how to help?




I’m 26F. My mum is nearly 62 and the only parent i have left. I’ve always known her to drink. About 2 years ago she ended up in hospital after a drunken weekend when i wasn’t home. Since then she promised to never put me in the position of finding her like that again. She got professional help for a few weeks and didn’t touch a drop for about 6-9 months. But slowly and more recently it’s creeping up again. She’s buying bottles of alcohol and drinking them to herself. I’ve “confiscated” them and hidden them in my room. Recently I found out she’s snuck into my room and rooted them out. That’s now lead to me having to lock my bedroom door which is something i’ve never ever ever had to do as we’re usually pretty open. I feel like the trust is completely gone as it’s never been this bad before. Over the past 4 days she’s been completely inebriated for 3 of them. I just look at her and don’t see my mum anymore. And i feel like that so awful to say bcos i love her so much. but who is this woman? how has it come to this? She’ll drink then apologise then drink again and it messes with my head bcos i keep believing her. I myself don’t have the best mental health, i suffer with extreme depression and anxiety and i feel like it’s all getting on top of us. How do i help her? Am i even capable of helping her? Does anyone have any advice? Honestly anything please.

  • listener

    Hi aweirdtime,

    First of all, I am sorry to hear about your mums drinking and I want to say well done for taking the first step of talking about your situation.

    I say this not to justify your mum's drinking behaviour, but understanding how other people might view the world and how impossible it is to change that view, helps us to see that their negativity says more about them than us. People often drink to escape emotional pain and alcohol is a depressant so can make the emotional pain even more profound. Have you been able to have a discussion with your mum about your concerns? When talking about your mum's drinking, she may well respond defensively. This is something very common but I hope that some of the information on our website may help you to get through her natural defences.
    We have resources called ‘Talking to someone about their drinking’ which may give some guidance. Being armed with the support available may also help. However, this may feel like an enormous amount for you to go through on your own, especially when you are dealing with extreme depression and anxiety. Are you able to talk about how you feel with a close friend, family member, GP? Sharing your feelings is not being disloyal and can help you to feel less alone.

    Trying to change our own behaviour is difficult and changing someone else is even more difficult and probably not in our power. I suggest starting with something that can be in your control, such as taking time out for some self-care can help and Something I also think could be useful for you to think about is something that we call the 6C’s.

    • I didn’t cause it
    • I can’t cure it
    • I can’t control it
    • I can take care of myself
    • I can communicate my feelings
    • I can make healthy choices

    You are very welcome to contact the Nacoa helpline if you would like to talk more.

    Kind regards,


    • ashbash

      Hi there
      I am so sorry to hear about the difficult time that you are having. In understand the frustration of a parent getting help and seeming to get better and then relapse.
      It will be really hard to see your mum like that. Unfortunately unless someone is ready for help it can be difficult. However, perhaps an appointment at the doctor or finding out about local support groups might help.
      This is not your fault and it will be difficult for both you and your mum. Please make sure you take time for yourself and understand that your feelings are normal and valid. I hope you’re okay .

    • bagpuss77


      I'm so sorry for what you and your mum are going through, it's understandable that you are feeling very anxious and low.

      I am 45 and have struggled with my mum in the same was since I was about 6-7 years old so I can understand and a lot of what you say resonates with me. I have done similar things along the years, during drink away, hiding it, policing her. Sadly my experience is that this is not a solution. Alcoholics will find a way to drink whatever we do and the conflict and stress caused by trying to police her this way is very stressful. My experience is that you cant change anyone this way, they have to come to their own conclusions about wanting help and working to stay sober.

      What is happening is not your fault and you are not responsible for your mums behaviours. I prefer to try and talk to my mum when she is sober and explain to her the impact of what is happening. There are no easy solutions and just the other day I was feeling low and posted my own post about feeling so tired of it all. Would she go to the doctors or alcoholics anonymous? It is better for her and you to have the people to rely/lean on. It might be an idea for you to seek counselling if you haven't already, I have had this a few times and always find it really helpful. The most important thing I learned when I first went was that what my mum did was not my fault and I am not responsible for fixing her. That I have to be my own safe place and make sure my health and wellbeing is a priority.

      I wish you peace and hope you find a path through what you are going through. Thinking of you xxx

  • onthemerrygoroundagain

    I'm sorry you are finding yourself in this situation.

    As others have said there is nothing you can do to help unless she wants help, and you are not responsible for what she is doing.

    It may not hurt to ask the question "I've noticed you're drinking more than usual, do you want some help?" It might result in a massive row, on the other hand, it takes just one time for the answer to be yes and you can provide some phone numbers for local support but you can't call them for her, they will only accept a self referral.

    Even if you get to that point, which might a long time, it may be a rollercoaster, so look after yourself and first and foremost, care for your own health and needs, even if that means you need distance.

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