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When You Don't Know There's An Alcoholic In Your Family

Posted by Clare on 14 March 2012.

Hi, I don't know if anyone will be able to relate to this - and it seems incredible myself, but I have just found out that my mum has been an alcoholic for over 30 years. I am 41. My dad told me and my brother and sister a month ago when my mum was admitted to hospital with Wernicke Encephalopathy/Korsakoff Syndrome. This is the result of severely heavy drinking for decades. She nearly died. At first she was unable to walk, talk or feed herself and was basically a vegetable. Over the past few weeks she has improved with walking and talking but she has dementia and suffers hallucinations which are very real to her but are not real. It is very distressing and learning my mum is an alcoholic has been a great shock. We do not know if mum will recover fully or not. My dad has known for over 20 years but protected us from it and he has been the only person who has ever known. Part of me is in awe of him for his strength in dealing with my mum but part of me is furious that he didn't tell us.  My siblings and I have had difficult relationships with my mum over the years and whilst I have no anger towards her for having the disease of alcoholism, I just don't understand why we were never told. My dad simply enabled her to carry on drinking so I guess I'm more angry with him at the moment.  Now that I know about my mum, everything I have ever thought about her over the years now makes sense but it is a great shock to find myself in a situation where I am looking back over my whole life and realising that most things that happened were because my mum will have been drunk.

Does anyone else have experience of this? In my ignorance of alcoholism, I have always assumed that alcoholics openly drank - clearly this is not the case because we were brought up by one and never had any idea. I would be glad to hear from anyone else who may be able to share their experience.


13 May 2012

Hi Clare.
 Im in a slightly differnet situation but completly understnad where ur comin from. Im 32 and my husband is 36. we have been married 4 14 yrs.hes always liked a drink but has gradually been drinking more.hes recently been on the course of chlordiaxpride and now has not had a drink 4 3 weeks. but my confusion comes from the fact that alough he openly drank, it was only ever evenings and weekends. He  never drank during the day and he only ever drank normal strenght beer or wine. I guess theres a sterio typical alcholic but its only when ur in this possition u find out just how differnet people r affefcted by alchol. my husband had spoken 2 his dad (whos 59) on may occasions and siad he was worried bout the amount he drinks but hes dad told him EVERY time. u dont have a prob unless u wake up wanting a drink!! Not helpfull but then his dad does drink most nites.
 Hope my waffle helps a little.

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