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Switching addictions, same old stuff. Will he ever get it?

Old 05-12-2011, 03:48 PM
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Switching addictions, same old stuff. Will he ever get it?

You all have been such a help to me with understanding alcoholics behaviors and why they make the choices they do. I think I need a "brush up" and perhaps a realignment with my confused thoughts.

Our friend, who has been an active alcoholic and/or addict for the last 30 years on and off has actually quit drinking in the last month and a half. Yay for him. He's taking antibuse and topomax (I think) to help with that. However, he moved in to abusing his benzos for awhile. Now, he's into smoking a LOT of pot throughout the day to get by. The part that drives me crazy is that he's essentially just the same as before yet he keeps trying to tell me what a great guy he is because he's not drinking anymore and that it's "not a big deal". He loses whole days at a time, blows off his friends and the other day, was downright mean and went for my true achilles heel. I get that he's just switching addictions and that there is basically no difference from one to the other.

This is my question, will he "get it" ever? What is a dry drunk? Does he need to go through some sort of program to "get it"? I understand that many addictions progress over time. Does your brain continue to progress when you switch substances?

I have made a very conscious decision to separate from this friend of ours to let him live his life however he chooses and so I can find some peace. We don't talk nearly as much, we haven't seen him in over a month, but it's hard. I miss the old friend that was considerate, thoughtful and not selfish. That person seems to be gone, but he's adamant about the fact that because he's not drinking it's all okay. Well, it's not because he was a bigger jerk this last weekend than he's been in a very LONG time, if ever. Sorry I'm rambling, just trying to wrap my head around all of this.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:23 PM
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I think it is common for them to switch addictions. They can not handle life abd need something to get them through. It is sad that they don't get the help they need because life could be so much better for them if they surrendered.

Where in Vermont are you? It is beautiful up there.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:34 PM
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Many people on this forum have recommended "Under the Influence." Maybe that would help you understand the nature of addiction and how it impacts brain chemistry in certain people. My AH's doctor just recommended a benzo to cut his craving for alcohol and tobacco. It works somewhat in cutting the physical craving, but then there's the emotional one--not sure what would fill the void there.

It's good that you have made decisions that are in your best interest. It's very hard, I know. But no amount of rationalization will enable you to figure out why your friend acts the way he does.

Good to hear from you again--and I agree with JackRussellGirl--VT is my second home (we've spent our summers there for 15 years, and my son lives in Burlington, so I feel like we're "neighbors" right off the bat!
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:34 PM
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Bleck. I was on benzos for a while for anxiety and got addicted. They can be h*** to get off of.

To me, benzos aren't much different than alcohol. They work in a similar fashion on your GABA receptors and in fact, when I was on Xanax, I felt like I was drunk.

NO wonder they are so heavily abused.

Frankly I am skeptical of drs-all they want to do is prescribe drugs. NOt sure how adding another drug to the mix, helps people with the spiritual deficits that cause them to numb their problems with drinking.

OP, your friend has a much better chance of being sober altogether if he gets into a program, but there is literally nothing you can do to get him in one. He won't go til he's ready.

Pot, alcohol, benzos..IMO they're all the same...ways to escape emotions and self-medicate spiritual pain.

Originally Posted by SoloMio View Post
Many people on this forum have recommended "Under the Influence." Maybe that would help you understand the nature of addiction and how it impacts brain chemistry in certain people. My AH's doctor just recommended a benzo to cut his craving for alcohol and tobacco. It works somewhat in cutting the physical craving, but then there's the emotional one--not sure what would fill the void there.

It's good that you have made decisions that are in your best interest. It's very hard, I know. But no amount of rationalization will enable you to figure out why your friend acts the way he does.

Good to hear from you again--and I agree with JackRussellGirl--VT is my second home (we've spent our summers there for 15 years, and my son lives in Burlington, so I feel like we're "neighbors" right off the bat!
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:10 AM
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Originally Posted by JACKRUSSELLGIRL View Post
I think it is common for them to switch addictions. They can not handle life abd need something to get them through. It is sad that they don't get the help they need because life could be so much better for them if they surrendered.

Where in Vermont are you? It is beautiful up there.
It has been sad to watch this, for too many years. Yesterday he said he's not going to quite smoking pot, EVER! He said he's got "the best stuff around" and his friends are all impressed by what he's got! OMG, really? This is what makes you happy? He's trying to be some sort of gangster with the money (was homeless for awhile and now has $ from govt) and the best pot. So frustrating, I know I just need to keep up the boundaries and keep my family close.

We're in central VT and consider ourselves very lucky to be here. It's unbelievably expensive to live in VT and the job opportunities are really limited. Spring is finally here and the leaves are popping out now, it's been a very LONG winter.
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
eh, tough stuff there. addiction sux.

thing is, this may be his GET IT.....this may suit HIM just fine and as long as it works for HIM, that's a what he's a gonna do.

best to take the drugs/alcohol out of the equation and look just at the behavior. do you want someone in your life who behaves like this? is it OK? even friends can be jerks......
Unfortunately, he's become a complete jerk over the last year or so. When he was living with us (last winter and early spring), he was sneaking the booze. I would come home from work with our son and he'd be loaded and I never new what I would come home too. We got him out, he lives about 20 mins from us and we would see him about once a week. He was always drunk or high, so the visits essentially stopped. He gets mad because he says I won't see him, well hello? I absolutely will not bring our son around him knowing that he's out of his mind in one way or another. He blames me for essentially ending our friendship and won't take resposibility.

However, we had a long talk yesterday morning and after all the bs, he finally admitted he's in denial, doesn't want to quit smoking-ever, and that's that. He did also say, through tears, "...so you're saying, even though I'm not drinking I'm still an a......?". Yes. So, I'm sure nothings going to change but at least it's not "my fault" anymore (which I knew but was so tired of hearing) and he's willing to accept that his actions are what's killing our friendship.
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by SoloMio View Post
Many people on this forum have recommended "Under the Influence." Maybe that would help you understand the nature of addiction and how it impacts brain chemistry in certain people. My AH's doctor just recommended a benzo to cut his craving for alcohol and tobacco. It works somewhat in cutting the physical craving, but then there's the emotional one--not sure what would fill the void there.

It's good that you have made decisions that are in your best interest. It's very hard, I know. But no amount of rationalization will enable you to figure out why your friend acts the way he does.

Good to hear from you again--and I agree with JackRussellGirl--VT is my second home (we've spent our summers there for 15 years, and my son lives in Burlington, so I feel like we're "neighbors" right off the bat!
Thank you for the reccomendation, I will look for "Under the Influence".

The benzo's have been a huge issue for the last year, but the doctors just don't seem to see it. Or, more likely, want to deal with him and his issues anymore.

Yay, VT is beautiful. I'm glad you have been able to enjoy it and your son must love Burlington. They've had a lot of flooding this spring, hopefully the lake will recede soon.
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:36 AM
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Darklight- Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.

The part about the brain/mind is an interesting one. I said "brain" because I think all the booze and drugs are chemically changing him. He's not the man I knew three years ago and I'm not sure he has a true rock bottom. He's willing to simply self medicate himself to death, literally. About a year and a half ago (December in VT) he was homeless (kicked out of the homeless shelter no less), jobless, suicidal and penniless. He called me from a covenience store to get help, wanted to go the the hospital to dry out and so I picked him up to take him there. He was there for 3 days, they put him on the benzos and he was drinking the day he walked out of the hospital. We didn't realize this, took him in to help him back on his feet and that's when things spiraled down. We thought that MUST be rock bottom (prison, losing all his family/friends, business didn't seem to be RB).

I now know I'm very codie and am working hard to set boundaries to help me and my family, but it's not easy. Oh boy, it's so hard watching this happen right in front of me and not be able to do anything. (sigh)
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by sandrawg View Post
Bleck. I was on benzos for a while for anxiety and got addicted. They can be h*** to get off of.

To me, benzos aren't much different than alcohol. They work in a similar fashion on your GABA receptors and in fact, when I was on Xanax, I felt like I was drunk.

NO wonder they are so heavily abused.

Frankly I am skeptical of drs-all they want to do is prescribe drugs. NOt sure how adding another drug to the mix, helps people with the spiritual deficits that cause them to numb their problems with drinking.

OP, your friend has a much better chance of being sober altogether if he gets into a program, but there is literally nothing you can do to get him in one. He won't go til he's ready.

Pot, alcohol, benzos..IMO they're all the same...ways to escape emotions and self-medicate spiritual pain.
I can't tell you how much I agree. The Dr. that put him on them was young, but the head of the Psyc dept didn't take him off them immediately because our friend threw a fit! What? The Dr. knew better and was going to take him off, but our friend knew what he was getting and was psyched so he got maniputlative (of course). Even I can see that! .

He tried to get back in to a program (he did it for about a month last fall) at the local VA; he's a vet, lives nearby, volunteers there, his claim is through them etc., but they won't take him because he intimidates the other patients. They talked about sending him to another one, but because he got rejected and he's found a new drug of choice, he doesn't want to go anymore. Just talking about this is good, yet tiring.
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:57 AM
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Thank you all. Your posts, viewpoints, experience are always SO helpful. I suppose I know a lot of this, but I need to hear it sometimes. I think I also desperately wanted to hear from him that he accepts responsiblity for his behavior and that because he's always high in some form or another, he's caused this wedge. It was a relief to hear that yesterday, but I know it won't change a thing. I'm sure my thoughts are very selfish, but I'm tired of being blamed and told that because I don't want to see him when he's out of it, I'm the bad guy. I get he's hurting, doesn't want to hurt more and from what he says, the pot takes away the anxiety more than any of his other meds. I don't know if it causes more anxiety when he's not actively high though. I've struggled with anxiety and I personally couldn't drink any alcohol because my panic attacks were out of control when I was even just a little bit buzzed.

It's funny, he was never a saint, by any means. We brougt him into our lives to try and help, to give him a healthy nuclear family to be around and hopefully he would begin to work at making better choices. Well, I now see the many mistakes I made, but he did strive to be better when he was with us and was doing really well for awhile. But...it was never enough. His demons got the best of him and now that he's on his own, surrounding himself with people that support his addictions, leach off of him and his new free-flowing money, he is off and running.

Yesterday he was going to go play golf and at the end of our conversation said "Pray for me that I shoot under 40". He was raised in an Irish Catholic family and feels very let down by God. I replied that I would pray for his health, safety and that he "makes it to 50 and can stay out of prison". Feel like banging my head against the wall, again.
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Old 05-14-2011, 05:41 AM
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I think that it doesn't matter what the substance is that is being used, it's the thinking that gets one to the using that's the problem. So, he may think it's great and he's cured since he's not drinking, but clearly he is still just as addicted and just as ill as he ever was bc his thinking is that of an addict.

The line of h
e keeps trying to tell me what a great guy he is because he's not drinking anymore and that it's "not a big deal". He loses whole days at a time, blows off his friends and the other day, was downright mean and went for my true achilles heel.
is a dead giveaway that there is nothing that has changed in him other than the fact that he has switched substances (if that-- I'd guess he is still drinking but really, it's the thinking that's the biggest problem... the substances are a symptom)

It's good for your and your family that you've limited contact. I am sure it's hard-- you see the potential that a person has and see them destroying themself and it's sad. But as you are learning or know already, you can't do a damned thing about that...

Hang in there...
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:18 AM
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I agree with DARK LIGHT...they all need to hit their own ROCK BOTTOM...meaning also...just being sick in tired OF being sick in tired...

no enabling on my part to see them get there!
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by wanttobehealthy View Post
I think that it doesn't matter what the substance is that is being used, it's the thinking that gets one to the using that's the problem. So, he may think it's great and he's cured since he's not drinking, but clearly he is still just as addicted and just as ill as he ever was bc his thinking is that of an addict.

The line of h is a dead giveaway that there is nothing that has changed in him other than the fact that he has switched substances (if that-- I'd guess he is still drinking but really, it's the thinking that's the biggest problem... the substances are a symptom)

It's good for your and your family that you've limited contact. I am sure it's hard-- you see the potential that a person has and see them destroying themself and it's sad. But as you are learning or know already, you can't do a damned thing about that...

Hang in there...
It's so hard, probably one of the hardest things I've had to do and it's taken a very LONG time to come to the realization that I can't fix this for him. I'm most definitely still clinging a bit to the friend he was and hope that some day that man will come back to us, but I also know that's my codie behavior.

He was such a talented chef and ran a kitchen like nobody's business. He worked harder than anyone I know and was proud of who he was. He always had substance issues, but was a functioning alcholic. He was also thoughtful of us and our family and incredibly generous with his time, talents and love for us. When he got out of prison in 2008, he was doing great, for about 6 months. Then he relapsed, started sneaking the booze (as we wouldn't allow it in our home for HIS sake) and by the summer of '09, he's just started to change. He's so unbelievably self absorbed now, it's very disheartening.

Someone said something to me the other day about "stinkin' thinkin" and I know he's just trying to fool himself and everyone around him and frankly, it's not working.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by fourmaggie View Post
I agree with DARK LIGHT...they all need to hit their own ROCK BOTTOM...meaning also...just being sick in tired OF being sick in tired...

no enabling on my part to see them get there!
Yes, I get it and I believe that too. Unfortunately his rock bottom appears to be death and it's so very hard to watch. My father was an alcoholic and that's basically what killed him.

I think we were enabling him for awhile (providing him with a home to get his act together, which was working and he was getting back on his feet, until he started to drink again.) I know I'm not enabling him anymore as he lives somewhere else, I won't communicate or see him while he's high/drunk, I never bought his booze or gave him money but I do pray he finds some peace in his life. Honestly, I miss my friend and my husband misses his old buddy, but his addictions have taken that person away from us and unfortunately, I keep thinking the old him will return. (sad).
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:25 AM
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and it is very hard to watch them die...but its THEIR way...addiction suxs!!

stinking thinkn is a good tool for every day use also...that quote is used alot in my home...only because its been only me for a long time...now its the kids too....
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by fourmaggie View Post
and it is very hard to watch them die...but its THEIR way...addiction suxs!!

stinking thinkn is a good tool for every day use also...that quote is used alot in my home...only because its been only me for a long time...now its the kids too....
Bottom Line: Addiction Does Suck, no two ways about it. Thank you.
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:18 PM
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Changing seats on the Titanic.........booze, pills, pot, sex, food, exercise, shopping.......I know I am an addict. I need the 12 steps, a sponser, meetings, pick up the 100 lb. phone, SR. My sponser's prescription; 90 meetings in 90 days. There is an oldtimer in a meeting who said "if you ain't done go out there and get done- we will be here when you get back." We will gladly refund you your misery. Maybe they haven't hit the basement of their bottom. I did- by the grace of God.
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