a lot of credit for being a person who will put themselves out there in the hope of helping even one person. Not everyone who has a story that others would benefit from hearing is willing to do that.

The reason that author's story has stuck with me for years is because what I got out of the interview article I read about him was that he came to look down on people as a whole for being the cause of their own health issues and being unwilling to change. That puzzled me at first because I thought surely he had to see that he was reaching some of his patients. Then I decided that he just wasn't the type of person who can deal with a low success rate. Becoming a best selling author gave him the level of success in his own eyes that he needed to be happy.

When I hear other people's stories I always think there but for the grace of God go I. I have a very bad back from a car accident when I was 18. Carrying and being in labor with our son who wasn't a small baby when I was 35 escalated my back issues from acute to chronic. It has only gotten worse over the years. The last time I had an MRI was in 2011 and I felt sorry for the orthopedic specialist who went over the results with me because we know he and his wife socially and it was hard for him to have to tell me what he was telling me. It's very easy for people who suffer from high levels of pain on a regular basis to become alcoholics and/or addicted to painkillers. Because I'm aware of that I've always refused the prescription painkillers the specialists and my GP's have repeatedly offered. I've never been much of a drinker so I wasn't too concerned about that. However when I was going through a particularly bad stretch in order to be able to sleep I went from taking just half of a muscle relaxant to a whole pill. Then in addition to a whole pill I started having a glass of wine too. That one glass of wine became two and then I started using a water goblet instead of a wine glass. Between the pill and the wine I barely got more than a hint of a buzz. You definitely shouldn't be drinking at all with the pill I was taking. DH usually went to bed before I did because I needed to give the pill time to work to get pain level down enough to be able to sleep more than just an hour or two. One night he got up to use the bathroom, came out to check on me and saw me drinking out of the water goblet. He said "You know that glass is intended for water not wine." I remember telling him that of course I know that since I'm the one who bought our good stemware. He let it slide that time but he made it a point to come out and check on me the next time I stayed up. He said the same thing in a different tone of voice and with a different body posture that got his point across. I had always felt pretty good about myself for being strong enough to resist turning to abusing drugs or alcohol to deal with my pain. Fortunately I was almost out of the bad spell at that point anyhow but it made me realize how easily it happens. I consider myself very fortunate to have come away with just a hit to my pride in exchange for an easy lesson.
 

chapjim

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My older brother (R.I.P) was in rehab several times. One time after he got dried out, he asked the driver to stop so he could get a 30-pack of Bud Light on the way home.
 

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I was fortunate enough to attend the Family Program at Hazelden when a family member was going through rehab. They taught us the 3 C's re addiction:
1. you didn't cause it
2. you can't control it
3. you can't cure it
Hazelden also believes there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
It was very freeing when I was able to allow myself to set limits and not feel responsible for this family members choices. A support group such as AlAnon is also important, they "get it"
 

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Thank you for all your replies and kind words. Since I last posted, I decided to have no contact with my sister. I used to text her several times a week to check in with her. I no longer do that. I will love them from a distance. I will seek out a support group for myself. Thanks again for your help.
 

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@klynn My heart aches for you. My marriage broke up b/c my ex husband is an addict. It is extremely painful to watch someone you love & care deeply about self-destruct in front of your eyes. I felt completely helpless. My ex husband lost his career, home, wife, and daughter as a result of his addiction. He was also in ICU for 8 weeks and was close to death several times. Yet none of that has stopped his addiction. My biggest regret is that I didn't get out earlier. I send you my deepest love & support. The damage that addicts cause on the people around them are immense. I'll give you a big of advice on a support group: sometimes it takes trying a few before you find your "fit", so don't give up on it if you don't like the first one you try. I, personally, have found reading books on the topic to be more helpful to me than groups.

@Carron My gentleman-friend is an active , regular volunteer at Hazelden in their Family Program. It is a tremendous place and program.
 
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