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enabler or helper?

Old 07-09-2010, 08:02 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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What your son is doing is called self-medicating. I would suggest he see someone or go to a rehab where they treat what's called "dual diagnosis" - alcoholism + mental illness.

Originally Posted by chicory View Post
I certainly see your point. The situation here is that my son is not drinking, unless he has a few bucks, and then he just gets a couple of beers. He could spend it on vodka, like he used to at my home, and drink all day. so far, he has not done that. he has gone without a beer for a month at a time, and no shakes, no strange behaviour, except to wish he had a beer. he has anxiety, and has always been high strung and a floor pacer. many people in my family have a few beers, some probably have a few daily, and that does not make them alcoholic.
I do, however, think he would drink more and more, and the hard stuff again, if he does not get help. How can you treat someone who is not drinking , for a drinking problem? I would love to see him go to counseling ,I feel he needs help for a mental condition, and for the tendency to medicate his anxiety.

this is a messy area, i think. if someone is bipolar, they need medication, or some treatment, right? many drink because of the discomfort of being bipolar, and to treat them for alcoholism first , well, I am not sure how that would work.
I used to be convinced that he was just a lazy selfish alcoholic, but not anymore. I know there is something else, that has been there, for most of his life- non-drinking years, too.
I am not saying that he has not abused alcohol, or pills like codeine. but that is not what started his misery. the underlying problem , and I am almost 100% sure there is one. I am not trying to make excuses- sometimes there are valid arguments to be made. not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. I know alcoholics- mom and dad were both dead before they reached 65.
My son could easily be one, and maybe he is. but i feel that there is something that will make his life miserable, if he never touches another drop.
perhaps I should post my comments on another place. I am feeling that i am coming across as difficult or in denial. I do not wish to offend anyone, either. If someone had cancer, and drank to ease the pain, would you call that alcoholism?
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:06 PM
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It's not that simple.

Drinking kills people. I'm not sure why people always seem to forget - I guess it's because drinking is so socially accepted in our society - that alcohol is a toxin, which damages the brain, liver, kidneys and just about every other organ in the body.

Mind you, if someone had cancer and there was a certainty they only had a day or 2 to live, and they wanted to blot themselves out with alcohol or morphine, NO I would not have a problem with that. But that's not the case with your son.

Originally Posted by chicory View Post
If someone had cancer, and drank to ease the pain, would you call that alcoholism?
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:28 PM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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Thank you for sharing more of your story with us.
It helps me to understand more of what you are going through.
I hope it helps you to open up and share your feelings and concerns in a safe place.

You are welcome to continue sharing here at F&F forum, or any other areas of this wonderful support network. There is a wealth of wisdom in each area of this support network. Please feel free to read and post as much as needed.

I also hope that you follow through with your University appointments. It is important to rule out physical conditions that are causing discomfort.

My experience with alcoholism is similar to Freedom's. I did not go through physical withdrawals early in my addiction.
I was able to put down alcohol for days, weeks, months or even a few years. My addiction lay dormant. Each time I picked alcohol back up, it progressed. It was as if someone played the tape of my life in fast forward. My body was reacting as an addict. Picking up where it had left off after the last drinking spell.

Each time I stopped, my withdrawal became a little more noticeable (to me). I should have gotten medical attention during my last cold-turkey withdrawal from vodka.

I had been diagnosed with clinical depression in the past. I had also been diagnosed with hypogylcemia in the past. Alcohol did not help or heal either of those conditions. Any medication or diet changes I made to treat those conditions were futile as long as I was still drinking.

Alcohol and anti-depressants do not mix. I had to finish abusing alcohol before I could begin treating my depression and hypoglycemia successfully.

Please keep reaching out for support for yourself. You are not alone!
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:22 PM
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Chicory,

I hope with all my heart that you understand that no one here is accusing you of being difficult or in denial. We have all been at the stage of loving our addicts to death that you are in now. We understand your position far more than I think you realize we do. We have all had that inner dialogue about why we should keep protecting our loved one, that no one else understands because they have not been in our shoes. But unfortunately, we have been there more times than we like to admit, and if we don't admit our experiences, we cannot learn from them or hope to help others to learn either.

By all means, as long as he is willing to participate, take him to another psychiatrist. But here's the thing: if he lied to this woman he saw last time, and I remember you saying you thought he may have, he'll just lie again. And psychiatrists cannot help people who are not willing to take their help. Also, like others have pointed out, alcohol and antidepressants are not a good combination. So he would have to be willing to be 100% sober, especially while his body is getting used to the meds, which can take months.

We all care about you and wish you well. I hope you'll keep coming back, and keep posting. I promise it will get easier.
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:07 AM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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Thank you all for your replys. I appreciate them, and thank you for your kind and patient attitude.
I was struck by Pelicans comment- about how each time you picked up a drink , it was like rewinding to the last time of alcohol dependence. I believe that , no, I know that if I brought in a case of beer (which I would not ever) , he would keep drinking till it is gone. drunk would be his state, I know. He would just say that he is having fun, with his friends all over the world, on computer. he has friends that he loves to visit, but he cant seem to do it, with out "feeling better". I dont think that is strange, in general, but he really likes who he is when he has had a beer or two, and feels more relaxed and witty. I wonder why he feels bored with it otherwise? Just needs the elation that comes with the alcohol? I believe that I read years ago, that if a person has to drink to have fun, there is a problem. dont laugh, my simple statements have a point, and I often dont communicate the complete thoughts, but I may get better- hope so
this is a bigger mess than i even realize- I realize THAT much! But I have no way out but through it.
I will try to take advice, believe me, for I know that there is a lot of knowledge out here, that will help me and my son. II am going to back off from my rescue mode, and I pray that he will want help. He did lie to the doctor, and probably would again, if he does not feel the pain of needing help. Help that he can only have if he opens to it.
I wish he would go to a treatment center, the dual kind, but that takes money, which is not available. single woman here, work at a grocery chain.

I am glad that i found a safe place to talk and learn. I do not wish to "dump" my problems, but wish to learn. I know that i am standing in the way of his getting better in some ways. But I am really worried about how to get help for whatever is going on, like severe A.D.D., possibly.

I do know that this is where i need to be.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:00 AM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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Hi Chicory.

I do not have ADD, nor am I an alcoholic, but I have read a lot about it. One of my children has ADD (and I'm watching two more very closely). Based on what I see from living with him, and reports of what he was like as a kid, I suspect my xah has adult ADD.

At the end of the day, your son is going to have to want to get help for himself, and do the work himself. It doesn't matter how many doctors you take him too, what diagnosis he gets, etc. He has to reach a point where he says he wants it all to stop.

From what I've read and seen with my xah...ADD (and I imagine other mental illnesses or congnitive disabilities) are like a burning fire. Using alcohol to put out that fire is like throwing gasoline on it. What seems to give them relief in the short term contributes a whole new layer of serious issues and magnifies the underlying one.

Alcoholism creates such havoc (in one's life, mental status, etc.) it is extremely difficult to diagnose and treat an underlying issue because it is impossible to tell what is alcoholism and what is not. Not only that but treatment for the underlying issue will simply not be affective until the alcohol is out of the picture.

My line of thought is that treatment and awareness of things like ADD might go a ways in preventing people from becoming alcoholic (ie - they may make a choice to not self medicate) but once the alcoholism is out of the box so to speak, treatment of the ADD is not a cure for the alcoholism. There is no back door or get out of jail free card with the alcohol. Treatment of the ADD (if he has that or something else) will then go a long ways in helping him stay in recovery.

Again, this is not personal experience - just my thoughts on the matter. I'm no expert that is for sure.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:10 AM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Thumper,

thank you- much wisdom in what you say.

love the Dr. Seuss quote!
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:30 AM
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I went back to add but ran out of time to edit. I was going to address some of the specifics I'm talkative tonight (or this morning) I guess.

He does not admit to needing help, except maybe something for his anxiety or stress.
It is very likely that this is alcohol related. My xah was treated for anxiety the last year we were together. It was all alcohol. He went to treatment and was sober for 30 days and it went away.
but he cannot find a job.
Oh, he can find a job if he wants to. He will not find a job.

but I think he needs help. I am not sure if it is right to let someone become homeless when they may have a mental condition. he does not fit bipolar 2, but does fit a.d.d.
At this point the only one that can save him, is himself. ADD is a serious condition (if he has it) but it does not prevent people from meeting their basic needs.

I just need to learn what I can do, to help my son have a real life.
Honestly, the #1 thing you could do is go to al-anon meetings. It will change your life.

it is hard to actually see that i am not loving him as much as I should, or I'd let him fall on his a--, but it is a foreign concept, to be a mom, and turn your back on them. even tho it may be the only thing that works.
I can't imagine the kind of pain that comes from watching your own children be consumed by alcoholism. It is clear that you love him and want what is best for him. You can love an alcholic to death, literally. Consider that what might be best for him is to let him, at the age of 38, live his life as he sees fit. Let him live his life and deal with his choices like every other 38yo does - even those with underlying conditions.
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:46 AM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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I am feeling that i am coming across as difficult or in denial.
You don't sound that way to me.

Chicory, Thanks for sharing more of your story. You should know that alcoholism and psychiatric disorders often do go hand-in-hand. In the alcohol treatment community, this is referred to as "Dual Disorders." There are specialists, and clinics that specialize, in Dual Disorders. It is a huge problem, not just you and your son. I hope that by coming here you get a sense that it is nothing to do with you or your son in particular. Epidemiologists have estimated that nearly 40% of people with alcohol use disorders also have psychiatric disorders. If you would like to learn more about what may be affecting your son, you can google "co-morbidity alcoholism NIH" and get some good information from the National Institutes of Health.

On a personal note, I have another brother who has severe mental illness. He also has alcoholism, as far as I can tell. He will go around "borrowing 5 dollars" every day for weeks, and use the little bit of alcohol and cigarettes he can get with his borrowed money to, I believe, self-medicate. Sooner or later though, he winds up in jail and/or in the hospital. He does this AT LEAST once a year. I am sorry your son does not appear to be able to take care of himself. You are right that there are some people who just can't and never will. My brother is a great example of this. He is nearly 50 years old and has never, and will never be able to, live apart from my parents or some other caretaker. He is not able to hold a job for very long, and has not had a girlfriend since high school. But he has SEVERE mental illness. Bipolar II is not severe mental illness, it is mild. Attention Deficit Disorder is not a mental illness, it is a cognitive disability. Although A.D.D. can be in some cases severely disabling, normally it is not and with treatment people with it can live normal, productive lives.

So, just as we tell folks here on SR who come looking for help with their loved one with alcoholism, regarding BOTH your son's possible alcoholism AND his possible mental and/or cognitive illnesses, please know that:

You did not CAUSE it
You cannot CONTROL it
and you cannot CURE it
.

Chicory, You may benefit from checking out NAMI. NAMI provides community support to families of persons with mental illness. Here is their website. NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. They should have a local chapter in your area, just click on "Find your local NAMI." You also may benefit from Al-Anon, which also provides community support to families of persons with alcoholism. Just google "Al-Anon" with the name of your city and you should be directed to their web site, where you will find their local schedule of locations and times of meetings.

I do hope you take good care of yourself and take advantage of the supports available to you. Learn as much as you can about these diseases. Because knowledge will strengthen you.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:47 PM
  # 30 (permalink)  
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I am so very grateful of the warm , welcoming people here, and the great advice that I am getting. I am re-reading it all, and keeping it near, to learn and to use what I am finding here.
Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I am sorry that some of you have such heartache, yet you reach out to others, and give, give , give.
Bless you for it.
I used to go to ACA, meetings, and they changed my life, but I guess I should never have stopped. maybe this would not have happened, if I had not enabled my son from the beginning.
I would love to believe that I did not cause it, but I cannot agree with that, for some reason. Or are you just saying that I did not cause his addictive traits?
I know that I cannot cure it- he has to want that.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:57 PM
  # 31 (permalink)  
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I would love to believe that I did not cause it, but I cannot agree with that, for some reason. Or are you just saying that I did not cause his addictive traits?
Likely the reason you cannot agree with that is because you feel GUILTY. As long as you allow yourself to feel guilt, you cannot help him in the way that he needs to be helped. I tell my mother this ALL the time: YOU DID NOT CAUSE what is "wrong" with him. It simply is not possible. A person cannot CAUSE mental illness or alcoholism or addiction in another person. They are diseases. WE do not CREATE diseases, they are not our fault. Nothing you did or did not do could ever cause him to do the things he does or does not do. Alcoholism and mental illness is not caused by parenting skills. Human biology is MUCH stronger than we like to give credit for. In this era, we tend to attribute MUCH to psychology and social interactions. But I have recently come to accept that biology is stronger than psychology. You cannot help him if you continue to blame yourself. Please be good to you.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:03 PM
  # 32 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by chicory View Post
I know that if I brought in a case of beer (which I would not ever) , he would keep drinking till it is gone. drunk would be his state, I know. He would just say that he is having fun, with his friends all over the world, on computer. he has friends that he loves to visit, but he cant seem to do it, with out "feeling better". I dont think that is strange, in general, but he really likes who he is when he has had a beer or two, and feels more relaxed and witty. I wonder why he feels bored with it otherwise? Just needs the elation that comes with the alcohol?
This might answer your question. This is from Dr. Silkworth (The Doctor's Opinion), in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, 1st edition. Even though Dr. Silkworth was not an alcoholic himself, he had an amazing understanding of alcoholics:


"Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, then cannot after a period of time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable, and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks--drinks they see others taking with impunity."


That pretty well described me to a T in between binges-restless, irritable, and discontented.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:33 PM
  # 33 (permalink)  
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Nothing you did or did not do could ever cause him to do the things he does or does not do. Alcoholism and mental illness is not caused by parenting skills.

I so appreciate this. I have felt so responsible, for so long, for maybe spoiling him, or ruining him , by letting him get away with not taking part in things he was bored with. He had such a high IQ (worthless without common sense) and I felt so limited with what I could offer him, to stimulate his mind. I let him do what he enjoyed, which was his computer, or going with a good friend, who he got in trouble more than once with, as they were little anarchist' , back in the 90's.
He did not make a lot of friends in school- he was not a jock, but a geek. He did have a few good friends who he had a lot in common with, but all of them now are living normal , productive lives, so to speak.
He has no one to go to now. no friends, and I am guessing it is because they have nothing in common with him anymore, and no one wants to party with the broke guy who always has to mooch beer and smokes. and I am sure that he has burned a lot of bridges, while drunk, and while staying too long as a couch hopper.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:43 PM
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Wow Freedom,
That is so very intuitive, I agree!
I see- their restlessness, irritability, and discontent seems to be the wrong way to be, and the drink makes that all disappear- temporarily.
I hope that my son has some strength in him somewhere.
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