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Helping Sister with Advanced Alcoholism

answered 11:52 AM EST, Wed January 11, 2012
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ally belle ally belle south lake tahoe
Hi Dr.I am writing on my sisters behalf.She is an alcoholic.This past week she was taken to the er twice.She is not able to use her legs at all and her hands barely move.They did lots of tests and found her liver to be not functioning well,her white blood cells elevated,and severe malnourishment.They did an mri to see what was up with her legs and arms and found she not only recently had a stroke,but that she has spots and bubbles close to her brain.They told her to go to neurologist right away and stop drinking and smoking.She has no insurance and is very ill.Are these things caused by alcohol?Her legs don't support her and she needs to be carried everywhere.The worst is that I think she is still drinking.I love her,but the past ten years have been so hard.Is she dying?She is only 32.Please help.Thank you very much.She has also lost so much weight and her belly is bloated and squishy.It is so hard to see someone you love destroying themselves,our family is suffering so much.She lives in Nevada now but has lived in Ca. for years.Are there any low cost rehabs?I have to keep trying for her.

Dr. David Sack Says...

You are in a very difficult situation.  Your sister’s alcoholism is very advanced and most of the problems she is experiencing can be explained by her alcoholism, her malnutrition and a stroke.  Most drug and alcohol treatment programs would have difficulty in providing the level of medical supervision that your sister needs right now.  A psychiatric  hospital that has drug/alcohol treatment and is handicap accessible may be her best choice.  In light of her multiplicity of health problems, she might qualify for emergency Medicaid services. The hardest part may be getting your sister to accept treatment as treatment can only be provided on a voluntary basis so she needs to be willing to stay and participate.


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Page last updated Jan 11, 2012

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