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Old 02-22-2014, 07:31 PM   #61 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NYCDoglvr View Post
I'm a recovering alcoholic (in my 23rd year) and can toss out some examples of how we think. I've changed a great deal thanks to the 12 Steps and lots of therapy but I'm still an addict and think like one sometimes.

In the Big Book ("Alcoholics Anonymous") Bill Wilson describes active alcoholics perfectly. Self centered in the extreme, huge self-will, delusional. We have enormous egos and suffer from low self-esteem (I think it's self hatred) and grandiosity. "His majesty the child" is one way of putting it ........ the level of immaturity is scary. For an active alcoholic the bottle is his/her higher power, God, great love of his life; we'll let family and friends go rather than give up booze (although a few of us do, thank God).

Why? Because rationalization and denial are part of our distorted thinking. Remember, it's a progressive disease. I've heard people called "high functioning alcoholic". Well we were all high functioning in the beginning but if you keep on drinking life gets worse and worse.

So what are sober alcoholics like? There's a saying: you can't turn a pickle back into a cucumber. If you take the alcohol away from a drunken horse thief you have a horse thief. I got sober in AA. The odds of staying sober aren't good: roughly 30% make it to one year. We put the booze down and very quickly it becomes clear that if we don't change we won't stay sober. I had the "gift of desperation" because I came within a hair's breath of dying so I took every suggestion: 90 meetings in 90 days, got a sponsor, avoided people, places and things that could trigger a relapse. The big changes come from the 12 Steps and cognitive therapy. It takes years, a great deal of motivation and hard work to really change.

Remember alcoholism (addiction) is classified as a mental illness. Alcoholics think differently from non-addicts. The insanity is we keep drinking despite the terrible hangovers, disastrous relationships, continued isolation and misery. In the beginning alcohol makes us "high"....but at some point it turns on us and takes us into deep misery and self-hate. Many of us drink as a way of self-medicating in order to avoid painful feelings.

I come here because I'm also codependent, but my big addiction is alcohol (with a sprinkling of Valium, lol). Now I can laugh when alcoholic thinking pops up ("if one is good, 27 is better"!). I still have denial and rationalization, the reason I still go to meetings. I know I have another drink in me but I don't think I have another recovery. Getting sober is the most important thing I've ever done.

Codependents waste so much time trying to figure out alcoholics. I don't know what it's like to be bipolar and you will never figure out addict thinking. It's not rational so let it go. Through Alanon I learned that the problem isn't the other alcoholic, it's me. That there's a big difference between love and need. It's so much easier to focus on someone elses problems instead of dealing with my own. Recovery was learning to choose people who are normal and healthy, who bring happiness and joy to my life. One of my favorite lines comes from Thelma and Louise: "Thelma, you get what you settle for". And, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

As Bill W. says "drinking is but a symptom" of a much bigger problem. Always remember it's a mental illness.
I don't want to say awesome, but thank you so much for your explanation. I've wanted to figure out my A while knowing I really can't get it, but I still just want to know to the best of my ability. This at least lets me know what im up against still knowing I won't understand what my A really struggles with. What I do get is that I can't do a darn thing about it. Here lately I can feel myself letting it go. Im not sure how comfortable I am with that feeling, but it's there whether I like it or not.
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:41 AM   #62 (permalink)
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I don't want to say awesome, but thank you so much for your explanation. I've wanted to figure out my A while knowing I really can't get it, but I still just want to know to the best of my ability. This at least lets me know what im up against still knowing I won't understand what my A really struggles with. What I do get is that I can't do a darn thing about it. Here lately I can feel myself letting it go. Im not sure how comfortable I am with that feeling, but it's there whether I like it or not.
Katchie - there is a lot of peace in letting it go. I am trying to get to that point.
My crazy FBI brain (family bureau of investigation) keeps telling me to check up on him. But that's all pointless. Whether RAH is at a meeting, not at a meeting, drinking, not drinking does not matter. It does not matter because no matter what he is doing, he will be plagued by addict thinking for a long time. I need to recognize that, accept that, and decide how to live with that.
For now, I am content living with that. I will keep working on my codie brain.

Thanks NYCDoglvr for enlightening me.
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:59 AM   #63 (permalink)
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Here lately I can feel myself letting it go. Im not sure how comfortable I am with that feeling, but it's there whether I like it or not.
Letting go or turning it over is a process. Never criticize yourself for times when you can't "let it go". After 23 years it's still a struggle. Always remember, it's "progress, not perfection" when it comes to recovery.
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:40 PM   #64 (permalink)
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I like how it addresses the difficult issue on whether its a disease or choice.

In my anger and resentment, I sided with the 'choice' option, as its a persons choice to pick up their very first beer, shot, joint, whatever.

But it'll snare people and turn a loving mother(like my AW) into an addict. I knew her for more than half my life and she's just someone I barely know anymore.

It's even more sad when I see the early videos of her and the kids when they alot younger, and it breaks my heart.

Good article, nonetheless.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:50 PM   #65 (permalink)
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:37 AM   #66 (permalink)
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Old 05-11-2014, 04:15 PM   #67 (permalink)
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and they can still be master manipulators even when sober.




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This is an article written by Jim LaPierre, LCSW, CCS

It's a succint explanation of the thought processes and behaviors of an active alcoholic in his professional experience. I think many of us a recognize these behaviors in our loved ones. A newbie member in our Newcomers to Recovery forum posted about this article, and I wanted to share it here.

The Insanity of Alcoholism
Sadly, well intentioned folks try to protect the alcoholic from him/herself (enabling) or try to predict what they will do next (no crystal ball available). There are hundreds of wise sayings amongst alcoholics in recovery. Some are meant to make you think and some are meant to be taken very literally. Alcoholics Anonymous refers to, “the insanity of our disease.” This is a very literal statement. I can tell you a bit about understanding the active alcoholic but I cannot make it make sense to you because understanding the active alcoholic requires stripping away a lot of rational thought, the acknowledgement and willingness to learn from mistakes, the ability to recognize obvious patterns of behavior, and quite often, the application of common sense.

There are at least a hundred forms of alcoholism. What I am describing here is the person who is still drinking, is high functioning, and has not yet lost the things they hold dear. The disease of addiction dictates that they will lose these things in time and the rule of threes dictates a grim long term prognosis (jail, institution, and/or death).

Alcoholics think, act, believe, and feel based on distorted perceptions or themselves and the world around them. They live at the extremes of all or nothing. There is no moderation, no middle ground, no compromise, and no gray area in their worldview. To varying degrees, alcoholics live in denial of their destructiveness (self and others) and this further distorts what they are able to make sense of.

"Probably"
Alcoholics are the very best liars because they are able to use rationalization and justification to convince themselves that a lie is truth. This happens subconsciously. They are not aware that they are, if you’ll pardon the term – mind screwing themselves. Alcoholics adopt a language that facilitates lying in a way that sounds very well intentioned. Their favorite word is, “probably.” This word implies intention where in fact none exists. An alcoholic who tells you they will probably do something is highly unlikely to do it. Using words like these provides them a loop hole – an escape hatch in which no absolutes are given and no promises made. The alcoholic relies on words and phrases like: possibly, maybe, would, could, should, I’d like to, I want to, I need to. These words mean nothing. They sound good but almost always lead to disappointment. Progressively, alcoholism blurs every line and impacts every interaction, every relationship, every part of the alcoholic’s world.

Firehouse Management
Putting blinders on a horse leaves it with no peripheral vision – such is the worldview of the alcoholic. They may attend to many things, but in order to do so they must turn their attention away from one thing and toward another. Multitasking for the alcoholic means making many messes at once. There is no balance for the active alcoholic. As one area of their life declines they will often focus their attention on it and take it to an extreme. As this happens, another part of their life declines and gradually their life becomes dictated by “firehouse management” – every course of action becomes based on the most pressing problem. This is an inevitably downward spiral, though some alcoholics manage to maintain it for a very long time.

External Locus of Control
As alcoholics tend to drink progressively more they will generally conceal the frequency and amount they drink. They will tell you they only had three glasses of wine and this is true. What they have not told you is that each glass was a 16 ounce tumbler. It is not only the drinking that gets hidden; it is also the negative affects alcohol produces in their lives. Alcoholics develop what counselors call “an external locus of control.” Progressively, everything is someone else’s fault. If their job is going poorly it’s because their boss hates them. If their marriage suffers then their spouse is unreasonable. If they fail as parents they will see their children as ungrateful. Everything and everyone becomes a reason to drink. The spiraling alcoholic will often say that they don’t even want to drink but that circumstances like their horrible job/spouse/kids “force” them to.

Self-Pity and the Sense of Entitlement
Alcoholics often have a bizarre sense of entitlement. They reason that having such a difficult/stressful/demanding life entitles them to act in ways that are immature, irresponsible, and selfish. To observe their behavior is to conclude a belief that the world must owe them something. The active alcoholic wallows in self-pity and concludes that they are a victim of life. As they demand more from the world they expect less and less from themselves.

Appearance over Substance
The quickest route to self destruction for alcoholics are the words, “Screw it.” This is a declaration that everything is already screwed so they might as well drink. When people decide to stop drinking we encourage them to notice that “It” is actually, “Me.” This is evident in, “It’s not worth it.” On some level the alcoholic always knows the truth and they are usually working hard not to know it. They pretend and demand that those close to them buy into the fantasy that all is well. Life becomes progressively less about anything substantive and progressively more about maintaining appearances. This is well explained in Pink’s song, “Family Portrait.” “In our family portrait we look pretty happy. We look pretty normal…”

Master Manipulators
Alcoholics are master manipulators. They may not have been con artists before they started drinking but they come to have remarkable skills. They are the folks who can sell ice to Eskimos. They will pick a fight with you because they want to leave and they will have you believing it’s your fault. They show little or no accountability. They may have had integrity before their addiction kicked in but it will be conspicuously absent from their lives as they spiral. There is often one exception to this rule for each alcoholic – one thing they do especially well and it will most generally be their sole source of self esteem. We have known a large number of alcoholics who have incredible work ethics because being a good worker is the one thing they know they’re good at…well, they will say that and drinking.

Alcoholism - A Unique Disease
The disease of alcoholism gradually and insidiously strips everything away from a person. We have been asked countless times whether alcoholism is truly a disease or a choice. In truth it is both. Alcoholism is unique as a disease in that it not only hides from view – it also lies to its carrier about its presence. The person who is active in addiction has a unique choice relative to all other diseases. The alcoholic can go into remission at any time and many do. We see that alcoholics will abstain from drinking for a time to prove to themselves or others that they are not addicted, only to return later with a vengeance.

This is from an article entitled: Alcoholic Thinking - Understanding the Insanity of Alcoholism: How the Alcoholic Thinks
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:03 AM   #68 (permalink)
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Thank you for posting this!! :-)
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:24 PM   #69 (permalink)
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absolutely dead-on! thanks for re-posting!
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:05 PM   #70 (permalink)
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I have heard that before that alcoholics "have to drink." And have to admit that it is something that I can't wrap my brain around. But, is just something I have to accept that I will never understand. It's one of those things like you just stop looking for the hidden bottles because all it accomplishes is driving me crazy. It doesn't change a thing. One thing that I liked from the article is how it said that alcoholism was both a disease and a choice. Thank you, thank you for that acknowledgement. It's a good article.
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