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How can I help my sister in law?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by Peachtree84, Dec 6, 2018 at 9:34 PM.

  1. Peachtree84

    Peachtree84 Member

    To be clear, she is my FUTURE sister in law, which might give you a better idea of my current role in my fiancee's family.
    Been together for 4 years now, engaged for 1, I love his family, but have never seen his youngest sister sober. Ever.
    I have experience with substance abuse and I honestly do not judge her. She is obviously struggling, and has been for years. She and I are the same age.
    She has 2 wonderful daughters and a loving, but enabling, husband. Her folks, my future in laws, and her siblings, have no idea how to help her. It's the elephant in the room at every family get together and holiday. Its intolerable.
    We hardly get together anymore because shes falling over drunk, or saying horrible things, or driving her kids around while intoxicated. We don't allow alcohol at any family gathering for her sake.
    Its all killing her mother, who is a sweet God-fearing woman that has seen alcohol ruin her own childhood...
    Everyone has been on repeat for the past 3 years, they talk about her behind her back, say all the same things over and over and occasionally someone will drum up the courage to say something to her, to no absolutely avail. She shuts down and runs away and lashes out in the textbook manner. Her husband keeps enabling, her mother keeps on trying to sit her down, which only makes her angry, and her kids keep suffering.
    I am honestly getting angry. I keep fantasizing about finally saying something to her in front of the entire extended family, berating her into submission. I know this isn't realistic.
    I get angry with her brother, my fiancee, and ask why he wont do more to help his neices... knowing that I am powerless in this as an outsider.
    What can I do? Really, I want to know how I can help anyone involved in this nightmare.
    We have the neices over for sleepovers with my stepdaughter, their cousin, to get them out of that horrible house, but that's just a night or two... I try to console my mother in law, she attends Al-Anon meetings regularly, but doesn't seem to know what to do past that...I do my best to sit in the background as a not-quite-family-yet member but still offer support...but keeping my mouth shut has become a real challenge.
    I've started researching treatment for her, interventions, but it all costs money that none of us have. Confronting her on my own will not work.
    I am honestly worried that she will die tragically or take someone elses life on accident.
    Can anyone share a story on how someone reached out? How were you compelled to finally get help?
    I am grateful for any ideas.
    Thank you.
  2. lonewolves

    lonewolves Community Champion

    Hi there, that sounds like a pretty sticky situation! I’m glad your mother-in-law is attending Al-Anon meetings. Maybe you should consider going to one with her so you can get another perspective from the meeting. If she is driving her kids around whilst intoxicated then I think she needs to be forced into a program before she potentially hurts many people. That’s a really hard place to be in, how is your husband taking it?
    Peachtree84 likes this.
  3. Dominica

    Dominica Author, Writer, Recovery Advocate Community Listener

    @Peachtree84 hey there. i agree it's a sticky situation. i am concerned about the safety of her children. i'd talk more to her husband... if he truly is enabling, and not creating consequences for her actions (esp drunk driving), then he's very guilty... enabling is supporting her behavior... setting boundaries and holding them...that's the best support.

    perhaps he needs to attend a support group... or seek a counselor... to learn how he can perhaps foster change in the house.

    might help you too. having a loved one who struggles with addiction... it creates opportunity for us to learn how to best support them, even when they're not making the effort...and how we can practice self-care ourselves, rather than letting it get the best of us mentally.

    hope this helps.
    Peachtree84 likes this.
  4. Peachtree84

    Peachtree84 Member

    Thank you for your reply-

    He is completely frustrated, and doesn't know what else he can do. He has tried talking to her, he has tried talking to her husband and is finally advocating for him to leave her. His feeling is that she needs to hit bottom before she seeks help voluntarily. I am not sure this is the right route, but nothing else is being done.

    We do our best to make sure the kids are not in danger- but we both work full time and are just sometimes unaware of what is going on in their house. I try to let the girls know that they can call us anytime, day or night. Thankfully they have, and they do spend a lot of time at their grandparents houses in times of need.

    She knows that she has a support system, but will not listen to how her alcoholism is affecting her family. I am sure that it makes her angry- and feeling guilty- and the cycle continues. Most of her friends wont speak to her anymore- and she has been fired from a couple jobs now. They are struggling financially. She told us not to get her kids anything for Christmas because she can't afford to get anyone else anything. Her kids will still be included in Christmas.

    She JUST went through detox, a painful detox because she is physically dependent , and was sober for approx 2 weeks, and has just relapsed again. She admitted that it was horrible, but was feeling better- and did not drink at a family wedding we attended together. We were proud that she had the strength to do that, and were hopeful that she was finally committed to sobriety.

    I don't know how to force her to do anything, since her husband is extremely hesitant to do absolutely anything to make her angry. I want to ask him what it will ACTUALLY take for him to leave, or just do SOMETHING to start this process of sobriety. I believe that he has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol as well.

    Apart from getting CPS or the police involved, I need ideas on how to help immediately. I have considered everything from going out WITH her (and not drinking myself) to try to talk to her- basically stalking her to make sure she doesn't drive drunk- physically barring her from leaving the house- none of those seem safe or sane.

    As I am writing this-I am thinking that I need to attend some Al-Anon meetings, and maybe try to get anyone else from the family to join me, but that doesn't seem urgent enough.
    lonewolves likes this.
  5. Peachtree84

    Peachtree84 Member

    Thank you for your reply- all support is helpful.

    He is a complete enabler. There are no consequences for her actions- only on her children and marriage. He would do anything to keep his kids safe, except remove her from their home, but he can't be there 24-7 either. He does take initiative in their lives, like getting them to school, and fed, and to their weekend activities, but he is worn thin with his own issues as well.

    Everyone in that house is miserable.

    I know that there are programs like Al-Anon teen- but could we take her kids to a regular al-anon meeting? they are 14 and 11.

    I am just struggling with how long this has been going on- there is no sense of URGENCY from anyone- I worry every day that these girls lives are being irreparably damaged, and that it is affecting who they are to their core. I want them to have happy and healthy adulthoods- it feels like that possibility is slipping away with each passing day.
  6. deanokat

    deanokat DrugAbuse.com Community Organizer Community Listener

    @Peachtree84... I think the kids would be better off at an Alateen meeting. They may be uncomfortable at a regular Al-Anon meeting. And the adults at a regular Al-Anon meeting may feel uncomfortable having children there. To be honest, I've never been to an Al-Anon meeting where kids were in attendance. If going to Alateen isn't an option for them, perhaps having them "attend" an online Al-Anon meeting with you would be a good alternative.
    lonewolves, Dominica and Peachtree84 like this.
  7. Peachtree84

    Peachtree84 Member

    Thanks, that is a better alternative-
    Dominica likes this.
  8. deanokat

    deanokat DrugAbuse.com Community Organizer Community Listener

    Dominica likes this.