Time to walk away?




I think I have made the decision to tell my Dad that I won’t be visiting in any capacity until he accepts he needs help and gets it. I guess I’m just wondering if this is a bad idea? Over recent years he has had multiple alcohol related falls down the stairs and admissions to hospital. After the last one he was in for a week and said he wanted to stop so was given so much support while he was in, with support offered on his return. When they contacted him when he was home he refused help saying he was ok now and didn’t drink anymore. Just 2 weeks later he had been out and got some bottles of beer so I went round, and asked him what was going on. He told me he was in constant pain and I managed to get him to tell me he had hurt his tailbone which I know can be agonising. I sent him to the docs the next day. He lives with my mum (they no longer have a romantic relationship and my mum isn’t very tolerant of my Dad’s situation) and my 40 year old brother. Up until the detox I wasn’t in favour of taking booze from him but once he’d been through withdrawal I felt we should remove it. I know he can go out and get more but now it is safe for him not to drink I feel it is a physical communication of our feelings. Anyway, yesterday my brother told me that he has been buying more and told him he just wants ‘one a day’. He has since got Sherry which my brother has removed, but he won’t remove the beer. Both my brothers seem to think beer is ‘better’ than spirits (as he had in the past). Apparently there was 3 empty bottles around him yesterday and my brother thought he’d had more. When he had his last fall I lost 2 days pay taking him into hospital. The hospital staff were amazing and gave a chance to start new and have continued support. I will do what it takes to help and support him if he accepts help and still relapses, but I am struggling big time with his refusal for help despite vowing he would take it in hospital. I realise this will most likely mean I am writing my Dad out of my life, and am worried I am leaving the rest of the family to deal with him. I suppose that’s a choice they have to make too. So much guilt and am also quite resentful that it is me who ends up doing the frank talking with him – which I will do before informing him of my decision. There’s so much more to this long waffle of a vent, but this is the gist if it. I suppose I’m just wanting to check that there’s no obvious drastic reason why I shouldn’t take this route?

  • listener


    Firstly, thank you for reaching out to Nacoa and sharing your story. Sometimes that in itself can be hard to do.

    I am sorry to hear about the situation you are in at the moment with your dad's drinking.

    It sounds like you are a very caring and giving person and in a situation where you have a parent who drinks, while you may want to do everything you possibly can, it is hard to achieve this as they need to make that decision themselves. It can also be difficult when they keep refusing the help that is there for them. Which is why it is important to put your wellbeing first because you matter too, it is easy to get caught up in feeling responsible or guilty for wanting to put distance between yourself and him, but ultimately if that is what you have considered as the best option, then it must be one worth doing.

    Outside of other family members, do you get support elsewhere, such as friends? Are you able to confide in others at all about your situation?

    Feel free to keep the conversation going and remember that Nacoa will be there for you whenever you need it.

    Take care of yourself.

  • williamste

    Hi teenar,

    Thank you very much for posting on here.

    I feel like I say this an awful lot in response to posts on this website, but your experiences with your Dad – from the deception to the hospitalisations to the attempts to remove alcohol – are almost identical to what I have been through with my Mum. I hope, if nothing else, this shows that you are not alone in what you are going through.

    My Mum has been an alcoholic for the entirety of my life, and one thing I have learned (and learned the hard way) is that the child of an alcoholic is completely unable to control their parents drinking or even have any real influence over it. Whether they drink, or how much they drink, is entirely down to the individual themselves.

    I have gone through phases of both removing alcohol from my Mum’s flat and threatening to cut off contact in an attempt to force her to stop drinking. I can now see that doing these things was a mistake; firstly because it simply didn’t work as my Mum’s addiction was so strong, and secondly because witnessing these attempts fail was immensely painful – I felt cheated, hurt and as though my Mum had chosen drink over me. In a nutshell, it was the worst of all worlds.

    When making the decision to cut off contact or not, it is vital that you make that decision for your own wellbeing, not in what is likely to be a futile attempt to stop your Dad from drinking.

    In answer to your question, there is no set in stone reason why cutting off contact is a bad idea – plenty of COAs have taken this unbelievably difficult decision and not regretted it. But my advice is to make sure you are doing so for you, and not for any other reason.

    All the very best for the future – and don’t forget that Nacoa is always here is you need it.

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