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Old 10-30-2008, 02:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to support after relapse?

I have a good friend who has been in recovery for many years and has relapsed. I don't know the details, but I believe it is not an ongoing thing. He has a strong AA support system that I am not a part of. What's a good way to support him from the "outside"?
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Old 10-30-2008, 08:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Love and support never hurt. I always just try to send my brothers messages of love. What they are struggling with is so huge, and any day they spend sober is a miracle. So over the years, even as the alcoholism has kept us farther and farther apart emotionally, I let them know, very simply, that I love them. They don't need or want my "help" in getting sober/recovered - I would be little or no help to them anyway!! All I can offer is to try to love and accept them just as they are today.
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Old 10-30-2008, 09:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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"They don't need or want my "help" in getting sober/recovered - I would be little or no help to them anyway!!"

Why is that?
Is there a way you can help/support from the "outside"?
Maybe my question is why are we so much on the "outside"?
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I am sorry to butt in but as a recovering alcoholic, I do not understand this either.

I have read on the F&F boards since I joined in May and I never understand the us and them stance. my husband is a normie and amusingly enough, not very codependent AT ALL and he is very much a part of recovery every day. Several of my friends are also a strong part of my recevery though they are not alcoholics, etc.

So anyway, I just do not understand all the "inside" "outside" mentality. I guess I should be glad I don't get it??
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hiya all-

TTOSBT, How, specifically, is your husband a part of your recovery? What's your experience been in how to support a relapsing friend - from the alcoholic's standpoint - how would your advice differ or be less inside/outside than showing the person you love them?? Help me understand how my saying "show your love" represents an "inside/outside" mentality??!!

I said this : "They don't need or want my "help" in getting sober/recovered - I would be little or no help to them anyway!!" because it is true!

It is not me vs. them in this picture it is them vs. their addicton. All I can ever do is be supportive with love - I cannot MAKE the person get sober or get out of their relapse - it is up to them.

The longest stretches of sobriety my brothers have ever maintained has been when they have asked for help from other recovered alcoholics - in AA - not from ME, a normie! What do I know about how to stop drinking and beat an addiction of that magnitude??!!

After more than 25 years of watching first my father and now my brothers go through all the imaginable stages of alcoholism (and getting my heart beat up over and over again - so much pain) I had to accept that the most I could do, for them, was suggest they get help and tell them I love them.

So that's all I'm saying - not "us and them." Now, if they asked me for something - like a ride to a meeting or something like that - I would be happy to "support" in that way - but if they're not asking then, I believe them - I won't force my support on anybody. They are adults - they know what to do.

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Old 10-31-2008, 06:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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For me, as a sober alcoholic who drank after many years, then got sober again, here is my experience:

I get "support" for my alcoholism from other sober alcoholics

From my "normie" friends, I'd like support as "human being" not as an alcoholic, if that makes sense.

My closest friend has a brother with 20 years of sobriety, and he watched me go down the tubes and "hit my bottom" 16 years ago, so while he has experience as a "friend and family of an alcoholic" he has no experience as an alcoholic, and occasionally he will "give me advice" that is not "based on experience" and personally I find it irritating in the extreme to put it mildly, on the other hand, he has vast experience "living life on life's terms" and his experience, strength and hope there is extremely helpful.

So while he is an active part of my "support group" and "recovery" it's best if he stays out of "my alcoholism" as he has no experience as an alcoholic.

This doesn't mean he isn't allowed to "call me on my BS" if he sees it, he has been a pivotal part of my life and recovery, but it's best if he confines himself to his experience, and he doesn't have any experience as an alcoholic.

It's difficult to define, but for example, about 17 years ago, he came to pick me up from jail where I had been a few weeks as a result of my drinking and I asked him to pick me up a six pack, as beer was scarce in jail, and he brought me a six pack of "fake beer", and while we drove back home (3 hour drive) he ended up losing his temper at me, and told me if I continued to drink the way I had been drinking I was going to die, and since his mother had died from this disease, he knew how much it hurt to have a loved one die from it, so he stated unless I got help, he was going to have to sever all contact from me, because I was going to die and he didn't want to be close to me when that happened, since it was too painful.

This was one of the most powerful moments in my life, and I used nearly the same "speech" to my sister years later. I view that as one of the most "supportive" and important times in my life with this man, and because he was speaking from his experience, it was incredibly powerful.

So now that I am sober, I do value his friendship and "support" but it's as a human being, not as a recovering alcoholic.

I also feel that from this man, who I'd trust my life to, and frequently have, an a$$ chew or a hug when appropriate or his experience about living life on life's terms are all "support" even if I don't agree with him, but it's really best if he "stays away from stuff he has no actual experience with".

It's a subtle distinction, and I'm speaking strictly for me, but that's my experience, and I think it actually matches what both "replies" are saying, ie I can help "here", but not "here".

so give your friend a hug, go to the movies, go out to coffee (we like coffee) go out for dessert maybe, don't treat him any differently then you ever have, and that will be supportive.

Last edited by Ago; 10-31-2008 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 10-31-2008, 06:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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As yet another drinker who's lurking on the F&F board, I just wanted to chime in for a minute. Bernadette, I think you, TTOSB, and Ago are really all on the same page, but I think it was this one sentence that caught our attention:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernadette View Post
They don't need or want my "help" in getting sober/recovered - I would be little or no help to them anyway!!
I had the same reaction as TTOSB when I first read it, but when I read your follow-up post it sounded much different.

Ago spelled things out in a slightly different manner, but I think the underlying sentiment is the same.

Please believe: we definitely DO want and need your help and support! But, like Ago said, you can only "help" with things that you have personal experience with and can truly understand. Like YOU said, those in recovery tend to get their best RECOVERY support from other addicts. But we need that LIFE support when we are home with our loved ones, or our battle is a million times more difficult.

So to repeat what I've already said, I think we're all saying the same thing, just in different ways.

I hope everyone has a great day.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks Tryin. Yup, I do think we are all in the same page. Bernadette, I am sorry, I was not really thinking of you or your post when I said that, I was responding to Tarheel's post.

I completely agree with you that I need support from other alcoholics for my recovery. I am VERY active in AA and sometimes I don't know what I would do without my sponsor. And yes, sometimes the best thing my husband can say is "Have you called your sponsor? Shouldn't you get to a meeting?"

I just would never want my husband or friend's to feel like I do not want or need their help, ya know? Ago said it VERY well in regards to what roles different people play in my recovery.

Peace & Love.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
I have read on the F&F boards since I joined in May and I never understand the us and them stance.
I rarely see the "us" and "them" mentality here. I have noticed some confusion once and awhile on the "keep the focus on yourself" aspect of it.

Maybe it's the same as when I read over on the Alcoholism board and I don't understand why they're never talking about the pain they have/are causing their loved ones, but about healing themselves, staying sober. That doesn't mean they have an "us" and "them" mentality, does it?

I've always believed everyone is in recovery together. It starts with me.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for such thoughtful replies!

Another question - Is it most helpful to get support (with alcohol issues) just from other alcoholics or would you seek help from someone recovering from any addiction?

Is it impossible for a non-alcoholic to understand what it's like and how to help?
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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hmm, well for "my alcoholism" truthfully I "need" other alcoholics say for sponsorship, support groups etc. but once we get into "addiction" and "addiction issues" any "addict" will do, also other alcoholics can/will/do help me in regards to other addictions I may already have/acquire such as relationships...eating...anything....video games, whatever, I can "use" anything addictively as ultimately I have an "addictive personality"

The way recovery is "based" we share our "experience" we don't share our "opinion" unless specifically requested and we most certainly try to never give "advice"

Usually something like I tried "this" and got "this result" (failure) but when I "tried this" I got "this result" (success)

So that's why you see "recovered" people on these boards discussing their "experience, strength, and hope" and generally speaking not "giving advice or opinion"

So, back to the question, an "addict" can help with "addiction issues" but can't "help" with alcoholism because (s)he has no experience with it.

that's why I don't sponsor (among other reasons) females, heroin addicts, meth addicts etc because I have no "experience being a female, or heroin addict or meth head.

Hope this answers your question
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:01 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Help me help my friend

I guess a little background is in order.

I have been friends with this man for 23 years (I am female). It was love at first sight. At least I know it was for me. He had been sober for about 2 years. After our year together, joined at the hip, he remained sober, even taking me to bars, but he never drank. I've never been a drinker myself, so one or two is plenty for me.

After a year together, our friendship grew into a romantic friendship. We loved each other and wanted to be together, but his wife had just died and he was not ready. I was in my mid-20s and the clock was ticking. It was between him, "G", and another, "R". I chose "R" because he was ready to marry and I saw no signs of "G" being close to ready.

20 years later, "R" and I separated and "G" and I reunited; "G" had been sober 12 years total, but had a 2-year relapse, and was recently sober again for the last few months.

NOTE: Please excuse my errors in nomenclature. I now "sober" is supposed to be called "in recovery".

For 2.5 years, "G" and I have been joined at the hip again. We love each other still have have never stopped. Sadly, he relapsed again just a few weeks ago.

His relapse is breaking my heart in every way possible. The last time, he laid on his sofa for 2 years drinking a gallon of vodka every day and not eating until he was finally taken to the emergency room and started recovery again. We reconnected a few months after THAT recovery. I didn't even know he had relapsed.

Regardless, we started our relationship again in May of '10, just two months after he started recovery. I understood he wasn't ready to be in a relationship again, even though I was not and never have been an alcoholic (I guess that makes me a "normie").

However, I have addiction problems myself. Addictions to cigarettes (boo hoo), and food (potential death). So although I do not understand alcohol addiction, I understand addiction itself. In particular, I believe food addiction is very, very, very similar.

So he's been relapsed about a month now. He tells me he wants to stop, he KNOWS he has to stop, and he knows that if he doesn't, this time, it's death. He also refers to himself as "out of control" and "needing to get away".

Our ties are deeply emotional, not physical. But that doesn't really matter, other than the fact that we don't co-habitate so there is no fear for my safety. My physical safety.

I can't watch him die. I spent a year with him 20-some years ago, and 2.5 years ago with him since mid-2010. I had never seen him drunk until now.

It's like a time warp. We are exactly where we were 20 years ago, except this time he's relapsed. Do I wait for him or reconcile with my spouse? Do I stay by his side and support him? If I reconcile with my spouse, I will not be "allowed" to have contact with him at all.

I want to help him, support him, encourage him ... whatever it takes to get him into recovery again. He says I don't understand the alcoholic mind, but I do, to a degree. Is he too far gone? Do I back away? Do I wait for him to call me? Do I continue to bring him food so at least he gets something to eat every day?

He is my love.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
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kristelyne, I am sorry this has happened. I am sorry you are so hurting and confused. I have never found, in all of my efforts to "help" all the addicts and alcoholics I have involved myself with and who are in my family, that anything I did actually helped. In fact, I have found quite the opposite; whenever I have helped I have only HURT them. I think the best thing you can do is take the very best care of yourself you possibly can, investigate why you got involved with an alcoholic in the first place, educate yourself about alcoholism and codependence, and work on YOUR needs FIRST.

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Old 07-12-2012, 06:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I myself have lived with an eating disorder for most of my life.

I met, feel in love with and married and alcoholic.

There is a difference between having an addiction and working your recovery. I am far from perfect, but for a long time now I have been blaming ALL of my relationship problems on my addiction, and not putting any faith into the fact that I was working recovery hard. My loved one not so much.

Working my own recovery was the most important thing to do for me, and honestly for him and a chance for us of a relationship.

Another thing that helped me with both my food stuff (I don't know why but it does) and definitely being in a relationship with an alcoholic is Al-Anon.

I have recently started to put the relationship into appropriate perspective (and what was mine and what was not). Food has really evened out and gotten better when I do that.
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
It's like a time warp. We are exactly where we were 20 years ago, except this time he's relapsed. Do I wait for him or reconcile with my spouse? Do I stay by his side and support him? If I reconcile with my spouse, I will not be "allowed" to have contact with him at all.
It seems more like an addiction merry-go-round to me. Your "love" is chasing booze, your are chasing him, and your spouse is behind you waiting for you and him to get off the ride. I guess so he can "forbid" you from seeing your "love".

It appears to me that you get on the ride or reconcile with your husband so you can avoid what you need to do for yourself.

Please, get off the ride, leave "R" alone and work on yourself. And only yourself.
You sound so sad, desperate and unhappy.
Trying to help an alcoholic will actually triple your stress, you said yourself you are heading for death. Do not rush in.

You deserve to live, live with faith in yourself.

Beth
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