- Mental Health
Alcohol addiction leads to other addictions
Beware of the Demon drink
Isn't it amazing that no matter how many times people say "You drink too much" you always end up defending your actions or alcohol itself for that matter. "It was that whiskey". "I'll just drink beer". "White wine only for me that red knocks me for six".
I always think it's funny because nobody ever askes "In what way?" or "What have you noticed about me that makes you say that?" or "What do you think I should do about it?".
Half the time it's not even the alchoholic that is the most upset, it's usually those around them like bosses, friends, partners, kids. Then the unacceptable becomes the acceptable and before long there's a huge elephant sitting in the middle of the room and everyone walks around it to bring in (if your lucky a cup of tea), or usually another beer. So it ends up not just the alcoholic justifying the bad behaviour but usually the partner does too. If they didn't, then the two can't play the game of ' I know I should leave but can't'. The game can go on for many many years, I remember one case of the wife saying constantly "That's us married for 35 years" and me secretly rolling my eyes and thinking and what a 35 years that's been. It was not only for those two a life of chaos but all their immediate and distant relatives too.
Everyone seems to be involved or no-one else is involved.. The secrets run deep. Secrets never to be told, because if told, then people would say "Leave" but the secret is always the same, they are too scared to leave. Scared of the unknown, or often what would happen if they left. Would they be hunted down, or forgotten to rot in their own misery.
I remember a long time ago when my kids were small meeting a lady at a boating pond and she began to tell me her story. She left halfway through and returned with a carlberg special can in her hand, which appeared to give her some ease. Her story was fascinating, and she had come from money. Her husband had put her out in the street and kept their child and she had survived on nothing but hope that one day she would see the child again. The husband had taken the child away and she had been looking in the streets of Glasgow every day since, for even a glimpse of her child.
Often although people live with alcoholism whether in themselves or others they do so until one or the other dies. A lot of people die. The fortunate ones are those who choose to recover and stay recovered One Day At A Time.
Some friends of the alcoholic!
There are lots of respectable names for it, because most people involved around alcoholism will defend it to the grave!
What is Alcoholism?
Put bluntly and as recovering alcoholics say "ALCOHOL COMES IN BOTTLES, ALCOHOLISM COMES IN PEOPLE". So in other words Alcohol may look like being the problem, however when a person stops drinking, they are still left with the same person.
Usually in the beginning the partner or relative will be relieved that there is no more fighting, wrecking the house, or swearing and battering the kids. No more falling asleep ( becoming unconscious) at the theatre or cinema or embarrasing moments with friends and family. This is when you hear "They've had too much to drink" " This is out of place for them" (usually it will be happening every week!). "I'm not calling in sick for you again, this is the last time" Yea, this week! (enabling).
Some people get annoyed when the partner stops drinking and they make comments like
"You were nicer when you drank"
"You're boring now"
"How come you get sober for them but all the years I asked you to stop you wouldn't stop for me?" (Usually referring to rehab or AA)
"I've lost my best friend"
"I've lost my drinking partner"
"At least when you were drunk you were here with me" (They would be pissed on the sofa".)
Life may have been bad, but when the alcoholic gets sober it's a different game. The alcoholic has moved the goal posts but the partner feels vunerable and open because they no longer have anyone to blame or to moan about (more importantly). They can no longer play the marter role and no longer act like a 'POOR ME'
It all becomes quite different because the partner has nothing to moan about any longer (even to themselves - the one thing they have wanted was for the partner to stop drinking and now they have stopped something doesn't fit.
Others of course may be so grateful that they then take on another role, which will usually end up getting on the recovering alcoholics nerves.
The problem here is that the partner of the alcoholic has become
ADDICTED TO THE ALCOHOLIC. This means that they can't take their eyes off the alcoholic. No matter what they do the partner feels they need to critisise or comment on whatever is going on. They become so used to MOANING about the alcoholic that they don't know what to do with themselves when the alcoholic gets sober! Often they just carry on doing what they have always done.........MOAN. So the alcoholic stops drinking but the partner can't stop moaning or complaining or critisising. That's when the spotlight suddenly turns on to them! Boy the boat is sure being rocked then.
Which brings us to a different subject of how people begin to recover.
Is Alcoholism Hereditary?
Margarets Mother was very religious and she never drank. But Margarets Grandfather was an alcoholic. Margarets Mother blamed her genetic lines for Margarets alcoholism thus (giving her permission to drink by allowing herself to be blamed for her Alcoholic Father). One of Margarets children began to show signs of alcoholism but Margaret's other girl did not. She always wondered whether it is a Mental Illness? or is Alcoholism Hereditary?
Margaret told me she always thought it was a good excuse blaming her Mother for her Grandfathers misconduct. We used to discuss the fact that her Mother must have been affected in some way by her Fathers alcoholism (and womanising during the drinking) to have made her Mother take the oath never to drink. Margaret's Mother hated alcohol,, and although she despised the disease in Margaret she felt responsible for her blood line and enabled Margaret in a way because of her own guilt. It took Margaret until she was 50 years old to work all this out and also to get sober. Once she did though, she realised one thing for herself. When she took one drink, it seemed to set off a compulsion for her to drink herself into oblivion (even she told me, when she didn't want to drink). For her she came to understand that it all began with a thought and the thought was that this time she would only take just one little drink, or one bottle of wine instead of vodka, or just one. This thought seemed to make it all nice for her, a reward, she had been good, no drink for a week. If you can do it for a week you don't have a problem. She didn't have string around a coat, she wasn't homeless, and they were still respected No she had two cars a big house and 2.5 kids (whatever that meant). She later informed me that it meant 2 kids and the .5 was her man (a bigger kid than the two children put together). However, she was the one with the problem.
I always felt a great sorrow for Margaret because her Mother died holding on to all her secrets about her life with the Grandfather. Margaret never got to hear about the drunken Grandfather and the reasons for her Mothers bitterness all her living days. More importantly for Margaret, her Mother never got to see her sober.
(Permission from my friend granted to print this and I have changed her name for privacy).
Well some people stop, go to AA and do the 12 step programme. That's when the work begins. Only those who have made a decision to get sober and be sober minded will usually be successful.
Many people stop drinking and some stay stopped for a while but become restless irritable and totally disgusted with life and they start drinking again because they can't stand the restlessness or as it's better known (ANXIETY & STRESS). When people get into this state all good reason goes out the window and they just don't even think - they just do it. Before they know it, they are back to where they left off very very quickly.
Some people begin their journey by taking a drink to relax, drinking to get a sleep, drinking to relieve boredom, drinking because the dog died, drinking because alcohol is good for the heart!, drinking because....................and before they know it, they are drinking to take away the shakes, or because they can't function any longer unless they have been drinking.
Alcohol is a gentleman/woman. It will give you whatever you ask for. You can be Robbie Williams (after a few) or Jordan to those with a few pounds to lose on top. You suddenly become a great singer, or you become a Managing Director overnight, even although your badge says security in the morning. Oh and it waits, and waits, until you can't leave it alone. Until it becomes your best friend, no, your only friend left. It waits and waits and waits for you. Of course it doesn't just claim you........it claims your family and friends as well. While you drown in your alcoholism, at least 15 people are affected around you. They become obsessed .......with YOU! And so the circle keeps going around and around but with you in the middle it begins to get smaller and smaller and smaller.
In my experience with working with alcoholics for the past fifteen years, I have to be honest and say that the only ones I have seen staying sober have done a 12 step programme. Once you go through this programme the idea is that if someone asks you, you then take someone else through the programme and therefore it goes on and on and on and the recovery trail has begun. The circle begins to get bigger and bigger and bigger and begins to spread out to your family, your friends, your city, your country, and the world.
It would appear that even if people leave AA they usually continue to try to help other people. Some people do this service through a church or community service and I have known of one or two people who have stayed sober by just doing this alone. They become more loving through this service to others. Apparently service is not just doing the programme and taking others through the programme, but just making the tea and emptying ashtrays (I'd hate that job!) or putting out the chairs or welcoming newcomers and others to their meeting - all this is service to others.
This of course is only one part of the AA 12 step programme however it seems to be very important to the people taking part in the programme and appears to be the thing they all hold dear to their hearts. Thus the sobriety lasts longer and is clearer, and they seem to be happier. Perhaps this is because the alcoholic is beginning to understand the selfishness and self-centredness they have brought upon themselves (and others), and it is a way of giving back to the community. Of course the one thing they seem to encourage is that the 12 step programme should start in the home! A wise move I would say.
One of the young women I recently worked with told me that the programme is quite simple.
You try to find a higher self, or power greater than you, and consider using this power to stay sober. You don't need to make a decision about this until the 3rd step and even then you become willing to do this at this point. She pointed out that most people are spiritually dead when they arrive at the doors of AA. They feel like they have no soul! Mary believed that she was like this, no love for herself or others left, she felt soul-less!
Mary explained that you do a lot of work on yourself. Looking at all your resentments anger fear and anything that has upset you in the past. You then see where YOU may have been at fault in all this and even although you may never have looked at this side of things before, when you write it down, she said it looks completely different and you can actually see where YOU may have been at fault in the very thing you have been resentful about for perhaps 10 15 20 or 30 years!
The next part of the programme she found a little difficult because after looking at where you may have been wrong, once you are ready you write down who you may make amends to, and after a while begin to work through the list until before you know it you are at the ones you had written down as being a "I will never make amends to this person". She said by then she was ready.
Lastly is the service part and the giving of yourself and usually just your time to others.
After that is the ongoing programme which she describes as just doing all of the above on a daily basis. So if you get annoyed and resentful with someone you try to sort it out there and then instead of leaving it to fester for 10 years.
Later she said that she began to meditate (she was just sitting in silence for a short while) and she said that eventually her head began to slow down and therefore she slowed down and began to do 2 things at once instead of 22 things at once.
During all this time my friend was married and her husband was also an alcoholic, but he hated here for stopping drinking as mentioned above and finally after she was four years sober he left her.
She said the marriage was crazy anyway and realised they should never have married in the first place. She believed that the illness of ALCOHOLISM is ingrained and was in his case, because his Father was an alcoholic and his Mother was constantly beaten by her husband, as were the children. My friend believed that this DISEASE would never be lifted for him and to this date she has been right.
Her understanding of the illness of Alcoholism is that it is a DISEASE of the mind and body, and indeed of the soul (as she puts it). She believes that when the alcoholic becomes at DIS-EASE that starts off a mental compulsion which makes the alcoholic believe that THIS TIME IT IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT. (I won't do this, I will drink only beer etc.I won't go to that pup I'll go somewhere else, I'm not going to call her/him because it's them who make me angry).
The problem then lies in the fact that according to her once she puts alcohol into her body it sets off an alergic reaction, which means that when she takes one drink her body immediately demands another because the alcoholic feels this sense of immediate relief when they take that first drink. However,one is never enough and a hundred is never too many. She said that when she takes one drink the body demands another and when she takes the second the CRAVING becomes stonger and demands double the amount. So while her pal is beginning to feel drunk or lightheaded she is just getting started and the craving is getting worse and worse and her consumption gets greater and greater. Therefore, the craving for alcohol increases in her body and she finds herself drinking and drinking until she passes out or runs out of alcohol to drink, or money to buy more.
Apparently, this craving is what makes the alcoholic drink the electricity bill money, the mortgate money, the money out of purses/wallets etc, and they then go on to hide the bottles in order to hide the amount they are drinking. Alcoholics even hide bottles from themselves she said with a little smile. (I didn't know what was so funny about that).
So what started as a drink to help my friend sleep at night suddenly turned into a nightmare of devotion TO A BOTTLE . One of the things she said that helped her understand the illness was this compulsion, this alergy, this disease of the body. She said when they explained this to her (that her body processed alcohol differently to others ) she could at least understand why they kept saying if you don't take the first drink you can't get drunk. Because, she came to realise after attending many meeting of AA, that it was the first drink into the body that set off the craving, the compulsion for more and more.
That led to me asking her "So how do people keep away from the first drink then?"
For her, and I can only quote her, it was attending AA and more importantly DOING THE 12 STEP PROGRAMME, and making , a decision to slow down the mind with meditation.
This is my friends experience and no doubt there are plenty of sober stories out there with a different twist, but for now and this hub, this is Mary's story.
SUGAR caffeine and diet drinks and ALCOHOLICS
Well is it any wonder people become fat when they stop drinking. Women in particular suffer from this problem because when they stop drinking they also stop the massive intake of sugar in booze. If you're drinking most of the time you don't eat and so you will grab a mars bar or bounty or whatever is handy just to say you've eaten something or because you are craving booze and replace the craving with chocolate.
When you no longer have alcohol in the blood stream you still crave but of course you believe you are craving Alcohol. In order to satisfy the craving you take chocolate or sugar of some sort or tea and COFFEE! All this does is move the addiction in your mind to something else. Of course the real problem about the craving is the signal from the brain which says give me something NOW. The CRAVING then becomes sugar because really the body is CRAVING WATER. Oh yes back to that again. Whenever you are saying "What do I want / need" the answer is always the same WATER but nobody listens!
If you have been drinking alcohol for a long period of time your body become used to being dehydrated all the time and it gets worse and worse the longer it goes on. When you stop drinking the body still sends the craving signals which most people fill with sugar instead of alcohol. If people attend Alcoholics Annonymous then they also transfer from alcohol to coffee and tea. Both drinks are very addictive and before long everyone is addicted to caffeine. A lot of women also begin to drink Diet coke or irn bru and men go more for the coffee and tea. All diet drinks are bursting to capacity with caffeine, and it comes from the artificial sweetners in diet drinks too called aspartame. People then become addicted to diet drinks. Caffeine then dehydrates you and gives the signal "Im craving something" so because alcoholics can't take alcohol they then take sugar, diet drinks, coffee or tea. And so it continues. Haven't met anyone yet addicted to water!
And of course we haven't even mentioned cigarettes or gambling or affairs of the heart have we?