End-Stage Alcoholism Support for Families

There are few resources for those dealing with terminal loved ones

Patient in Emergency Room
'He's Not Going to Make it'. © Getty Images

For friends and family members who have loved ones experiencing the end stages of alcohol use disorder, the experience can be frustrating and lonely. The feeling of powerlessness is stifling as you watch someone you care about slowly die while they may even refuse to admit their drinking is problematic.

It's not often talked about, but left untreated, alcohol use disorder can be a fatal disease.

The alcoholic in blogger Linda's life is one of those terminal cases. Eight times she has been told that he would not live another six months. Three times he's had hospice involved in what seemed like would be his final days, but he kept coming back, going through detox and recovering.

He's Not Going to Make It

The ups-and-downs of her partner's alcoholism make it difficult to cope. "I anticipate and plan for the end which, unfortunately, always feels as though it would be a blessing," Linda writes on her blog. "We've been through the 'he's not gonna make it' ordeal many, many times."

But he keeps making it, hence the title of her blog, "The Immortal Alcoholic."

Alcohol Use Disorder Is a Progressive Disease

As you begin to read Linda's story, you want give her a big hug, although probably she would prefer that you merely leave a comment. But for those of us who have seen or are watching loved ones die slowly because of their alcohol use, her story is both heart-breaking and edifying.

A Navy wife, Linda dealt with her husband's progressive alcohol use disorder for 20 years while raising a family, but then left him after her daughter was grown. During the 15 years they were separated (but not divorced) his alcohol use disorder progressed to the point that it was affecting his brain and his internal organs. Research has shown that long-term alcohol misuse can have a lasting impact on the brain, although some areas may recover with abstinence.

Protecting Her Daughter

When her daughter made the decision to take her ailing father into her home to care for him, Linda stepped in to protect her daughter.

"My daughter wanted him to come live with her family. I said no," Linda writes. "I had stayed married to him in order to have my military benefits. He was my responsibility. I had to protect her by stepping up and doing what needed to be done."

Challenges of Caregiving

Somehow Linda has managed to emotionally detach herself from the alcoholic while at the same time caring for him. He is living with her in the Southeastern United States in her rural home miles from the nearest liquor store.

At The Immortal Alcoholic, Linda posts frequent blogs about her daily life struggles with an end-stage alcoholic, who, at this writing, has been dry for more than three months, but makes it clear almost daily that one day he will drink again.

Hard to Find Information

Her blog deals with the ordeal of living with someone whose mind and health has been devastated by alcohol misuse, but she also has pages of resources for other non-alcoholics like her, who may be going through the same situation.

As she explained in an email, "I have had problems with finding people who understand "end-stage" and all the things that go along with it. Even the doctors really don't know what to do..."

End-Stage alcohol use disorder Information

Her website has information she has gathered while dealing with end-stage alcohol use disorder, including:

  • Stages of an Alcoholic Life
  • Linda outlines the progression of alcohol use disorder from "just a few beers" to the "he's not going to make it" stage and everywhere in between.
  • The Truth About Detox
  • What they don't tell you about the detoxification process until the patient is already in the program.
  • The Medical Dilemma
  • Most family doctors are either not trained to deal with end-stage alcohol use disorder or they are just not willing to be that honest with the alcoholic or their families.
  • Alcohol and Biology
  • When the liver can no longer metabolize alcohol fast enough and sends it back into the bloodstream over and over, it causes all kinds of problems in the body.

If you or someone you know is dealing with alcohol use disorder, you might find Linda's blog a glimpse of what the end stages look like, a source of encouragement and enlightenment, or an affirmation that you are not alone.

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Article Sources
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