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New and Needing Help

Old 08-01-2021, 05:38 AM
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New and Needing Help

I'm brand new here and here because I realize that I need the advice and support of those that have walked this path before me.
I have an almost 25 year old that is an alcoholic. He has always lived with me and because of mental health issues probably always will. In high school he had two separate inpatient stays for talking about killing himself. He has been deemed permanently disabled. He has spent the last decade trying medication after medication with little to no results. Then he turned to drinking. I understand that addiction and mental health issues frequently go together but I am sharing all of this to illustrate why I feel like certain advice is more difficult to enact. Our family consists of me, my son above, and my younger son (22).
Alcoholism sort of snuck up on my family, with normal drinking, then more but still within a "normal" range, then too much but probably par for someone his age, then just too much, then way too much, then a problem, then a really serious problem, and then so much that it consumed our family.
I did all the things you shouldn't do. I tried to love it out of him. I tried to talk to him---so many times. I tried to hold all of my feelings inside because I do know enough about addiction to know it is a personal journey. I encouraged him to get help. And all the while he drank more and more. He gained 50lbs, lived on delivery despite available food in the house, went on benders for days at a time.
Today, he has finally entered outpatient recovery (he won't do inpatient), has received a Vivitrol injection to help with cravings, and is back talking to a therapist. He had 12 days sober (and it was rough) and then relapsed. That was it for me---not a last straw but the moment that I could no longer hold it inside. I begged him not drink, cried uncontrollably, had all kinds of crazy thoughts about how to intervene---and then a moment of clarity where the thing I told myself all of this time finally sank in--You can't do it for him and he won't stop until he WANTS to stop. I knew this cerebrally all along, but that was the moment that my heart accepted it. He went straight to his room and started drinking. We didn't speak the rest of the night. I didn't check on him like I'd done for the last 2 years---most times just to see if he was still breathing (literally).
The next morning I sat down and created a spreadsheet--first page listed 4 commitments I made--unconditional love (but not enabling), support for positive steps (but not trying to do the work), help navigating insurance, etc. (but again not doing the work), and continuing to fight for him even when he doesn't---never giving up on him. The second page was 3 rules--no alcohol in my house (I will pour it out if I see it--and I have done this), no intoxication in my house (if he chooses to drink, he can't do it here), and that he MUST keep his appointments with his doctors, therapists, and psychiatrist. There were more details but that's the idea.
Things went well for 11 days--then Friday after I went to bed, he went out and bought alcohol and brought it into my house. It's a long story but i somehow knew in my gut and then all the little signs popped up, so I unlocked his door and went in---he was passed out and there was a nearly empty bottle. True to my word I took it and poured out the rest. Then I had to process because I'm new at this part. What I should have done was wake him up and tell him to leave until he was sober but I didn't get there. I was angry--I cried--I felt lost, AGAIN. Finally, I did wake him up and confronted him not about drinking but about disrespecting me by breaking my rules. I told him that next time he would be asked to leave until sober---and I know that fell on deaf ears. I can't not hope this was the last time, but I know it's highly unlikely that it is even close to the last time.
I am trying, but I still don't feel like I'm there and if I'm honest, despite taking back some control---fear rules my life. Believe it or not I have detached greatly, but I'm cognizant that it is not enough and I'm working on that.
So if you made it through that novel, thank you for "listening". I am open to all advice.
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Old 08-03-2021, 08:09 AM
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Hi Lynn
A tough situation for you. You're right, you can't make him stop drinking, all you can do, is put boundaries in place to protect yourself, your younger son, and your home.
The boundaries are what you will accept, and what you won't, as you know, and the important thing for me, was that I could follow through on them.
Would it perhaps be a thought that if he has been drinking, or goes to buy alcohol, he doesn't get back inside the house? That may be easier than attempting to get a drunk man out again. Remove keys if he has them, and keep the door locked, so he can't swan in, and hide alcohol.
my son is also my addict, he is 27. My story differs, as I evicted my son from the family home nearly 8 years ago. My son also has mental health issues, for which he receives medication.
I decided that I wasn't tolerating the drug/alcohol use and I no longer wanted a front row seat to it all either.
Take one day at a time. If you can get support, which you will receive on here, that will benefit you. What would he do if you weren't there? There is support out there for him, but he won't seek it, if life at home is cushie.
Sending Love
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Old 08-03-2021, 08:48 AM
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Thank you Bute. I am definitely worried about following through because it is hard when it is your son and I have codependency issues for sure (I'm working on it). I really had to take a hard look at myself when I made the rules for exactly that reason--I needed to believe I was capable of following through. I do believe that I am simply because I can't do it anymore. I have lived his alcoholism for a while now and all it has done is destroy me---it hasn't helped or changed him at all. I read that codependents also have a "rock bottom" and I guess I found mine.

Thanks for the suggestions on how to handle enforcing them also. Yes it absolutely would be easier to not allow him in than to try to get an intoxicated man more than twice my size out. He is very well aware that this is the case if I know about it and I'm sure that factored in when he chose to go out after I'd gone to bed (my days start early so I go to bed early too). Removing keys is a good suggestion and one I hadn't thought of!

I'm so sorry for all that you have gone through with your son. How is he doing now? How are you doing now?

I fear that I may have to evict my son eventually as well. Obviously, I hope not, but my gut is telling me that even though he is making positive steps, he still isn't in the right headspace to quit. That means that he's lying--to me, his doctors, and maybe himself--and no one gets sober that way. I feel so completely gutted that this person that was the most honest, loyal, caring, dependable person has become someone I can't believe, trust, or depend upon.

"I no longer wanted a front row seat to it all either"--I felt that. That is exactly how I feel. I can't save you but I can't watch you kill yourself either.

You said your son had mental health issues too. I wonder if you will relate to this. Back when he was in high school he had two inpatient stays for talking about killing himself---no attempt. When I met with the psychiatrist at the hospital he said something to me that I had been feeling, he said, "It's almost as if he wants to be sick so you'll have to take care of him.". I feel that way now again. And I take my share of the blame for trying to---but I've noticed lately that every time we disagree with him, no matter how small or inconsequential the subject---every time the conversation moves from him or his topic---he zones out or physically leaves. Maybe it's just a piece of him reacting to me changing and enforcing boundaries.

Thanks again for the words and the support...it helps.
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Old 08-03-2021, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by 555Lynn555 View Post
no intoxication in my house (if he chooses to drink, he can't do it here), and that he MUST keep his appointments with his doctors, therapists, and psychiatrist. There were more details but that's the idea.
Hi Lynn. I would recommend you have a look at the Friends and Family of alcoholics forum as well (and post there as well, of course, if you want to). I'm sure there are several threads there you will relate too as well as several in the stickies section at the top:

That forum is here: https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...ly-alcoholics/

Good place to start in the stickies section: https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...c-reading.html (Classic Reading)

I'm sorry for your situation and that of your Son and your family. It's a tough road. I highlighted your comment above as you mentioned boundaries. Boundaries are for you as opposed to rules that someone else will follow.

You can share them with others or not, as you see fit.

So for instance, you have shared your rules with your Son, but are these truly boundaries? Boundaries are different in that they don't require the other person to do anything, the control is yours. So your rule, him not drinking in the house would really be, I will not have people drinking to excess in my house and anyone who does can no longer live here and will need to move out the next day. That's clear cut, doesn't involve you dragging someone who is highly intoxicated to the door and should be non-negotiable. If you will not back up your boundaries then they are just meaningless ultimatums, you know?

So if you don't actually plan to live with your boundaries, you are really just putting yourself through the wringer for no good reason, hurting yourself. The alternative is to accept him just the way he is, drinking and all. You are fighting a battle (for him) that you cannot win.

You didn't Cause it, can't Control it and can't Cure it (the 3 c's).

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Old 08-03-2021, 01:44 PM
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Hi Lynn
Oh I can relate so well to the codependency issues - I was a rip roaring co-dependent. If my son was happy - I was happy, he was anxious/upset - so was I. I needed everything to be "just right" in his life, in order for my life to go smoothly. His addiction almost finished me off! Unfortunately, I developed a chronic health condition, that was triggered due to stress. When I was on my knees, I realised that I had to knock it on the head, or I would end up 6ft under!
I slowly learned to step back from his chaos. Say NO to relentless demands for money. I refused to be manipulated by his threats of violence towards me, or indeed threats of self harm. If I was worried, I called the police to do a welfare check. Of course, as mothers, these reactions are alien to us. It takes time to build resolve. Overall, I am fine. I continue with my life, my friends and other family members, my job. I enhoy my life again, despite my son's unresolved issues.
He has run the gauntlet of homeless accomodations, prison, using whatever he could. Heroin is his drug of choice. I hadn't heard from him for a couple of months, til 2 weeks or so ago, when he txt me. Said he has been clean for 3 months. We spoke briefly, and I told him that I needed to be confident he was clean and would maintain his sobriety, before I would be prepared to meet him. Of course, this wasn't received well - "sounds like you don't care or want to be in my life". I wasn't getting into that discussion, but I did offer assurance that was not the case, which was met by " whatever, I don't really give a f**k anyway". The normal conversation when he realises he is not getting his own way. He sniffed continuously throughout the conversation, apparently his hayfever was bad. I've never known him to suffer from hayfever.
So, at present, he is engaing with social work and addiction services and has a roof over his head.
They can be very resilient when they gave to be Lynn. They don't like us to know that, as not knowing, keeps us stuck, right where they want us to be - a doormat! Just my opinion.
Take Good Care
Much Love
Bute x
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Old 08-03-2021, 04:03 PM
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Thank you so much trailmix. I followed your link and explored the posts---it was definitely informative! I will continue to read there as well as here. As I said, I am new to this forum so all direction is welcome.

Your thoughts on boundaries are enlightening. I've come to realize that I've been codependent my entire life, so I am trying to break those chains but it is truly all I know. As such, I sincerely appreciate your gentle correction. Not making threats or setting rules or expectations that I can't or won't back up is something I have given a great deal of thought to and I think after reading your words, I need to give some additional thought to setting boundaries in the same way I set those rules. I'm not honestly sure what that is going to look like at this moment but I want and need to find out how that looks for my own sanity and well-being.

Thanks so much for taking the time
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Old 08-03-2021, 04:17 PM
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Wow Bute, I relate so much to your description of how much your son's happiness determined your own. I've been doing this dance for 10 years now. It wasn't the drinking for that long but the mental health issues that began before the drinking. The biggest difference is just that before I was afraid he would hurt himself and now I'm watching him do it. He stayed sober 12 days, drank 1, then sober again for 10, drank 1, and we are now on day 4 of sobriety again. I know he's making an effort and I know relapse is almost expected in early sobriety. I am proud of him for getting right back up when he has fallen, but I am also frustrated that he isn't really doing anything different and how do you expect the outcome to change if you don't? But that is me still trying to control what I cannot and while I know it---it is a little harder to stop the thoughts. I will keep working on it though. I really have detached more than I thought I could already so I know I can stop playing caregiver too.

The other thing that really resonated with me what what you said about them being resilient. Even now, the smallest things that I stop doing for him--he is more than capable. I sometimes wonder how I got to this place---doing so much. I guess it snowballed and before I knew it my caretaking became bigger than me. I didn't end up quite where you did but I definitely have felt a physical and mental toll for quite some time.

I'm so glad that things are better for you and I hope that your son can find what he needs to turn his life around for good. I admire your strength and I know that it was hard fought.

Thank you so much for talking to me. It helps.
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Old 08-04-2021, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 555Lynn555 View Post
I know he's making an effort and I know relapse is almost expected in early sobriety. I am proud of him for getting right back up when he has fallen, but I am also frustrated that he isn't really doing anything different and how do you expect the outcome to change if you don't? But that is me still trying to control what I cannot
I don't actually see your thoughts here as being controlling? They sound realistic to me. He isn't doing anything different, that's pretty much a guarantee for failure in sobriety and you are being realistic in thinking so. The frustration shows that you do have expectations for him though. You don't always need to be the cheerleader, being realistic is far better for you. If you keep your expectations in check (he will probably drink), you will free yourself from the frustration (at least a good part of it).

I also think it's great that he keeps trying, but relapse isn't really part of recovery. Really what he is doing is spacing out his drinking as long as he can stand to, at this point. Being "sober" is only the first step, the second is working on recovery. If he is unwilling to work on or even acknowledge that he needs help with whatever got him to this point in the first place, the odds of him staying sober are pretty slim.

There is a book that is recommended here often, you may have already read it, it is Codependent no more by Melody Beattie. It discusses a lot about boundaries etc and you might find it helpful.

One other forum you might find interesting is the Newcomers to recovery forum: https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...mers-recovery/

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Old 08-05-2021, 03:23 AM
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Thanks trailmix for saying that. I appreciate the encouragement. I'm kind of both---realistic and the cheerleader---and I know that is a contradiction. I can't help but hope for the best, but that doesn't mean that I don't see what's in front of me or that I don't understand that the odds are in his/my favor.

It is so interesting that you said spacing out his drinking as long as he can stand because we had this exact conversation yesterday and that is 100% correct. He told me (and his therapist) that the cravings, etc. wear him down after a while. My question since the second time he drank since this began has been, "What are you going to do differently?" and he hasn't yet come up with an answer. I have told him that without a plan he is not likely to be successful and I've explained why that is. I believe that he is waiting for someone to tell him what to do (it seems that way) and I told him that no once can do that. I told him that doctors, therapists, or anyone else can make suggestions but that is all they are and no one can decide what he is willing to commit to or what he thinks might work for him--he has to do that. I suggested that he should spend some time researching options if he is unsure what they are. I think he wants me to do it for him and then tell him and he can tell me why they won't work--and I'm not doing that. That is useless for both of us. I still think he's looking for something that is easy and it doesn't exist. I've told him that, yesterday his PCP told him that as well. He doesn't say that of course, and I'm not positive he realizes it in himself, but for me when you are working your recovery when you are with a doctor/therapist and outside of that it looks like not drinking only---then you are looking for easy and it just isn't that simple. So all of that to say--I believe you're right.

I really like what you said about being sober vs. recovery. I didn't put it in those terms but that too, was part of our discussion yesterday---that when you remove the alcohol you still have the problems that led you there in the first place and you have to do the work (in a healthy manner) on those issues as well. I shared with him things that I've heard here that echo that.

I have read Codependent No more--a really long time ago, but I am currently re-reading it. The first time (more than a decade ago) I wasn't dealing with having addiction or alcoholism in my life and I remember that it was difficult to apply a lot of the book because of that. This time, it is very meaningful and relatable.

You're input is really valuable, thank you so much!
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:35 AM
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Yes you are spot on and although it may not seem like it, your conversation may have got him thinking.

Many try 90 AA meetings in 90 days to start. That's straightforward enough to do, maybe it's something he feels he can do. Yes, there is always a good reason to not try these things, hopefully something will click for him.

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