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Addiction to Alcohol/My Grandfather Is an out of control alcoholic.

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My grandfather is almost 65 years old and he's been drinking for as long as I can remember. He has heart disease and should be on a special diet but he doesn't follow it. He is a typical old man who is always right and you can never have the last word because he thinks he's always right. My grandmother divorced him when my mom was little because he is not a good man. For financial reasons me and family live in his house. He gets paid good money and is a very hard worker. I understand why he's tired at the end of the day because he's old and is on his feet all day. The main reason why I wanted to write this is because tonight he went overboard. He can't control his temper and tonight he got crazy. I recently got a German Shepard puppy and she is about 6 months old and is VERY HYPER. All the time. She chews into everything and makes a mess everyday.  He gets home late and gets angry with her a lot. He got a belt as soon as he saw the mess and started to hit her ALOT. Me and my sister started to cry when she would whimper. I don't understand why he won't realize that she is just a puppy and that she is home alone all day and she gets excited when she she's people. I really need advice on what to do. My mother and my sisters can't afford to move so we can't just leave with our dog. I'm scared that we will come home one day and she won't be here. He also said he wants to get rid of her. Please help me. I don't know what to do. I care about my grandfather of course but I don't want yo get rid of my dog because my grandfather always hurts her.  I also forgot to mention that our dog that we had for almost 15 years died in January. My grandfather had a very special bond with her and he might take out his anger on my new puppy. His mother also passed away this year. It's been a rough year in my family but there is no reason in the world to hurt an animal in any way. Again I really need your help. Thank you for your time.

Answer
Charlie Haviland
Charlie Haviland  
Dear Victoria,

I'm sorry for your difficulties and pain. There are fewer things more stubborn than an old alcoholic who thinks he knows everything. And, when he owns the house and brings home a paycheck, things are certainly worse. Your situation sucks. That's the bad news. The good news is is you have some options for things to get better. But, let's talk about your grandfather first, then let's talk about you.

Alcoholics have no choice in the matter of drinking (If he had a choice, he wouldn't be an alcoholic). The most important thing to an alcoholic is protecting his supply and ensuring his next drink. That's why alcoholics are so good at holding on to their jobs; it keeps them in booze. Then, our society calls them "functioning alcoholics," because they go to work and pay the bills. This is all baloney, however, because what we don't see is that, when the alcoholic goes home, he takes a belt to a six month old puppy. And, when you're living under his roof, you don't get much say in the matter and feel hopeless. I know that you've figured all this out already, but I wanted to restate the problem so that we may talk about a solution.

In a perfect world, the solution to your problem is to get grandfather to stop drinking. That certainly can happen, but lets take first things first.

You must take care of yourself first and foremost. Until you get some clarity about alcoholism, you can't be effective in fostering any change. Alcoholism is a family disease. There is the drinker, who suffers from his addiction to alcohol. And, there are the family and friends who make all their decisions based upon how the alcoholics will react. In a healthy world the loved one of an alcoholic must learn to make decisions based on her own-well being, not based upon how the alcoholic will react.

You've already reached out for help by writing me. Please don't stop here. I recommend your next step seeking an Al-Anon Family Group near you. The heading on your letter says "California." I don't know if you're in a rural or urban area, but, there is a link at the bottom of the page to connect. Members of Al-Anon share your experience, the nightmares, if you will, of living with an alcoholic. Many members live in the solution  and enjoy peaceful lives. There is strength in their numbers who may help you do away with the hopelessness you feel. I hope you will reach out.

After you find some clarity about the disease of alcoholism (it is a disease, recognized by the American Medical Association in 1955, meeting its criteria of being progressive, chronic, and fatal), you may be able to help your grandfather. Alcoholics rarely respond to consequences. They get released from jail and go directly to the liquor store. A spouse threatens to leave and the alcoholic says good riddance. In your grandfather's case, he might respond to intervention, an effective tool to help alcoholics recover. You may contact your county mental health agency for intervention resources and I will post a link at the bottom of the page that may help.

Victoria, your grandfather's violence toward your puppy isn't something to be taken lightly. This red flag tells me that your mom and you might be in harm's way as well. Even if you can't afford to move out, you might (and, should) know where to go in advance should your grandfather's violence worsens.

I wish you luck Victoria and beg you not to give up. If you need further assistance, you may reach me again here, or on Facebook or Twitter.

I remain yours in service,

Charlie Haviland

http://www.al-anon.alateen.org

https://www.ncwsa.org

http://scws-al-anon.org

http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/info2/a/aa100897.htm

Addiction to Alcohol

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Charlie Haviland

Expertise

I am a recovered alcoholic. My experience in the the addiction recovery process is personal and professional. I am better suited to address questions about alcoholism.

Experience

I have been a member of a twelve step fellowship since 1984. I have facilitated a fourteen week, twelve step workshop at Henry Ford Hospital, West Bloomfield, Michigan

Organizations
I am on the auxiliary staff of the Stepping Stones Foundation- the Historic Home of Bill & Lois Wilson, in Bedford Hills, NY

Publications
New York Times, Newsweek, Wired Magazine, Grapevine, Huffington Post, The Detroit News, Detroit Free-Press, Denver Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, Denver Lo-Do News, The Oakland Press, Detroit Metro Times, Denver Westword

Education/Credentials
Michigan certification: FOADP (Fundamentals of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems)

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