Annie’s Mailbox for March 30, 2011: Mother refuses treatment for alcohol abuse
March 30, 2011
Dear Annie: My mom is 50 years old and just told me that she has hepatitis C. I think she has probably had it for quite some time, since my late father also had it.
Growing up, Mom and I were never close. She kept to herself a lot. Things have improved over the years, but talking to her is still like pulling teeth. The problem is, Mom is an alcoholic and has no interest in giving up booze. I know all about AA, and so does she. I have been in recovery for five years. Those with hepatitis should not be drinking, and it upsets me that the alcohol is more important to her than her life.
I know I can’t make her quit drinking — I have tried. It’s hard to bring up the subject because she gets very defensive, and I don’t want to cause conflict between us. I also don’t want to push her away by trying an intervention.
Mom sees the doctor regularly, but until her blood tests show consequences from the drinking, nothing will change. I do believe she is suffering from depression. She hasn’t gone to work in more than a month and doesn’t return my phone calls.
I don’t know how to help her realize that she can still lead a normal life for many more years if she takes care of herself and stops drinking. Maybe she is further along than we know, and she just doesn’t care anymore. Can you offer any advice?
— Need Help
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Dear Need: As a recovering alcoholic, you certainly understand that you cannot make your mother do anything unless she is willing. Right now, she is ignoring the long-term effects of her drinking because she isn’t ready to quit, possibly because she is self-medicating for depression. Since Mom isn’t returning your phone calls, please go to her home and check on her or get someone else to do it. You need to make sure she is OK. Also, call her doctor’s office, inform them that she seems depressed, and ask that it be addressed at her next appointment. Then contact the American Liver Foundation (liverfoundation.org) for suggestions on how to get through to Mom.
Dear Annie: We have a dear friend we would never want to hurt, but she is almost unbearable to be around because she talks nonstop. A person can hardly get a word in edgewise. When she stops to take a breath and I interject something, she rolls right over me as if nothing was said.
I hate talking to her on the phone because I cannot disengage. It would be difficult to avoid her. She recently had a bout of depression, which we suspect was triggered by a friend broaching this subject. What do we do?
— Talks Too Much
Dear Too Much: A common reason for someone to become a chatterbox is hearing loss. Your friend may be speaking over you and talking nonstop because she is trying to hide the fact that she cannot hear the other side of the conversation. If you can bring this up (perhaps by claiming you are suffering from the same problem), suggest she talk to her doctor about it. Until then, you can disengage by saying, “Sorry, I have to run. I’ll talk to you later.”
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Wisconsin,” the woman who lost her husband and was saddened because her friends avoided her after the funeral. That letter hit home.
I followed the suggestions of the American Hospice Association when my friends lost a spouse. But when my husband died, those same friends told me they had new lives now or were really busy. The disappointment still hurts. When people are in mourning, they need friends — the friends they thought they had.
— Also in Wisconsin