Schizophrenia and drinking beer

Rena Community Member
  • My son is 33 years old. He has schizophrenia and he drinks 4-8 beers a night and then at midnight takes his medication. I can deal with the mental illness. I have taught family to family classes and had a support group in the past, but, I can't deal with the drinking. He doesn't get mean or anything, he just starts talking to everyone around him and saying things that doesn't make sense. I have dealt with his illness since 1996, and I am just tired and worn thin. I do not have any other help, his 2 sisters try to avoid him, his dad is not of any help whatsoever. His dad says he drinks to get rid of the voices. When I ask my son why he drinks he says because he likes the taste.  On weekends when he has his 10 yr. old daughter, he doesn't drink at all, but, Sun. night it's a 8-9 beer night. I am frustrated and he doesn't want me to talk to him about it.  He says he enjoys it and he is ok, that he doesn't have a problem. His Dr. has told him he should not drink, but he does anyway. I have been to alenon also. His mental illness is very well controlled when he is not drinking. Yes, he takes his medication as prescribed without a problem.  Help with any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Published On: December 29, 2007
9 Comments
  • Anonylou
    Jul. 18, 2015
    I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia 7 years ago, in my senior year in high school. In high school, i have been smoking weed for a few years before my first psychosis. It was strictly weed, never done any other substance. After the psychosis, I didn't smoke weed anymore. Instead I started drinking heavily, I didn't have a psychosis from drinking, but it...
    RHMLucky777
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    I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia 7 years ago, in my senior year in high school. In high school, i have been smoking weed for a few years before my first psychosis. It was strictly weed, never done any other substance. After the psychosis, I didn't smoke weed anymore. Instead I started drinking heavily, I didn't have a psychosis from drinking, but it had a profound effect in stalling any mental health progress. Within 5 years, I attempted college 3 times, and failed every time. I had 3 more psychosis' since the first time, and all three times it was after a period of 2 months of smoking weed everyday (no other substances). In general, Its hard for family members to see the struggles. Everyone hopes their children have a fulfilling and promising lives, in which inspires everyone in the family too. I have been lucky, I have been able to heal from my psychosis's. My latest one was caught early, I was having a psychosis obsessing about "schizophrenia awareness", then I realized "Oh damn, yup I am a psychosis." It usually takes me 6-9 months to recover from a psychosis. The scary thing is I don't think I will recover from another psychosis, it hits you harder every time. As I age, my mind won't bounce back as easily. Once I realized how frightening it would be to have a permanent psychosis. I shit my fucking pants. Now I will do anything to keep my mental health, and stay sober. I know I have special circumstances with substances. I can't do it with the same consequences as others, it is far worse. A psychosis is only understood by those who experience it. After 6 years of disappointment, I was able to change my life around. With the proper treatments and a healthy lifestyle, I bounce back and became productive. I enrolled in college for a 4th time, and achieved a 4.0 GPA, over 90% in all my courses. I once thought that my mind was permanently damaged and was disabled, but I changed that. I am smart now. Unfortunately, my father wasn't able to see me change my life. He passed away before I could show him I had a bright future. He deserved to see me happy. A psychosis is usually described as an illness that robs a person of the life that was initially promised. In my case it was merely postponed for 7 years. Support him, let him know that you are proud of him, and understand that he is going through one of the most debilitating conditions, and that he should focus to get better. In my case, drinking eventually took a toll. Hangovers were so depressing and messed with me. It was so bad, I simply didn't want to do it anymore. I eventually liked having a clear, lucid mind once the damages of alcohol healed. I feel comfortable enough now to have a few tallboys. I am 25, but I know my limit. I have a special case. He should stay away from drinking for at least a few months to break the habit. Simply he has to wait until he has his mind back. If he's gonna have a drinking habit, his mental health cannot be in jeopardy. Never in my life should I have more than 3 tallboys, 2 nights a week. Classy beers, and being responsible. I typically wait 9 months before even considering drinking after a psychosis. I have been really good at being optimistic. Anxiety is simply a chemical compound produced in your system. Find something that he enjoys. Me, it was computer games. Be able to be happy without any substances. This takes patience. It is a long road, and make the smartest choices that you have at your disposal. I cannot stress how important it is to recover, do everything that you can! Make the best choices. Its the most important thing in your life. This is serious. I wish you both the best recovery. Sincerely
    • Lisa Gustafson
      Dec. 17, 2015

      Dear anonylou, I read your wonderful letter and hope you will reply to me. My dear 26 year old son was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and your experiences sound so similar. We need advice from someone who's been thru it. Thank you!

    • Anonylou
      Jun. 23, 2016
      Hi Lisa, I feel a lot of sympathy for you and your son. I apologize for such a late reply. I do not usually join forums, and I never really expected a response either. I'm not sure if I could be much help; however, I have learned a few things. Over the years, I have recognized a few things that truly helped my condition. I'll try my best to summarize them...
      RHMLucky777
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      Hi Lisa, I feel a lot of sympathy for you and your son. I apologize for such a late reply. I do not usually join forums, and I never really expected a response either. I'm not sure if I could be much help; however, I have learned a few things. Over the years, I have recognized a few things that truly helped my condition. I'll try my best to summarize them clearly. First off, I want to correct a statement that I mentioned in my previous post. I wouldn't drink alcohol at all. It's even cautionary to drink even once in a 2 month period. Nonetheless, Support from family, friends, and medical professionals goes a long way. Even my friends went out of their way to inform themselves about my illness, and somehow never treated me any differently. Seeking out information to understand your son's illness is very important. After the first psychosis, it is a very confusing period. You can never seek out enough knowledge. After experiencing the illness on a daily basis, and talking to medical professionals for "x" amount of years; I still have unanswered questions about my condition. At the moment, I noticed an interesting article about the link of PTSD and psychosis. It may help understand the severity of a psychosis, simply the resonating effects of "positive" symptoms and how it may contribute to the undeniable stress and anxiety a person may be feeling in their life down the road. The article stated that 43% of people suffering from psychosis also suffer from PTSD afterward. Both illness' increases the receptibility of one another exponentially. All likelihood, if the psychosis was particularly traumatizing, it may be worthwhile speaking to your doctor about this. The negative symptoms are by far, in my opinion, the most challenging. Lack of concentration, cognitive ability, memory, reasoning, critical thinking; these are all very important for day-to-day activities. The hardest challenge I have is dealing with stress. I tend to shutdown. Just trying to have a peaceful, happy life. I left a lot of jobs because I just had "enough". At an illness seminar, I heard something that resonated in me. The illness isn't something that you can typically see with your own eyes. The speaker at the event described schizophrenia as the mental equivalency of a quadriplegic. The difference showcases that people, family members, expect the person suffering to work in this fast paced, high stress environment, and expect to push through these obstacles. In some cases, this would be like a quadriplegic running a marathon. In my case, I'm part of the 10% highly functional patients with this illness. However, the problem of living, working to the fullest is still a huge obstacle. I just tend to need a break, rest, read, playing games on my phone, enjoy the outdoors, pet my cat, work on my house. I'm just very relaxed. So I took a different approach, as I should. I understand more about my illness, and my capabilities. I opted for a meeting with a vocational rehabilitation worker. It's a new department at my mental hospital. The worker helps with job searching, gives you skills you need. The difference between this and a public employment center is that they interact with your doctor, they understand your illness; and its very forgiving. You can create your own pace. It's good to know someone you can trust working with you and your doctor to get your foot out the door and into the workplace. During this process, they gave me some assignments to complete. Found a volunteer position that seemed suitable with minimal hours, and was writing a resume for it. They're there to help you with all that, but having initiative in this process is part of the rehabilitation. The position itself is to help me adapt with a change of pace. Anyways, that week, during this process, I had friends coming over and I had tickets to the UFC event in my city. I needed to do taxes, volleyball game, etc. The week activities seemed to be piling up. Among all these things, the job search was the only real trigger of pressure or anxiety. I couldn't really cope with it. All I had to do was write my resume, call the volunteer position, inquire about the company, and do the same for a few other job postings. Yet, being scrutinized, evaluated, put under a microscope, by an employer, or anyone, is in fact something I avoid at all cost. How am I supposed to explain why I might be "bad at my job". I'm not going to tell them my illness. I can get discouraged, but the vocational rehab worker helps for exactly these situations. Live life in your own pace with this illness; stay healthy, sleep well, eat well. I hope people are compassionate for your son's illness, as they have for me. I would not be doing so well otherwise, that is for certain. I owe them my life for them understanding me. I am so grateful for that. This isn't always the case. It wasn't always for me. You're, in a way, very alone dealing with this illness. Life is hard for everybody. A lot of people are struggling to help themselves, and can't help others or bother with those with an illness. I'm just doing my things my own way, a process that's fit for my illness; however, I seriously think I'm happier than 90% of people in the world right now. I hope this helps Lisa. Sorry if I rambled for too long. I think me and your son are the same age. I know that friends might be the biggest problem. A social network can be rather fragile, yet, it is very important to a person. If that shatters, it's hard to go out and be part of the community/socialize. News of an illness can spread, and it's a shame if it's not accepted appropriately. It can bring a lot of negative thoughts. In time, it won't be a problem. Just be aware that this could be an issue. Finally, as you learn more, things will make a lot more sense. I hope he can make a good recovery. The human body is quite resilient; it can bounce back from a lot. I'll try to reply once more, if I don't forget about this post all over again. Anybody can reply to this. Take care & Sincerely wish you well,
  • Anonymous
    JM
    Feb. 08, 2008
    15% of all schizophrenics comit suicide in the first 5 years of diagnosis. When we get tired of making so much sense to ourselves that it confuses people less intelligent than ourselves we bowl the cricket the cricket ball straight at the middle stump and sleep like babies. My recommendation is to make sure the drinks are limited to at least average consumption...
    RHMLucky777
    Read More
    15% of all schizophrenics comit suicide in the first 5 years of diagnosis. When we get tired of making so much sense to ourselves that it confuses people less intelligent than ourselves we bowl the cricket the cricket ball straight at the middle stump and sleep like babies. My recommendation is to make sure the drinks are limited to at least average consumption depending on the level of stress and the required amount of enebriation to deal with the horrors of consistently being stigmatised, shunned, jobless, without family and being called a loser because schizophrenics are highly intelligent and deserve PROPER medication and treatment not to be treated as though they are societies throw aways, in a dead end world of fast money, flat wages and timed jobs. The truth is society cannot keep up with their mind, and hence does not undersatnd his inconsistency as a mindless drone. He had a beautiful you left a beautiful smile.
  • f8ed4music
    Dec. 29, 2007
    Hi Rena... I can relate to your problem. My mom, who has schizoaffective disorder, went through a period of about 5 years when she became an alcoholic. I honestly don't know how much she drank because she did a really good job hiding it from my dad and me and her problem started out with beer and later went onto harder liquors like whiskey, etc. At the...
    RHMLucky777
    Read More
    Hi Rena... I can relate to your problem. My mom, who has schizoaffective disorder, went through a period of about 5 years when she became an alcoholic. I honestly don't know how much she drank because she did a really good job hiding it from my dad and me and her problem started out with beer and later went onto harder liquors like whiskey, etc. At the time, my dad was still alive and he finally got fed up and told my mom that if she didn't stop drinking he was leaving her. I guess it scared her enough to stop but it was NOT easy. There were several setbacks. Dad has been gone for 5 1/2 years now and I STILL make a STRONG stand about her not drinking. When she was still driving some, she would sneak it in from time to time, but since she's gotten too afraid to drive, that hasn't been a problem. I don't know if your son lives with you or not, but if he does, all I can really suggest to you is that you take a stand on the drinking and let him know that you will not tolerate it, but of course, I don't know how he would react to your determined stance and I don't know how far you are willing to go in the "tough love" department to make it stop or make him go until he stops. In my mom's case, the alcohol was a form of self-medication so his father could be very right on about that and him telling you he likes the taste, just an excuse. Keep seeking help because with the medications they take for schizophrenia, they definately don't need to be drinking. Best of luck to you.
    • Rena
      Dec. 29, 2007
      Thanks. Yes, he does live with me. He just moved back in with me last Aug. When he lived on his own it was worse at least now he doesn't drink as much or the hard stuff. But, I will try some tough love stuff that is a good idea.
    • f8ed4music
      Dec. 29, 2007
      Glad to help Rena. My dad was notorious for pouring the stuff out when mom brought it in. Not knowing if your son has a tendency towards violence, I suggest that hesitantly. Maybe telling him first, "If you bring it into my house, I will pour it out" and seeing how he reacts to that will let you know how to proceed. But whatever you do, keep letting...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      Glad to help Rena. My dad was notorious for pouring the stuff out when mom brought it in. Not knowing if your son has a tendency towards violence, I suggest that hesitantly. Maybe telling him first, "If you bring it into my house, I will pour it out" and seeing how he reacts to that will let you know how to proceed. But whatever you do, keep letting him know you are doing it because you love him and want a better life for him. :) Hang in there.
    • Rena
      Dec. 29, 2007
      Thanks, I am trying to.
    • grace holt
      Dec. 30, 2014
      If properly medicated (usually a cocktail of anti-psychotics, antidepressants and benzodiazapines- often in high dosages [often multiple variety of each] ) the desire to drink can be subdued or eliminated. Unfortunately most psychiatrist fear loosing their license and rarely prescribe the necessary dosages especially of benzodiazapines which are demonized by...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      If properly medicated (usually a cocktail of anti-psychotics, antidepressants and benzodiazapines- often in high dosages [often multiple variety of each] ) the desire to drink can be subdued or eliminated. Unfortunately most psychiatrist fear loosing their license and rarely prescribe the necessary dosages especially of benzodiazapines which are demonized by the current literature. They do not understand the "B or B" dilemma of schizophrenic drinkers. The dilemma is a choice between suicide "the bullet" or drinking "the bottle". Many psychiatrists are shallow thinkers and cowards, yes there are good ones out there but may be hard to find. I have been under the care of about 14 psychiatrists over 44 years and I would only vouch for 2 of them.