How to deal with a stubborn alcoholic

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I_<3_Serenity
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 8/25/2008 11:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi everyone, I am new to the forum. I have spent the last couple days reading many posts.
 
My husband was diagnosed with Hep C back in 2001. He has been a drinker for 30+ years and has been taking oxycodon for a neurophathy in his feet for the last 4 years. He was on the transplant list to receive a liver until they found out through a blood test that he had alcohol in his system. For several years he played a cat and mouse game with the hospital. Whenever he new that he they would be testing him for alcohol he would stop for a day or two before. But as his liver disease worsened, he was not able to clear the alcohol out of his system and he was found out. That was earlier this year. He finally agreed to go to a rehab for the alcohol, but refused to get off the oxycodon. He has a prescription for it, but I don't think that his pain Dr. knows of his alcohol problems. His sobriety lasted maybe a day once he came home. He says that he has not drank anything for a couple months, but I know better. I have been going to al-anon and Celebrate recovery meetings for myself. I have taken the Serenity prayer to heart for myself and I am trying to keep my life going on without the drama that his alcoholism has caused in the past.
 
I looked at the list of symptoms and he has had most of them at one time or another. Currently, he has not been seeing any Dr.'s for his Hep C. I know that he has progressed so far that he cannot take any of the med's (inteferon). Right now he has a lot of swelling in his legs and ankles, and has problems with short term memory loss and lack of concentration. I think that his neurophathy is a direct result of his alcoholism, but he would beg to differ. He bruises very easily, and his arms are scarred and bruised from all the bleeding under his skin. He has said in the past that he drinks, because he is pain (his feet), but I truly think that his body is creating the pain so that he will continue to drink. I have also noticed that he gets angry easily. Until I read some of the posts here I always thought it was an excuse to leave the house to drink...maybe it was both.
 
I just hate sitting back watching him kill himself. Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.
 
Thanks for letting me vent.
 
I <3 Serenity!

hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 8/26/2008 12:47 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi, Serenity, and welcome to the forum.  If you have been going to Al-Anon for any length of time (and I applaud you for going), you know that there is nothing you can do if your husband is unwilling to stop drinking.  Drinking alcohol is the very worst thing he can do for his liver.  Have you thought of doing an intervention with other family members and/or friends?  Other than that, you have to "detach with love," Let Go and Let God, and all the other sayings that are so true and will save your sanity.

I have hep C and cirrhosis, had liver cancer, and am an alcoholic with 22 years of continuous sobriety, thanks to AA.

Hugs,

Connie


I_<3_Serenity
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 8/26/2008 11:46 AM (GMT -7)   

Thanks for the support Connie. I am fairly new to the whole al-anon thing. I have only been going to the meetings for a couple months. But I will keep going back because "I'm worth it".

What bothers me most, is the fact that he complains about his health deteriorating but he won't do anything to correct it (i.e. go see his Dr's or stop drinking). I guess he will when he is forced to someday by having to be hospitalized.

Do you or anyone know if the neuropathy could be related to his hep C or alcoholism? It first started as tingling in his feet, but now he gets sharp pains and burning sensations.

Regards,

Serenity


hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 8/26/2008 1:34 PM (GMT -7)   

Serenity, hang in there with Al-Anon.  If you can get there at least once a week, it will help you.  Also, if there is a Co-Dependency meeting near you, that might help even more.

In regard to your question, his symptoms are probably from the liver disease.  If he has diabetes it could be peripheral neuropathy from that.

When he complains about his health, tell him you know 2 things that will improve it:  1.  See a doctor and 2.  Stop drinking.  After that, whenever he complains, tell him he knows what he needs to do.  In fact, he may not be able to stop drinking on his own, and may need to go to a detox facility.  Withdrawal symptoms are not pleasant, and can even be dangerous.  In my case, I gradually tapered off drinking until I stopped completely.  Even then, my nerves were shot, I was afraid of everything, and had a terrible time falling asleep.

Hugs,

Connie


I_<3_Serenity
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 8/26/2008 4:12 PM (GMT -7)   
Connie -

I completely agree with what you are saying regarding how to improve his health. However, the only problem is that he says that he is not drinking but I know that he has not stopped. He will swear up and down that he has stopped and become upset if I insinuate to the contrary. He is playing the same cat and mouse game with me that he did with the Dr's and hospital prior to being bumped from the transplant list. He has already been through detox for the alcohol earlier this year, but until he gets off the Oxycodon as well, it is going to be a losing battle. Unfortunately I think it is going to take something like an emergency stay in the hospital to get his attention. I just hope and pray that it gets his attention and does not take his life.

Thanks again for suggestions....I will take it to heart.

Serenity

hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 8/26/2008 4:44 PM (GMT -7)   

Serenity, just let him know that he is not fooling you one bit as far as the drinking goes.  If he gets mad, so be it.  You are right about the oxycodone, if he is addicted to it...which he probably is.  It would have to be a dual withdrawal.  As you probably know, many alcoholics are/were dual addicted, including yours truly (although not at the same time.)

Just know that you didn't cause his diseases and you can't cure them.  You may well be right about an emergency hospitalization being the only thing that will straighten him out.  That worked for me with narcotics.

Meanwhile, know that my thoughts are with you.

Hugs,

Connie


Pink Grandma
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 2445
   Posted 8/26/2008 8:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Serenity and welcome to the forum. Sorry that you are going through this with your husband. Wow it's hard to believe that someone made it to the list and kept drinking. As you well know that it was no easy thing and to flush it down the toilet well......your husband is really stubborn. Too stubborn for his own good. Now the chances are slim and none for them to relist him.

My husband did the same thing..lied to the doctors and then to me. When he had his first encephalopathy episode it was enough to scare him to stop drinking though..........But he stopped too late.........He gave it a good fight the last 2 years but didn't make it. So in the end he was just fooling himself.

Serenity you can lead a horse to water but you can not force him to drink. There's nothing that you can say or do to stop him from drinking.....it has to come from himself.

You need to take care of yourself through this too.

Take care.......thoughts and prayers....
Pink Grandma
Forum moderator-Hepatitis

When the going gets tough....the tough get going! Don't always know where I going but I get there anyways.


wheredidigo
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 605
   Posted 8/27/2008 9:30 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Serenity,
I have been through very similar problems with my husband, but I finally got sick of the lying and mental abuse and made him leave. That was a year ago and my life has drastically improved. I have not divorced him, and still help get him to drs appointments, but other then that, I have a whole new life. They do NOT quit drinking until they WANT to, not for you, for their children, parents, friends,,,,,only when they finally get to a place where they are faced with only themselves and the reality they created. Good luck, and most importantly, take care of YOU>
I am not sure where I am going, but I sure know where I've been!
 


I_<3_Serenity
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 8/27/2008 9:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you Pink Grandma and wheredidigo! I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your husband Pink Grandma. Wheredidigo you have had your cup over flowing too, but it sounds like you have pulled yourself together. People like myself are fortunate to be able to learn from your experiences.

You are both correct - he has to want to quit, and I realize that I cannot do it for him. I guess all I can do is prepare myself for the worst (regarding his health), and in the meantime get my life in order.

One thing that I want to prepare myself for is the physical problems that he will be going through. Currently he has a lot of pain and swelling in his feet and ankles. He also says that he has gained weight, but it appears to me that he is bloated. There is also a lot of dicoloration of his feet and legs (below the knee). He has also been complaining about his ears being plugged up (he can also hear his heart beat). There have several times over the last couple years that his platelet count has dropped significantly, causing a bloody nose that won't stop or a wound that won't stop bleeding. He has trouble urinating, and has prostrate problems. It seems like his body is slowly giving up - that or he is complaining to justify his drinking to himself.

What are some of the other things that I need to look out for? I am afraid to come home and have myself or my children find him collasped or worse. I just want to be prepared and know when it is time to take him to the doctor or hospital, whether he wants to go or not.

Regards,

Serenity
Thanks again for the thoughts and prayer - I will do the same for both of you!

hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 8/27/2008 9:47 PM (GMT -7)   

Serenity, the bloating and discoloration you mentioned are due to fluid retention.  The liver is not handling fluids the way it should.  At one point, my calves were "weeping" fluid, they were so swollen.  Your husband needs to be on a diuretic to help control the edema and ascites.  If the ascites (belly fluid) becomes too great, it can interfere with breathing.

If he becomes extremely confused, agitated, or has bad, frequent mood swings, it is an indication that his amonia level is too high and he needs Lactulose to rid his system of the excess amonia.

The liver is the body's main filter.  Everything is filtered through it and it filters out toxins (ideally.)  In a diseased liver, the filtering function is impaired so a lot of toxins build up in the bloodstream.

If he keeps drinking and continues to refuse medical help, his condition will worsen and you will know it.  The swollen feet, in particular, are very painful.  I had to get my helper (or anyone who could do it) to press the fluid upwards, a little at a time.  (That was before I was placed on diuretics.  I don't know why they waited so long...perhaps waiting to see if the cancer surgery would improve the edema, which it did a little, but I still need at least 20 mg of Lasix a day and 100 of aldactone.)

Hugs,

Connie


JohnCT
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 202
   Posted 8/27/2008 10:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Serenity,

I'm sorry that you need to hang out with us but there is no better place for info and support for those of us who need to address this disease, either as a patient or caregiver.

I only want to reiterate what you already know: that any drinking will kill him. I am a Hep C patient and have all of the symptoms that your husband has, only to a lesser degree. These are my experiences only and not to be confused with expert or medical opinions.

I have the ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity), causing the bloating. I minimized this with a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in iron (no red meat). A liver-friendly diet eases stress on the liver and helps in all areas.

I have the edema, causing the swelling in the legs. I have minimized this by reducing my sodium intake.

I have the low platelets caused by the damaged liver's back-pressure enlarging the spleen. This causes the discoloration on the legs (blood under the skin) and the bleeding. I have increased my platelet count dramatically by changing to a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in iron (no red meat).

What you don't mention is encephalopathy, caused by the damaged liver's inability to remove ammonia from the blood. This causes confusion, memory problems, and personality changes. I control this with good old Lactulose, a sugar that stimulates the stomach to strip it out. Not perfect but adequate.

My main point is this, and I know that I am preaching to the choir: your husband can control his symptoms to some degree by wanting to, by researching a little, by taking a good doctor's advice, and by not drinking. Drinking and drug use overload the liver with processing needs and amplify all of the symptoms. Obviously, his liver's base condition determines how much any change will really impact his symptoms.

My last point is for you. Take care of yourself: don't forget to set aside time to do things you enjoy; don't carry any excess guilt burden - you can't force your husband to do what is best; and when you need to yell or share or question or ???, know that experienced people like Pink Grandma and the other forum members are willing to listen, advise and care.

Be well, John
I have to get up the creek! Now where's that paddle?
Mind-fogged again.

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