My mother in law is an alcoholic and started drinking again: What can we do for her?

My MIL has started drinking again, and it is stressing my husband out. According to him, she’s been an alcoholic for as long as he can remember. She was doing well after the AA meetings while I was pregnant, and now that my daughter is 2, she started drinking again. The family is rather upset that she is doing this to herself mostly because she is going to AA meetings and drinking when she gets back and hides her alcohol around the house. Very ridiculous. Any advice about what we can do to get through to her?


Put her in a place she can get help for alcoholics

Walk away & allow her to fix it herself. Unfortunately you can’t help someone whom don’t want to help themselves. :confused: my dad is an alcoholic


You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help. I have lived with an alcoholic spouse for 33 years. Live life for you and your family

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Having alcoholic parents myself, there is nothing we as kids can do to get through to them. Unfortunately I lost a parent almost 6 years ago due to alcoholism. She will change when she’s ready to. And if she’s not, she’s not going to. Best thing any of yall can do is to not enable her.
I wish yall luck and send lots of love. Hopefully yall can get through this.

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You might check out an Alanon group, and share it with your husband. The sad thing is, there isn’t much you can do unless she wants help.


Tough love. Tell her you know she’s drinking and that she knows it wrong bc she’s hiding it so until she can get herself together and stop drinking again than she can’t be a part of your child(ren)'s lives. Its not that she can’t stop because she already did


There is not really much you can do for her if SHE doesnt want to quit on her own. All you can do is let her do is let it go until she realizes her mistakes. That reality of it.

You can’t fix her. All you can do is tell her, either get actual help or she can’t be around you. Expect her to not care. Until she’s ready to get help, she won’t get it.
Please know, it’s not about any of you. It’s about something in her past that she refuses to face and heal from. Unless you can call her out on it, stop back. Until she hits bottom, you can’t save her.

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As others has shared drugs alcohol it don’t matter they have got to want to quit you can not force them!

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She’s not gonna get help til she wants it. Walk away and make it clear to her that y’all won’t be around until she is sober.

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Set healthy boundaries and let everything else be. You can’t change her. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

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She is either very sad or in pain. Don’t criticize her. Ask how you can help.

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Sadly, nothing other than talk to her and not enable her. She has to want the help and she has to want to change. You can not let her alcoholism destroy your peace. Good luck

Relapse is inevitable at some point. Find your boundaries and stick to em. Her husband should follow suit. Recovery is hard and that is her road to walk…

The sad part is, there is nothing you can do. She has to want it for herself. If she goes on a clean streak again it’s very important for the entire family to support her and make sure no alcohol is present at any family gatherings, dinners, etc. Pray she wants it for a herself and comes out of this. The hardest thing is to mourn for a living person.


Its out of your control, I truly suggest Alon for your husband and you ( but he might want to go alone) even in a town so his mom won’t know. They will help on sitting boundaries. And helping you understand.

She’s not going to do anything she doesn’t want to or isn’t ready for. When it comes to addicts, you can cry, plead, threaten, whatever you can think to do. But you can’t force them to do anything. And you can’t reason with them. You can voice your concerns, but whether she listens or not will be up to her.

Give her the option of either getting some real help and comitting to it or face the fact that it might be time to walk away from her. This situation is tough and my dad still drinks after 20+ years. I don’t see it stopping, but he’s toned it down more than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I’ve given up on thinking my dad will ever stop🤷🏻 I could have either walked away or accept what is. I’ve accepted what it is, but I will not come around him when he’s drinking or on too many of his prescriptions and he knows that.

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There is nothing you can do for her. She has to want to quit for herself and no one else. But what you can do for your husband and yourself is go to counseling for y’all’s self.


You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped you just need to separate yourself and your family from her till she can prove she is sober xx


Alonon is amazing! They can and will help!!! She’s an addict though. You just have to understand that. I know it’s hard. I don’t understand sometimes and it took my mom and my sisters in prison for addiction. It’s not easy to watch but alonon has helped me so much!! I can’t recommend them enough!!

My mother in law is an alcoholic which turned my husband into an alcoholic

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If my loved ones referred to my relapse and health crisis as “very ridiculous,” I’d probably drink too. Stop judging her. Love her through it. She may die from this someday. Love her right up until the last day you’re able to. Offer help, always…but ultimately, if she doesn’t want your help, you cannot force her. That will drive her further down the emotional hole that is causing her to drink in the first place. Just love her…and then love her more. That’s all you can do.


Anger and frustration wont wave a magic wand and make it stop. Boundaries are important be clear as to your expectations as it relates to your direct family ( husband, kids ) then as lovingly as possible stick to your boundaries . Either she will choose sobriety or she wont . Never stop letting the kids love her even if it’s from a distance by making cards and crafts for her . Let your husband deal with it and you support him as much as possible.

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I’m an alcoholic. Iv been sober going on 9 yrs now… my family was there for me when I said okay I want help… I want to stop drinking… on the times I was drinking they didn’t want me around… I refused help from people who tried to sober me up … i would stick with them a few days and sneak out back to where I was days before … I would binge drink … I lost lots of important people in my life due to drinking … was lost ,lonely , hurt , most of all angry… I’m thankful for my big brother who believed me and stuck it out with me through the withdrawls … he watched me cry. Scream . Almost 3 weeks of it … I went to treatment after that I gained some of my family back … so here it is … no one cant change you unless you want it so bad it hurts … I’m grateful for my life today … I hope no one ever gives up on your mother in law … set your boundaries… dont judge her let her know shes loved that you will be there for her when she needs the help …


She honestly has to hit rock bottom to completely stop drinking it’s what had to happen to my dad when he ended up falling up some stairs with plates and they broke and one hit an artery but it made him realize how bad it is was n he went to rehab for 2.5 years. Sadly tho drinking still killed him cause his body shut down after he stopped tho. So I only had 3.5 years of him not being a blacked out drunk out of 24 years.

Alanon is very helpful.

She needs to be in a place to recover from alcohol. If she straight up quits her body will have seizures which could be fatal. That’s why she needs help if that happens them there will be professional people around to be able to help her.

Nothing you can do…its her choice…only she has the power to quit for good…its all on her…Sorry

It is an addiction. Taking her alcohol away won’t help she will get more and hide somewhere else. She has to want to quit and make the decision herself. Went through that here.


Let her be. When she realizes she needs help she will reach out. Live your life!

Set healthy rules an boundaries…like you do not show up to our house impaired you will be asked to leave…

I have the same issue with my mother. After years of trying to make her get help I’ve minimized her contact with myself and my family. You can’t make anyone get help. If she doesn’t want it then nothing you do is gonna matter.

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My parents are both alcoholics and opiate addicts, they introduced me to opiates around 14 and I fell down the hole too. I was addicted to fentanyl on and off for YEARS. Unfortunately you can’t get an addict to stop until they want it themselves. Go to Alonon meetings, it will help your family tremendously. Set boundaries and keep to them, its sad and it hurts but you may need to distance yourselves. You could go non contact, and start off with telling her your family won’t have contact until she gets help the she needs, sometimes tough love can push someone but they trust won’t get better until they want. Addiction is a sad disease.

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As hard as it is, addicts have to hit rock bottom first. A recovering alcoholic that’s a family friend, when we asked how to best help someone that’s an addict gave this advice, “Cut them out and let them hit bottom, but when they truly hit bottom, and you’ll know when they do, make room for them at your table.”

They have to want it for themselves more than you want it for them or it won’t work. You, unfortunately, have to love her through it from a distance but tell her before you do that this is due to her being an addict and when she’s ready to put in the work, you’ll be there to help but not until that point. It sounds harsh, and it is harsh, but that’s the only chance you’ve got.

To the original poster, feel free to message me privately if you would like to talk more. I’ve been through and extremely similar situation.

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Coming from an alcoholic family it is a disease and they have to want the help. You cannot force anyone to get help it just does not work !!! She has to admit to herself that has she has a problem and needs help!


I agree that you can’t help her until she is ready and wants the help. Although you need to keep your kid away and only allow limited supervised visits and tell her it won’t change until she decides to get help. This isn’t about punishing her, its about keeping your daughter safe.


If she doesn’t stop I would not allow her to associate with me and not allow any grandchildren to see her unless she stops drinking. I know from family experience if she doesn’t want to stop you can’t force her. But her decision to drink comes with consequences! The family has to distance themselves as she is old enough to commit herself to treatment if she chooses. Sounds harsh but she stopped went to AA and comes home and drinks. The only one she is hurting health wise is herself
She doesn’t realize what it has done to her immediate family

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My mother was an alcoholic and she didnt quit til she got inactive serious car accident and all of us kids told her we were done with her crap. And we walked away. She died 20 years later clean and sober.

You can’t do anything she has to hit rock bottom and want help… just don’t enable her and set boundaries for your home and if she can’t accept those then she can’t be in your home…

My cousin is addicted to heroine and in a constant battle with being sober. My best advice is to be supportive, be there and don’t isolate. She has to make the choice to stop herself, but just letting her know she is loved and offered support until she can get herself back on her feet is really all you can do. Also, understanding addiction is truly a horrible disease and can be so very challenging for the person fighting that battle. Relapses are bound to happen throughout the rest of their life, unless they happen to be very, very lucky! Best of luck Love!! sending healing vibes and hopeful thoughts.


You can’t force her, but you can give her the tools she’s needs. You can also set boundaries. Look for outpatient rehabs or if you think that won’t work maybe an inpatient rehab. Let her know how you guys feel when she drinks, and that you can’t have that behavior around your child.


She can make her own choices. Give her tough love and express your disgust about it and encourage her to stop again. Don’t enable her to continue drinking. Don’t allow it in your home or around your family. Don’t provide any alcohol to her. If she wants to be around you, then she will abide by your rules. Last resort, have an intervention and get a rehab lined up for her. Addiction is tough I’m sure. She stopped once, so I’m sure she can do it again.

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You need to go to ALANON for helping your self. Sounds like she is trying still going to AAA. All you can do is hope and pray to your Higher Power. For me that was my ALan group

Allow her no contact with your family until she gets sober. Offer no financial or moral support for the alcoholism. Do not enable her in any way. No driver’s license? No rides.

When she does get sober, give her all the love, attention and support in the world. Make it really worth it.


Nothing you take away from her will help not even her breath. A addict has to want it for themselves before and help helps . It’s the worst feeling being helpless and watching somebody destroy there self. Learn to love from a far because a addict will destroy not only there life but everybody around them. They love you but the addiction out weighs everything right now. Good luck and I hope she sees and wants the help. I love so many family members from afar because of there addiction. It’s took me along time to put my feelings and my family first but it’s a peaceful decision. I still worry everyday ill get a call.

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My mom said my dad (he’s my step dad) was an alcoholic for a few years. I was really young at the time so I don’t remember. He stopped sometime after my sister was born (I was 5 when she was born. They got together when I was 2) but you can’t force them to stop, as much as your like to do it, maybe stage an intervention? Then leastly the people that care about her can express how they feel about it

Arguing with her will do nothing but cause her to do it more. Until she is ready able and willing to stop unfortunately you and your hubs are powerless. It sucks but they have to make that realization, not force them to see it


Nothing, unfortunately she has to want to be sober. You can’t do it for her but you can eliminate the drama that comes with alcoholism by limiting time with her.

It’s really none of your business what she does with her life ! If she wants to live it drinking then so be it !


There is absolutely nothing you can do for her. She needs to do it all herself. You can love her and support her and not enable her. You can also set rules in place such as she is not allowed to drive your child anywhere, not allowed to babysit your child. It is not mean and rude it is protecting your child. You can constantly tell her that you love her and that you are there for her but you cannot do anything to make her stop drinking.


First of all are you all living in her house or is she living in yours? If you are living in hers that might be the problem you all are driving her to drinking up in her business all the time and her having to hide stuff in her own home that really answers the questions…if not then maybe she is depressed and that is how she drowns her pain she needs friends instead of a judgmental family prayers for her :heart:


Must’ve tell her either you go to rehab and get 100% clean or you can’t see your grandchild. Alcohol impairs your judgement, therefore she wouldn’t be safe or reliant around your child. Once you make that ultimatum, stick to it, she hopefully will be aware enough to know this it. Sounds harsh but it might just be the kick.


As someone who’s been with an addict/alcoholic, you can’t help those who don’t want to help themselves. Forcing them to get help doesn’t work either.


My mother is also an alcoholic. Love her to death. She would give the shirt off her back for you. She was and still is a good mother
But the drinking
At 66 she has 2 DUIs and a suspended license. Did the AA to shut the courts up but she’s a “rebel” according to her. I love my mom so much but the drinking…


My ex husband is an alcoholic. He’s currently sober about 3 weeks. They have to want it for themself. I used to preach he needed to get sober for our boys. This time I admit when he said he was getting sober for himself because he was tired of destroying his life I admired that and I am proud of him.

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No my father is a terrible alcoholic. He will go thru bouts where he slows down and is a bit better. He will never quit fully permanently tho. We have screamed cried pleaded. It’s not something the family can fix as much as we would like to. He has been to several treatment centers for months at a time he has just never decided he is done with it tho:(

I would let her sponsor know … maybe they can stage an intervention . Otherwise there isn’t much you can do except maybe seeing if you can take her car away and paying for ubers depending her $ situation… but like everyone said you can’t force it… all you can do is offer help . Try to make things safe and that’s about it

You can’t force an addict to do anything. They need to be ready.
Set strong, healthy boundaries - sit down and talk about them as a family. Its hard so if you can, seek counselling for your husband and yourself. The behaviour has nothing to do with you.

As an alcoholic no. There is absolutely nothing you can do. She obviously needs to do her step work and admit to herself and to her sponsor what’s going on. If she’s hiding it she’s in denial and will only get defensive when you confront her about it. Set boundaries for yourself and your family and stick to them. Let her know you’ll be a support system when she’s ready to confront the problem.

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Already got great advice , it’s been said so I agree with al-non as it helps you understand better and learn to cope better.

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Ive been where you are. My father was an alcoholic and a drug addict for majority of my life before the drugs took his life. I am now in school to become an addictions counsellor.
As many people have stated, you cant make someone get help. You have to provide tough love. And the worst part about that is it will hurt your family but it has to be done. Do not enable, if shes around and drunk or drinking remove your family from the situation. More often than not addicts and alcoholics drink to fill a void. Does being an addict or any mental health issues run in the family? She should look into counselling and possibly finding an outreach program which will help her identify why she drinks and how to overcome it.
Youre not alone in this. :sparkling_heart:

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As a former alcholic. You cant help someone that wont help themselves. If she already gose to meetings and still drinks. Then the meetings are doing nothing. So all you can do is be there for her. And maybe try to get her into one of those clinics where you stay there for a few months

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Nothing you can really do to help her because she doesn’t want the help. AA is a good start but she has to realize it for herself her drinking is a problem.

AA is one thing. Personal one on one counseling is another. And it may be needed in her situation. There’s a root cause to the alcoholism and once you find it, you can sometimes reconcile it. I pray she can get to the bottom of it! :pray:

You can’t help her if she’s not willing to help herself change for he sake of her family

She isn’t going to stop until she is ready no matter what any of you say or do. She’ll have to hit rock bottom before she truly decides to get help or not. It sucks. Seek a support group.

Only when she’s in the right head space herself will she want to change. Nothing anyone says or does will help so sorry to say. Just be kind they use any excuse to drink :disappointed_relieved:

you and your husband go to Alanon. They will help you to deal with her.


There’s really not a lot you can do unless she is ready to stop. I know from experience. All you can do is hope and pray for the best.

Walk away :worried: it’s all you can do. Since she is going to AA but drinking right afterwards, she is not willing to commit and is only putting on a show. I have been there done that so I speak from experience. Not a MIL, but my child’s own father.

My father was an alcoholic my whole life and when I had my sons. I told him he will never see my kids when he is drunk. So when I would go to see him if he was drinking I would just leave . I didn’t even take my kids in so after a few times of me going in and then just leaving he really slowed down to only 2 a day so then I would let he see my son’s.

As a recovering alcoholic, only people who want to change, change. And do noy threaten or argue with her. She needs to choose to change herself.

Get everybody together and call her out! Have an intervention! Let her know you know and will not allow it.

Set limits and boundaries for yourself and your kids with her. Don’t enable her. If you find her stash dump it everytime. You can’t make her stop, but you can eliminate yourself from being an enabler.

Stop enabling her. Make her care for herself. If she isn’t held responsible for her behavior and made to take care of herself she will never do it. You should consider going to an Alanon meeting to learn more because it’s not just a her thing but a family thing. Trust me from another child of a drug and alcohol addicted parent. Time to change you guys and if she changes great, and if not then let her handle the mess she has created…time to live for yourself. Children of addicts are conditioned to be enablers and codependent, break the cycle.

As someone with an alcoholic as a parent/grandparent they have to want it. Look up sorosis of the liver and show them to her bc over time the stages get worse and your body eventually shuts down. I begged and begged my dad to stop drinking for me and my girls… after going through hell in and out of the hospital for close to 2 years he decided he was gonna do it, they told us he may have a year left … a few weeks later his body started shutting down and I had to see what was once the strongest man I’d ever known was so weak he could barely hold his head up to kiss me lay in a bed dying.

Perhaps you could attend an Alanon meeting if you have not to perhaps gain some insight ?
Otherwise… I would meet with her and let her know what behavior you will NOT tolerate …such as no drinking around your children ; children not being left with her etc etc … whatever rules that you and your husband feel are important. You are not trying to force her to do anything… just informing her what you will not tolerate . Then you need to stick to your word . It is not anyone’s “ job” to try to make her do something about her drinking …she is the ONLY one who can. You and your husband have your family to worry about … don’t make her problem yours . Good luck .

You cant do anything for her. Stop communicating with her. Make it very clear. If she wants to continue to drink you will have nothing to do with her. She has to want to be sober. Nobody but her can help her

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Go to al-anon meetings. But go for yourself. It will give you the tools you need to set healthy boundaries for your family. It’s hard to love an addict. They won’t teach you how to make her stop. They will teach you to care for yourself. My mom was an alcoholic and died at 57. She never got to see her grandchildren grow up. Have your husband go with you for himself. Trust me, he has a lot of pain from growing up in that environment. I pray for you and all going through this

Alanon & therapy for the family members. You can’t control their behavior but you can control yours. Take care of you first.

Maybe you and your husband should go to some Al anon meetings . They really have been a saving grace for families

Some people choose booze over prescription drugs and as long as they are not hurting anyone leave them alone its their life …my opinion

You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves. If you live there, you need to find a new place to live if that is feasible.

You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to get the help and they have to be committed to the out come. This is coming from a drug addict.

The best thing you can do for her is to not be an enabler. I’d also make ot very clear that she either gets sober and takes her sobriety seriously, or she’s cut off from her grandchild. If she doesn’t get sober then stick to it and cut her off. Other then that, the ball is in her court and she has to help herself.

She has to be ready it has to be when she wants not when everyone else wants I pray for you and yr famila

Can’t help a person who doesn’t want help. Tell her you support her sobriety, and go to a al- anon meeting. Unfortunately,It’s a disease.

Although some would argue, some believe that relapse is a normal part of recovery. Understand that we do not have a good way to treat addiction. Even AA only has a high single digit success rate. You can support her emotionally but do not become co-dependent & remember her drinking is not your fault or your husband’s. Do not leave your kids with her. Be supportive but realistic

AA has a program for the family members of Alcoholics. It’s called AL Anon. It might be worth checking out for you and your husband. It can help with those boundaries that need to be set and maintained. There’s also a great speaker on YouTube, it’s under Chris R. Family lecture for La Hacienda. He has a whole talk just for the families. Made all the difference to my family as they struggled with my alcoholism. I am currently sober and pray your Mother in Law gets something out of a meetings or from her sponsor and gets back on track. One Day at a Time.

Is it something that interferes with her everyday life (can’t go to work, take care of her home/self, maintain her bills, ECT…) If not , than is she drinking to the point of being abrasive or aggressive?..I’m in the opinion that if your responsibilities are 100% taken care of and your not hurting anyone than it’s not a big deal. If the last statement is the case…her children are gone and she’s grown and doing her, leave her be… You don’t want anyone telling you how to live your life (not hurting anyone) than no need to make her feel like your trying to control hers. Think of something you do others don’t agree with …do you want outsiders telling you your not able too…because they don’t agree with it?

Let her know that she is only fooling herself by going to the AA meetings and then coming home to drink. You have to set some boundaries until she stops drinking she cant see the grand children. Ask her why she started drinking again? Bottom line she needs some type of therapy AA is not working for her.

my sister is also a alcholic you cant help them . remember there is no such thing as them being a acholic again they always will be they cant be social drinkers they cant have one drop dont have the stuff around . yes they will hide it and they can go to meetings but in the end they have to decide if they want to stop. my sistetr has no freinds . she has had soo many jobs her husband took her car keys away she sits at home lone every day she call us keeps us on the phone all day till we dont answer the phone . we just pray alot about it . my mom feels she is slowiy killing her slef with the booze . my sister is starting to get brain damage from it all . so bottom line just pray and support her by being gtherere you cant make her stop

Time for you and your husbands family to distance yourselves… its not good for either of u or her and not to mention not good on your daughter either… she doesnt need to see her nana drunk all the time… like everyone said you can help if she cant help herself

They are the only one that can make the decision to stop drinking. Until they make that decision be supportive.

Distance yourself. It’s on her to want help. Don’t let your family become a victim of her choices.

Tell her that unless she gets sober and stays that way she will not longer be able to see her grand child.
That is not a healthy relationship for your child to have.

Do not enable your MIL. Set firm boundaries and restrictions when it comes to you and when it comes to your child. Explain the boundaries and restrictions, explain the consequences and what her accountability is when it comes to drinking.
Ask your husband what boundaries and restrictions he will put in place for himself. And, what will be his mother’s accountabilty and consequences when she breaches the boundary or restriction.
Know that any breach by your MIL you must follow completely (100%) follow through with stated consequences. If you slide, even once, then your words will mean nothing to your MIL.
While she is actively drinking, day or night, keep yourself and child away from her. Your MIL must get the message:
no alcohol or drugs permitted at any time, period. Zero tolerance.
My opinion.

Tough love. My dad was an alcoholic. Died at 52. Very difficult and sad.