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Post Info TOPIC: I could use some help and guidance. I am a recovering alcoholic


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I could use some help and guidance. I am a recovering alcoholic
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I am a recovering alcohilic. I used to drink all of the time for any reason. It continued to get worse and worse and my husband drank with me. I got to a point where I needed a drink when I woke upAugust 6 of 2009 I looked in the mirror and I was not me anymore. I went out crying to my husband and told him I needed to check in somewhere or I needed his help. We both quit drinking cold turkey. It was very tough but we did it. Two weeks ago my husband went to visit his family which are all alcoholics. Well, he drank. I got him I yelled and he said he would never do it again.
For the past few weeks I thought I was going crazy and smelling a slight alcohol on him. I even asked him and he said no. I thought it must be in my head becuase i was so worried about him starting again since he took those drinks two weeks ago.á Well, last night same thing but this time he would not look at meáand was slurring. He finally admitted he was drinking< What can I do? I really could use some guidance

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MIP Old Timer

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Welcome,

I have a few questions if that's OK

Are you yourself attending AA, do you have a sponsor, have you worked the steps? or are you just "not drinking"?

Does your husband attend AA, does he have his own support group? One of the most important things we learn as couples in sobriety is to stay out of our partners program, recovery, or lack thereof, we can make decisions based on their behavior but no matter how hard we try we can't seem to control their behavior, in fact it only makes us crazy to try.

Have you considered Al-anon which is a program for anyone who is affected by someone else's drinking?

They have a thing called the 3 "C's"

We didn't cause it
We can't cure it
We can't control it

All we can do is focus on ourselves and work on our own recovery, and if that means accepting someone else's drinking or not accepting being with a drinking partner those are both acceptable, but acceptance of reality is the key, not what we want but what "is"

Looking forward to hearing from you again

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á

it's not the change that's painful, it's the resistance to change that is painful



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I never attended AA. I did it all on my own and sweat it out and was very sick for three days.á I thought we were our own little "support group" and I was much worse than he was. He is supposed to by the courts go to AA but stopped. I told him last night that he needs to go if he wanted to stay with me. He said he might go to one on Thursday. Might is not good enough for me. I took off my wedding rings and I am not putting them back on until something is done. Am i being too harsh?

I did call Alanon today to see if I should go to an AA meeting or theirs. Basically she said it was up to me.á That did not help me much so that is why I am reaching out here.

He is a wonderful guy and I love him to death but he is not the same person drinking and I cannot have it affect mine or the childrens lives. Everything has changed so much for the better in the past year and I cant go down that road again.

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Well what I did was go to both in a similar situation, ultimately I found what is known as a "double winner" (someone who attends and has done the steps in both programs) to bring my "stuff" too as well as going to a therapist and couples counselor

In AA stopping drinking is only the tip of the iceburg, it's about being comfortable in our skin without any mind or mood altering substances, and quite frankly in most cases that includes relationships with us, so going to one without the other is only a small part of the job -THAT IS STRICTLY MY OPINION- abiet one with 20 years of experience behind it

So maybe go to some AA meetings and raise your hand as a newcomer to AA and share what is going on with you, not at great length mind you, just state you are new and are looking for a "double winner" or go to Al-anon and do the same

When I was in a similar situation as you it took me about two years of intense study to change ME, Books like Codependent No More, and Getting Them Sober, authors like Pia Melody, Melody Beatty, and John Bradshaw, learning about boundaries etc

When I was in a similar situtation what it exposed was MY codependent tendencies, and I realized I would never pick a truly healthy partner until I myself was healthy, and to do so I had to learn a whole new set of tools, I learned those by working the steps with a double winner, studying those books, working with others, and frequenting boards such as this one.

That is what I did, and what I learned I couldn't even begin to put in one thread, so all I can do is point in the direction of my journey

Good Luck

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it's not the change that's painful, it's the resistance to change that is painful



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Welcome Terese! glad you are reaching out..Our disease will tell us we don't have a disease and like it is stated here, the alcohol has to go, recovery starts with abstinence but then the work begins.áI have children that I also attend another fellowship for as they are also caught in the grip.I have learned through the years to be responsble for my own recovery and to "detach with love" FROM MY CHILDREN,áa very difficult process for a parent or relation of a loved one!!Welcome to life,keep coming back and let us know how its going!!!!smileáRemember we are not "bad people trying to get good, we are "sick" people trying to get better!!!One helping another......



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stress69 wrote:

I never attended AA. I did it all on my own and sweat it out and was very sick for three days.á I thought we were our own little "support group" and I was much worse than he was. He is supposed to by the courts go to AA but stopped. I told him last night that he needs to go if he wanted to stay with me. He said he might go to one on Thursday. Might is not good enough for me. I took off my wedding rings and I am not putting them back on until something is done. Am i being too harsh?

I did call Alanon today to see if I should go to an AA meeting or theirs. Basically she said it was up to me.á That did not help me much so that is why I am reaching out here.

He is a wonderful guy and I love him to death but he is not the same person drinking and I cannot have it affect mine or the childrens lives. Everything has changed so much for the better in the past year and I cant go down that road again.




A few observations:

we were our own little "support group"

Frequently a support group of one doesn't work, especially if it includes emotional entanglement and double especially if one partner drinks, you are learning that in the most hurtful way possible, I am very sorry

I took off my wedding rings and I am not putting them back on until something is done. Am i being too harsh?

Absolutely not, if that is a boundary you have set, stick to it no matter what, the one thing I learned is if I set a boundary (don't drink or we are done) if I don't enforce that boundary it makes me crazy and it teaches the other person my boundaries are meaningless, simply taking off the wedding ring is an empty gesture unless it involves -him moving out- or -you moving out- but taking off the wedding ring or even seperating from him can NOT, I repeat CANNOT be done as a form of behavior modification, it simply won't work, a boundary is there TO PROTECT YOU,á not to get him to stop drinking, I can NOT emphasize this enough, seriously that is the whole key to a boundary, if you only take one thing from this forum that is what is of the most critical importance, boundaries are NOT put in place as behavioral modification, even if you don't realize that is what you are doing, you can literally save yourself years of incredible emotional pain just by learning that.

Boundary:

If you _________(drink)

I will___________(leave with the children)

no negotiation, and acted on swiftly and ruthlessly or they harm you, not him

they must be written in stone or they are worse then useless, they are crazy making and will drive YOU to drink, I have some experience with this, and it weren't pretty

Good luck

á



-- Edited by LinBaba on Wednesday 6th of October 2010 02:55:04 PM

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it's not the change that's painful, it's the resistance to change that is painful



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Thank you for all of your help. I am sure everything takes time but to tell you the truth I feel better than ever. I even quit smoking two months age and joined a gym last month and go everyday. I even opened up my own business which has been a dream of mine and is doing well in this economy.

I look at it if I could quit drinking I can do almost anything. I cannot have someone in my life that is drinking again and I know he is not a social drinker. Considering he has been hiding it for the past two weeks and sneaking vodka .I cant understand how he fell off the wagon and doesnt talk to me when we usually talk about everything. I also understand it is a disease and I am controllong my disease by not going near it.
I will take your advice and go to both meetings. I did suggest to him to go to meetings more than once a week and maybe therapy as well. I did not get a reply yet and he is not home. I am still waiting for him to talk to me and try to tell me why he is doing it again. I mean, I know why but shouldn't he admit it? Isnt that the first step? again?

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stress69 wrote:
I am still waiting for him to talk to me and try to tell me why he is doing it again. I mean, I know why but shouldn't he admit it? Isnt that the first step? again?


"His" Step One is to admit TO HIMSELF he is powerless over alcohol and that his life is unmanageable

"Your" Step One in this case is to admit you are powerless over (the) alcohol(ic) and that his life is unmanageable (by you)

We are powerless over alcohol, it doesn't matter who is drinking it

I refer you to the three "C's" again

You didn't cause it
You can't cure it
You can't control it

trying to get him to admit to anything is trying to control his drinking, the boundary you stated you put in place (taking off your wedding ring) was to protect yourself from a person who is now fundamentally and functionally insane

Taken from The Book "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of experiences have shown him that one drink means another debacle with all its attendant suffering and humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink? Why can't he stay on the water wagon? What has become of the common sense and will power that he still sometimes displays with respect to other matters?

Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these questions. Opinions vary considerably as to why the alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. We are not sure why, once a certain point is reached, little can be done for him. We cannot answer the riddle.

We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink, as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm this.

These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis. Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them really makes sense in the light of the havoc an alcoholic's drinking bout creates. They sound like the philosophy of the man who, having a headache, beats himself on the head with a hammer so that he can't feel the ache. If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irritated and refuse to talk.

Once in a while he may tell the truth. And the truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that first drink than you have. Some drinkers have excuses with which they are satisfied part of the time. But in their hearts they really do not know why they do it. Once this malady has a real hold, they are a baffled lot. There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they often suspect they are down for the count.

How true this is, few realize. In a vague way their families and friends sense that these drinkers are abnormal, but everybody hopefully awaits the day when the sufferer will rouse himself from his lethargy and assert his power of will.

The tragic truth is that if the man be a real alcoholic, the happy day may not arrive. He has lost control. At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

Once he took a drink into his system he lost all control, that is what happens to people who are "real" alcoholics if they take a drink, if you are a "real" alcoholic the exact same thing would happen to you if you knowingly and willingly took a drink as well.

just one.

That is all it takes to trigger the insanity known as alcoholism, in my experience it only ends when the wheels fall off, when you stated you were "much worse", he may have also been carrying that little niggle in his head ever since the two of you quit, it is a well known tactic of an alcoholic to find someone "worse" then be able to point their finger and say "I am not as bad as they are, how can I be an alcoholic?", we call that "seeking lower companions", and all it takes to derail sobriety is one little doubt, one lingering notion that one can drink again and get away with it, with that notion in place nothing and no one will stop that person from eventually picking up a drink.

That's all it takes, one little lingering notion, one little niggle of doubt, and then one drink, and the alcoholic is shortly right back where they were when they quit drinking, or in many cases, as bad as if they had been drinking the entire time, results vary on that actually, but in many cases the "disease" progresses whether the person has been drinking or not.

I suggest clicking these links and reading this chapter, chapter 3, and the chapter entitled "To The Wives"

á



-- Edited by LinBaba on Wednesday 6th of October 2010 05:30:11 PM

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Hey there Stress69...It sounds like you built some coping skills and healthy replacement activities.á This may explain why you have been more successful at staying sober than your husband.á If that gap that drinking was not filled with something else and something healthy, the person will drink again.á

The first thing you need to stay focused on is you I think.á At all costs, don't throw away your own sobriety.á You will find comradery and like minded folks in AA and Alanon.ááI hope your husband gets over his aversion to meetings and asking for help.á It would seem to me that when you are court ordered to go and still don't, that it the epitome of self-sabotaging and I would give such a person almost a zero chance of long-term sobriety.á

It sounds like your life has taken on some great changes simply from not drinking.á I think you could benefit from the program so that you have added support and knowledge of the steps such that you will not be at risk of relapse and you will have a support system that consists of many rather than just your husband.

I wish you continued strength and serenity despite the chaos going on around you.á I respect your strength in coming here and also in looking into meetings for yourself.

Mark

You also asked "Why won't he admit he's been drinking?"á If you read more about alcoholism, that will give you some answers.á The basic statement there is that it is every alcoholic's obsession to try and prove that he can drink like a normal drinker and some follow this illusion to insanity or death.á That is the nature of the disease.á It is the only disease that sneaks up on you and tells you that you don't haveáa disease and to keep it secret or try and fool yourself that youácan handle it.á Hence, this is why we go to AA...to not be vulnerable to thinking we can handle it by ourself.ááIf left alone to think too much andáif not in touch with other people in recovery, my mind will warp and I will start thinking I can drink again.á That is just the way alcoholism is.ááA program of recovery stops this from happening for me.ááá

-- Edited by pinkchip on Wednesday 6th of October 2010 09:35:21 PM

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Hi Terese,

Some very good information above given. Just want to say that I know the sick and scary feeling when a Alcoholic spouse starts to drink.

I was sober about 22 years in AA when my wife started drinking, I did go to some Al Alanon meetings but ultimately felt my time was best served in the AA rooms as I already had some background in dealing with Alcoholics.

I eventually got my wife back into the rooms andáhas been sober the past 2 years.

A suggested, I think you should go to both groups but more concentrated on AA.

The best thing you can do is work on yourselfáset a positive example for your husband and hopefully get help for him.

Even though you have not been drinking,á you still need to treat your disease and gain tools for life skills,á otherwiseáwe are just dry alcoholics.

Take Care,ááá

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Rob

"There ain't no Coupe DeVille hiding in the bottom of a Cracker Jack Box."



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If you yourself have a drinking problem that is in fact alcoholism, for me, the immediate concern would be focus and help with my own recovery from this disease. Going to AA meetings will help you determine if this is the case. The book of Alcoholics Anonymous has a clear cut section to help some one determine whether or not they are alcoholic.

Both 12 step groups are about helping ourselves, not the other people around us.
In my case, I realized I needed help and discovered AA through this website. I came to believe that it was vital to completely focus on my own recovery. First, answering no, that the drinking was not characterized by violent or dangerous behavior in the home, I decided to avoid major changes in the first year of recovery while I was tender and developing a sober life, as I was advised. Trouble is, I woke up after some time sober and realized I had married a man who drinks just like I did. Big surprise:) No really, the giant surprise is that despite what I now know about the disease of alcoholism, I find that I am not understanding of this in him. And what I really need to learn more about is the information about the program of Alanon that was offered above, like the the C's and what I can do to change ME.

I have just begun attending the suggested 6 Alanon meetings. It was originally advised that I wait several years. This is because is hard for an alcoholic in recovery to separate the two programs. Alanon is not where I go to deal with or talk about myself as an alcoholic. It would be like talking about gambling excessively at a group for diabetics. Because alcohol is an element common to both programs, this can be confusing. First I read a fair amount of Alanon literature, and I felt identification and recognize things about my disturbed state. I do feel somewhat like I have a good head start because the principles of the steps in both programs are similar. I have already experienced the immense value of a 12 step program through AA. So I've been going.

I can't say enough about the benefit of developing a fellowship by going to meetings in both groups. In either case, you don't have to go it ALONE! There is help out there.

Hope this helps,
Angela

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You are all right. I am responsible for my own actions and not his. I will live by those three C's. I did read some of the excerpts you(linbaba) sent me but I do not agree with all of them. I cannot be nice to him right now. He has hurt me and lied to me. I am not yelling but I am certainly not laying in the same bed as him. He said he was sorry he hurt me and he was going to a class tonight. Again, the ball is in court. It is up to him if he wants to change.áIf not, then he is not welcome in my world. He can go and ruin his life just as his brothers have , his father and grandfather. He has seen his family destroy their lives and when not drinking he states he cant believe they are doing that with out help.áIt is a sickness but a sickness that he apparently can control and has in the past. He needs to admit he wneeds and wants help.

The children know I am not happy with him but I am not letting that affect my relationship with them. I also did not hide the fact that he was drinking. It caused alot of trouble in our home before and I will not allow it to again.

Maybe I do need meeting but I have taken that step to walk away from the bottle. I have cut of friends and stopped going to places that have alcohol. But as stated I have branched out in other areas for good. It is hard to believe how much I have gotten done in a little over a year from all the years I spents drunk or hungover and didnt do anything.

I thank you all for your help and advice. Please keep it comeing because it keeps me strong :)

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Whoa, whoa whoa !!!

He is not welcome in your world???

It has been my experience that when I attend AA meetings, or Alanon meetings I find is so baffling to hear members share that they are leaving their spouse because of this reason or that reason. Newly sober members or new to Alanon dont have a clue as to what is going on and have not yet given themselves a chance to fully comprehend the programs and all of a sudden they want divorces ?

Just blows me away how lightly some ppl really do take those marriage vows ...

I am so thankful for a really good sponsor who reminded me quite often that it was ... in sickness and in health.
And far as I know, an alcoholic is a very, very , very sick person. As are his/her loved ones.

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It's not to be taken lightly....However, alcoholism is not a sickness in the same way that other diseases are. It would be wrong to leave someone for being an alcoholic the same as it would be wrong to leave your spouse for having diabetes. The difference is that I might leave the diabetic partner if they knowingly refused to take their insulin after repeatedly agreeing to do it and having a period of over a year in which the illness was in remission. That is no longer having an illness...it is giving in to an illness and I don't think any one needs to stand by and watch someone else kill themselves slowly. What most active alcoholic don't seem to realize is that relapses are incredibly selfish and harmful to those who love them and they expect that they will be enabled. I have been there on both sides of this coin and I left the relationship of 7 years to save my own sobriety. It was one the hardest things I ever did, but I had to. Anyway, not saying that is the answer here and marriage vows should be taken seriously, but I don't think the vows state "through self-imposed sickness and in refusal to do what it takes to be healthy." Do they?

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Some of us DO cut off the active alcoholics in our lives even though we are also alcoholics, an alcoholic in his cups can destroy everything and everyone around him/her and we aren't required to be dragged down by them, we DO try to "hate the disease and not hate the person" because it is healthier for usto not walk around with unresolved resentments, how we view resentments in recovery is "To the precise extent that we permit them do we squander the hours that could have been worthwhile" or in other words resentments are a waste of time, life, and frankly are dangerous to us

I keep a LARGE distance between my family members who are alcoholics and myself, they are absolutely not welcome in my world, they are toxic, poisonous, and harmful, this includes my mother, who at this writing I haven't spoken to in years and I may never speak to her again because I allowed her to get too close and harm me greatly with her alcoholic behaviors and codependency, at this writing this is done without malice but it took some time.

Why would I want or even allow a harmful human being in my life much less near my children if I were to have any? I have had enough of "warped lives of blameless children" in my own life, why on EARTH would I subject my children to that? So far my experience is all it does is make ME mentally Ill

F*** That, it might seem merciless but we rise and fall to the precise extent of those we have in our lives is my experience, if I have sick people surrounding me, I get sick, alcoholic insanity is contagious and affects everyone it comes into contact with, whereas if I have healthy people surrounding me I have no choice but to grow to their level, that is my experience

Alcoholic Insanity is contagious and harmful and NO ONE is required to tolerate it, especially those to whom it is particularly dangerous to such as defenseless children and alcoholics who are living an alcohol free/Insanity free life

I personally don't view it as any different then I wouldn't have unprotected sex with someone with an STD or let someone with that new chicken flu or whatever cough in my face, these are sick people with contagious diseases, no different then a practicing alcoholic, it's just a practicing alcoholic illness is mental and they lie, cheat and steal in order to protect their alcoholic insanity, they may not mean to, and they may not actually steal money from your wallet, although they may, but I am not required to allow that in my life, my life is my own and it's the only one I have and I will do WHATEVER is necessary to protect myself from harmful, toxic, and hurtful people, and I am not required to answer to anyone for that, and the truth is every therapist, psychiatrist, and recovered alcoholic has always been supportive of me cutting toxic harmful people from my life

Addiction, Lies, and Relationships


Addiction means always having to say you are sorry Ó and finally, when being sorry is no longer good enough for others who have been repeatedly hurt by the addiction, addiction often means being sorry all alone.

Addiction is often said to be a disease of denial Ó but it is also a disease of regret. When the addictive process has lasted long enough and penetrated deeply enough into the life and mind of the addict, the empty space left by the losses caused by progressive, destructive addiction is filled up with regrets, if-onlys and could-have-beens. In early addiction the addict tends to live in the future; in middle and late addiction he begins to dwell more and more in the past. And it is usually an unhappy, bitterly regretted past.

The first casualty of addiction, like that of war, is the truth. At first the addict merely denies the truth to himself. But as the addiction, like a malignant tumor, slowly and progressively expands and invades more and more of the healthy tissue of his life and mind and world, the addict begins to deny the truth to others as well as to himself. He becomes a practiced and profligate liar in all matters related to the defense and preservation of his addiction, even though prior to the onset of his addictive illness, and often still in areas as yet untouched by the addiction, he may be scrupulously honest.

First the addict lies to himself about his addiction, then he begins to lie to others. Lying, evasion, deception, manipulation, spinning and other techniques for avoiding or distorting the truth are necessary parts of the addictive process. They precede the main body of the addiction like military sappers and shock troops, mapping and clearing the way for its advance and protecting it from hostile counterattacks.

Because addiction by definition is an irrational, unbalanced and unhealthy behavior pattern resulting from an abnormal obsession, it simply cannot continue to exist under normal circumstances without the progressive attack upon and distortion of reality resulting from the operation of its propaganda and psychological warfare brigades. The fundamentally insane and unsupportable thinking and behavior of the addict must be justified and rationalized so that the addiction can continue and progress.

One of the chief ways the addiction protects and strengthens itself is by a psychology of personal exceptionalism which permits the addict to maintain a simultaneous double-entry bookkeeping of addictive and non-addictive realities and to reconcile the two when required by reference to the unique, special considerations that Óat least in his own mind- happen to apply to his particular case.

The form of the logic for this personal exceptionalism is:

    • Under ordinary circumstances and for most people X is undesirable/irrational;
    • My circumstances are not ordinary and I am different from most people;
    • Therefore X is not undesirable/irrational in my case - or not as undesirable/irrational as it would be in other cases.

Armed with this powerful tool of personal exceptionalism that is a virtual "Open Sesame" for every difficult ethical conundrum he is apt to face, the addict is free to take whatever measures are required for the preservation and progress of his addiction, while simultaneously maintaining his allegiance to the principles that would certainly apply if only his case were not a special one.

In treatment and rehabilitation centers this personal exceptionalism is commonly called "terminal uniqueness." The individual in the grip of this delusion is able to convince himself though not always others that his circumstances are such that ordinary rules and norms of behavior, rules and norms that he himself concurs with when it comes to other people, do not fairly or fully fit himself at the present time and hence must be bent or stretched just sufficiently to make room for his special needs. In most cases this plea for accommodation is acknowledged to be a temporary one and accompanied by a pledge or plan to return to the conventional "rules of engagement" as soon as circumstances permit. This is the basic mindset of "Iăll quit tomorrow" and "If you had the problems I do youăd drink and drug, too!"

The personal exceptionalism of the addict, along with his willingness to lie both by commission and omission in the protection and furtherance of his addiction, place a severe strain upon his relationships with others. It does not usually take those who are often around the addict long to conclude that he simply cannot be believed in matters pertaining to his addiction. He may swear that he is clean and sober and intends to stay that way when in fact he is under the influence or planning to become so at the first opportunity; he may minimize or conceal the amount of substance consumed; and he may make up all manner of excuses and alibis whose usually transparent purpose is to provide his addiction the room it requires to continue operating.

One of the most damaging interpersonal scenarios occurs when the addict, usually as the consequence of some unforeseen crisis directly stemming from his addiction, promises with all of the sincerity at his command to stop his addictive behavior and never under any circumstances to resume it again.

"I promise," the addict pleads, sometimes with tears in his eyes. "I know I have been wrong, and this time I have learned my lesson. Youăll never have to worry about me again. It will never happen again!"

But it does happen again Ó and again, and again, and again. Each time the promises, each time their breaking. Those who first responded to his sincere sounding promises of reform with relief, hope and at times even joy soon become disillusioned and bitter.

Spouses and other family members begin to ask a perfectly logical question: "If you really love and care about me, why do you keep doing what you know hurts me so badly?" To this the addict has no answer except to promise once again to do better, "this time for real, youăll see!" or to respond with grievances and complaints of his own. The question of fairness arises as the addict attempts to extenuate his own admitted transgressions by repeated references to what he considers the equal or greater faults of those who complain of his addictive behavior. This natural defensive maneuver of "the best defense is a good offense" variety can be the first step on a slippery slope that leads to the paranoid demonization of the very people the addict cares about the most. Unable any longer to carry the burden of his own transgressions he begins to think of himself as the victim of the unfairness and unreasonableness of others who are forever harping on his addiction and the consequences that flow from it. "Leave me alone," he may snap. "Iăm not hurting anybody but myself!" He has become almost totally blind to how his addictive behavior does in fact harm those around him who care about him; and he has grown so confused that hurting only himself has begun to sound like a rational, even a virtuous thing to do!

Corresponding in a mirror image fashion to the addictăs sense of unfair victimization by his significant others may be the rising self-pity, resentment and outrage of those whose lives are repeatedly disturbed or disrupted by the addictăs behavior. A downward spiral commences of reciprocally reinforcing mistrust and resentment as once healthy and mutually supportive relationships begin to corrode under the toxic effects of the relentless addictive process.

As the addictive process claims more of the addict's self and lifeworld his addiction becomes his primary relationship to the detriment of all others. Strange as it sounds to speak of a bottle of alcohol, a drug, a gambling obsession or any other such compulsive behavior as a love object, this is precisely what goes on in advanced addictive illness. This means that in addiction there is always infidelity to other love objects such as spouses and other family - for the very existence of addiction signifies an allegiance that is at best divided and at worst -and more commonly- betrayed. For there comes a stage in every serious addiction at which the paramount attachment of the addict is to the addiction itself. Those unfortunates who attempt to preserve a human relationship to individuals in the throes of progressive addiction almost always sense their own secondary "less than" status in relation to the addiction - and despite the addict's passionate and indignant denials of this reality, they are right: the addict does indeed love his addiction more than he loves them.

Addiction protects and augments itself by means of a bodyguard of lies, distortions and evasions that taken together amount to a full scale assault upon consensual reality. Because addiction involves irrational and unhealthy thinking and behavior, its presence results in cognitive dissonance both within the addict himself and in the intersubjective realm of ongoing personal relationships.

In order for the addiction to continue it requires an increasingly idiosyncratic private reality subject to the needs of the addictive process and indifferent or even actively hostile to the healthy needs of the addict and those around him. This encroachment of the fundamentally autistic, even insane private reality of the addict upon the reality of his family and close associates inevitably causes friction and churn as natural corrective feedback mechanisms come into usually futile play in an effort to restore the addict's increasingly deviant reality towards normal. Questions, discussions, presentations of facts, confrontations, pleas, threats, ultimatums and arguments are characteristic of this process, which in more fortunate and less severe cases of addiction may sometimes actually succeed in its aim of arresting the addiction. But in the more serious or advanced cases all such human counter-attacks upon the addiction, even, indeed especially when they come from those closest and dearest to the addict, fall upon deaf ears and a hardened heart. The addict's obsession-driven, monomaniacal private reality prevents him from being able to hear and assimilate anything that would if acknowledged pose a threat to the continuance of his addiction.

At this stage of addiction the addict is in fact functionally insane. It is usually quite impossible, even sometimes harmful to attempt to talk him out of his delusions regarding his addiction. This situation is similar to that encountered in other psychotic illnesses, schizophrenia for example, in which the individual is convinced of the truth of things that are manifestly untrue to everyone else. Someone who is deluded in the belief that he is the target of a worldwide conspiracy by some organization will always be able to answer any rational objection to his theory in a fashion that preserves the integrity of his belief system. Even when he is presented with hard and fast data that unequivocally disproves some of his allegations, he will easily find a way to sidestep the contradiction and persist in his false beliefs. (He can for example easily claim that the contradictory data is itself part of the conspiracy and is expressly fabricated for the purpose of making him look crazy! Anyone who has ever tried -uselessly- to reason with delusional patients knows the remarkable creativity and ingenuity that can be displayed in maintaining the viability, at least to the patient, of the most bizarre and obviously erroneous beliefs.)

The addict's delusions that he is harming neither himself nor others by his addictive behaviors;á that he is in control of his addiction rather than vice versa;á that his addiction is necessary or even useful and good for him; that the circumstances of his life justify his addiction;á that people who indicate concern about him are enemies and not friends, and all other such beliefs which are patently and transparently false to everyone but himself, are seldom correctable by reason or objective data and thus indicate the presence of genuinely psychotic thinking which, if it is more subtle than the often grotesque delusions of the schizophrenic, is by virtue of its very subtlety often far more insidious and dangerous to the addict and those with whom he comes into contact. For in the case of the delusional schizophrenic most people are quickly aware that they are dealing with someone not in their right mind - but in the case of the equally or at times even more insane addict, thinking that is in fact delusional may be and commonly is misattributed to potentially remediable voluntary choices and moral decisions, resulting in still more confusion and muddying of the already turbulent waters around the addict and his addiction.

In many cases the addict responds to negative feedback from others about his addiction by following the maxim of "Attack the attacker." Those who confront or complain about the addict's irrational and unhealthy behaviors are criticized, analyzed and dismissed by the addict as untrustworthy or biased observers and false messengers. Their own vulnerabilities may be ruthlessly exposed and exploited by the addict in his desperate defense of his addiction.

In many cases, depending upon their own psychological makeup and the nature of their relationship to the addict, they themselves may begin to manifest significant psychological symptoms. Emotional and social withdrawal, secrecy, fear and shame can cause the mental health of those closely involved with addicts to deteriorate. Almost always there is fear, anger, confusion and depression resulting from repeated damaging exposures to the addict's unhealthy and irrational behaviors and their corresponding and supporting private reality.




happycamper wrote:
Just blows me away how lightly some ppl really do take those marriage vows ...


I am so thankful for a really good sponsor who reminded me quite often that it was ... in sickness and in health.
And far as I know, an alcoholic is a very, very , very sick person. As are his/her loved ones.


What makes his/her loved ones very very sick is exposure to the alcoholic, whether parents, a predisposition, or later exposure to one in a relationship, so no one is "required" to put themself at risk by subjecting themselves to the often abusive and frequently "crazy-making" antics of someone with a contagious mental illness, a good sponsor should know that, the decision to stay or leave an alcoholic spouse is strictly a person's OWN decision, and one certainly not to be criticised or recomended on an internet message board with minimal information, even a good therapist or psychiatrist will only provide the information and allow one to make their own decision




On a side note, just as an FYI to the OP

"In Recovery", "Recovering",á or "recovered"á is actually a series of actions an alcoholic takes, it doesn't mean "not drinking" it means having gone through a series of steps with a sponsor, reading specific literature and writing out certain things such as ALL resentments, fears, and an entire relationship history, telling another human being your ENTIRE life story including all the secrets you were going to take to the grave and listening to someone else do the same, it includes making thorough amends to everyone you have ever harmed, it includes attending meetings and helping other alcoholics, in many cases it includes therapy and even visits to the psychiatrist, being "recovered" or "in recovery" actually means "I have done a TON of actual work, pages and pages of writing, hundreds if not thousands of hours attending meetings and hundreds of hours with a sponsor and sponsees, generally speaking it takes 6 months to a year to do a thorough, like REALLY thorough trip through the steps

Just so you know, that is what a therapist or recovered(ing) alcoholic thinks you mean when you talk about being an alcoholic in recovery, or a recovering(ed) alcoholic. I have no emotional attachment to you saying you are a recovering alcoholic but I just thought I'd tell you what that phrase actually means in the recovery world, it doesn't mean "I quit drinking" it means "I did a TON of very specific work including pages and pages of writing, concrete, tangible, quantifiable, work, and I spent years doing so"

Alcoholics that don't drink, or alcoholics "In Recovery" will however argue about the terms "recovering", "In Recovery", or "Recovered" because alcoholics love to argue about anything and they dearly love their point of view and think everyone should believe as they do generally speaking, but all will agree that it is a quantifiable set of actions, what those actions are, how to do them correctly, and even what to call them is the subject of much debate however they will agree there is work and action required to call it "Recovery" not just "not drinking"

I only tell you this so someone else doesn't and you don't get yourself in trouble or an argument, call your not drinking whatever you like and I'm cool with it, I'm just letting you know so if someone starts asking some questions you will know what they are talking about and be able to give them an informed -In Recovery- answerá



-- Edited by LinBaba on Friday 8th of October 2010 03:36:11 PM

__________________

á

it's not the change that's painful, it's the resistance to change that is painful

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