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I need some help with my brother-in-law who is an alcoholic. He and my sister live in a different state and were recently at our home. He was only drinking some beers and I was feeling better that *maybe* he was doing better.

Prior to their arrival, my husband and I opted to box up most of our liquor because a) itís to be enjoyed casually and itís ours (we were not going to offer hard liquor based on his issues) and b) because Iím worried about his health. As not to make it known we were hiding alcohol in the detached garage, I left a nearly full bottle of bourbon and some unopened bottles of wine in a basement cabinet to make it appear we werenít hiding anything as he knows we drink socially.

We asked my sister in private how he was doing. She confirmed ďmuch betterĒ and there are no issues with drinking. It appears she is entirely in the dark.

I went to the basement and lo and behold, he drank all but an inch of the bourbon. I also found out he polished off a full bottle of rum, 6 of the tiny bottles of alcohol and multiple warm beers at my momís house on a separate trip. He was not offered any of this.

We have not told my sister about this as not to cause a wedge in our relationship. But now that he has violated me, Iím pissed. I enjoy spending time with my family, but not when they are stealing alcohol in secret. And Iím very worried about what he is doing to his body and family.

Do I tell my sister? Or simply hide everything next time they visit? Iím at a loss.

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    Lots of factors to consider here. But yes, first and foremost, you will have to remove all alcohol from the house if he visits again. Everything, all of it, every drop, including beer. Being an alcoholic means that without getting help, he literally cannot be around alcohol without overwhelmingly wanting to -- even needing to -- consume it.

    Yes, it's annoying that you can't have a drink if he visits. But while you can control your impulse to drink, he *can't*.

    Try not to think of it as a lack of willpower ... for him, it's practically a chemical need. His own brain and body is sending him overpowering evidence that he MUST have this alcohol in front of him -- and it's very hard to fight the powerful messages sent to you by your own brain, senses and nervous system. He needs help to fight this, and you can certainly help a little by removing temptation.

    As for telling your sister about what happened...it's tough, but I fall on the side of being honest with her. She can't help solve the problem if she doesn't know there IS a problem.

    You might need to get your mother's support for this, because your sister really needs to hear about his alcohol consumption from both sources.

    It would be helpful if you could convey to your sister that you're not telling her this to accuse her, or with the expectation that she will (or should) be expected to solve this all by herself. You're doing this because there's a problem, and you want to help.

    And be *prepared* to help. She'll need support -- emotional, certainly, but also possibly financial. And (depending on how things go) maybe a place to stay for a while, and/or someone to come in and help with the kids.

    Dealing with alcoholism is *tough* -- for everyone in the family. I'm sorry that your family is having to deal with this....

    Of course, there's always the possibility that this secret drinking is (perhaps) something your sister already 'knows' about, at least on some level. You know her best. Is she likely to turn a blind eye to her husband's secret drinking in the (absolutely futile) hope that it will somehow work itself out?

    Because, of course, it won't. He absolutely cannot deal with this without outside help.

    Has he sought treatment before? Is *he* in denial about the problem he has?

    You should look up your local chapter of AlAnon -- not Alcoholics Anonymous, but AlAnon. AlAnon is a separate organization that is specifically for family members dealing with alcoholism. There, you'll be able to confer with people who have gone through exactly what you're going through right now, and get their tested strategies for coping with the situation.

    And of course, you should also encourage your sister to find her local AlAnon chapter and attend.

    I'm sorry you're having to go through this, and I'm sorry I don't have an easier answer for you. This *will* be difficult, no matter what happens -- more difficult for your sister than you, but it won't be easy on anyone in his orbit.

    So please don't hesitate to come back here and let us know how it's going, or vent your frustrations, or just say hi! And best of luck to you and your whole family.


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    Kal wrote: Lots of factors to consider here. But yes, first and foremost, you will have to remove all alcohol from the house if he visits again. Everything, all of it, every drop, including beer. Being an alcoholic means that without getting help, he literally cannot be around alcohol without overwhelmingly wanting to -- even needing to -- consume it. Yes, it's annoying that you can't have a drink if he visits. But while you can control your impulse to drink, he *can't*. Try not to think of it as a lack of willpower ... for him, it's practically a chemical need. His own brain and body is sending him overpowering evidence that he MUST have this alcohol in front of him -- and it's very hard to fight the powerful messages sent to you by your own brain, senses and nervous system. He needs help to fight this, and you can certainly help a little by removing temptation. As for telling your sister about what happened...it's tough, but I fall on the side of being honest with her. She can't help solve the problem if she doesn't know there IS a problem. You might need to get your mother's support for this, because your sister really needs to hear about his alcohol consumption from both sources. It would be helpful if you could convey to your sister that you're not telling her this to accuse her, or with the expectation that she will (or should) be expected to solve this all by herself. You're doing this because there's a problem, and you want to help. And be *prepared* to help. She'll need support -- emotional, certainly, but also possibly financial. And (depending on how things go) maybe a place to stay for a while, and/or someone to come in and help with the kids. Dealing with alcoholism is *tough* -- for everyone in the family. I'm sorry that your family is having to deal with this.... Of course, there's always the possibility that this secret drinking is (perhaps) something your sister already 'knows' about, at least on some level. You know her best. Is she likely to turn a blind eye to her husband's secret drinking in the (absolutely futile) hope that it will somehow work itself out? Because, of course, it won't. He absolutely cannot deal with this without outside help. Has he sought treatment before? Is *he* in denial about the problem he has? You should look up your local chapter of AlAnon -- not Alcoholics Anonymous, but AlAnon. AlAnon is a separate organization that is specifically for family members dealing with alcoholism. There, you'll be able to confer with people who have gone through exactly what you're going through right now, and get their tested strategies for coping with the situation. And of course, you should also encourage your sister to find her local AlAnon chapter and attend. I'm sorry you're having to go through this, and I'm sorry I don't have an easier answer for you. This *will* be difficult, no matter what happens -- more difficult for your sister than you, but it won't be easy on anyone in his orbit. So please don't hesitate to come back here and let us know how it's going, or vent your frustrations, or just say hi! And best of luck to you and your whole family.

    Thank you for your realistic and kind reply, Kal. I appreciate your advice and experience with this kind of health issue.

    My sister started a new job today and my bro-in-law in unemployed, adding to this massive issue. I agree that my mother and I will say something to my sister sometime this summer/by the end of the year (I donít want to push it out, but there is a lot of financial stress at the moment.)

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