It’s a rather complex situation. My aunt is an alcoholic and denies the fact that she has a problem, and when confronted she says she can quit drinking any time.
My uncle (her husband) calls my house all the time to express his worry for her mental and physical health. He has tried to get her help but she refuses.
The problem is that my grandmother - the mother of my alcoholic aunt - doesn’t think there’s a problem, either, and will not encourage her daughter to get help. She continually blames her daughter’s husband instead of facing the real issue: her daughter’s alcoholism.
Both of my uncles and my mother realize there is a serious problem but my aunt’s husband can’t get control of her, and now he’s filing for divorce.
And the main issue is that she lives across the country in Washington state, whereas the rest of the family lives along the east coast, both north and south.
It is tiring and makes me sad to hear my mom on the phone with my aunt and grandma, trying to convince them that she is ruining her life and breaking the family up. My aunt hasn’t had a job for years and always resorts to alcohol when things go awry.
The question is, what do we do? We know she needs professional help, which no one in the family can give her personally. How do we get her to admit she needs help - from all the way across the country?
Nearly all of my aunt’s closest relatives - including her own daughter - have sat her down and told her that they would never speak to again if she did not seek professional help. I don’t see what else we can do if she doesn’t take THAT to heart.
You can’t force someone to get help. Sometimes, an intervention will get someone to see that there is a problem, but with two people in denial, that isn’t going to work.
Tell her that you will make sure she gets help when she is ready. Then step back. Her marriage is ending because of her drinking. If that isn’t going to get her to face her situation, nothing you say will.
Then set limits. It doesn’t sound like she’s asking you for money, but you need to respect the limits on your side. That means backing off and letting her make her own choices. If she doesn’t want to admit her problem, then stop trying to make her. Make the family about everything else instead of about trying to force help on her. She will have to hit bottom first, and you and the rest of the family need to live your lives until then, no matter how hard it seems.
Eventually she will realize that she has hit bottom. It might come while she is in a jail cell. But you have to wait until then, because you can’t force anything on her until she is ready.