From the U.S.: My mother is going through a horrible divorce, and I’m afraid she isn’t dealing with it, just numbing herself. She has prescribed medication that I believe are interacting with each other. She sleep walks now and may be over-dosing herself, She doesn’t remember. I want to take her to a rehab but she is terrified of hospitals and is generally treated like trash by the personnel because she smokes. This morning I had to go to her house and pull her out of bed, bathe her, and put her back. She was sleep walking the whole time. I don’t know what to do. Her only response is “I’m just tired” and “Has it ever occurred to you that something is wrong?”. I know something is very wrong.

A: Yes. Something is very, very wrong. Get your mom to make an appointment with her doctor and go with her. She is probably not going to reliably report what is happening to her. I don’t know if she is severely depressed or if her medications are the problem — or both. But it’s clear she’s in trouble. You may be right that she needs some kind of in-patient treatment. The way to get her there is with her doctors support.

I don’t know where you get the idea that hospital staff treat people who smoke poorly. I’ve never experienced that. Nurses and hospital personnel are there to help people heal, not to criticize. I can’t, of course, guarantee that everyone she meets will be wonderful but generally people who go into human services have big hearts.

You made an important first step by writing to us. Yes, your mom is in trouble. Please do follow through and insist that she get the help she needs.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie