How do I deal with a parent who seems to be developing a problem with drugs/alcohol BEFORE we end up on "Intervention"? Long story inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My dad has struggled with anxiety/depression for as long as I can remember (he apparently attempted suicide sometime before I was born), but recently he's going into a complete tail spin like I've never seen before. I think he's developing a serious problem with drugs and alcohol (he is prescribed klonopin for anxiety but I think he's abusing it) and I want to help him. My sister is also in recovery and agrees with me, but we're not totally sure what to do. We have noticed him being drunk and high over the course of the last week, so it seems to have all developed very quickly.
Aside from his existing problems with depression, the source of his current despair is pretty easy to pinpoint. My sister is currently involved in a messy custody battle with her (abusive, violent, general bastard) ex-husband. About two weeks after the last court date, my father was arrested. Apparently, the ex was accusing him of assaulting the ex-husband with an axe (yeah, seriously) and now my dad has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. For the record, this never happened and is ridiculously untrue. Now my father isn't allowed near my sister's son, and has moved into a hotel about 20 minutes from our family home (where my sister, her son, and my mom live). He used to work out of state as a nurse, but since being charged, he can't leave the state and lost his job. My mom also works out of state until the end of December (at the same job he used to have) so she is only home 3-4 days a week and she stays at the house so my sister doesn't have to be alone with her son (my sister is still afraid of her husband and doesn't like to be alone much). So Dad basically sits in his hotel room, drinking and using, puttering around. He's told my sister and I both seperately that he feels suicidal, and wants to die and feels hopeless. I don't know if he's said the same to my mom. He's also confessed to my sister that he's been gambling a little online "to relax" and that he hid it from Mom so she wouldn't be upset. The one time I've visited him at the hotel, the place was a wreck and I think he'd pooped in the bathtub since it reeked of feces. This is a sad, pathetic state for a daughter to see her father in...and I don't know how to react.
Obviously, being charged with something so serious based on some dickweed's lie is going to make anyone feel despair, and the longer it drags on, the more hopeless my dad feels. I truly, truly empathize with him, but this is not the way to handle it. I'm so angry with him, and resent him for neglecting his responsibilities. I also struggle with depression (in treatment for it and on antidepressants) and I have been suicidal (as recently as 2 weeks ago) but I don't get to get high and drink and ignore the world. I get yelled at when I do that. In a weird way, I'm almost jealous.
The living situation is, in my opinion, a HUGE part of the problem. My father and I are similar in that, when we're alone, we dwell on negative things and work ourselves up into a frenzy until we're going crazy. Being alone in a hotel room all the time isn't his fault, and not helping. I suggested to my sister that we find a three-bedroom place together elsewhere in the city so Mom and Dad can live at the family home, and then we'll take care of my sister's fears of being by herself and my parents can go back to a slightly more normal married life. I haven't brought it up to my family, but I also want to live back at home because I'm intensely lonely and depressed in my current city, two hours away. So the move would be beneficial for me too.
I know I need to put the anger and resentment aside, but once I do that...now what? I feel helpless, like a drain on my family's dwindling resources (my sister's divorce has cost us close to $80k so far), and like I want my parents to be here for me in my struggles and not the other way around. I'm worried he's suicidal, I'm worried he's abusing his prescription, I'm worried he'll lose his job permanently (he's in the medical field and I'm pretty sure abusing prescription drugs is no bueno for that). Can/should I have him committed as a danger to himself? Ignore it? Tell him all the stuff I put here and hope he wakes up and stops?
FWIW, some background info: Mom and Dad are married, both in their early 50s. My sister is 24 (her son is 2 1/2) and I'm 22 female. We are both students, taking next semester off to work and make some money for the family. I also have an older brother who lives in the same city but he and his wife just had a baby (the same day as my father's arrest) and are slightly preoccupied.
Also, I am not involved in the legal situation at all. He and my sister are both lawyered up and that will all HOPEFULLY work out for the best, the way it should. I'm sorry about the length; some of it is cathartic and some I just feel like I need to fully explain the horrible messiness of it to get good advice. :)