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What would you do about an alcoholic relative?
Old 04-19-2018, 12:56 AM   #1
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What would you do about an alcoholic relative?

My sister is a binge drinker and lives thousands of miles away from us. However I’ve heard from some of her friends that she is regularly driving after drinking and weaving all over the road. My sister doesn’t admit she has a problem or take responsibility for the consequences.

I’ve considered reporting her to local police as someone they should monitor. I’d feel really bad if she killed or seriously injured someone. At the same I time, I don’t want to cause additional problems in her life so I haven’t done anything yet.

If she found out I reported her to local police, she’d probably never speak to me again. She is my only living family.

What would you do?
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:15 AM   #2
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Tough situation, we’re dealing with an alcoholic SIL from afar. The whole family has tried everything we know for years now, intervention, rehab, jail, tough love, kindness, lost job, lost marriage, etc. - all to no avail so far. Like most alcoholics, she will always find a way no matter what we do.

I gather you’re dealing with a sister who is not nearby?

There are no easy answers. Unless it’s a very small town I doubt the police will “monitor” anyone, they can only respond if you alert them of a drunk driving while she’s driving drunk. There is no right answer, but we’d prioritize not harming herself or other innocents - over her not speaking to us. But unless you can report her in real time, you’re probably not accomplishing anything.

Odds are the problem will only get worse, so waiting it out isn’t likely to work.

Talk to the local police and ask them. Talk to professsionals about what you can do (and not do) and how to encourage your sister to change her behavior. But until she decides it’s a problem she needs to deal with, you’re not going to change her. Unfortunately most alcoholics have to ‘hit bottom’ before they’ll wake up, and hitting bottom can hurt many other loved ones along the way.
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:37 AM   #3
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^^^^^^ what Midpack said


IMHO the most you can do is two things:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference"

Get your butt to an al-anon meeting.

Best wishes for your family. I've watched my Sister do all Midpack suggested for her son, nothing worked. What did seem to influence his behavior was living with consciousness.
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:43 AM   #4
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^^^^^^ what Midpack said


IMHO the most you can do is two things:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference"

Get your butt to an al-anon meeting.

Best wishes for your family.
Yes. I have a brother who drank himself into an early death from cirrhosis. If 3 wives and a long term girlfriend couldn't stop this, how could a mere brother 2000 miles away?

Ha
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:54 AM   #5
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Not sure what you could possibly do but the Al-Anon suggestion is probably the best way to see if you can. With luck some event will happen that won't injure or kill anyone, and she'll wake up and get sober. That happened in my family, just to give one story of hope. I assume you've talked with her about the problem. Maybe just let her know that you're there if she needs you, but only to get sober, not to bail her out and continue. Again, Al-Anon would be a better place for advice.
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:59 AM   #6
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I do not drink alcohol. Both grandfathers, an aunt, a SIL, and possibly my brother are/were alcoholics. I grew up with disease, I guess they call it that now. They all have strong constitutions, maybe good genes. I'm always surprised at how long my grandfather and aunt lived (into 80's).

My whole family consumes alcohol often and in large amounts. But to say they're alcoholics, I do not know. Severe alcoholism, where it's so obvious they need intervention, were the above family members I mentioned. We did not intervene professionally with any of them. My SIL is quite obvious to this day. I do not have an answer. Addiction is what it is, shopping, smoking, whatever. A friend of ours" wife shopped and remodeled almost into bankruptcy. They got a divorce.

I do not know how to intervene in someone else's life, unless it were my husband. We don't have children.
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Old 04-19-2018, 08:04 AM   #7
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Unless it’s a very small town I doubt the police will “monitor” anyone, they can only respond if you alert them of a drunk driving while she’s driving drunk.
Exactly. OP, what would you ask the police to do, set up a surveillance team to follow her around? Do you realize how much time and resources that would take? That's just not something that the police can or would do.
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Old 04-19-2018, 08:20 AM   #8
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I have one and possibly two sisters that both have this problem. Both live far away. One visited us at one of our houses and drank from the time she woke up until she went to bed. By 2:00pm she was literally falling down drunk. I spoke with her when she was there and she apologized and moderated a bit. When I brought it up in a text again later, I received a long, incoherent, nasty series of texts from her at 2:00am. Obviously very drunk. Nothing more I can do. You aren't responsible for your sister, only yourself.
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Old 04-19-2018, 08:50 AM   #9
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My sister is a binge drinker and lives thousands of miles away from us. However I’ve heard from some of her friends that she is regularly driving after drinking and weaving all over the road. My sister doesn’t admit she has a problem or take responsibility for the consequences.

I’ve considered reporting her to local police as someone they should monitor. I’d feel really bad if she killed or seriously injured someone. At the same I time, I don’t want to cause additional problems in her life so I haven’t done anything yet.

If she found out I reported her to local police, she’d probably never speak to me again. She is my only living family.

What would you do?
If she is your only family, I assume she has no kids, ex husband, or anyone else that could observe her driving and report it to the police. The actual "crime in progress" is what gets the police to act. If she does not have health issues that also impair her driving, then there is no point in reporting her to the state DMV. Al Anon would be my suggestion as well.
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Old 04-19-2018, 08:55 AM   #10
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I would still call her local DMV. They might have a way to notate her record, and procedures in place for this sort of thing.

Either way, I'd feel compelled to do something. Not to save her, that you can't do. But to save a potential victim when she risks vehicular homicide on a regular basis.
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Old 04-19-2018, 09:06 AM   #11
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You could tell her friends who told you she is driving under the influence that they have your permission/encouragement to call the police when they see her leave an establishment and get behind the wheel of her car after binge drinking.
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Old 04-19-2018, 10:40 AM   #12
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I also recommend Al-Anon, for you, not for her. I wear a bracelet with the “Serenity Prayer” carved into it so I can help remember that I am powerless over another’s drinking.
I would also encourage her friends to turn her in when she is about to drive impaired. Many of us feel your pain
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:33 AM   #13
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I also recommend Al-Anon, for you, not for her
+1

DW & I have been there done that - AA & Narc-anon both. Not for us, but to receive and also give support for ourselves and to others trying to cope with the addicted loved ones in our lives.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:45 AM   #14
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Once that liquid drug grabs ahold its hard to shake. Yet people accept it because its legal. Just think about the last dozen adult social events you've been to. I bet alcohol was available at each one. 88,000 lives in the US are taken each year from it.

Sorry to hear about your situation. You cant help someone who doesnt want the help. I really dont think theres anything you can do without seriously disrupting your life...meaning you move to their location, spend a ton of money...babysit them 24/7, etc etc. May still not change anything.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:56 AM   #15
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Once that liquid drug grabs ahold its hard to shake. Yet people accept it because its legal. Just think about the last dozen adult social events you've been to. I bet alcohol was available at each one. 88,000 lives in the US are taken each year from it.

Sorry to hear about your situation. You cant help someone who doesnt want the help. I really dont think theres anything you can do without seriously disrupting your life...meaning you move to their location, spend a ton of money...babysit them 24/7, etc etc. May still not change anything.
+1

I'd just distance myself from that relative enough to protect myself from any emotional, financial, or other damage that may otherwise result. If I felt none would occur, then I wouldn't distance myself but sadly that is not usually the case AFAIK.

I know that sounds cold, but so is alcoholism itself.
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:02 PM   #16
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I would try to convince her to take Uber when drinking if she is not going to quit.
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:29 PM   #17
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I also recommend Al-Anon, for you, not for her. I wear a bracelet with the “Serenity Prayer” carved into it so I can help remember that I am powerless over another’s drinking.
I would also encourage her friends to turn her in when she is about to drive impaired. Many of us feel your pain
I agree with this. Help for you along with guidance on what to actually do. It has become too common in our world to hear after a terrible incident that many people knew about the problem, saw it coming and did not feel there was anything they could do. It's absolutely true that no matter what you do, something bad could happen, but at least if you try, you won't be looking in the mirror feeling you could have, should have, done something.
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Old 04-19-2018, 01:43 PM   #18
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+1 on Al Anon.

I've been in recovery for 28+ years and don't have an answer for you. An alcoholic needs to hit bottom before he/she is willing to change.

If it were me, I'd send a copy of the Big Book and a phone number for their local inter group. At least you have given the person "the answer" for when they are ready.

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Old 04-19-2018, 02:03 PM   #19
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Sorry about your sister.

After one of my sibs was hospitalized from a bender, I tried to support him. Took him to AA meetings, doctor appointments, etc. He stayed sober for about 12 months, then blew it off.

A rough year; it convinced me I can't fix other people.
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:15 PM   #20
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Been sober 7 years now. The person really has to want it. If they have nothing to lose, well then I guess that's that. Support systems and the right mindset helped, but nothing is a guarantee. It was quite possibly the most difficult transformation of my life, but it was worth it.

My 50 year old uncle has been in and out of rehab for most of his life. He ERd before all of his 8 siblings and he's the youngest. ER and happiness do not always go hand and hand. He suffers from PTSD to a very rough degree.
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