How to deal with a bipolar alcoholic sister
April 12, 2010 1:48 PM Subscribe
My mother and step-father are going to Europe for a month, leaving my bi-polar alcoholic 25 year old sister alone in their house. As I am the only family member without a job that will be in town when they are gone, my mother has told me that I am responsible for keeping an eye on her. The problem is that I am a stay-at-home mom to a 2 year old daughter, that at the moment my husband does not want anywhere near my sister. What to do?
posted by Lapin to Human Relations (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My sister has had problems with alcohol for the past 6 years. She has had 2 DUI’s, 2 stays in rehab and numerous detoxes and hospital stays for Pancreatitis. She has been relatively stable for the past month, but she tends to fall apart when my mother goes out of town. To make matters worse, during my mother’s absence she has a court date for her last DUI. As it was a Super-extreme DUI (she blew .43) things are not likely to go very well. It is possible that she will end up with 6 months of jail time in addition to numerous fines. From her last DUI I know that they do not send her to jail immediately, but assign a future time for her to report to jail. I am afraid that either before or after her court date, she will lose control and start drinking again or worse.
When she stops taking her bi-polar meds and starts drinking she becomes very emotionally manipulative. She lies, makes up emergencies and says that she is afraid that she is dying if I don’t drop everything and go to her when she calls. She is usually ok when I get there, but on rare occasions she has been genuinely sick (related to the alcohol) and I need to take her to the hospital. When I go and she is not in dire need of medical attention, my presence does nothing but provide an audience for her drama and a punching bag for her verbal abuse. I can’t ever get her to stop drinking (since she usually hides the bottles and denies the drinking) , eat or take her meds. The only thing I can do when I am there is drive her to the hospital. However when she calls, I almost always go - just in case.
My husband thinks that my mother is not being realistic or reasonable when she expects me to be responsible for my sister when she is gone. He thinks that the only thing I should do when my sister calls me is call an ambulance for her if she needs it. At the moment, he is forbidding me from allowing my child around her for two reasons. First, he does not want my daughter to get attached to her, as late stage alcoholics like my sister do not have a good prognosis or long life expectancy. Second, although my sister has never been physically abusive, he does not want her around my child when she is drinking and potentially verbally abusive.
From my side of things, she is my sister. I love her, and I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I ignored her call and she ended up dying. While I agree with his decision to keep my child away from my sister in general, I can’t assure him that I won’t take her with me if my sister calls over the next month. If I can I will drop my daughter at my mother-in-law’s but that is only an option at certain times. Other than that, I am her only caretaker.
I feel like I am so emotionally involved in this, I do not have a clear idea of what my responsibilities should be. In my mind, I don’t think a few visits over the next month will damage my daughter, and not going when my sister calls could cause more damage or even death. Am I being reasonable? Even if I am, is it ok to go against my husbands wishes on issues like this?
As far as other logistics go, one of my other sisters will be taking her to her AA meetings after she gets off work. The crazy sister will not have access to a car and there is no alcohol in the house currently (though she always seems to find a way to get some). The main issue is what to do when she calls me during the day.
I am sorry this is so long, I appreciate any advice or perspective.