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Old 05-17-2018, 05:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Untreated Alcoholism vs Depression?


What are the symptoms of untreated alcoholism?

What are the symptoms of depression?

How do you tell the difference? What would examples of each be?
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Old 05-17-2018, 10:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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from my experience Alcohol drove me into deep depression..


Alcohol is technically central nervous system depressant. Depressants work by slowing down respiratory and heart rate. The do this by affecting the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals which provide communication between brain cells. GABA works by decreasing brain activity. Most depressants operate in this same manner.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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great question

page 52 describes a few systoms of alcoholism beside being drunk
We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people
add the deeper things of anger,fear,selfish behaviors,selfish motives,etc
add kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing at times plus they may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. A wide variety.

about depression,I have heard it said clinical depression does not respond to the 12 steps.We are alcoholics,not trained in this area.I failed to recognize it in 2 past sponsee`s before and later they killed themselves.
we are not Dr`s,just alcoholics.Thats why I think going to get outside help saves lives.
in the 2 guys who had the depression who killed them selves,they wouldn`t touch the steps.One appeared to think about it and the other dismissed it quickly.Now if someone asks me to sponsor them,and does not want to work the steps,I suggest they get outside help.

depression versus sitting on the pity pot are sometimes confused as the same.I think they are separate.I was depressed a lot early on and sat on my self pity pot a lot.But...the people in AA got me going in the steps and a few other things and it changed my attitude.Over time,both disappeared
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I had a elderly lady friend who was a great lady.Her husband was a well known Dr.
She had been sober quite a long time.
one day I noticed she hadn`t been around much.When I did see her,she looked different.Her appearance was worst,she was letting herself go,
not dressing as nice as she used too,her hair,etc
Then one day I got a call,she was in the hospital,she had stabbed herself and later on died.Looking back,we could see where she was slipping away.It is hard to spot at the time,but look for outwards appearances ,sometimes IT is a sign of a worsting inner state
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I would say just don't let someone else's experience in AA be YOUR gospel.

I think AA can be really damaging to people with trauma issues. The Steps can open up a lot of wounds, and cannot necessarily repair them when the people doing the "teaching" don't know what they are doing - and like you observed yourself, people who sponsor or who are merely in the rooms are not trained mental health professionals.

What is the impetus behind your question this time, PTF?
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tommyh View Post
I had a elderly lady friend who was a great lady.Her husband was a well known Dr.
She had been sober quite a long time.
one day I noticed she hadn`t been around much.When I did see her,she looked different.Her appearance was worst,she was letting herself go,
not dressing as nice as she used too,her hair,etc
Then one day I got a call,she was in the hospital,she had stabbed herself and later on died.Looking back,we could see where she was slipping away.It is hard to spot at the time,but look for outwards appearances ,sometimes IT is a sign of a worsting inner state
Yeah unfortunately nowadays when people see someone who used to dress well, care about their hair clothes weight teeth and makeup and suddenly stops doing so or is only able to do so on occasion because of how much energy it takes, they think the person is on drugs or pills.

I am sorry people didn't catch the signs to help her. I am sorry she couldn't help herself. I bet she tried to.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I would say just don't let someone else's experience in AA be YOUR gospel.
Thank you, biminiblue for another helpful post. This goes along with what you wrote in my other thread about how common projection is in AA.

I think AA can be really damaging to people with trauma issues.
This needs to be shouted from a mountain top. I agree so much. I am so thankful that my therapist said to me the other day that she thinks I'm doing a great job being a sponsor seeing how I separate sponsorship from therapy, and how I always tell my sponsees stuff like "that's not an issue for a sponsor, that's an issue for a therapist", etc. There must be strong clear lines between the two. My only role is taking someone through the steps. I also make clear that step work does not solve mental illness. I had a sponsor who didn't want to continue IOP and only do her step work. I told her I'd stop working with her if she stopped the IOP on her own accord. The steps help with alcoholism, nothing more.

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The Steps can open up a lot of wounds, and cannot necessarily repair them when the people doing the "teaching" don't know what they are doing - and like you observed yourself, people who sponsor or who are merely in the rooms are not trained mental health professionals.
I agree. You stated this so well. I struggled a lot with a previous sponsor who disagreed with my therapist regarding amends and if I listened to her and not my therapist, would have caused me a lot of harm. I've had other sponsors poke fun at my going to therapy, calling it immature, etc. I've heard of others who think you're not truly sober if you take meds for anxiety or depression, etc. Sponsors are not trained mental health professionals!!! And sponsors in AA need to stop bad mouthing mental health professionals.

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What is the impetus behind your question this time, PTF?
I'm trying to tell what the difference is for myself so I can figure out what needs to be worked on--from a spiritual angle or depression/anxiety outside of alcoholism angle. I don't know how to tell.

-Some people stop drinking and their depression/anxiety goes away, which means the alcohol was causing it directly or both directly and indirectly. These are the types who do very well with "don't drink and go to meetings."

-Some people stop drinking and their depression/anxiety worsen, because they were using alcohol to self medicate. Alcohol was the solution until it became a problem. These are us types who get worse from "don't drink and go to meetings".

-Some people stop drinking and their depression/anxiety goes away when they have a spiritual awakening from doing the step work.

-Some people stop drinking, have a spiritual awakening from the step work, and their depression/anxiety comes back because they're suffering from untreated alcoholism.

-Some people stop drinking, have a spiritual awakening from the step work, but their depression/anxiety comes back because they're suffering from clinical depression/anxiety.

So if it comes back, is it a spiritual issue or a mental health issue? How to tell?
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.






Keep seeking, PTF. AA is not the only answer, and for that matter neither is any one particular book, pastor, therapist, or friend. Seek. You'll find.

The Steps lead to a spiritual awakening. Then trust - through using it. You have a lot of wisdom, and I think if you tap into it and trust yourself you'll be of great service.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
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great question

page 52 describes a few systoms of alcoholism beside being drunk
We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people
add the deeper things of anger,fear,selfish behaviors,selfish motives,etc
add kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing at times plus they may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. A wide variety.
Thanks Tommy a great reminder of the bedevilments. So let me ask you something, did these exist because of the alcohol? Isn't it "untreated alcoholism" when these exist when "just not drinking" and not doing the step work? So how do you tell the difference between "untreated alcoholism" and "clinical depression"?

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about depression,I have heard it said clinical depression does not respond to the 12 steps.We are alcoholics,not trained in this area.I failed to recognize it in 2 past sponsee`s before and later they killed themselves.
I never heard that before, and that is interesting. I am sorry about your two past sponsees. What was it that would have clued you on to "clinical depression" versus "untreated alcoholism"? To me they look the same and it's confusing.

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we are not Dr`s,just alcoholics.Thats why I think going to get outside help saves lives.
I agree. That's why as much as I love The Dr.'s Opinion it's confusing. And as much as I think my HG is one of the strongest around, they do damage when the chairperson constantly brings up the same story he tells about the first time he went to therapy, talks down about it in a "joking" way, and how he didn't therapy, he needed a spiritual awakening.

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in the 2 guys who had the depression who killed them selves,they wouldn`t touch the steps.One appeared to think about it and the other dismissed it quickly.Now if someone asks me to sponsor them,and does not want to work the steps,I suggest they get outside help.
That is a very interesting point and something I will definitely keep in mind as I sponsor people. I was taught that if someone doesn't want to do the steps, then they are in self-will run riot and are selfishly doing recovery their own way. When I struggled in the pits of hell because my 4th step took an incredible long amount of time, I was told repeatedly and in a harsh tone of voice that I was choosing fear instead of trusting God, I was in self-will, ego, drama, etc. That was a bunch of b*llsh*t.

I should've done my 4th step with my therapist. He tried to suggest it, but I wouldn't listen because I drank the AA koolaide that this was MY fault I wasn't getting through my 4th step. Oh and instead of seeing the trauma in my resentments, I was told wow you don't seem that angry, yet look at how many resentments you have. You are selfish because you wanted everyone to act the way you wanted them to act. Um, no. It's not selfish if you don't want to be abused. How in the world is that SELFISH? If someone helped me to see that the people who harmed me weren't doing it because it was personal, even though they made it out to be like that, it wasn't my fault, etc., then that would've been a hell out of lot more helpful.

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depression versus sitting on the pity pot are sometimes confused as the same.I think they are separate.I was depressed a lot early on and sat on my self pity pot a lot.But...the people in AA got me going in the steps and a few other things and it changed my attitude.Over time,both disappeared
I agree!! They are DEFINITELY separate! When someone talks repeatedly about an issue that happened to them in the past, perhaps they are talking about it because they can't get the record to stop replaying! Not that they are looking for pity or seeking attention! Maybe they need help PROCESSING and RESOLVING it for once and for all! I also had the "self pity" sh*t thrown at me and what I was told and then thought was "self-pity" all over my self-seeking part of "my part" in my step 4 I think was much more likely to be plain old DEPRESSION that I didn't have the tools to resolve.

I am glad your self-pity and depression disappeared, Tommy. You certainly have given a lot of wonderful support to everyone here on SR.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Yes. This is so true and well stated. It takes a very skilled, experienced and intelligent health care professional specialist (or one with a strong sixth sense or perhaps a lucky one who just had a similar case) to realize that what they are seeing in a patient is in fact NOT their specialty. This is a very simplistic way of stating that, but it's like this analogy: say you go to an orthopedist with knee pain and they focus on the knee. Say you then go to a holistic doctor or a p.t., and they think maybe another joint or part of the body is throwing the knee joint out of wack. Then say you go to an orthopedist who sees that's it not the knee even though it appears to be.

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Keep seeking, PTF. AA is not the only answer, and for that matter neither is any one particular book, pastor, therapist, or friend. Seek. You'll find.
Where else to seek? Some days it feels like there are just millions of different options and that all is so overwhelming that it feels like there are none if that makes any sense.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:39 AM   #11 (permalink)
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from my experience Alcohol drove me into deep depression..
I'm sorry you had that experience, Dave. It sounds like you're one of those "lucky ones" who gets well by just avoiding alcohol or other CNS depressants. Have you found helpful coping skills to replace the alcohol?

Quote:
Alcohol is technically central nervous system depressant. Depressants work by slowing down respiratory and heart rate. The do this by affecting the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals which provide communication between brain cells. GABA works by decreasing brain activity. Most depressants operate in this same manner.
The chemistry between alcohol is very interesting. My doctor once explained that we need to find things that naturally raise our GABA. He boiled it down to: work, family, hobbies, friends and one other I think health but I don't recall.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:44 AM   #12 (permalink)
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What's really hard to understand is that when talking with my sponsees, I can compartimentalize and go into sponsor mode so well and really help them. I'm even helping a woman whose sponsor can't deal with her, and I'm able to spend a few minutes telling her what she needs to hear (many times it's a firm "take this to your therapist", "the step work isn't the be all end all" or giving her more detailed step work instructions that she needs.)

Sometimes I amaze myself at what I say. I see that I really get the spiritual stuff and experienced it. The feedback I get from them is sometimes quite surprising, and makes me feel like a fraud because of how crappy I'm feeling right now. How can I so get the spiritual stuff and be a good sponsor yet feel like this?
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Old 05-18-2018, 01:03 PM   #13 (permalink)
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don`t be too concerned about the feelings,just keep doing the right actions by helping others.Sometimes the feelings can stop us from helping others.

Bill W said
I soon found that when all other measure failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day. Many times I have gone to my old hospital in despair. On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly lifted up and set on my feet.

I believe Bill felt better physically and mentally after trying to help others.

So if it comes back, is it a spiritual issue or a mental health issue? How to tell?

I wish I had that answer,in that case,maybe it is better to go talk to a professional and see what turns up

We can`t fix everything,but we can help others stay sober as they seek answers and help for other stuff like
There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

so,thats what I try to do,help others stay sober by the 12 steps
everything else is up to people more qualified and them
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:30 PM   #14 (permalink)
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don`t be too concerned about the feelings,just keep doing the right actions by helping others.Sometimes the feelings can stop us from helping others.
Thanks, Tommy. I want to do right by my sponsees. I don't want things like feelings to get in the way. I know that I've surprised myself by how helpful I am as a sponsor, but it's because of my own experience.

Quote:
Bill W said
I soon found that when all other measure failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day. Many times I have gone to my old hospital in despair. On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly lifted up and set on my feet.
Imagine if Bill hadn't picked up that pay phone when he was at the bar to call what was it like a dozen churches until he found another alcoholic to help? I always feel so much better when I help another.

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I believe Bill felt better physically and mentally after trying to help others.
Yes, I read that, too.
Didn't Bill also suffer from depression, or was it depression that was part of his alcoholism?

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So if it comes back, is it a spiritual issue or a mental health issue? How to tell?

I wish I had that answer,in that case,maybe it is better to go talk to a professional and see what turns up
That's a good point. Maybe they can tell the difference between the "bedevilments" of untreated alcoholism and clinical depression.

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We can`t fix everything,but we can help others stay sober as they seek answers and help for other stuff like
True.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
Who was he referring to here? I guess I'm still confused. So a person can recover but still have an underlying issue?

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so,thats what I try to do,help others stay sober by the 12 steps
everything else is up to people more qualified and them
That's what I try to do, too. It's a good rule of thumb.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The Steps lead to a spiritual awakening. Then trust - through using it. You have a lot of wisdom, and I think if you tap into it and trust yourself you'll be of great service.
Thanks biminiblue. I missed this last part when I posted back. I appreciate this a lot. Sometimes I find it's easier to help others than to help myself if that makes sense.
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Old 05-18-2018, 04:27 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Good discussion.

The problem I am having is with the term "untreated alcoholism". Alcoholism is not "treated" in AA, it is addressed. Substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders are treated by treatment professionals.

Depression is a diagnosable condition, alcoholism is not. Substance and alcohol use disorders are frequently the focus of treatment and are often related to each other. This relationship, however, is not the same for every individual who has both of these conditions. I think you do a good job of pointing this out Pathwaytofree.

Bill W's depression continued well into the 1950's. More than 20 years after he got sober. Lets be clear. Bill did not get sober as a result of the steps. He got sober as a result of a spiritual experience/awakening. His experience/awakening did not lift his depression.

There were few options for the treatment of depression when Bill got sober. Thankfully that has changed enormously. There's a great deal that can be done to treat depression, and everyone who suffers from it should be made aware of this.

Sponsors should be guides for working the steps. They can also frequently be very good spriritual advisors and friends. But they should not attempt to act as therapists.

Thanks for a good discussion Pathwaytofree.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thank you, biminiblue for another helpful post. This goes along with what you wrote in my other thread about how common projection is in AA.

I think AA can be really damaging to people with trauma issues.
This needs to be shouted from a mountain top. I agree so much. I am so thankful that my therapist said to me the other day that she thinks I'm doing a great job being a sponsor seeing how I separate sponsorship from therapy, and how I always tell my sponsees stuff like "that's not an issue for a sponsor, that's an issue for a therapist", etc. There must be strong clear lines between the two. My only role is taking someone through the steps. I also make clear that step work does not solve mental illness. I had a sponsor who didn't want to continue IOP and only do her step work. I told her I'd stop working with her if she stopped the IOP on her own accord. The steps help with alcoholism, nothing more.



I agree. You stated this so well. I struggled a lot with a previous sponsor who disagreed with my therapist regarding amends and if I listened to her and not my therapist, would have caused me a lot of harm. I've had other sponsors poke fun at my going to therapy, calling it immature, etc. I've heard of others who think you're not truly sober if you take meds for anxiety or depression, etc. Sponsors are not trained mental health professionals!!! And sponsors in AA need to stop bad mouthing mental health professionals.


I'm trying to tell what the difference is for myself so I can figure out what needs to be worked on--from a spiritual angle or depression/anxiety outside of alcoholism angle. I don't know how to tell.

-Some people stop drinking and their depression/anxiety goes away, which means the alcohol was causing it directly or both directly and indirectly. These are the types who do very well with "don't drink and go to meetings."

-Some people stop drinking and their depression/anxiety worsen, because they were using alcohol to self medicate. Alcohol was the solution until it became a problem. These are us types who get worse from "don't drink and go to meetings".

-Some people stop drinking and their depression/anxiety goes away when they have a spiritual awakening from doing the step work.

-Some people stop drinking, have a spiritual awakening from the step work, and their depression/anxiety comes back because they're suffering from untreated alcoholism.

-Some people stop drinking, have a spiritual awakening from the step work, but their depression/anxiety comes back because they're suffering from clinical depression/anxiety.

So if it comes back, is it a spiritual issue or a mental health issue? How to tell?

I have never allowed people in AA to treat me that under the guise of being "helpful."

Rude behavior is rude behavior.

As far as depression being a spiritual or metal health issue: I've been unhappy, upset, angry but I don't suffer from depression.

I don't wake up feeling down for no reason.

When people in AA tell me they suffer from depression, anxiety or whatever and a doctor has prescribed medication I say good for them.
I hope it works.

I'm not a medical doctor, therapist , marriage councilor or financial adviser. And most in AA aren't either.

Unfortunately that doesn't stop some from offering advice on matters they know little whether its solicited or not.
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Old 05-19-2018, 01:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Interesting discussion.. My depression preceded my alcoholism. I first dealt with (undiagnosed but it checks all the boxes) clinical depression at the age of 12, years before my first drink. To hear it implied that if you're sober and depressed you haven't adequately "treated" your alcoholism, is sort of like adding insult to injury.

The steps imo, are a good set of guidelines for living a happy and healthy life in general.. I still do not however (at least for myself personally) see the connection between having a spiritual awakening and the "cure" for addiction, beyond the concepts of control and non-attachment. Many spiritual people are addicts, many non-spiritual people are not.
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Old 05-19-2018, 09:27 AM   #19 (permalink)
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The problem I am having is with the term "untreated alcoholism". Alcoholism is not "treated" in AA, it is addressed. Substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders are treated by treatment professionals.
In AA we use "untreated alcoholism" to describe "dry drunk", but "untreated alcoholism" is the politically correct term. I didn't want to offend anyone with "dry drunk".

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Depression is a diagnosable condition, alcoholism is not. Alcoholism is not.
True, but the problem is that alcoholism looks a lot like depression. I'm referring to the "bedevilments" from the big book Tommyh listed on an above post.

I've heard circuit speakers say that newbies often appear to be bipolar, and in the treatment center business he sees them being given meds when all they really needed was a spiritual awakening. So how do we tell the difference, if they present so similarly?

Alcoholism is a mental illness that a spiritual solution helps people to recover from. What other mental illnesses can people recover from spiritually? It's interesting to discuss. Alcoholism is a mental illness that looks a lot like other mental illnesses, so how do we differentiate?

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Substance and alcohol use disorders are frequently the focus of treatment and are often related to each other. This relationship, however, is not the same for every individual who has both of these conditions. I think you do a good job of pointing this out Pathwaytofree.
Yes, but then why do so many people go in and out of treatment centers, and others do fine just by taking away the alcohol or the drugs?

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Bill W's depression continued well into the 1950's. More than 20 years after he got sober. Lets be clear. Bill did not get sober as a result of the steps. He got sober as a result of a spiritual experience/awakening.
With all due respect, this is incorrect. Bill got sober as a result of doing the 6 steps from The Oxford Group, which led to a spiritual experience/awakening. Then he and the first 100 wrote the big book/the 12 steps to teach others how he got sober. His spiritual experience/awakening was a result of the 6 steps, which are the same as the 12 steps. See page 263 of the big book. Also this might be covered in the book "AA's Comes of Age" or "Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers". There's definitely information online about this on the websites that focus on AA history.

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His experience/awakening did not lift his depression
It is very interesting to note this point, however. So is it fair that it's confusing to tell if someone's still depressed after they did the step work, is it that they didn't do the steps right, they missed something, they're back into "untreated alcoholism" living in ego/fear/drama, or that perhaps they're underlying depression didn't go way?

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There were few options for the treatment of depression when Bill got sober. Thankfully that has changed enormously. There's a great deal that can be done to treat depression, and everyone who suffers from it should be made aware of this.
Yes, excellent points. I am very curious as to what type of psychiatric/psychology there was back then.

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Sponsors should be guides for working the steps. They can also frequently be very good spriritual advisors and friends. But they should not attempt to act as therapists.
I strongly agree to this. It can cause a lot of damage if they try to act as therapists under the guise of it being sponsorship.

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Thanks for a good discussion Pathwaytofree.
Thank you for contributing to the discussion! :-)
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Old 05-19-2018, 09:39 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ken33xx View Post
I have never allowed people in AA to treat me that under the guise of being "helpful."
Exactly. Some sponsors need to quit playing God.

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Rude behavior is rude behavior.
It certainly is, and it's sad that there's no self awareness there from people who claim to do a daily and nightly step 10/11.

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As far as depression being a spiritual or metal health issue: I've been unhappy, upset, angry but I don't suffer from depression.

Thanks Ken. This is actually very helpful. So this is how you would differentiate "the bedevilments" from page 52 of the big book, with depression?

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I don't wake up feeling down for no reason.
Another excellent point. And you wouldn't tell a sponsee it was his fault if he woke up feeling down for no reason, that he was "in ego, fear, drama, not trusting and relying on God......"

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When people in AA tell me they suffer from depression, anxiety or whatever and a doctor has prescribed medication I say good for them.I hope it works.
THIS!

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I'm not a medical doctor, therapist , marriage councilor or financial adviser. And most in AA aren't either.
THIS TOO!

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Unfortunately that doesn't stop some from offering advice on matters they know little whether its solicited or not.
Absolutely. There needs to be much more of an understanding from both sponsors and sponsees on each one's roles.

Thanks for your input, Ken.
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