depressed alcoholic ignoring life

jcs7September 1, 2006

What happens to a person's financial accounts who, due to recent adult trauma stirring up childhood issues, becomes so unhinged (PTSD flashbacks + depression ... alcohol abuse) that he stops working, stops therapy, stops taking calls, stops opening mail ... just completely shuts everyone/thing out. What happens to the bills? This person cashed out retirement funds to apply to debts but is out of money. Taxes never filed for the past three years. What happens next?

His new address is unknown to nearly everyone, certainly to creditors.

If this person heals, let's say somehow turns himself around (seeks help) and comes back to life, what are the consequences he will face?

A friend.

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I think a true friend would certainly help with opening mail, paying bills, and applying for Social Security Disability. (As well as shopping for basic needs - food???)
A true friend would NOT HARP on this person nor overly 'impose' on them. It would only make the situation worse. People in that kind of depression can not just snap out of it.
AND...the longer things are ignored (because this person just cannot cope at this time), the worse it will get. If a friend can help to keep on top of things for this person, there's better chance the person won't totally give up.
Social Security Disability most ALWAYS is denied first time applied for. Need an attorney who knows how to handle this - (NOT one from some tv commercial).
This person needs help in the worst way.
And that does NOT mean trying to "talk them out of" this state of being.
I don't know about IRS. Maybe attorney can handle that also.???

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 11:30AM
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I have had my bouts with depression but never that bad.
Depression is an illness.
Unfortunately a lot of people dont see it that way.

IÂm afraid that I canÂt help with the financial end of things.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 2:47PM
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jcs7... wow, dunno what happens, but if this 'recent adult trauma' is significant, there isn't a 3 year excuse for not filing taxes. TaxMan took down Al Capone.

If I were the 'hypothetical' individual, I'd probably try to find jobs that paid cash and live the best I could. Weekly/Monthly rental places, etc., no place where referrals would be required.

Relocation to another country?
Maybe check out some amnisty groups on the net to see what happens if person comes clean.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 11:37PM
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Having first hand experience, the alcoholic's financial and other consequences will continue until THAT PERSON stops drinking and gets help for the depression issues. First off, I encourage you to be sure to take care of yourself and your emotional state through this period. Find Al-Anon for yourself and attend meetings. You appear to be a caring person so please care for yourself.

I want to state that my comments that follow are made because you mentioned the alcohol abuse. If you were ONLY talking about depression, my comments would be different. Please keep that in mind. I believe that once a person crosses the line with drinking, a different approach is called for.

I believe a true friend would try and find the person and help get them medically stable. Give the person names of doctors/treatment centers to call. If the alcoholic didn't make the call for help and if the alcoholic is a danger to themself, I believe a true friend would work with the person's family and attorney to have the person committed for a state facility, if needed.

I don't believe a true friend would pay bills or stand in line for Social Security. Is this hard to do - absolutely yes. A friend who does these things without the alcoholic is a perfect example of someone who cares, but who by these methods of caring, is allowing the affected person to continue not facing the conseqences of drinking and not getting help. I believe a good friend has to realize that the alcholic has to help themself. I believe a true friend would do what they could to find the person and then encourage the alcoholic to get help. Initially, a good friend would identify resources for help. Without this step, nothing else (including finances) will matter.

I know alot of recovering alcoholics with issues of depression. Many of them have absolutely been to the bottom...but have come back. I know doctors and lawyers who have lost their licenses for life. I know other professionals who will never work in their original field due to the distrust that resulted from their past drinking/non-attendance/dishonesty. I know people whose families would have nothing to do with them... in some cases for years and in others forever. Yet, because each of these people got to a point in their own life where they didn't want to keep experiencing negative consequences, they chose to get help. They chose to take the steps to get a life back. They alchoholic wanted it more than they wanted anything else. Struggling back isn't easy but it can be done.

If you want, contact a treatment center near you and make an appt to go in and talk. You won't be turned away. As I also mentioned, go to Al-Anon for yourself. You will find from others who've been in your shoes as a concerned family member/friend the best way for you to handle the specifics of your situation.

That said, an alcoholic who suffers financial and other consequences can make it back if they choose...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 9:07AM
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Thank you patser, and others. I do care for myself and my family and our home first. We are solvent and stable, maybe that is why I can spare some of my time and energy for a friend.

This would be the wrong forum to give a big picture of the situation, but please believe me when I say I feel at peace with my level of support for my friend. Been to a few Al-Anon meetings which did reinforce my resolve to have very firm, healthy boundaries.
I have felt obligated, to some extent to help keep his books, until his wife and children and business are not as financially affected by his total tailspin. (Divorce and sale of home are slow coming since he won't sign papers, won't answer calls...). It tooks months of discussing/begging/convincing him to sign a power of attorney form to his sister. That was just signed, so until the house is put on market and his divorce papers finalized and division of debts determined in settlement, I feel strongly about helping. He trusts me, justifiably, and I can't walk away from the accounting obligations until he is the only one left on board - then, yes, he will suffer the consequences many people (esp. in AA) tell me he needs to experience in order to get well. There's where my question comes up...

Let's say he has A LOT of personal debt left after divorce. I pack up my accounting briefcase and standby, helpless and hopeful. What do credit card companies do when someone simply stops paying? Doesn't have a forwarding address? Doesn't have an employer? If he recovers and works and tries to reenter the world of credit (he met with CCCServices and a bankruptcy attorney), does he have years of interest/penalties/fees?

Ya know what, I know the answer. I'm just worried and sad. One more month and I let go of the paperwork. I can't wait to simply be a friend he can reach out to when he's ready. Sorry to ramble in this forum.
If you pray, keep a 48 year old man who is smart, hard-working, funny, generous, talented - but who's feeling like the overwhelmed, unprotected 8 year old boy he was, keep him in your prayers.
If you don't pray, pay your bills and keep saving - life can change very quickly.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 11:08AM
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I'm so sorry your friend is in a place in his head where he refuses to get the help he needs.

That said the short answer is "he hits bottom". Then he either picks himself up or "dies".

As for creditors it will depend on the type of debt and the statutes in your state. Most states have a statute of limitations on debt collectives. He could be considered "uncollectable" and left relatively alone by the creditors. The IRS is toughter but will work with him on a repayment plan. Sometimes they will waive penalties in certain circumstances. Bankruptcy is sometimes an option.

Hopefully he will get to a place in his depression or whatever that he will be be convinced to seek therapy and the help he needs. Bi-Polar people for example have this "sweet spot" where they will sometimes listen to reason. Usually sometime after a major crash or on their way down from a manic episode. Of course the self medication with alcohol is playing a huge role in the process.

Best of luck to you and your friend. Keeping those boundaries in place and helping him without crossing into enabling is the best you can do.

Recent trauma may have brought his problems to the fore but it probably didn't cause them. He was simply able to function in spite of them before. He had family and a "normal" enviroment to counteract his demons.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 12:16PM
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ok--I am an attorney; stopped doing BK when the new law took effect on 10/05; but since you are asking about the financial end of it I can tell you that. I'm not much help in the alcohol/emotional recovery phase. He's lucky to have a friend like you.
when he finally comes around; the solution would be to file for bankruptcy if the level of debt is high enough.Do it before he starts working. Some companies will not hire a person who owes lots of money because thats usually why people embezzle. If you have done a BK, they are not so worried, but of course will ask whats the problem and are not going to let him handle money.
Its true that he is "judgment proof" now, but there are companies who will bring suit on a credit card debt and get a default judgement. It can sit there for 10 years and when he gets the first job and happily deposits that check in to celebrate being clean and sober--the judgement can take the money. There are companies that buy the judgements for pennies on the dollar because they are mostly uncollectible.
If he files a Chapter 13, he can work something out with IRS; and pay over 5 years. Personally I would think the Ch 7 is better and deal separately with IRS. They will talk to you, and have been known to be sympathetic and they do take payments.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 8:58PM
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