Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Restricting access to alcohol

My son has suffered with mostly un-medicated and un-treated schizophrenia for over 6 years, and for the past year his consumption of alcohol has increased. If permitted, he will consume a six pack of beer per day.

My son receives disability benefits but I am the designated payee. I tried giving him his benefits in installments because he has great difficulty managing his expenses. If I give him more than $20 at a time, he will invariably spend it on beer. I am now with him whenever he needs to buy anything (groceries, restaurant meals, cigarettes, etc.), so I am giving him very little cash.

I really feel like I am infantilizing him by restricting his freedom of choice. But I have a great concern for his safety and well-being if his alcohol consumption is allowed to go unchecked.

How do other parents deal with situations like this?

I’m not a parent but it sounds to me like you’re doing the right thing. In time you can give him more money as he shows more responsibility. If he’s got a problem now then a tight reign on the finances is just what he needs.

Thank you for responding. I hope this is the right way ahead, but I never feel sure. He suffers so much.

how old is he? Would this be a safeguarding issue you being controlling over his finances?

I guess you want to stop him making mistakes, but if he makes none how will he learn from them?

I have a friend who’s mum keeps her credit card, but she has the number and still orders pizza over the phone! So I guess if he wants beer he’ll find a way…

I am not only concerned about the long term health effects of excessive alcohol consumption, but more immediately, if he develops an even greater alcohol dependency, this will adverse his future employment pssibilities, personal relationships and financial stability.

My son will be 27 in April. He seems to have a very limited ability to learn from his mistakes. Addictions only compound the problem. I try to explain to him why I believe my actions are necessary for his health and future security, but he believes I am arbitrary and manipulative. He’s convinced that alcohol is good for him, and he has no interest in moderating his drinking.

I gave him a debit card to access his checking account. He had a credit card before his illness became disabling, but he over-charged it and stopped making payments.

You’re not infantilizing him, the illness is. It would be great if you didn’t have to control his funds, but alcohol can undo any progress he makes in about 30 seconds flat. My son went through a lot of stress when I started being less generous with funding (he doesn’t drink but he was regularly spending on stuff he didn’t want or need). But he has got better and I can now trust him with quite large sums of money. At the same time, I have to say he takes APs and they work for him.

I’m not a parent, but before I found my medication, alcohol was the only thing that could make the voices go away. I do recognize the dangers, but if you just take away a coping mechanism without adding a new, better coping mechanism, it will probably do more harm than good. Before meds, I would have absolutely killed myself if I didn’t have alcohol to help me. Try getting him on meds, or in counseling, so he has an outlet for his suffering.

I think you are doing a great job.

But if he’s not on medication then he does need a way to releave the stress that this disorder causes.

Maybe have him only drink once a week on weekends.

Like another poster I self medicated with alcohol for 20yrs and if I didn’t have it I would have crashed and burned long ago.

Suggest maybe have beer be a goal that he’ll work towards all week.

My ma did the same and she said you are not drinking until the weekend anyway so why not do something with your time?

So I got a night job as a janitor during the week and started doing better.

Hmmm. When I was really sick my parents made a lot of decisions that affected my life. In the long run they turned out to be good decisions. Whether I liked it or not I was not in any condition to make many important decisions about my life. One decision I made on my own was to try crack cocaine when I was 25 and I ended up becoming addicted. I guess you can infer something about my decision making abilities at that age. I was always very compliant in my own treatment. I guess I was lucky that way. No one starts out to be an alcoholic, it can start out innocently enough. But once that line is crossed it can affect someones life dramatically. I got clean in 1990 but like they told me in AA my addiction will always be lurking waiting to pounce.They said I did not have to live my life in fear that any moment I could relapse but they told me to take normal precautions. Anyway, a six-pack of beer is too much. That’s enough to get the average person drunk and no one should be getting drunk every day. If someone is making really bad decisions for themselves than their loved ones need to step in. I don’t know if this helps any but these are just thoughts of mine.

I agree that if he can’t show some self control, then you do need to step in.
As my mom used to tell us, if you don’t want to be treated like a child, then don’t act like a child.
Made proper sense to me.

My father gave me pretty much total freedom on drinking in his house and he never tried to financially control me. People have to learn from experience. It is the same with the medication. I was an adult of course, so it wouldn’t have mattered in my state anyway, but nonetheless my dad let me control if I took my medication or not. I learned to take it on my own that way. I would treat your son like an adult and let him have a little fun. He might learn to control himself a lot better in the long run that way than if you treat him like a child even though legally he is an adult.

My home is alcohol free. If my son brings it in, I throw it out. It’s a temporary solution unfortunately as once/if he moves out then a relapse will most likely happen from drugs and alcohol. In the meantime though… I see it as one of the better things that I am doing for my son. He may not like it and think I’m controlling and whatnot… For the most part we have what I call hiccups instead of him being fluidly psychotic all the time.

My wish is that over time he will start to see the difference in a life with and without addiction and hopefully prefer life without. Right now he wants to drink and use because it makes him feel ok. That is what it is to be an addict and I understand it. It’s a strong pull. Plus there is self-medicating symptoms which unfortunately causes a cycle as it worsens symptoms in the long run.

I think you are doing right.

Daimon I’m going to be a bit blunt… You do have an alcohol problem and from the sounds of it a big one. Sorry don’t mean to be harsh and I did mean to reply and offer support in your thread on it.

My son used to be able to handle smoking a lot of weed… now he can’t and little amounts trigger him. Having a tolerance is not a good thing or something to be looked at as a benefit.

I might not be perfect, but I am at least happy. My family has been far less controlling than a lot of the families on this site, and I have no criminal record and am relatively responsible. I don’t smoke pot or cigarettes. I only drink.

First of all, if you’re some how preventing your son from smoking pot you must be watching his every move like a hawk, which is an invasion of privacy. I learned to give up pot by being a man and making my own decisions. That is the only way.

In order for some people to learn, they first have to make a mistake and have the experience and freedom to do so. That is all I am saying. Take it or leave it.

What I would do is make a deal with your son on what days he can drink. Restrict his drinking to the weekend. That would be fair.

I’m schizophrenic and I was 6 months free from auditory and visual hallucinations. I spent this new years at a party and drank three beers, which apparently for me was enough to start another psychotic episode. Everyone is different but in my experience alcohol only makes things worse. not saying you should force him to never drink again, but maybe talk to him about your concerns at least if you haven’t already. You’re definitely doing the right thing trying to help him with this imo.

I think letting someone drink should be on a case by case basis. Officially, as recovering addict I don’t endorse anybody with schizophrenia doing drugs or drinking. And to me, drugs should not be used by a lot of people and especially people with schizophrenia. We have to be more careful with drugs than most other people and drugs are illegal except for marijuana in a few states. The mind can be a delicate, unstable mechanism and when you have schizophrenia and you put drugs in the mix it can stop or seriously hamper someones recovery. Obviously a LOT of people want to do drugs. They are readily available and make you feel good. It doesn’t mean you should take them though. LOTS of people do things that are not good for themselves and they often need help to stop. I don’t know a method that works to stop the children on here to stop doing things like drugs which are bad for them. EXCEPT what worked for me which was 12-step programs. I feel for parents who’s kids do drugs. Personally when I was drug free I suffered for years. When I added drugs to my life my life went to hell and I’m lucky I got clean and survived. I was a talking with my sister about this last night. She knows I’m a recovering addict but she didn’t know until last night that I was smoking crack, AFTER I became schizophrenic.She couldn’t believe it. She wondered how my brain could have handled it. But what counts NOW is that I don’t do any drugs and I’m here to tell anyone that my life improved ten-fold after I got clean and sober. I realy don’t know if ANY person with schizophrenia should drink even just a couple beers occasionally. I think the jury is still out on that one. I THOUGHT I could handle a couple beers every now and then when I was in my mid-twenties. My friend who I drank with became an alcoholic, while my life took a major detour when I got addicted to crack. Luckily I got clean and sober and when I ran into this friend years later, he to had gotten sober in a 12-step program. A parent has to look after their children’s best interests when it’s obvious we can not do it for ourselves.

Yeah, I cant imagine how much your life improved after you quit smoking crack my friend, but drinking is nowhere as serious.