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Old 01-20-2019, 06:30 PM   #1
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My 23 year old son is an alcoholic. We came to realize this about 3 months ago. He was living with us, as he had his second job in the hotel industry after graduating in 2018. He was fired from his first job but seems to be doing okay in his current position.

It got to the point where we had to kick him out in November. Last Wednesday I got an early morning call from him. He was in the local jail, having been arrested for DWI. Fortunately, no one had been hurt.

Iím encouraging him to attend AA. He did go to two meetings with me after I bailed him out (he asked me to join him). Although he had an initial (what seemed to me to be genuine) desire to change, Iím concerned it is already fading. He also suffers from severe social anxiety, and that makes it hard for him to attend anything like an AA meeting.

I believe AA is a good place for him if he is willing. Does anyone have any advice or other ideas/experiences that might be helpful in this situation?

Of course, we love our son very much. And we are devastated. We are Christians, and are praying for him to find a spiritual relationship with God. It seems odd to be sharing something such as this on the internet. But maybe any idea might help. Thanks.


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Old 01-20-2019, 06:47 PM   #2
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I rally don't have any advise for you other then a prayer for your answers. I hope the best for your son and comfort for both of you.

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Old 01-20-2019, 06:58 PM   #3
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Only your son can make the choice to quit drinking. His choices and his life are his responsibility.

Tough love often helps move the process forward. Got arrested and in jail? Sorry to hear that. How will you get yourself out and pay the court costs? He needs to find solutions for his problems, not have you come to his rescue.

Set boundaries. We love you, son, but we will not bail you out of jail or pay for things that contribute to your problem. If you continue to drink and behave irresponsibly, you cannot live here. You will have to live elsewhere.

It's up to him.
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:00 PM   #4
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Iím so sorry you are going through this. DH and I had some issues with our son about 10 years ago and I often wondered if he were, at minimum, a borderline alcoholic.

Anyhow, the only advice/thoughts I wanted to share with you are:
1) if he has social anxiety, he is likely self-medicating with the alcohol. This is what my son was doing. He moved back in with us under the agreement he would see a therapist. It was the best thing that happened to him. He didnít necessarily give up the drinking right away....but he started to better understand his anxiety and learn coping skills for it. It was over time (years) that the drinking decreased. Heís a totally different person today, but Iíd be lying if I said I donít still worry.
2) he agreed there would be no drinking and driving. That was non-debatable. If he drank and needed a ride....he walked or called. No lectures when/if he did. He generally chose to walk. I wasnít happy about 2am walks home....but I knew it was better than the alternative.
3) i donít know at what point rehab comes into play - we never got that far - but if you need to put money into it - DO IT. My best friend recently lost her 26 year old alcoholic son to liver failure. Her biggest regret was not trying hard enough to force him into rehab.
4) you canít make him change. But donít ever give up in him. Donít be an enabler....but be there for him. Go to AA with him, if itís allowed. If itís not, drop him off, grab a coffee, pick him up later. Not because you donít trust him itís because you want to be there for him. (Although if he didnít want me there, I wouldnít push it).
5) anything he discusses with a therapist or in AA is off limits. Never ask. Theyíll share when/if they want to.

Thatís all Iíve got Good luck...itís a tough road but it can be overcome if HE wants to overcome it.
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:04 PM   #5
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One other son was put on an SSRI. I thought this odd as he wasnít necessarily depressed, so I wasnít sure why the therapist chose an SSRI over a ďtranquilizerĒ type medicine. She explained it had to do with similar results and less addiction.

It took about 8 weeks to start to kick in and it helped him immensely. He recently got off it, so he was on it for about 10+- years....
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:15 PM   #6
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It is clear from your post that you love your son very much. I am sorry that your family is faced with this challenge.

You asked if others have any experience with this.

My father was an alcoholic his entire life. My mother was an alcoholic her entire life, and died from complications of alcoholism. My older sister has been an alcoholic her entire life, and I have some suspicion that my younger sister also has the problem. Having cut off all contact with my sisters 20 years ago I cannot know for certain.

I'm sure it is extremely painful for you to watch your son go through this.

My advice, for what it's worth, is this:

1. Do not let him move back in with you, no matter how much he asks to.
2. Do not give him money.
3. Do not bail him out the next time (and there will be a next time). When you get the call from the jail, tell him you love him, and you are sorry to hear of his predicament, and you wish him well. Then hang up.

No matter how much family members love an alcoholic, and no matter how much you pray for them, there is absolutely nothing on this earth that you can do to make them stop drinking, or make them go to meetings, or indeed do anything at all. The desire to change and stop drinking must come from inside the alcoholic. Only then does it have any chance of succeeding.

Giving him money, bailing him out, or letting him live with you will simply enable the drinking.

Sometimes (not always) when an alcoholic hits bottom, they will change. It might take many, many times of hitting bottom before the change occurs.

What I can tell you for certain, from 50 years of watching other family members enable the alcoholics in my family, is that enabling them and cleaning up their messes and paying their bills for them will not lead to a change in behavior. It will simply prolong the destructive behavior and drain the emotional, financial, and spiritual resources of the enablers.

The best thing you can do is take care of yourselves and your own relationship and spiritual lives. Alcoholism in one family member can wreak havoc on all the relationships in the family. You may be called "the bad guys" for not enabling - it happened to me over and over.

Loving your son and praying for him and letting him know you are there to cheer him in his fight is not the same as taking care of him or taking responsibility for "fixing" him. He is the only one who can do that.

I wish you well, and I hope your son is able to win this fight. If he does he can have a long healthy life ahead of him.

I realize these are probably not things you wanted to hear. Do not give up hope. Even though no members of my immediate family were able to overcome alcoholism does not mean it can't be done. I have seen others do it, and go on to lead happy healthy lives. Best of luck to your family.
"Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed, Let it be that great strong land of love, Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme, That any man be crushed by one above." - Langston Hughes
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:36 PM   #7
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You cannot force your son to go to AA. But you (and other members of your family) should consider finding and going to a local Al-Anon meeting. Al-Anon is the nationwide support group for relatives of alcoholics.

I would take it you are familiar with the story of the prodigal son... for DW and I , this is the route we had to let one of our children go... with no long-term assurances, just taking it day by day. Long story short, It took homelessness, bouncing from shady acquaintances' house to house, and ultimately spending time in a Federal prison to "break" him. And even then he blamed us for letting him get to that level, and refused contact with us for several years after he got out and started to put his life together. It took enough other people to tell him about long term personal responsibility before he chose to speak to us again.

Everyone's situation is different. Best of luck and prayers to you and your family.
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:39 PM   #8
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What KM said... excellent.

Miracles don't happen overnight, and the frustration of setbacks is common. Guilt on both sides too often hardens the problem(s). The "Patience of a Saint" takes on new meaning. A good friend's husband has been a victim for ten years, with on-off bouts. A hopeless case that turned around this year. Her recent email told me 8 months dry. Back to work and a shiny future.

We have suffered the ultimate tragedy, so this is a very personal subject that we have learned to cope with and understand. Just know that after doing ones best, there should be no looking back, or what if's. I guess we just have to learn to bounce.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:02 PM   #9
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I forced a son into rehab a few times and it didn’t work. They have to want to change.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:18 PM   #10
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I'm going through this now with a relative. Much truth in this thead, special shout-out to Calico - my family tree is replete with many examples too.

* they have to want to change, there's no forcing it
* your refusal to help with housing/money will make you the bad guy to many
* as painful as it is to watch, alcoholics often die in their 50s and 60s

Try to live without regrets. I have been forced to accept that it is a big problem which can't be solved by anybody other than the person who is drinking.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:20 PM   #11
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I will always take advice from those who have gone through this. That is my qualifier. My oldest went through drug rehab at a substantial cost to me. It was worth it 100x over. However it was a long crazy time until he hit bottom. For some it's jail or homelessness. For mine it was financial. I am in agreement that you need to stick to some boundaries. I read the book "Setting Boundaries With Adult Children" and it gave me some confidence. My son is three years sober and I will never be totally devoid of worry but we're all in a better spot. Prayer is powerful and God is great
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:36 PM   #12
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Both of my parents were alcoholics when I was a child. It ended up with all 5 of us children being put in an orphanage in CA. When my relatives in PA found out, they went through the court system and two of us went to live with our aunt and uncle and the three younger ones went to live with my grandparents. I got to have a relationship with both of my parents (they were divorced) the last 9-10 years of their lives. At that time, they no longer drank or smoked cigarettes. I do not know how they became sober.

My younger brother became an alcoholic. I believe that he went to rehab either 2 or 3 times, but it finally worked. He also went to AA. My younger sister, who lived closer, set up a budget for him and he was able to pay his back bills off eventually. He started going to a country church and was saved. The preacher was younger and they were good friends. They went hunting and fishing together. My brother quit smoking two years before he died. He ended up dying at age 45 of lung cancer. It was great seeing him sober for 2-3 years and comforts us greatly that he was saved. He was a good and fun person.

If he is interested in going to rehab, I would encourage it. If he is not interested, I don't believe that it would help him. I would encourage him to continue with AA. Also, I think that it would be good for him to see a therapist and get some medication or other help for his extreme social anxiety. Let him know how much you love him, no matter how hard it is. Keep praying. Never give up hope.

I am sorry that you are going through this also.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:37 PM   #13
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I'm with Calico.

I have been through this with an offspring. It took nearly two decades to get her straightened out but she did it herself. Both my parents were alcoholics and died from it.

It's nasty and very difficult to overcome. Enabling the habit is not the answer.
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Old 01-20-2019, 10:06 PM   #14
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I feel for you & what you’re experiencing. Based on what seems like a lifetime of experience with the disease of alcoholism, here’s what I recommend:

- Insist that your son attend AA; 90 meetings in 90 days, and find a solid sponsor; this is NOT negotiable.
- You should attend Al-Anon; see if it works for you & continue if it does. If Al-Anon doesn’t work for you, read as much as you can.
- While religion may be important to you & your family, it will not solve your son’s problems or yours. Think of this as a disease & how best to deal with it; it’s something that requires treatment, not faith.

Best to you & your family.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:35 PM   #15
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Anxiety disorder and alcoholism can be a vicious, downward spiral.

+1 on trying therapy. If that doesn’t help, then try rehab. If that doesn’t work, you should steel your heart and wait for him to work through his life on his own. Reduced or managed anxiety can reduce the need to drink. Less drink and a healthier lifestyle can reduce anxiety.

Good luck.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:41 PM   #16
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Thanks to everyone who has responded. A few thoughts....

- Addiction is so horrible in its destruction. Both self and loved ones. Your stories just show a sample of this. I know this is an obvious statement to make. But Iím learning.

- I am attending Al-Anon. Itís been helpful for me. Iím starting my own 12 step project through this group.

- 100% agree he must be willing to change. No one can force it. Least of all me.

- he is on Effexor medicine to treat the social anxiety. Iíve not noticed improvement, but he says it helps. Of course, alcohol and Effexor are not supposed to be mixed.

- he is paying me back for the bail bond and lawyer fees. And we do not plan to bail him out if heís arrested again.

Iíve somehow got to come to peace with this. I know I canít cure it, but I still canít stop myself from wanting to somehow help. I wonít give up my hope.
ďOf all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.Ē John Muir
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:57 PM   #17
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Good luck with your son. I don't have any insights on the alcoholism aspect, but there are many links to anxiety and diet. Magnesium is especially important in preventing anxiety and depression and alcoholism can make this worse. Maybe you could provide support like buying healthy groceries and bringing over some home cooked meals.

Magnesium and the Brain: The Ultimate Chill Pill

Social skills training like Dale Carnegie courses may help with social anxiety. It is easier to be less anxious in social situations with training on how to make small talk, mingle at parties and prepare topics in advance for conversations.
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Old 01-21-2019, 12:09 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by MuirWannabe View Post

Iíve somehow got to come to peace with this. I know I canít cure it, but I still canít stop myself from wanting to somehow help. I wonít give up my hope.
My DD has a mental disorder. We spent years of having her in therapy and seeing a psychiatrist. Ultimately she chose to quit taking her medication. It was frustrating as her illness is treatable

The thing that helped me the most -- although it took years and several hospitalizations to get there -- was really really accepting that I can't really help her. I kept trying to do X or Y, hoping that X or Y would make the difference. Hoping that this time it would make a difference. As someone who tends to be proactive, I kept thinking that I could help in some way.

I couldn't. I can't. I do not have control over this situation. I only gained at least a little peace when I truly, truly accepted that. (Still hard, of course).
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Old 01-21-2019, 02:09 AM   #19
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I sure hope your son fixes whatever is making him an alcoholic.
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Old 01-21-2019, 03:05 AM   #20
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A lot of people with social anxiety use alcohol to loosen up in a social setting. Therefore, finding an appropriate treatment for his social anxiety is a necessary first step.

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