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Alcoholic Recovery. Is Relapse Necessary?

Updated on February 15, 2012
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Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

The answer is: Yes, for most alcoholics (and drug addicts), relapse is part of the journey. The vast majority of people do relapse at least once on their road to sobriety.

It is the rare alcoholic indeed who is able to put the plug in the jug and leave it there permanently.

So why do people relapse? And more important, what can you do to keep from relapsing?

The Sickness/The Medicine

The first thing to understand is that alcoholism is an illness.The alcoholic is a sick person, although he typically doesn't know that. He treats his illness by drinking, because drinking makes him feel better.

Alcohol is his medicine.

For the alcoholic, being drunk is the natural, "treated" condition. To not drink is to be ill, uncomfortable, shaky, crazy -- and possibly dead.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Continuing to drink alcoholically will lead to premature death.

I know it sounds bizarre. It definitely is bizarre.

Obsession of the Mind/Allergy of the Body

The difference between alcoholics and so-called "normies" (normal drinkers) is that alcoholics react to alcohol physically and mentally in an abnormal way.

Normal drinkers do not spend their waking hours plotting how/when/where they will get their next drink. That's the mental obsession part of alcoholism.

Normal drinkers may pour vast quantities of alcohol down their throats. It's possible to be a "heavy" drinker without being an alcoholic. But alcoholics' livers actually process alcohol in a different way. Besides the mental obsession there is a parallel physical craving/rejection  mechanism at work here, also.

When an alcoholic is, as they say, "in his disease" he suffers from this combination of obsession of the mind and allergy of the body. To put it in layman's terms, where once he used to "live to drink" he now "drinks to live."

A Gross Analogy

For the alcoholic, trying to resist the urge to drink with sheer willpower is like taking a laxative and trying not to shit.

Fighting Nature

Before I go any further I will say this: NOBODY had better DARE to write in the comments that alcoholics are weak-willed. Do not presume to tell me that quitting drinking is a simple matter of fortitude.

There are some budding alcoholics who are able to"catch" their disease before it takes complete control. For the full-blown alcoholic, the brain and the body conspire to keep him drinking. As miserable as drinking makes him, he loses the choice to pick up or not. Drinking is an imperative commanded by a body and a brain over which he has lost control.

See the poison symbol? It's there!
See the poison symbol? It's there!

Stopping and Staying Stopped

Having said all that, it is possible to quit drinking. Alcoholics do it every day -- in jails/prisons, in rehabs, in churches, in AA meetings, and yes, even on their own.

There is a broad spectrum here. Some people (the lucky ones) are able to withdraw from alcohol with a mimimum of physical pain. For others, the physical detox is hell.

But once the demon/medicine alcohol is out of the physical equation, then what?

The real work of removing it from the mental equation begins. It's time to get to work keeping that old "obsession of the mind" at bay.

This is where you'll hear many alcoholics tell you, "I have no trouble stopping. I've stopped more times than I can count.I just can't stay stopped."


Sobriety Takes Work

A sober alcoholic is often referred to as being "on the wagon." If he relapses, he's said to have "fallen off the wagon."

I personally do not like this analogy. It implies that sobriety is a vehicle moving forward of its own accord, and all the drinker needs to do is "hop on and hold on" so as to not "fall off." That is a bit too simplistic in my view.

It's true that recovery from alcoholism (and addiction) is a journey. The road is steeply uphill in some places (especially early on, but also many times in later sobriety, as life challenges inevitably pop up). It is flat in some places, but still requires effort to keep moving forward. And it actually has small dips, where you can feel the happy breeze of serenity in your face.

The key points here are:

1. In sobriety you are not on the wagon. You are the horse pulling your recovery like a wagon behind you.

2. Getting the alcohol out of your system is not the crest of the hill. It is not a downhill ride from there.Oh no! If you treat it that way, and try to coast on the physical freedom from alcohol, that old wagon's gonna come down and smash right over you!

Relapse Can Happen Any Time

As stated above, the alcoholic's brain and body crave alcohol. Being drunk is his natural state. To maintain statis, his body and brain command him to drink through irresistible cravings.

To become sober is to interrupt the craving. To live in recovery is to establish and maintain a vigilant defense system that:

a) lifts the craving

b) provides effective tools to resist the obsession, which can recur at any time

Among other life benefits (a subject for another hub, another day), the goal of recovery is to provide "a mental defense against the insanity of the first drink."

In truth, relapse is a very real and highly likely occurrence for any alcoholic. In my observation, there seem to be three distinct times in recovery when people are especially vulnerable to relapse. These are discussed below.

Disclaimer: There exist academic studies and statistics about alcoholics, relapse and recovery. I will include links to some here. However, the phenomena discussed in this hub are all based on my own observations. Could they be extrapolated to the general alcoholic population? Perhaps. Does it matter? Not really. We're not talking about the general alcoholic population!

If my words are able to help you or someone you care about, that's what really matters.

Relapse in Early Recovery

The first year in recovery is hard. The first 90 days in recovery are really hard. The first 30 days in recovery are really, really hard. The first 24 hours in recovery are excruciating.

Many alcoholics find it difficult, if not (seemingly) impossible to string together more than 30, 60 or 90 days of continuous sobriety. That old siren alcohol keeps calling them back. The song is not only in their ears, but in their their brain, their nervous system, even their fat cells!

And they are too new in active recovery to have established a solid defense system. So,despite their best intentions, they succumb.

You may hear people blithely dismiss this phenomenon as "field research." As in, "Obviously you just weren't ready to get sober yet. You had to go out and do more field research."

I suppose this applies to some people, maybe even most people. Accepting that you are really "alcoholic" is not easy. It's sobering (no pun intended) to have to FINALLY admit you can no longer control your drinking.

I don't wanna be sober!

We hear about people who are sent to rehab through a family intervention, or perhaps by the justice system. They do their time. Or I should say, they "mark" their time. The minute they get released they find the nearest liquor store. These people truly do not want to quit drinking.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong!

Some who relapse in the first few months may be sincerely trying to stop drinking. But they mistakenly believe that's all they have to do: not drink. Everything else in their life continues status quo. They continuing going to happy hour with their old drinking buddies, where they drink soda or faux beer.

For whatever reason, they resist making the sweeping life changes required to embrace a life of sobriety. As a result, they go "in and out, in and out" of recovery.

Is there hope for these "revolving door" alcoholics? Absolutely.

10 Signals You're Heading for a Relapse

1. You forget what craving alcohol feels like.

2. You forget what a hangover feels like.

3. You forget how completely demoralized and miserable you were in your last days of drinking.

4.. The wreckage you caused in your drinking life is a distant memory.

5. You get bored listening to the same old people in the same old AA meetings. So you stop going to meetings.

6. You begin to isolate. You spend more and more time alone, up in your (alcoholic) head.

7. You stop calling or spending time with your sober friends.

8. Your life is good. You're busy. You're enjoying the fruits of your hard work in recovery.

9. Nothing bad happens. You're just fine, thank you very much!

10. Maybe you're not an alcoholic after all/anymore. What harm could one little drink do....?

Relapse in Middle Recovery

Before last week I would have said years 2-5 seem to be reasonably safe ones for sober alcoholics. During this timeframe sobriety is no longer a novelty. It has become a lifestyle. Drinking friends have been replaced with sober friends. The "firsts" are behind you (e.g., first Christmas sober, first birthday sober, first company BBQ sober, etc.).

In these middle years the rewards of being sober outweigh any positive memories of drinking. In fact, the awful memories of the last drunk are still reasonably fresh. The alcoholic is likely still cleaning up the wreckage of his past. In other words. He is making strides toward a happy new life.

And then.....


A Tale of Three Relapses

Case #1: I can't stand the pain

This first example is not that uncommon. In fact, it's a situation all alcoholics fear: "What will I do when my (father, mother, significant other) dies? How will I make it through the funeral without drinking?"

In this particular case the man had close to 4 years of sobriety. His father was in hospice and so death was expected. The son was there to assist with his father's spiritual transition.

Unfortunately, it also fell on him to dispose of his dad's cancer medications. I was not there, nor have I talked to the man directly, so I really don't know how it happened. I got the story from his sister, who is 2+ years sober.

For whatever reason, the otherwise sober man decided it would be a good idea to drink an entire bottle of his dad's methadone. A rather frightening and dramatic way to lose his sobriety. He ended up in the ER, then ICU, and has now been "graduated" to rehab. 

Case #2: Remember to HALT

In recovery they teach us a very simple self-care tip. It's to never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT). It's amazing how effective this can be.

My second story involves a couple. They met in another state (through AA), moved in together, and were very happy. She has 10+ years of recovery. He had 2.

They recently moved to a different city, where she had lived previously. She owns a home here and has a network of sobriety sisters. She also has a new job that requires her to travel.

On her first major trip out of town she sensed something amiss at home. She was right. She returned to find him hopelessly f-d up.

What caused the relapse? Only the man knows for sure... or not. It's entirely possible he has no insight into what happened.

We do know that he was under an immense amount of stress -- as was she. Moving to a new state, making the commitment to move without having work necessarily waiting at the other end -- yeah, that's off-the-charts stressful.

Being alone in this new city, with his sober partner away for several days?Yep, I can see where "angry" and "lonely" could come into play.

I honestly do not know who, besides his girlfriend, this man knows in town. I don't know if he had anyone he could call. I don't know if this was an intentional act of rebellion or unconscioius sabotage (something we alcoholics are very good at).

Whatever the reason(s), she's still got 10+ years. He's starting all over again with detox and rehab.

 Case #3: It's all good, but too much!

My final example is perhaps the most disturbing of all. It shows what can happen when too many good stressors occur at one time and the alcoholic becomes distracted.

The woman in this story had been actively turning her life around. She was completing a master's degree. She had just bought a house. She had been active in AA since becoming sober 15 months before. In fact, she'd just been elected to an important service position (one which requires a minimum of 6 months' continuous sobriety).

Then one day she walked in and raised her hand as having 4 days. No one saw that one coming.

Just goes to show that good things can be just as overwhelming -- and dangerous -- as bad things.

One drink is all it takes...
One drink is all it takes...

Relapse in Long-Term Sobriety

When I hear of people "going out" (meaning, drinking again) after many years in recovery, it scares the shit out of me. But then I look around at some of the people I know who have lots of years (like decades worth) and I realize that we never fully recover. Maintaining sobriety is a lifelong process.

A progressive, fatal disease

Why would someone invest 10, 15, 20 years or more in living sober and then drink again? The answer is disturbingly simple. Even without drinking, the disease of alcoholism is still there. It is progressing in the alcoholic's brain. Sobriety arrests it, but does not stop it.
So even after years without alcohol, your brain still thinks like an alcoholic.

As near as I can figure, there are two main types of relapses that occur in this timeframe.

#1. Relapse by Attrition

Basically, the alcoholic stops identifying himself as an alcoholic. He gradually stops doing the things that kept him sober all these years. I've heard this time and time again.

What I've also heard -- from those who are fortunate enough to make it back -- is how quickly their drinking disintegrated/accelerated once they went out.

#2. Relapse as Conscious Decision

When we're talking about alcoholics who have been sober for many years, I don't think we can chalk up relapse to "more field research." These people know they're alcoholic. That is not in question.

And yet, they make a conscious decision to drink. I heard of one 20-year-old (20 years sober, not 20 years of age) announcing her intent to drink on her 50th birthday. She was quite calculated about it.

As far as I know, she did it.

We have not heard from her since.

Is that field research? Or a death wish?

If You Are In Recovery

How Many Times Have You Relapsed?

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    • profile image

      Mick 5 months ago

      Hi Mightymom, It's been 5 years! where did that go? One day at a time. I still refer to my post in here to folk, when I wrote that it's easier to be an alcoholic than to stop. I have had all kinds of things go right and go wrong in the last five years and these days I wouldn't thank you for a drink. I've got hobbies (Loads!) I gave up smoking (that wasn't on the plan) and I feel great!

      I had a health scare earlier this year (they suspected the big C - I got the all clear) but the doctors take me seriously now and not putting everything down to me drinking too much. It feels so good, walking into the surgery and saying "It hurts when I do something healthy/good for me" rather than "it hurts when I get drunk morning, noon and night".

      I still love your page and I hope you're well!

      Anyone new who is reading this, it can be done. my original post when I was drunk is about 5 years further down the page.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 2 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Dear Doug,

      For 9 out of 10 people, yes, drinking is a choice. Drinking is not a problem -- these people can pick it up or put it down at will.

      But for the real alcoholic, they lose the ability to choose because their brains and bodies are triggered to drink, notwithstanding consequences.

      I totally agree with you it is possible to change thinking and attitudes about oneself and one's drinking. I just know it is easier said than done -- the sad fact is that most alcoholics do relapse in their quest for recovery.


    • profile image

      Doug 2 years ago

      Drinking is not a matter of addiction it is a matter of choice. It is a matter of changing how you think,your attitudes and how you recognize the harm overindulging does. It does not have to be all or none-this type of belief will almost certainly lead to relapse.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 2 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi LaurieMaxson,

      Thank you so much for commenting here. There is still quite a bit of misconception about alcoholism and even alcoholics will disagree on where the "problem lies." My personal opinion, informed by the teachings of AA, is that not everyone who drinks or even drinks too much on occasion is in danger of becoming alcoholic. There is a certain differentness about real alcoholics -- an actual physical allergy to alcohol and a phenomenon of craving triggered once alcohol is ingested. But you are absolutely right that alcohol is a drug and it's better to stay way from it as it definitely causes people to say and so things they wouldn't do otherwise!!

      I hope your family member gets to their bottom soon and becomes sober. And good for you for staying away. I wish you all the best also.


    • LaurieMaxson profile image

      Laurie Maxson 2 years ago from AL

      Great article! I have a family member who is an alcoholic and I have been on the roller coaster with them for years. I finally got off and let them ride alone, but waiting at the exit until they decided they wanted off. I have learned that recovery is ongoing, there is no time frame.

      I also recently read an article that I believe provided some awesome points. We call the alcoholic who has stopped drinking a "recovering alcoholic". We say that alcohol is a drug, and is addictive. On the other hand, drug addicts are no longer drug addicts when they stop using. But the alcoholic who doesn't drink is still an alcoholic. Why is this labeling accurate?

      The author also suggested, and I have to admit I agree, that if alcohol is considered bad for you, it is addictive and a drug, then how can we say that "drinking for anyone, any amount" is ok? I have to disagree. There is NO specific amount that if you drink that amount, you are "OK". Every person is different. The author also shared that many of her friends asked her "how much were you drinking before you realized you were an alcoholic"? This brought to light that people think there is a certain number of drinks one might "safely" consume. Nonsense. Being tipsy, buzzed, etc. tend to be acceptable. Sorry but I must disagree. Alcohol, in any amount is not okay, and puts people at risk to drink beyond. I too thought I was safe with a buzz but after reading her article, it really caused me to think. I havent had a drink in a long time, not just because of my family member but because.... it is a drug.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Dear Lisamariejohnson

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      I have only what you have written here and many years of experience with alcoholics to comment, but here goes:

      1. When your partner is sending you to go buy beer and 7am that is problem drinking, at the least.

      2. He seems to go out to do one thing and ends up doing another that is specifically related to drinking. That's problem drinking, at the least.

      3. You use the term "relapsed" which shows me that one of you knows recovery terminology. That's a good start.

      4. You say your partner is not "dependent" on it. I have a slightly different view. I believe he IS dependent on it.Just not yet to the point where he

      is SO dependent that if he doesn't put in his body goes into withdrawal. Although those 7am beers sound pretty suspicious to me. He needs a beer to get started.

      It also sounds like a traumatic event (accident, losing leg) got him started drinking heavily. Understandable. But sounds like that is the only coping tool he has for all the rage, sorry, grief, frustration -- full range of emotions one would have after losing a leg. I can't stand this pain so I will numb it out with the handiest thing I can find.



      A person does not have to drink every day to be an alcoholic.

      It's not about the quantity you drink (although usually very high tolerance) or how often. It's really about what happens WHEN you drink. Are there consequences?

      What happens to your partner when he finds himself at the pub by accident? Does he get into fights? Do YOU get into fights when he gets home?

      Is he drinking away money you need to support your growing family?

      Two other things concern me about what you have described:

      1. "I managed to help him off the juice." What did you do? What help did you provide? Did you threaten to leave if he didn't get sober? It's wonderful that together you were able to get him sober even for a little while. But I will tell you this honestly. Unless your partner himself is fully committed to STAYING sober he will continue to relapse. He simply may not be ready yet.

      2. You seem to be blaming his relapse on YOUR hormones. Seriously? YOUR hormones caused him to drink? Is that what he's telling you? That kind of "it's all YOUR fault" emotional reaction to situations is CLASSIC alcoholic.

      If he is not actually SAYING those words and you are the one assuming it's YOUR fault because of YOUR hormones, I strongly suggest you read the book "Codependent No More" and get yourself to Al-Anon meetings right away.

      Finally, what I hear is YOU fully invested in making this relationship work and desperately trying to conrol his drinking. Again, you could learn a lot from Al-Anon.

      Meanwhile, there is a LOT going on in your lives.

      Only met 10 months ago.

      Already expecting a child together.

      And he is trying to get sober -- likely for you rather than himself.

      That is a lot of STRESS (stress can be good stress or it can be bad stress).

      It is suggested that alcoholics in their first year of recovery do not make any big personal life changes. That is not always practical, of course.

      Have you tried sitting down with him to hear what HE'S thinking, going through? He may be totally overwhelmed at the idea of being a father or even a partner (even if he cannot verbalize those fears)

      He is turning to the one coping mechanism he knows -- drinking.

      Some options:

      1. Get him to AA and let the group help you help him stay sober.

      2. Get him into a rehab if possible

      3. Leave him and see what he does or becomes willing to do

      4. Regardless of your decisions in 1,2,3 educate yourself about the disease of alcoholism. Go to open AA meetings and hear if the stories sound like your partner.

      DEFINITELY go to Al-Anon so you can learn to live at peace within yourself no matter what he does.

      Sorry this is so long and rambling. One final (I promise) bit of advice:

      You cannot take something away/out without replacing it with something else.

      If someone just stops drinking without modifying anything else about their lives, they are living in a state of anxious limbo. Miserable without their trusty alcohol and ust waiting for the disease to whisper in their ear and pick up drinking again.

      It's not difficult to stop drinking. It's the staying stopped that is the problem.

      Good luck and blessings to you both,


    • profile image

      Lisamariejohnson 4 years ago

      Hi I met my partner 10 months ago an we're expecting our first baby. When I met him he was alcohol dependant I had never seen anything like it I ha to go to the shop at 7am for beer!! This came about after he had a motorbike accident 11 years ago and lost his leg and drank ever since, I managed to help him off the juice things were going great anyway he has relapsed 4 times in 9 months the most resent being last night. I don't know how to help him as he isn't dependant on it he just seems to go out to nip to the shop and ends up going the pub instead I don't know what the best thing is to do as I am 25 weeks pregnant and really want this relationship to work he was doing great until my hormones ruined it!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Mick, your comment makes my heart sing. I feel like I can see the changes in you, even though we have never met. We HAVE met in spirit! One year is a BFD. I think it's the most important birthday in sobriety -- although every day is a miracle.

      A giant CONGRATS to you. I can tell you feel good about being sober. You should!!

      I'm so grateful to you for sharing your journey with me and others here.

      As they say, to keep it you've got to give it away. That's what you're doing by sharing.

      Best to you for continued recovery and blessings in your life. MM

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Mark. I'm sorry I have not been on HP in a long time and didn't see your comment. Congratulations on 9 months of sobriety (minus four days). Many people do exactly what you did. Get close to a milestone then go out. But you say the 3 beers tasted like poison. Maybe that's a good sign that you are not supposed to be poisoning your body. In answer to your question -- normies don't count their drinks. They don't have to! I hope you make it back in and find reason to stay. When you're ready it will happen.

      I hope you get to read Mick's comment!

    • profile image

      Mick 4 years ago

      Hi Mightymom,

      I though I'd drop a line. I got to 1 year. It doesn't seem like 1 year ago I first turned to this site. I told my boss at work: "Do you realise it's 1 year since I told you I was going to AA?". He paused for a moment, and then replied : "yes, do you realise how many people here noticed the change in you?". It made me think. I always had a feeling folk at work knew, I was never sure how many though. A year ago, it was debatable whether I would have a boss for much longer.

      I've seen a lot of changes in me, both mentally and physically. Do I miss the drink? Sure I do, but just for today, I don't miss it enough to want to go and have one.

      There are some important people in my life these days, and you are one of them. Without reading your blog just over one year ago, I wouldn't be typing this now, sober.

    • profile image

      Mark 4 years ago

      Four days before my I was to receive my 9 month coin, I drank three beers. The euphoria I experienced 9 months ago was not the same. It felt like poison this time. But I look at it this way: I went 9 months and only had three, 12oz beers. How many non-addicts drink that little in 9 months?

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      First of all, congratulations on your and your daugthers' long-term recovery. And hooray for putting into practice your beliefs and sharing your recovery with other women. Some of my favorite service work has been with women in recovery homes. We are all taught what to do to sustain an alcohol-free life. It's simple, but takes focus and effort. And SUPPORT.

      Those who do go out withdraw from others, stop being accountable, stop doing what they have learned, and then find themselves vulnerable to craving. I hear people all the time with many years of recovery relapsing. I do not want to ever be one of those people!

      Thanks for the referral to your hub. ALWAYS APPRECIATED!


    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for your article. I am a person in long term recovery with 24 years without any relapses; my daughters have 13 and 19 years without any relapses. We all adopted the philosophy, early in our recovery, that “we had done enough for 10 lifetimes, we’ll try something different.”

      I opened and ran a women’s recovery home in 1990 and fostered this attitude there – consequently, over 79% didn't succumb to the idea that relapse is part of recovery but that relapse was a choice to return to addiction/disease/self-defeating behavior, however the individual chose to phrase it.

      I looked at the statistics for this article; 26% of us have never relapsed according to voting; 24% were too many times to count, and the remaining 50% were between one and ten times.

      We who have not relapsed are more than ¼ of the individuals responding so it’s not impossible to get into and remain in recovery; it just takes diligence, remembering HALT, finding a recovery supportive meeting that resonates for the individual whether it’s 12 Step based, faith based or secular and then using people/sponsors/accountability partners/etc. who have been there, done that to help guide us when we have problems, adversities, or cravings.

      I have a hub on various types of recovery supportive meetings that others might find helpful (guess it’s okay to plug?)

      Problems, adversities and cravings are going to happen for all of us, but we can learn to not give in or give up and use over them.

      Thanks for identifying so many important aspects of relapse.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello, Billy_Philip,

      YOU recognize you have a problem. That's all that matters. You describe very vividly the double life that alcoholics live. The public face presented to friends and family. The private hell of those interminable alone hours facing what we did -- again.

      The drinking alone (and dancing alone till late -- so familiar!!).

      You definitely have some physical warning symptoms going on, too. A normal liver function test is not uncommon.

      But the anxiety, phantom pains in the body, the veins, stool, acid -- all signs.

      You are very wise to arrest your alcoholism before it gets worse. Because it will.

      However, if you're feeling the compulsion to drink, two thoughts:

      1. Have you tried "controlled" drinking? Where you do drink but put constraints on your drinking.

      See if you are able to stick to the controls but still enjoy drinking with your friends.

      2. Whether you go back out and do more field research (to make sure you are really ready to quit) or whether this sobriety is IT for you, let me suggest something. There is a difference between sobriety

      and recovery. Just stopping drinking will make you feel deprived, like you are missing something.

      Sounds like that's where you are now. But recovery replaces the alcohol addiction with positives.

      Gives you tools to live life comfortably and triumphantly without having to relapse or feel deprived.

      I wish you all the best.

      Thanks for commenting. MM

    • profile image

      Billy_Philip 4 years ago

      Im a 32 year old alcoholic. I have a good job, great friends, a loving partner and stable home. I drink socially (at first), then roll home and drink anything (everything) whilst dancing around on my own till atleast the early hours. If I haven't callapsed into a drunken stuper by morning, I might hit the local 24h store for more supplies and continue the party until I do.

      My friends and family dont believe I have a problem. They think I'm the life and soul of the party and can't imagine that I even know the meaning of low self esteem. My partner knows (sort of) but trusts me to control it myself...or perhaps would prefer to ignore it...we sometimes fight when I'm drunk.

      I have been sober for 4 weeks now. Physically I feel like a king, mentally I'm alert. But I want a drink. I read these websites, desperate to find encouragement to stay sober, on the waggon, or keep pulling it behind me .....but the stories, claims, successes, failures, tips and tricks all just want me to go out and get smashed, laugh with my friends, behave like a fool, have intense conversations with strangers and make new friends, dance all night. A smile on my face. Forget my faults...for a while.

      But then I think of the dull, timebomb ache and feeling of fullness in the right side of the lower chest, the strange dark, green or 2 toned stool colours that cant be healthy, the tread veins creeping across my ribcage, the lines round my eyes, the burning acid in my throat, the bloated face. Thats what started my sobriety. My liver function tests were normal. But something was not right.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Mick!

      Happy, happy 8 months! That's a miracle for someone who only 8 months ago wanted to take the easier way out and keep drinking. Yes. It's a lot easier to keep using alcohol for everything. But not practical if it is getting you into trouble.

      I hear ya on those 12 Steps. They do look scary at first. But once you get the hang of them, they become sort of like breathing. You incorporate them into your daily life. Check your reactions. Learn to be a nicer, saner person.

      I read your comment about your world getting smaller in sobriety with interest. I suppose it does feel like that at first.

      But anything you could do drunk you can do sober. And more. I've known people who accomplished many of those dreams they used to pontificate about on the barstool. But never did. But I think I know what you mean. Your circle of "safe" friends feels smaller. I agree, though, that by the time we make the decision to quit, our worlds are a lot smaller (and blacker) than we had realized.

      Anyway, so glad to hear from you, Mick. I wish for you all the satisfaction recovery has to offer. You've already learned how to stop drinking. There are many, many promises that come true... we just don't know when. So we need to stick around. They DO come true! MM

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      Mick 4 years ago

      Hi Mightymom,

      I thought I'd drop you a quick line as I got to 8 months on friday. I am still going to meetings and have seen the good side and the bad side. I got an excellent sponsor and I started doing the steps. which aren't really as bad as they look. The first time I saw them, they looked worse than the ten commandments! they just make me look at life a different way. I came into the rooms to stop drinking. I didn't expect all of the other things. I found my life has got smaller. But when I looked at it, the truth was, it probably wasn't that big to start with, I just thought it was.

      I would be lying if I were to say I don't fancy a drink, but I know where it would take me. not necessarily on the day, but the day after and the day after that. I do know I cant trust myself to get into that situation.

      I have had some amazing experiences since I stopped drinking. some of which I would have never even thought about doing before.

      My thinking has certainly changed in the last 8 months. I went and read my original post: "It's easier to be an alcoholic than it is to stop". I think I still stand by that statement, however, at least now I know I am an alcoholic and I have choices, and I have learned the skills to make the right choice. Oddly enough, this webpage has become of my experience, strength and hope journey, I have to mention that, as it was the catalyst that made me take the decision to do something about my problem and I have to say thank you for that.

      All the best Mightymom, Mick

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Happy 3 years, Mark P. That's a long time without a drink. keep having those drunk dreams. they are great warnings.

      Relapse does not HAVE to be part of your story!

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      Mark P 5 years ago

      An excellent article. I am coming up to my 3rd aniversary of being sobre now and still going strong and enjoy life so much more, I do however have thoughts of drinking and also the dreaded drinking dreams, but I find these dreams a Godsend, I see then as a reminder of what I am if I should ever start to forget. Thanks for the excellent article. Stay strong folks, and remember .... your worth it.

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello angietin0919. Thank you so much for your honesty about relapsing and how you feel about your drinking now. I've known quite a few people who relapsed with "double digit" sobriety. I know it's really hard emotionally to crawl back into the rooms -- to rehumble yourself and start by admitting "I've got one day..."

      In some ways you are very lucky that you had a 10-year float on a pink cloud. That's a long, long time without a drink. But maybe you got a false sense of how "easy" sobriety is. It's not. You said it. It works IF YOU WORK IT. Occupying a chair in meetings is not working it. It''s going through the motions.

      I think each of us gravitates in a slightly different way to different aspects of the program. Some find that spiritual connection and it's WOW for them. Others find that being of service and "giving it away" is the best way to keep it. At least it keeps us accountable and engaged.

      I wish you all the best.

      Please keep in touch and let us know how you're doing. Better yet, write hubs about your experience, strength and hope!

      Best, MM

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      angietin0919 5 years ago

      This is a great article. Thank you. I relapsed a week after my 10th year anniversary of being sober. When I picked up my first white chip at an AA meeting I did not look back. I rode on a pink cloud for a decade. I was at a fancy gala and someone handed me a glass of champagne and I drank it without a thought. I had not been going to meetings, but had retained many close friends in AA. Since I was not craving a drink and drinking was no longer a part of my life, I felt safe. I am finding quitting drinking now almost painful. I have gone back to meetings and picked up another white chip. I have a desire to stop drinking - the spiral downward is like being on a scary Willy Wonka ride. However, there is another side of me that does not want to stop drinking - and that is the really scary side. I enjoyed this article because it is helping me realize that just going to meetings is not enough. I need to re-engage a 12-step program, one day at a time. They say...keep coming back, it works if you work it. And I will do just that to get my diseased mind back on board. For the first time, I can really see how I can die from this. I wish the best for everyone on this hub who struggles with this disease.

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Oh Mick,

      Your comment has made my day! So glad you've found a new way of living and are reaping the benefits of sobriety.

      Stick with it and it will stick with you.

      Blessings and serenity, MM

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      Mick 5 years ago

      Hi Mightymom, I forgot to write at 2 months! Well, I've made it to three months. Sleep now normal - I think my body has come to terms with no alcohol. no desire to drink. finding new activities and exploring the city I live in! Still taking it one day at a time and remembering not to pick up the first drink. People are commenting on how well I look. I'd love to know where the time went.

      once again, thanks for the article I read those months ago, It is inspiring and gave me the push I needed.

      All the best, Mick

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      I agree that recovery is only as good as the work one puts into it. Simply not drinking alcohol is not recovery.

      It's about learning how to live life fully without it.

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      wer901 5 years ago

      I respect everyone's opinion here. Respectfully, I am disappointed that Former Alcoholic was blown off the way he was. It is disturbing that those in AA don't give much credence to other alcoholics that don't use AA to recover from alcoholism. If what he is doing is working for him, who are we to question? I tried AA for several years and flat out didn't like it. Been sober and living well for 20 years (I am 47.) I use the website Women for Sobriety as it serves the unique needs of women. I don't like constanly reliving the fact Im an alcoholic. I don't need to say it out loud to believe it. I hope that there is more tolerance to other forms of recovery other than the "AA" way. AA hasn't changed much since 1937 and that is one of my biggest beefs with it. It needs to be modernized. Behavior modification has worked for me. And Women For Sobriety encourages its members to use other recovery tools (such as AA) if a member feels it will be beneficial. I don't see the same reciprocation in AA . It appears to me that AA feels it has cornered the market on alcoholic recovery. Not true. Different strokes for different folks. And just because someone has no use for AA doesn't make them a dry drunk. I have been to lots of AA meetings and seen tons of dry drunks. It is all in how one approaches their recovery and the work they put into it, AA or not.

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello there, Mick. I think I know the "cult" you mean (I wrote a hub about it). Congratulations on seven weeks of sobriety. You made my night in sharing that with me! Thank you!!

      I can tell from your description that you've been to the gates of Hell. *shudder. remember that all too well.*

      You don't ever have to live that way again!

      There are many simple and wonderful things ahead of you.

      I'm really glad you're not trying to do this alone. Very smart long-term plan.

      Come back and visit and let us know how you're doing.

      60 days next week! Woo hoo!! MM

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      Dear MightyMom 5 years ago

      Dear Mightymom,

      Well, here I am, just starting week 7 of sobriety and I feel great. week 1 was hellish as the physical withdrawals kicked in. you know, cramps, not sleeping, sweats etc. Enjoying the simple things in life: Taking my clothes off before going to bed, going to bed, eating food, opening the mail etc.

      With reservations, I joined a well known support group and now wish I had done it years sooner. Some people say it's a cult. Who knows? I haven't seen any tambourines yet.

      Anyway, thanks for your words of wisdom when I needed to hear them most.

      All the best

      Dear MightyMom (A.K.A Mick)

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello Dear MightyMom,

      I can so empathize with where you are! If I can just not do today what I ended up doing yesterday I will be ok. Then today comes and before you know it, you're right back doing the same thing again. And hating yourself for it.

      And the vicious cycle begins again.

      You said something interesting: "It's a damn sight easier to be an alcoholic than it is to stop."

      Stopping is the hardest part. Once over that hump and the obsession lifted, I find it's easier not to be an active alcoholic.

      Whatever problems I face today (and trust me, there are plenty), I know a drink (which would never be "a" drink anyway) would only make things worse.

      I know it takes what it takes for us to finally stop beating our heads against the wall. But I also know -- and am living proof -- that we CAN do it. We CAN put the bottle down and not pick it up again. No matter what.

      I'm pulling for you. And as hard as this is to say, maybe you need to cross a few more "yets" like losing your job to realize that you're heading down a one-way street and there is traffic coming at you.

      All my best, MM

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      Dear MightyMom 5 years ago

      Fascinating and well put together article. I have relapsed countless times. There some interesting tips in here I shall try. Yesterday was a complex,planned military position exercise so I could knock myself out, hoping to wake up today at a sensible time without hating my self, feeling sick, thinking of a reason not to go into the office (I'm still managing to hold down a job, although I often wonder how). It's a damn sight easier to be an alcoholic than it is to stop. Anyway, I'm up, functioning and ready to have another go. Sorry if this sounds like a rant.

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      Brittany 5 years ago

      OK :)

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      How strange. Your comment (same one) posted twice.

      Oh well. Happy to offer my experience, strength and hope if it's helpful to you. God bless. MM

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      Brittany 5 years ago

      Thank you MM he doesint want to go to rehab he does not belive he has a problem. He gets extremely angry if I bring it up. And he does drink and drive sometimes but lately I have been hideing his keys I dont want him to hurt himself or anyone elce I keep catching him with beer and I keep dumping them out and I have told him I would leve him if he continued but he cant help it and I cant stand to leve him I am prepared to support him and do anything I can to help but im not shure he wants to quit and I dont want to see him get sick or hurt himself or anyone elce.

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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Brittany,

      You're doing exactly what anyone who loves an alcoholic would do in your circumstances. The reality is, you can keep pouring his booze out and hiding his keys. He will find new hiding places and will do anything and everything he can to get around your attempts to control his drinking.

      You will continue to catch him because you already know he can't control his drinking. You are right on that.

      Of course he doesn't think he has a problem. Denial is part of the disease. We never do -- until there is no way to avoid facing that fact.

      If you are determined to stay -- know that it will get worse. Eventually there will be an incident and he will get sick and hurt himself or someone else. This is not something he is doing deliberately to test you. His drinking (or not drinking) is not a gauge of how much he loves you. Please know that.

      But also please know this is a deadly disease.

      The the best help you can be to your boyfriend is to educate yourself on what you are seeing. Go to Al-Anon to get yourself some coping tools so that you don't go stark raving mad living with an active drunk.

      I wish you both all the best. I hope he will accept help sooner rather than later -- or before it is too late.


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      Brittany 5 years ago

      Thank you MM he doesint want to go to rehab he does not belive he has a problem. He gets extremely angry if I bring it up. And he does drink and drive sometimes but lately I have been hideing his keys I dont want him to hurt himself or anyone elce I keep catching him with beer and I keep dumping them out and I have told him I would leve him if he continued but he cant help it and I cant stand to leve him I am prepared to support him and do anything I can to help but im not shure he wants to quit and I dont want to see him get sick or hurt himself or anyone elce.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Brittany,

      I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend but encouraged that you are reaching out to find help.

      A few thoughts based on what I have personally experienced and what the hundreds of sober people in my life have experienced.

      1. First, there's taking care of you. You have experienced the difference in your boyfriend drunk and sober. He got sober before -- what prompted that change?

      What might need to happen in his life to switch the "willingness" button ON for him again?

      Are you prepared to issue an ultmatim that you will leave if he doesn't get sober again? DO you feel that strongly about it?

      Do you know that doing nothing will just reinforce him continuing down his destructive path?

      He will not spontaneously "get better." I know you know that. Something needs to drive him back into sobriety.

      2. Rehab is not the only way to get him back into recovery. I assume there are AA meetings where you are. Can you offer to go to a meeting with him? Or call the AA hotline and ask them for some ideas. They may talk to him on the phone and something will click. Or they may send someone out to pick him up and take him to a meeting.

      3. YOu don't say how bad his drinking is. He's mean (sorry we are all not very nice when drinking). Is he able to work? Is he in danger of being fired? Is he driving drunk? DOes it seem like his drinking is worse now after almost a year sober? Have his friends and family already turned their back on him? Would they be willing to help you stage an intervention?

      I ask because life circumstances may actually close in around him and force him to take action. If may happen quickly or it may take time.

      Take heart. Help IS out there.

      I wish you peace. If his drinking it hurting you, give yourself space rather than taking the abuse. I strongly recommend to anyone dealing with an alcoholic

      1. Go to an "Open" AA meeting and listen. There is much wisdom in the rooms.

      2. Check out Al-Anon as well for coping tools for YOU (assuming you are committed to staying with this man).

      I hope your boyfriend's "field research" leads him to the conclusion that life is much worse drinking than it is sober.

      Good luck to you both.


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      Brittany 5 years ago

      i dont know what to do my boyfriend has relapsed he draink for the first 3 years we where together and he quit for almost a year and now hes back to his drunk mean ways i dont know what to do i have no money to get him into rehab and im to scared to ask him to go i dont know what to do

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      poisonx3girlx3 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, Oregon

      It seems, in most cases, there is s point when the desire to stop is strong enough to defeat anything. Is sad how drastic that point can be. With my dad, it was attempting suicide that made his sun strong enough. He's eight, against nine, years sober. Congratulations to you. I know I don't know you but I'm proud for you

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks poisonx3girlx3 (interesting hubber name!).

      You've put the whole thing into perfect perspective.

      Unfortunately, too many alcoholics never get to the point of accepting help.

      Most are able to quit. It's the staying stopped that is the problem. Once that craving hits and you succomb to that first drink,it sets up the cycle of spree, remorse, resolution, pressure ... and another spree.

      There is NO defense against that first drink unless you get help.

      Willpower is useless against alcoholism.

      That's my mantra. I celebrated 8 years yesterday. I'm sticking to it ... one day at a time, of course:-).

      Thanks again for commenting.

    • poisonx3girlx3 profile image

      poisonx3girlx3 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, Oregon

      Growing up with an alcoholic, I know how much it hurts to see that person struggle with the illness. I also know that when he decided to quit, he relapsed. By relapsing, he was able to realize he couldn't do it alone and ask for the proper help he needed. Thanks for writing this, it helped me to understand better.


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      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi sad,

      I'm so glad you took the time to visit and comment. Your experience is very, very common. Almost all alcoholics relapse. We keep banging our heads until we decide it hurts too much and we're ready to live without the headache.

      First of all, getting 28 days is awesome. You did it once and you CAN do it again! You're absolutely correct that in Step 1 we admit we're powerless. You're also right in that willpower has NO PLACE in recovery. That is exactly what keeps us drinking. Self will. If we could "will" ourselves to drink responsibly, we would do that. If we could "will" ourselves sober, we would do that. That's where surrender comes in. We have to basically give in to our our disease.

      I'm wondering if the people you're hearing (the ones with 60 days) are using the word "will" when what they really mean is "willing." We have to be WILLING to go to any lengths -- do everything that is suggested of us, including working all 12 steps -- to get sober.

      I have found in recovery that there is a new meaning to many words I thought I knew the meanings to.

      Or it could be that these people are talking about Step 3. We turn our will (and our lives) over to the care of God as we understand Him/Her/It. That's another cool thing is we can call our Higher Power whatever we want).

      So we say "Thy will, not mine" -- we realize we cannot get sober on our own.

      So I'm not really sure what they're talking about.

      I will (no pun intended) suggest try listening to people who have worked all the steps. People who have more time sober -- well more than 60 days -- can clarify better. I've heard quite a few "not quite correct" things come out of the mouths of newbies. It takes a little while to get it all down, but is so worth it!

      Good luck. I hope you don't have to relapse again!


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      sad 5 years ago

      Thank you for the powerful article. I know I have a problem but still ambivalent I suppose. I had 28 days and went into full blown.relapse. I believe it is the commitment along with support, not the willpower. After all, step one is admitting we are powerless. It makes me sad but also angry when I hear people with their 60 days saying you have to have the "will". So disappointing. Anyhow, thanks for the post.

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Well hello chisparuni. This is a sign, I think! You should be hubbing yourself about your experiences and your life!

      I still have friends that drink but they drink responsibly and I don't go "out" drinking with them to bars. I no longer hang around anyone who drinks to excess. I just can't stand to be around noticeably drunk people anymore (too uncomfortable -- OMG, that was ME!).

      Good for you. I do encourage you to become more involved in AA if you feel you could use a healthy, positive blueprint for life. I've learned so much about handling problems well beyond not drinking alcohol.

      Good luck to you. Pls keep us all posted and DO get hubbing! MM

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      chisparuni 6 years ago

      THanks! (i now seem to be chisparuni, which tells me that i started using this page a long time ago and can not remember my details! ) anyway thanks for that reassurance, I do have totally sober friends and others that don't drink much, those that drink a lot I should just meet for coffee! and meanwhile continue to get more involved with AA (a bit shy) but thankyou.

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi diane,

      From what you describe it's hard to tell if you are alcoholic or not. It sounds like you don't like what alcohol does to you and would prefer to live a sober life. But you do seem to struggle with controlling your consumption, which is, in fact, an alcoholic "symptom" (you can enjoy it but not control it or control it but not enjoy it).

      You are definitely NOT a fraud! The only requirement for AA is the "desire" to stop drinking. Nowhere does it say you have to actually stop, just want to. I believe no one enters the rooms of AA by accident.

      I would suggest doing more than just attending the meetings, however. If you are serious about getting the true benefits of a sober life, get active in AA. Hook up with real "safe friends" (sober friends) and you won't have to fear yourself around alcohol.

      That has been my experience. Having one foot in and one foot out is ok, but the blessings of the AA program only occur when you are "all in."

      Good luck to you. MM

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      diane 6 years ago

      Hi, Is "alcoholic" a word. I have mostdefinately drank alcoholically in my life and have some horrible tales- always heavy drinking weekend night, just the one night , not more- and have always not wanted to do it, have always known life lived soberly is sweeter,happier just great. So, for the past two years I don't drink much, might have the odd glass of wine in the "safe" situation (sensible friends, my mum) But if I do drink too much I now get very depressed. Even after 5 glasses of wine. I go to AA and would like to abstain completely, will abstain completely, but other people including my sister have asked me if I feel like a fraud going to the meetings or like a "spy" No, i don't , I don't want to drink and have found that on accasion I still do, so it's no good and rlying on "safe friends" to keep consumption down on a night out is not good and deceitful, anyway I love sobriety! I'm not fraudulant am I?

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      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      One of my mentors and sponsors always used to say: the miracle isn't that I don't drink anymore; the miracle is that I don't want to. Great hub and extremely well-written. By the way, my mother believed that quitting drinking was just a matter of willpower...go figure!

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you SO much for sharing your story and your friend Kim's. Her experience proves beyond a doubt that alcoholism is a progressive disease. It is also fatal, btw.

      Even when you stop actively putting in, the disease is still there. It is arrested but not gone.

      Inevitably -- and I know you have heard this many times from ppl in the rooms who have relapsed and come back -- when we go back to drinking/using, we start back at a much worse place than where we left off. Never at a better or softer place.

      What I get from Kim's story is this:

      1. She must want help or she would not have called you and asked to see you.That's a good sign.

      2. However, she is convinced she is with her "true love" even though he has led her back to self-destruction (or rather, she has led herself by being with him). Does she have the courage to change? Leave him and rid herself of the monkey once and for all?

      3. Or does she need to lose it ALL -- job sounds like it will be taken away from her soon enough?

      Is she done? Does SHE want to be done?

      4. Finally, and I do not mean this to be critical or harsh. But Kim has not been sober. She has been substituting with alcohol in other forms. She has not been treating her alcoholism if she's been out there having rampant sex.

      You are 3.5 years sober. You are working a program.

      You know all about honesty.

      That life she has been living, while not using drugs or booze, is far from sober. So she has been a relapse waiting to happen. Now it has happened.

      What does Kim want to do about where she is at now?

      Are you looking for advice on what to do for her?

      Send her to her nearest AA meeting and let the "experts" pull her toward the light with love and the 12 Steps.

      If she's really bad (and drinking/using 24/7 with her level of obsession about running out sounds pretty hopeless to me), ask if she wants your help getting into a rehab.

      But you know as well as I do, your wanting sobriety for her is not enough. She has to want it and be willing to go to any length. It sounds to me like she has a lot of changes in her life that must be made.

      Always here if you want to talk further.

      Best of luck to you and to Kim.


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      Petermaine 6 years ago

      Hi,I'm Peter, 43 yrs old, and 3 1/2 years sober. First of all, I have to say thank you god for helping me find this site. Couldn't have come at a better time. I went online to search for answers as to why alcoholism is a progressive disease and why when one relapses, it's , often times, soo disastrous. Well, here I am and feel like I am in the right place at the right time.

      The reason I am seeking answers is that I have a friend in trouble at the moment. We'll call her Kim. Well, Kim was a wild child and came to AA at the young age of 18 after a short, yet disastrous, career with alcohol and drugs. She is 32 now and lives an alcohol/drug free life filled with other vices such as food, sex, relationships, tobacco, etc...

      Recently, Kim got involved with a heavy drinker/drug user. She called me two days ago to ask if we could meet at a cafe. I hadn't seen her in over a month as she moved two hours away. When we met, she told me that on new years day she decided that she would try drinking and using drugs, with the support of her new "true love". She had never partaken as an adult. The story that followed was almost impossible to imagine for me! Just when i thought id heard it all.

      For 27 consecutive days, Kim has been using drugs and alcohol "every waking moment" of every day, before, during, and after work. She can't stop and is obsessed with the thought of "running out" of drugs/alcohol! 15 years sober! Just gone. Poof... The damage that she has caused in one month is beyond my understanding, at the moment.

      So, here we are. I need some input. I am an active member of AA and lead a healthy, full filled life. I attend meetings and have heard many, many stories for which I am grateful. At the moment, I feel powerless and confused.

      Thanks for listening.


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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      How crazy is this, kjohnson. My sponsor's name is kjohnson (can't give first name and out her anonymity).

      I'm so sorry to hear that you are feeling so alone and isolated and angry at yourself.

      I know that is exactly how I would feel if I relapsed.

      But... I have -- as I know you have, in 24 years -- known MANY people who have had extensive periods of sobriety and gone out. If they are lucky enough to make it back into the rooms of AA they are welcomed with open arms. And never judged.

      It's never too late to start again. You will NOT be alone and isolated with just your two cats if you go into AA. That's where it's safe. And loving. And fun.

      And many of us are also cat lovers:-).

      Thank you for your honesty in sharing your story.

      You are a success story. You are still here living and there is HOPE for you.


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      kjohnson 6 years ago

      i was sober for 24 years and then one day i decided to drink, why beause i was angry and alone and i did't give a shit anymore. living alone with 2 cats,i was like i imploded.i keep saying that i'm gonna stop but i live alone and i can hide it. i'm 62 and have no life left . no who cares beides i'm so ashamed that i've done this i pssed away 24 years.gone all of the work,all of the if you don't think that this could happen to you you're wrong, but i just care because i was a success story i'm sitting here drinking. who gives a shit,i'm alone i have no one and i'm not strong enough to follow throuht with the promise i made myself 24 yers ago.

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      hi sm05.

      You have captured perfectly the insidious nature of our disease. It tells us we don't have it. It makes us forget the bad times and bad behavior and hold out hope that maybe we CAN drink like normal people.

      I met a woman last night with 62 days. She had been 9 years sober but relapsed. She didn't talk much about the signs that she ignored that led her back to the bottle. But did mention that when she got sober before she was not a daily drinker. This time around she found herself hopeless and drunk 24/7 within weeks. Anyone who doesn't believe this is a PROGRESSIVE and FATAL disease is playing with fire. It will kill you if you let it.

      Your experience is the opposite of many of the addicts I meet. They get taken down by their drug of choice (meth is #1 at the recovery home I visit). They do not yet identify themselves as alcoholics because they didn't drink or the drinking was minor/secondary to the drugs.

      Don't be fooled. If you give up weed or crank or crack or pills but don't become sober in recovery, eventually you will pick up a bottle and be shocked at how quickly you get taken down.

      I'll be honest with you. There are times I start questioning things too. Every so often I just want to have a glass of wine. But then I roll the full tape of where I know that would lead me. One glass would be one bottle would be another bottle. I would get behind the wheel because I would have no inhibitions. DUI? Probably within days of my relapse. I would lose all the gains I've made in sobriety. I would be extremely lucky to crawl back into the rooms. Not sure I could. I'm pretty sure I would die, as bad as I was when I got here.

      So just stick with the winners. If you have doubts, give your sponsor (or another sober person) a call. Come visit me here. I'm happy to talk you down from the ledge.

      It's pretty clear to me from your self-description that you are in the right place.

      When in doubt, lean IN not OUT.

      Get your butt in service and give some of what has been so freely given to you away to someone else. Then you'll feel good!

      Thanks again for the comment. MM

    • sm05 profile image

      sm05 6 years ago

      Hi I am new to the hub and discovered it because I wanted to do some reading on relapse. I found your discussion board and was reminded that I have a disease that makes me think I can drink normally. I think I battle with my alcoholism even after having 6 years of sobriety because in the end of my addiction I was not drinking anymore but a daily meth user. Before I started using drugs I drank everyday always having a few drinks and binging on the weekends. I have had bad experiences with alcohol but my mind tends to glamorize these events. I have a sponsor and worked the steps multiple times but every once in awhile I start doubting everything, is there a god and am I really an alcoholic. So I decided to join the hub conversation to get a new perspective. So thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      I will be curious when you experience Passages to hear your reaction. I sure hope it works for you.

      I've seen the ads.

      Good for them if they can beat the odds and up the success rate using a different model. I am all for anything that works!


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      Ruth R. Martin 6 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      Yes, Passages is the one :) I agree that it would need to be at least 90 days of being completely an inpatient.

      We are not dropping the idea...

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi healthwealthmusic,

      Are you referring to Passages, Malibu?

      (There are recovery centers all up and down CA but that is the one that sticks out in my mind as having a different philosophy).

      Honestly, I think ANY recovery program your hubby would be willing to go to for a minimum of 90 days (don't even bother with 30 -- too short) would do him good.

      There are lots on the East Coast as well. Florida has some I know. You can probably find an inpatient closer to home. Just get him into a healing environment away from the stresses and routines of his daily drinking pattern.

      I wish you every success and please let me know how it goes.MM

    • healthwealthmusic profile image

      Ruth R. Martin 6 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      We have already looked into AA, and, for our situation, AA is not the answer. We know of an Addiction Center in California that I am POSITIVE is one that could help us, because of the unique approach they use to help cure addictions. Our biggest problem at this point would be lack of financial funds needed in order to attend this Center.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello healthwealthmusic. I'm encouraged to read how much work you have already done to understand and take action. I'm encouraged to read that your husband does admit he has a problem.

      If your husband is willing, take him (or send him) to an AA meeting. He doesn't have to talk, just listen. I am certain that he will identify with the FEELINGS expressed b the people there. Feeling worthless comes with the territory. But those feelings slowly slip away as we discover a joyful life without alcohol as our master.

      Alcoholism is a malady of the mind,body and spirit.

      All support from all sides is welcome and helpful. But for millions of people around the world, the FAST TRACK to getting from hopeless drinker to happy joyous and free in recovery is AA.

      You can definitely get to the bottom of it all but not while he is still actively drinking. That is an endless loop leading nowhere.

      I know AA is not the only solution. But it does work.

      In the meantime, get your husband a copy of "Alcoholics Anonymous" (aka the Big Book). If he doesn't recognize himself in the stories in the back I will be shocked.

      Good luck and please keep me posted. MM

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      Ruth R. Martin 6 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      Thank you for your concern, Mighty Mom. We have good support from our church, and everyone knows the situation. I believe that is an important step, to not hide it from your loved ones, but let them know of the problem so that they can help where possible.

      My husband has come to the point where he does admit that he has a problem. He is the strong silent type, so he rarely shows his deepest sensitivities, but once in a while he breaks down privately with me, and tells me how helpless and scared he feels about ever getting cured of the drinking.

      As far as his past, we know that most alcoholism is caused by deep-seated root issues from the past. We have read several really good books on addiction that helped me see addiction in a completely different light. My husband grew up with a very kind mother, but his father was abusive, verbally and physically. My husband has since developed a great relationship with his father, and they have worked through a lot of things - but it would seem that there must still be a hidden root issue somewhere.

      My husband has already, on rare occasion, commented about feeling worthless, which I have cause to believe that he feels that way a lot of the time. His father did tell him as a child that he was worthless, a LOT. So, as you can see, we do have some things to work out, and we are slowly gaining insight on how we might get to the bottom of it all...

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello healthwealthmusic,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. You sound concerned about your husband's drinking and you also sound like you are concerned enough about where you think it is heading that you are working around it.

      Did something occur in your husband's life to cause him to start drinking heavily?

      Are there any alcoholics in his family?

      I cannot tell you "don't worry" because I am worried for you. Something is going on with him underlying this sudden need to numb himself with 12+ beers a night.

      You are so right about control. He doesn't think he has a problem, does he? Does he get defensive about the drinking?

      I encourage you to check out Al-Anon for yourself.

      It has helped many, many spouses and families.

      I wish you luck and pray for divine intervention for your husband -- maybe a warning from his doctor?

      Again, I hope he doesn't cross that imaginary line into full blown alcoholism.

      Good luck to both of you. MM

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      Ruth R. Martin 6 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      Thank you for a very true and well-written article. Many times I hear people that have no personal experience with alcoholics make some very wrong judgements and statements. I was one of them - until my husband started becoming a heavy drinker. He has become an alcoholic, but still manages to function well during the day, and still has a good job, which I am very thankful for.

      I do get scared sometimes - I know the future is quite uncertain, so I am doing my best to work on increasing my income, so that, if he ever was unable to work because of alcohol-caused illness, etc, I could support myself and our two children. We do have a happy life, other than the drinking, which he only does in the evening after work.

      He is a very strong-willed, private person, who does not take kindly to any sort of control over his issues. Sometimes I feel like we are sticking our heads in the sand, like ostriches do - pretending that everything is alright. We have tried a few different things, and he has been dry for a few days to a few weeks at a time, but that was it.

      I do not know if we will ever get to see him sober - I pray that it can happen before he completely ruins his health. He can put away 12+ cans a night...

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Dear Former Alcoholic,

      The two above are the last comment of yours I will be accepting. You have turned nasty and this is for some reason personal against me now. You also seem to have something against AA. You're right and millions of people around the world are wrong. If you say so.

      You are more than welcome to write your own "little blogs" here on Hub Pages so you can spread your story and your viewpoints to others. I'm done renting you free space on my hubs, dude.

      For those of you out there still reading, Former Alcoholic's story is as valid as anyone else's. It's his experience and no one can take that away from him.

      But, it is extremely rare for a hopeless drunk to stop drinking without help.

      You cannot cure yourself of alcoholism. It is a progressive, fatal disease. It is still in there even if you are not actively using.

      You can treat alcoholism and arrest its progression by not drinking. But (and this truly is the subject for another hub), it is the rare person who can just put the bottle down and live happy joyous and free without some kind of ongoing program. The defective thinking patterns remain long after the alcohol is taking out of the equation.

      Where I agree with Former Alcoholic is that it does take work. It takes work every day to stay sober.

      If you are "white-knuckling" it and miserable, your alcoholism is not treated.

      If you are struggling with not able to stop drinking and you've tried and tried but keep picking up again, please know you are NOT weak and you are NOT suffering from lack of willpower or lack of moral fortitude or any judgmental crap like that. You are sick with an illness that wants you DEAD. You need HELP and someone to guide you to a new way of living.

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      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      I did look up dry drunk. That is a aa term, looks like you may just fit the desription MM. Also did you ever complete step number 9 with AA and mend your family problems and make up with the black sheep of your family? Anyway I was trying to help and it is people weak brained narrow minded people like you MM that drive people to drink.

      Aside from the BS with MM, anyone who wants to stop drinking on their own free will I wish you the best and just want you to know that it is a possibility with a lot of hard work.

      I am offically logged out of here MM is too much read all of her other blogs and you will get the idea.

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      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Ok you won MM, I am not really an alcoholic. But I did answer yes to all the NIAA questions that are the criteria for being an alcoholic. So I was just wondering How do people stop drinking anyway if not by their own persistance and willpower in winning the alcohol battle. Is it by divine intervention or just because you went to AA. If it was not by divine intervention and you do get help through AA or rehab doesn't it take a lot of strength and willpower to overcome. Were you any different? Was it all AA's responsibility that you are clean, I doubt that is is all AA, it is just some support to change your habits. I imagine that you had a lot to do with it I figure that if you get clean 90% of the work to be sober comes from within yourself to want to change now I was just trying to share my battle with alcohol.

      I did not want to argue with you as I knew that you were very opinionated by reading your other little blogs and forums. Anyway that is my story, I was a severe alcoholic and meet every single solitary criteria for being an alcoholic. Sorry that you did not like my story of overcoming alcohol by my own free will. It is Truth.

      This all started with your pet peeve about people calling a alcoholic weak willed. I rephrased my words to say it takes a lot of strength and willpower. AA, a preacher and rehab are not the only way, you can do it on your own and I have proven that to myself and my family and friends who knew how dire of a drunkard I was Anyway I am very sorry that you did not like my recovery story. I had to have a strong brain and a broad mind to get through my alcoholism that is all I am saying. As for capitol letters I was just wanting people to know that I was just sharing my story in hopes to help someone who wants to stop drinking and I am definitely not trying to belittle anyone by saying that they are weak willed.

      Since this dicussion is going nowhere I will just leave it at that. Just understand MM that I was a severe alcoholic and did it on my own. That's all just be tolerant and either try to accpet that or just write it off as something I made up or that I am exaggerating.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Good grief, FORMER ALCOHOLIC. You are an emphatic one, aren't you? What is driving you to come here and type paragraph after paragraph in ALL CAPS as if shouting your assertions at the reader? Do you believe that by shouting louder than me your opinion is more correct?

      I do appreciate the additional resource information you have provided.

      I will point out, however:

      1. The NIAA definition is not entirely correct and I am surprised they are still using this limited definition. It is partially right but not the be-all-end-all definition. Craving is a definite symptom that sets the alcoholic apart from other drinkers (even alcohol abusers). Loss of control is correct. Once an alcoholic puts in one drink s/he never knows where s/he may end up or how much may be consumed (or what behaviors will ensue). 3. Physical dependence -- that is also true but alcoholics are also MENTALLY dependent on alcohol. And it fails to explain the singular physical abnormality that separates the alcoholic from his/her peers. Our bodies are different, as are our brains. We literally process alcohol differently than normal people.

      4. Tolerance. That is only true in early stages of alcoholism. You can tell an early alcoholic because they can drink their friends under the table. But the disease is progressive. It gets worse never better. By the later stages it's a total roulette wheel. You never know from drinking session to drinking session if you will be drinking 20 beers unable to achieve a buzz or sloshed beyond recognition after 2 drinks. Alcohol stops working in any kind of predictable manner.

      For a really good description of the physical aspects of the disease I recommend Under the Influence. I have a link to it above.

      Next to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it is the best resource I've found. Bar none.

      So thank you for your added comments.

      I am not going to argue with you about whether you are a "former" alcoholic or not. I will say for the record that telling anyone, anywhere, that they can kick real alcoholism with sheer willpower just because you did it is dangerous.

      Have you ever thought to look up untreated alcoholism or dry drunk? Just a thought. MM

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      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      I left out TOLERANCE from the statement "Alcohol is a disease that has the following four symptoms.

      1. Craving

      2. Loss of Control

      3. Physical Dependance

      4. "TOLERANCE- The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high"."

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Instead of making the waters muddy with opinions and personal stories about alcoholism here is some information from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.(NIAA) All of the se are exact quotes from their website.

      " Alcohol Dependence is a disease that has the following four symtoms.

      1. Craving- a strong need, urge to drink.

      2. Loss of Control- Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.

      3. Physical Dependance- Withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, shakiness and anxiety after stopping drinking.(This is the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)

      Here is some more information quoted from the NIAA website.

      "How can you tell if someone has an alcohol problem??

      - Have you ever felt that you should cut back on your drinking?

      - Have people annoyed you, criticizing your drinking?

      - Haveyou ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?

      - Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

      TheNIAA website says that if you answered yes to one of the questions you have got a possible alcohol problem and if you answered yes to more than one it is highly likely a problem already exists.

      Here is another piece of information from the NIAA website.

      "What is a safe level of drinking for MOST adults?"

      "Moderate alcohol use-- up to two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women and older people cause few problems.

      Also here is a quote from DR. Drew on KROQ. "You are an alcoholic if there are consequences as a result of your drinking, such as problems at work, health problems, social problems(Friends and Family) and other problems that have consequences.

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      MM, I know from reading your various blogs that you have got strong opinions about things, but I must disagree with you. You can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it. When you drink to live and live to drink and swill down 15 or 20 beers a day for years on end like I did and I was sick and ill from it well I think that I would be the best judge to say that I was worse than just about any ALCOHOLIC that I have known or even seen on TV. I would make Dr. Drew's patients seem like rookies.

      I am not the first person that was a very bad alcoholic(For atleast 15 years), drug addict(Pills everyday for 5 years sometimes 6 or 8 Oxycodone per Day) or obese person to say hey enough is enough and I am done with this on my own free will. Do you call someone who drinks 15-20 beers a day starting at 9 a.m. for many many years a casual drinker, do you call someone that was addicted to pain pills for 5 years taking 6-8 pills a day everyday just to feel normal a casual or recreational drug user? Anyway I realize that I am one of the lucky ones that can do what I want to do when I decide to but I feel that most people can do this too with a lot of strong minded relentless willpower.






    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi mandymoreno,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I get very upset when people take the attitude that drinking alcoholically is just a 'bad habit' that can be stopped with willpower. That is wrong and dangerous.

      I do agree that if you are alcoholic you cannot "indulge a bit" because there is no "a bit" for the alcoholic. One is too many and a thousand isn't enough.

      Former Alcoholic,

      Congratulations on ALL your healthy lifestyle changes. I must respectfully disagree with you that restraint and willpower will work against alcoholism. I can tell just by your comment that you are NOT an alcoholic. First of all, there are no "former" alcoholics. If you've got the disease you have it for life. It's not curable.

      Second, the fact that you were able to put down drinking with no difficulties whatsoever tells me you are NOT alcoholic. An alcoholic is unable to stop. That is the difference. You may have been a heavy drinker. You may even have been abusing alcohol. But you weren't alcoholic and aren't alcoholic. At least, not from your description of yourself.

      I only point this out because I don't want people who truly are struggling with being unable to conquer their drinking problem with willpower to feel like they are failures. They are not. They are alcoholics.


    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      For me I just decided not to be an alcoholic anymore and have not drank in 3 and a half years. All along I have been around people drinking. I do prefer to be around non drinkers but it is a good thing to be able to resist alcohol even when around someone drinking.

      In my case it has always been psychological, mind over matter. If I decide that I will stop eating sweets I will do that, if I needed to lay off high cholesterol foods I will start eating vegetables in the morning, if I need to lose 10 pounds or 45 pounds I would cut back on the carbohydrates and put my mind to excercising. I find that I can change all cognitive behavior that I decide to change or correct. Over twenty years ago I broke my back in 5 places, had shoulder surgery and knee wurgery and had to take a lot of pain pills. I went for about 5 years taking oxycodone and hydrocodone every single day. I was addicted to those pills for 5 years and the doctors kept writing me prescriptions for the pain. I woke up one morning and decided that I did not want to be a pill eating drug addict and I stopped taking those narcotic pills immediately. Even 20 years later I have had surgery and took the minimal amount of pain medication and threw away the rest. Many things in life seem hard to conquer or hard to correct but I truly believe that people can do what ever they put their mind too. If they really want to achieve a personal goal like lose weight, stop drinking and using drugs, stop eating terrible fattening foods well with some restaint and the right mindset and a ton of will power just about anything can be accomplished.

    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 6 years ago

      Alcoholism like other drugs and substance abuse is physiological. I've heard people say oh well if you want to quit, you will. That's acting as if it was that easy, you could stop any old habit of yours. The key is not to indulge even a bit or put yourself in that situation where you will be around alcohol.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      We're here for you, mrs. budryzer. Educating yourself is the best possible thing you can do. I suggest getting yourself a copy o Alcoholics Anonymous (aka the "Big Book") and reading it cover to cover. I also like the "Under the Influence" and "Beyond the Influence" books which address the disease from a biological perspective.

      Try attending OPEN meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's free (ok, $1 -- VOLUNTARY contribution when they pass the basket). You will see and hear men and women telling their stories of what their lives were like and what they are doing to keep the demon alcohol at bay.

      I recommend going there FIRST (this is just my opinion, of course) and also going to Al-Anon. My experience has been that if you don't do the research firsthand as to what is happening with your husband, you may get easily turned off to Al-Anon and wonder how you ended up in a group of clueless whiny martyrs (biased much? Not me!). But Al-Anon is the essential companion program for anyone who is committed to living with an alcoholic because their disease takes over your life as well as theirs. Al-Anon does offer self-directed coping tools.

      On a personal note, I'm so sorry your husband is back in his dark place. I pray for you both that he reaches his true bottom SOON and seeks out help. It is there for him -- and for you. Blessings, MM

    • mrsbudryzer profile image

      mrsbudryzer 6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Thank you, I will educate myself myself deal...and help him the best I can!

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks! Appreciated both articles :)

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks, KrystalD

      I actually have a hub called "Can You Stop Someone from Drinking Themselves to Death" that is very Al-Anon directed as well.

      But cross-understanding between the alcoholic and his/her family is very important!

      Thanks for sharing the recovery message. MM

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 6 years ago from Los Angeles

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      These are places online that could be very helpful as you navigate through this tough time.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi KrystalD,

      Excellent point. We are all sick in our own ways and the spouse needs recovery as much as the alcoholic.


      So very, very sorry to hear your dear one is having such a rough go. I know I don't need to point out that anti-depressants do not work with alcohol so the self-medicating is negating the doctor's remedy.

      He is the only one who can say enough is enough.

      But you don't have to sit helplessly by.

      This is a really hard time of year for many people. Please, please go with him to a meeting and keep taking him.

      Just because it didn't work for him before (says him) doesn't mean it won't if he really tries it. They will welcome him back with open arms and will know exactly what to do to encourage him to put the bottle down.

      Or put him in a rehab where he can sort out his demons without drowning them.

      Get off the rollercoaster. It will not stop on its own.

    • mrsbudryzer profile image

      mrsbudryzer 6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Thank you KrystalD. It's actually a really bad time for him right now. Just last night he stayed up drinking...all night. He turned the music up to drown out his demons and drank them away as well apparently. I can only stand by his side at this point. It's been a roller coaster since I've been here last. Nothing is clicking for him right now. Unfortunately, he's the only one that can say when enough is enough.

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Excellent article and to mrsbudryzer, there are rooms of recovery to help you stay sane in this journey too.

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      I was going to say that I thought I was a little bit knowledgable about medical things before I quit drinking, but I had no idea that drinking can mess up your cholesterol, I always knew that the carbohydrates will make your glucose high and make you fat but did not connect that to all of the unburned calories raising my triglycerides and did not know that high triglycerides automatically raise your cholesterol. Even when I went on the 6 month diet of no meat, it was the alcohol all along. I can eat pounds of beef and things now and my total cholesterol stays at 170(was 248) my bad cholesterol at about 100(was 155) and my good chlesterol has fortunately always been good even when I was an alcoholic. I quickly went from 220 lbs to 175 lbs. and can not believe that I have been at my optimum BMI(body Mass Index). It's the beer and carbs that made me fat and threw my numbers off. Now I eat whatever I want and get some exercise just to be healthy.(I did not start excersising until the last year though, but I have always been active getting exercise spending a lot of time in the mountains and outdoors.

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for the forum to express myself. I do not discuss my fromer drinking very much I for the most part tell people that I do not drink because it shot up my glucose and twisted up my trigycerides, in return raising my bad cholesterol. I still am kind of embarressed that I was such a drunk and don't really share that with too many people. Your forum gave me somewhere to remind myself of how bad of an alcoholic I was. I have had no desire to drink in years and this discussion will reinforce my disgust for alcohol and the terrible things that surround an alcoholic. Alcohol is the devil in disguise and is a really bad thing from my perspective. 5 years ago I would have said that alcohol was great and good and all that. Whew was I so out of touch and never want another drink. Actually a few friends will have a drink around me and when I get a whiff of the beer or liquor it really makes me sick at my stomach. That is a great thing. I hope that everyone has a great holiday. It is ironic that it is the holiday when everyone gets totally plastered on alcohol. I am so thankful I do not drink myself blind anymore around the holidays.

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Mighty Mom, I was going to say that I really like your write up on this Hub you provided a lot of information there. I have not read all of the blogs from various people though I have read about half so far. I do like your forum.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Congratulations, Former Alcoholic. You sure sound like you know that horrible, isolated feeling of living to drink and drinking to live, but only living a very limited existence. I shudder reading your description of your life. We each have our drink of choice, and it's not even the quantity that qualifies us as alcoholics. It's that utter dependence on drinking.

      But you said the magic words -- the compulsion to drink was lifted from you. That's so freeing, isn't it?

      Glad you are sober now and I wish you continued serenity and joy and HEALTH (all over) in your life.

      Blessings. Thanks for commenting. MM

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      I wanted to comment too that I was not what I would call a heavy drinker. I drank all day everyday for atleat 5 years before I quit drinking and as soon as I got any break in the day before that. I was a seriously bad alcoholic. Would start popping beers at 8:30 in the morning and drink until I passed out late that night or whenever I would pass out sometimes by 1:00 pm. If I passed out this early I would wake up a few hours later and start drinking again. I drank an average of 15 beers a day. Not Budweiser but strong imported beers. I was a bad alcoholic I can not stress that enough and it makes me woozy just thinking about how much I used to drink.

    • profile image

      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Thanks Mighty Mom. I understand that an alcoholic has a disease. It is a bad disease. We can control it though if we stop drinking. I should rephase my thoughts on "weak will", I should not have used that term I really do not like that term either. I should have said that it took a whole lot of will power and a very strong will to resist alcohol and not relapse once I personally decided to stop drinking. Luckily after about 6 months I had no desire to drink and the thought of drinking a beer was digusting. When I decided that I was going to stop drinking, I went cold turkey and did it completely on my own, no AA, doctors, pastors. I was the best thing that I have ever done and one of the hardest things that I have ever achieved.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA


      I'm reading comments in reverse order this morning. No, I did NOT have a rough night of boozing to justify my fuzzy head this am:-).

      This is in response to the first FORMER ALCOHOLIC comment.

      I'm so very sorry for the loss of your brother and the horrible pain you went through.

      It's not at all uncommon to drink "at" someone or something (a job, a wrong, etc.) for years. Knowing it's not helping the situation but doing it anyway.

      Also, exposure to another alcoholic in your life, especially your own family, does not insulate you from the disease. I watched my mother drink herself pretty much to death. When I started drinking alcoholically like her I had no conscious recognition that I was doing it!

      Very glad to hear you were able to get all your medical numbers under control. Hooray!

      And yes, you said the magic words here. All the snarking, nagging and threatening in the world -- by anybody -- will get a drunk sober. Until the day you decide you want to quit FOR YOURSELF -- you have little to no hope of making the necessary change.

      So spot-on advice here.

      Thanks for commenting. MM

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello Former Alcoholic,

      I'm happy to hear you have your obsessive eating and drinking behavior under control.

      It absolutely takes strength to change your behaviors and live healthy.

      I must point out, however,an observation. You changed your eating habits because it was medically necessary to do so. You were "white-knuckling it" (in distress) trying NOT to eat beef because it would aggravate your gout.

      The heavy drinker is able to change his/her drinking when life circumstances demand it, as well. Whereas the "real alcoholic" finds that he/she is unable to stop even when it's absolutely necessary (medically, financially, socially). In other words, alcoholic drinking is NOT controllable with willpower.

      Anyway, this may feel like picky semantics, but it's really an important point that I want others struggling with addiction to understand.

      No amount of judgment, badgering or nagging can stop a real alcoholic from fulfilling their biological and mental destiny. Which is to drink self-destructively.

      They are not weak-willed.

      They have a disease which is not unlike having gout.

      Could you will your gout away with your head?

      No, you could not.

      Ok, I'm done lecturing here.

      The bottom line is I'm really glad you were able to turn your life around and prolong your life and not destroy it with overconsumption of food and drink.

      Keep doing what you're doing as it's working for you.


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      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Mighty mom I too could not stand when people would tell me I was weak willed or had a character flaw because I was a drunkard. I can only speak for myself but looking back I was very weak willed and it took every drop of will power for me to not relapse. I had tried to stop drinking for others through the years and a few times because I was fat and had bad gout, I was very weak willed though and would relapse fast. When I finally went to the doctor and decided to stop drinking on my own due to the medical problems well it took all the will in the world to keep me away from a beer and it took even more will for me to eat properly. In the first 6 months I went without eating any beef, pork, cheese and of course no drinking. Actually it was harder for me to resist my favorite foods than to resist a beer. It was torture to walk by the beer at the store but absolute pure hell to walk by the beef counter. To me food is addiction even more so than alcohol. Try to not eat you favorite foods ever again. I think that is a very very tough task that may be almost impossible. Luck for me my health problems are resolved not being an alcoholic anymore and I can eat what I want to. I do go overboard with food still(however I have kept my weight down.) For me, stopping drinking and keeping my food in balance is a struggle over personal will and I must be strong willed. I must have an even stronger will to continue to keep up my excersize and fitness. I may not want to run or jog but I make myself. I am only speaking for myself but I think that you definitely have got to be stromg willed to conquer addictions in life. (Like food, alcohol, drugs, sex etc.) It has got to be mind over matter and you must have a very strong will to do away with the things that you once enjoyed very very much. And again I could not stand for people to call me weak willed when I was a gross alcoholic but for me that seemed to be the case and I was weak but now I am strong. Now my opinion on will has changed and my friends that continue to be bad alcoholics and they try to stop and two days later they are back at it I say to myself that they are weak willed. Of course I do not want to badger them with my thoughts so I do not nag them and be disrespectful to them and called them weak willed.

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      FORMER ALCOHOLIC 6 years ago

      Hi I drank recreationally from the time I was 15 years old until I was 37 years old. From age 15-21 it was recreation, but after 21 I pretty much was a hopeless alcoholic. I drank to suppress my feelings and depression and pain after being hit by a drunk driver, breaking my back in 5 places and my brother passed away in that wreck. That was at age 17. I should have quit drinking then because of my discust with a drunk driver causing all of this pain and anguish. By 21 the drinking was way out of hand and this went on for 16 years. Everyone wanted me to quit drinking, my family my girlfriends etc. I was the only person who did not want to stop. I saw them as just causing trouble and trying to tell me how to live my life. In my mind I did not have a problem and I wanted to drink because I enjoyed it. All along I knew why I drank prtty much all day everyday. It was the pain, the anxiety, depression and alcohol and the alcoholism made all of these things worse. All of these people wanted me to stop for so long and that was not going to happen. I had to want to stop drinking.

      That day came 3 and half years ago when I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was having bad proeblems with the gout from drinking and went to the doctors after neglecting my health for 14 years, without a doctors visit. When I went to the doctor I found that all of my numbers were out of wack. My glucose was 120, it should be less than 99, my Triglycerides were 421, they should be less than 150, my total cholesterol was 248 it should be less than 200 and my bad cholesterol was 155 it should be less than 99. The doctors gave me a lot of medications and I went about my routine of being a drunk. The doctors never told me not to drink with simvastatin for cholesterol and I told them I was a heavy drinker. The blood pressure medicine made me feel really dizzy and spaced out. I called the doctor's office and voiced my concern about how I was feeling and told the nurse that I had discovered that you should not take simvastatin with alcohol. I told her that I could not keep taking the blood pressure meds because I was about to pass out with that medicine. Of course she pretty much did not seem to listen to anything I said and told me to continue to take the medicine and come back to the doctor as scheduled in 3 months.

      That was the day that I decided for myself that I will quit drinking because I do not want to die from alcohol nor have problems from pharmaceutical medications. I never turned back and have not had a drink in 3 and half years now. THE FIRST 6 MONTHS I WAS NOT SURE THAT I COULD CONTINUE TO BE SOBER AND 3 AND A HALF YEARS LATER I BELIEVE THAT IF I HAD A BEER I WOULD DEFINITELY BE SICK AND I HAVE NO DESIRE AT ALL, ESPECIALLY REMEBERING THE HELL I WENT THROUGH BEING AND ALCOHOLIC AND WATCHING THE ALCOHOLIC FRIENDS THAT I HAVE CONTINUE TO DESTROY THEIR LIVES. As soon as I quit drinking and went on a low cholesterol diet I lost 45 pounds and found a new doctor and have been through 4 since then and looking for a good one now(I will be driving to Atlanta before long to see a proper doctor that is a Duke University gradute, was a Duke Professor and Emory Professor, was a 1996 Olympic physician and the Atlanta Braves team doctor.) Several months after I quit drinking and lost 45 pounds fast due to all of the beer, I went to the doctor and my cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure and gout all corrected themselves.

      Long story short you must want to stop drinking and I believe for someone to want to stop drinking there has got to be a very important personal reason. When wives, friends and family want you to stop that just makes you drink even more and compounds the situation to the point that you just become a worse alcoholic. I have friend that are alcoholics they do not want to stop, even when everyone around them wants them to stop and they get worse and worse. I think that these friends need a good enough reason to stop and that would probably have to be a dire health issue. Until that day when there is something important enough for them to stop like a serious health problem, they will just keep on doing what they do and drinking themseves to an early grave. YOU HAVE TO WANT TO STOP DRINKING PERSONALLY FOR YOURSELF. WHEN WIVES, FRINEDS AND FAMILY NAG AND NAG AND NAG THAT DOES NO GOOD WHAT SO EVER AND MAKES THINGS WORSE. YOU MUST WANT TO STOP ON YOUR OWN AND UNTIL THAT DAY AN ALCOHOLIC WILL JUST KEEP ON DRINKING.

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hey Lola gal,

      I am so glad you chimed in here.

      Up to my eyeballs in client deadlines. For sure want to LINK OUR HUBS.

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      Lola1929 6 years ago from Oregon

      Such a great hub. Good interaction. Wonderful support and ideas. I think going to Al-Anon would be an eye opener for you and give you the support you need, mars. (And any other people living with/around an alcoholic.) A lot of wisdom here... I hope you take advantage of it.

      Love from Lola

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello mars,

      EVERYTHING you've written about your husband, his habits, his relationships and his parenting are eerily familiar to me. All of this is standard territory for alcoholics.

      You haven't asked for my input but I'm going to offer some ideas -- based on my own experience and that of 100s of alkies I've known, many of whom HAVE conquered their addiction.

      1. Can you send your husband to a rehab where he can be removed from harming himself and you while refreshing his recovery? He also sounds like he needs to be schooled or reschooled in the basics.

      2. A non-drinking alcoholic is MISERABLE. We're actually better off when we are treating our disease "naturally." All those substitute addictions you mentioned -- it's the disease of "more." More of whatever makes us feel momentarily better.

      3. AA is a cult and the whole God thing. Heard that one countless times. It's clear to me your husband has not given AA a chance. I've known many an atheist who's gotten over the God thing and stayed sober. BTW, does he realize in AA you get to choose your own "god" and it's got nothing to do with religion.

      There is a reason AA has stayed around and grown worldwide. It works. But you have to be completely desperate and exhaust all other possibilities.

      Perhaps with this relapse he is broken enough to try it with an open mind.

      Meantime, you have described perfectly what it is to love an alcoholic. I strongly suggest YOU get yourself some support. Check out Al-Anon.

      You can also check out AA for yourself -- go to an OPEN AA meeting and just listen. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

      But what do I know? I drank the AA koolaid in 2004. I have not relapsed. That is a MIRACLE.

      I wish both you and your hubby the serenity and joy you both deserve.


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      mars 6 years ago

      my husband has relapsed to an alcohol after 6 years & is drinking almost every day.. it almost killed as he was not a functioning alcoholic

      if im honest has somewhat lived as a dry drunk & would replace/substituted alcohol with liters of coke fizzy drinks he gradually replaced all bad habites with good but gave up smoking but everything he did was to the extreme buying clothes, fruit machines exercise bit now drinking goes hand in hand with smoking & is on 25 a day so lost interest good habites

      he avoided social situations as much as he could & got a degree he tried to get his life back, he would avoid any emotional situations & end up back at his mums a lot after a row as we both came from families with emotional & addiction issues so was rather dysfunctional.

      I am scared to get drunk as i seen the damage it does so really no my limits & husband has seen me drunk 3 times in 6 years

      he has a problem with AA because the thinks of it as a cult & the whole god thing as he is an atheists & doesn't like to conform or be told what to do

      he also has a teenage son that he had when he was a teen himself & who seems to be becoming more like him has no clear boundaries they both find it hard to control anger just like the grandfather

      I find that the effected parent feels gult so therefore has so much trouble parenting & doesn't no how so history repeats its self, alto its a lot more complicated

      my husband is now 35 & has to start again

      the trouble with living with an alcoholic is they are selfish & dont seems capable of meeting someone else's needs in any relationship so your left feeling like you always what more from them them feeling like your being unfair

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello Lola,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience (and strength and hope).

      At their core, all "-aholics" are fighting the overwhelming, unnatural instinct (but to us natural) to consume MORE of something that is self-destructive.

      You raise a good point that overeating is even harder to overcome because it's a lot harder to stay away from food than from street drugs or alcohol. It's everywhere.

      In many ways it's the most elemental of addictions.

      I'm so glad you're trying again.

      Be kind and gentle with yourself. I hope you are done with your additional field research. But the important thing is not to give up. Keep coming back no matter what. We're not judged by how many times we enter the rooms. I find that a really comforting thought.

      I hope YOU will write about your OA experiences and we can link our hubs.

      Thanks for the idea. I am long overdue for a hub on the spiritual side of the program. It's as important as any other aspect -- and probably the most open to misinterpretation. Thanks for suggesting it!

      Blessings and serenity to you, dear friend Lola. XXOO MM

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      Lola1929 6 years ago from Oregon

      Wonderful insight into the alcoholic's mind. I'm in OA. The same principles apply. They say being a food addict is harder than being an alcoholic and I think that's true. We HAVE to eat, but we don't have to drink. Being addicted to food has made my life miserable at times, but being in a 12 step program has shown me a way to live without the excess food. Yes, I have 'slipped' and also 'relapsed'. This is a hard program. It asks you to change your very being. I hope to see you write a hub about the spiritual aspects of the program. I think you have great insights. Thank you for sharing. (smiling) Love from Lola.

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      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, that's a nuance that, frankly, I had to read over a few times to understand. But it does make sense. I can see how important it is to enjoy choice when you have it, and maybe understanding how ephemeral it CAN be can make it all the more precious.

      I don't understand this to the same extent that an addict does, but I do feel I understand it better having read what you've written, for what it's worth. (It also gives me greater empathy for those I know and love who struggle with addiction)

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Wow, LL. Respect from you is not easily earned, that I know!

      Thanks for commenting.

      "Choose" is an interesting word in recovery. When we are in our disease we truly loose the freedom of choice. Using/drinking is not optional, it is compulsory (e.g., our minds COMPEL us to medicate. Not using is like trying not to sneeze or yawn. Pretty close to impossible).

      But once we pick up the tools we regain that choice.

      Not drinking is my choice TODAY.

      I'm very aware of how tenuous that is. I could so easily lose the choice and be back in the dungeon -- all it would take is 1 drink.

      Serious shit, mon.

      Anyway, sorry for the soapbox. Guess I should head back over to the forums:-). MM

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      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing an incredibly informative set of insights. I learned a ton about a very complex problem that, like most complex problems, does not lend it self to a pat, simple solution. Addiction is terrible, and you're absolutely right that it has little to do with the "strength of will." Those who choose to fight their addiction and take steps to pick themselves up even after a relapse have earned my respect.

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      Susan Reid 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi SarahJG,

      I'm totally with you and have stated the same thing many times (mostly on the forums) that willpower has nothing to do with recovery. I get so angry at people who judge alcoholics/addicts as weak-willed!

      Not sure where you got the idea that my empathy comes from afar. I'm in recovery -- 7.5 years and counting (one day at a time).

      It is very curious to me, however, to see some people who chronically relapse and keep coming in with 1 day. I know I myself would have a difficult -- if not impossible -- time coming back in. Why? Because I was so low when I got here the first time. I know I'd go right back to that sorry, pitiful place. Not sure my knees are up to another crawl through the doors.

      But agree with you 100% that knowledge and experience of "falling, yet picking yourself up and trying again" is the essence of recovery.

      Thanks so much for your comment. Yours in serenity, MM

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      SarahJG 6 years ago

      for me this would be more heartfelt if this were a personal affliction however your detail, knowledge and empanthy on the subject of addiction and relapse is more than likely far superior to anyone who is currently battling it. I know myself when your in the black pit of addiction the hardest part is accepting the fact the addiction you once craved can no longer be apart of your life and thats were fear crops in, plays with your mind and its this thought which moulds away in your mind whilst battling the addiction

      Without relapse you wouldn't have the knowledge or experiece of failing, yet picking yourself up and trying again. Which I believe is far superior to making the decision to give up as you dont fear the unknown so in my opinion relapse is necessary.

      Before I go any further I will say this: NOBODY had better DARE to write in the comments that alcoholics are weak-willed. Do not presume to tell me that quitting drinking is a simple matter of fortitude.

      The above statement would be desirable to those facing addiction as instead of judgement there would be support

      your blog is enlightening and shows those who face the solitude of addiction that those who may not have faced such circumstances may still be able to empathise