Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

My mother is an alcoholic and it's affecting us all

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 14 March 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My mother is an alcoholic and it's affecting us all. I now live quite a distance away so only visit a couple of times a month. Mother is supposed to be caring for my dad as he is disabled. He has a carer but not at weekends now someone from social services has to come weekends as she forgets to give him his medication and cook for him.

The family have done so much to try to help her. My brother took her to the doctors who did liver tests and said she would die soon if she did not stop drinking. She refused to go back to Alcoholics Anonymous after two sessions. She says she is seeking help, but it's all lies. She has antidepressants but doesn't take them. She hides alcohol all over the house. If we throw it away she buys more. Bills are not getting paid. The grandchildren don't want to visit her as she is always intoxicated.

I am getting married soon and would love her to be at the wedding, but I know she will be drunk. My sister has advised me not to go out of my way to help, as she tried and it made her ill. How can I get my mother to stop drinking?

Patricia Marie says...

You ask the same question many family members of an alcohol dependent want the answer to, sadly, the reply is never simple. Alcoholism is a family disease - if one person is drinking to excess, everyone around them is affected. Alcoholics are often in denial, blaming circumstances or people around them for their addiction. They are unable to see how badly their destructive and hurtful behaviour affects those who love and want to help them.

Alcoholics Anonymous recommends 'detachment with love' - As your sister discovered, if you don't allow yourself to stand back a little it can affect your health. You have to accept you cant stop your mum from drinking, only she can choose to do this. If alcoholics are not ready for help, efforts by family and friends trying to force them to admit to the problem, usually causes more resentment, and its only when the consequences of their drinking becomes painful enough will they reach out for help.

Do remind your mother how much you love her, but you cannot help her if she is not willing to help herself, as it is destroying your life, and concerned that unless she gets professional help soon, she will cause lasting grief to all her family.

Whether she chooses to get help or not, do contact: The National Association for Children of Alcoholics, 0800 358 3456 ( An excellent organisation offering tremendous support for people in your situation.

Got a dilemma, please email 
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows
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