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What do you think about alcoholic personality changes?

Old 10-04-2011, 06:32 PM
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What do you think about alcoholic personality changes?

My soon to be ex-husband used to be a nice guy. Really. And I wasn't just snowed because I didn't know him very well, we were together almost ten years before the crazy alcoholic behavior got bad. Yes, he drank too much sometimes, and he could be a little high maintenance, but he also worked hard, always thought of the little things I liked and took good care of me and our son. I truly enjoyed being with him.

About 2008, his alcoholism ramped up considerably. He became whiny and miserable. He stopped working hard and was kinda rude to many of his customers and therefore lost business. He let things slide around the house that he never would have done before. He was kinda working on cheating on me with a girl from high school, but their emails got caught by her husband so that never went anywhere. This was truly a guy that I felt would never cheat on me before, he was very loyal. It's like really, his personality completely changed. I feel like my husband died in 2008 and I don't know this man.

Anyway, he is kinda sober-ish, or dry, or whatever you want to call it, living in a halfway house right now, and we are going through a contentious divorce. I put on a very brave face in public about it, but it is like a death. It is miserable. He is still a total [email protected]@. He is completely self centered and acts like a whiny teenage boy. He has absolutely no idea of the damage he has caused our family and accepts no responsibility. Everything is my fault, he thinks I cheated on him (which I didn't) and I am a terrible person. He doesn't understand why I am going after the money we have left for the sake of our kids. He doesn't really think our kids matter much, to be honest. It's sad because he used to care about them a lot and he is distant now.

I am wondering, if an alcoholic doesn't drink, do you think their brain ever recovers or is it permanent damage? I realize there is no clear answer and it could go either way, but I just wanted to hear some people's experiences with this or their general take on it?
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Ladybug0130 View Post
I am wondering, if an alcoholic doesn't drink, do you think their brain ever recovers or is it permanent damage?
I'm 21+ years sober, and I can assure you I am not the same miserable, selfish, self-centered person I was when actively drinking.
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:55 PM
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I don't have an answer or experience with an AH who got sober but I can relate to what you write. My AH was always a bit selfish and there were always a number of things I did not like (but I never said a peep about those things for years). BUT, in addition to these negative, he was thoughtful at times and nice to me etc... And that all went away as the lying and drinking and denial increased. I kind of think that he's spent so long now behaving in the ways he does (most of which don't involve drinking--- the nasty behavior, the lies, the justifications-- it all occurs when he's stone cold sober just as much as it does when he drinks) that it would take a superhuman effort to change. They say that something becomes a habit-- a knee jerk reaction kind of habit after you've done it x number of times and I know my AH has lied and deceived and been in denial for so long that I don't see how he could possibly break the habit. It seems to me it's become a part of him. It's no longer that he behaves these ways just when he's drunk. It's who he is. If that's become the case with your AH, I (and this is just my humble opinion not based on science or anything) highly doubt he's going to turn back into the thoughtful guy he once was. I think there's a reason that there are few marriages that make it even when an A recovers (at least this is what I observe in al anon- in my home group there's 1 marriage that made it). That's not good odds.
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:57 PM
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I wanted to add, after reading Freedom's post... I think that my AH has issues far greater than just (I don't mean "just") alcoholism. So, it's possible that your H too has some personality disordered issues, abuser issues etc... like mine and if that's the case, it won't make a lick of difference whether he's sober or drinking-- he'll still be abusive or mentally ill (IF that's at play here like it is with my AH).

I just didn't want to make it sound like I thought all alcoholics were doomed to be jerks forever-- and I think my original post might have come off like that... Sorry.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:00 PM
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I think that their brain is damaged whether they drink all the time or are in rehab. My AH only drinks when he is in party mode but when he does it is non stop till it is all gone or he passes out.
It is embarrassing when we are out with friends and he passes out in a chair or acts out.
Hope you can work thru this. We are here for you.
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:01 PM
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I have no scientific proof. But I offer my 22 years of experience living with one.

YES. The personalities change!

And they seem to change in a very, very similar and predictable fashion. Read the posts here. After the alcoholic has been drinking a while, they seem to act very much the same. It seems to me many on this board have cameras in my house and are telling the same stories that are happening to me. The behavior is so similar I can't help but think it is a direct result of the alcohol abuse and/or the alcoholic gene.

And YES, my alcoholic wife has a personality change after drinking. And it lasts for a day or two after drinking. It is easy to see, not so easy to deal with.
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:43 PM
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LadyBug, I have experienced the same thing with my AH. We had a lot of really good years. Then over the past few he has become almost a different person. He's the opposite of who he was in so many ways. I know what you mean about it feeling like a death. I really grieve for the many my husband used to be and wonder where he went.

I am reading a book that I think you would get a lot out of as it delves into these questions you're asking. It's called "Under The Influence" by Milam and Ketcham. It focuses on the physiological aspects of alcoholism. It is REALLY helping me understand what is going on with my husband, and why. I'm wishing I'd had this book months ago. Anyway, check it out, it talks a lot about these personality changes and what is causing it and how the body recovers from long-term alcohol use.
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Ladybug0130 View Post
I am wondering, if an alcoholic doesn't drink, do you think their brain ever recovers or is it permanent damage? I realize there is no clear answer and it could go either way, but I just wanted to hear some people's experiences with this or their general take on it?
Chronic alcohol consumption poisons and warps the mind, producing profound personality distortions. In particular, it obliterates one's sense of right and wrong; alcoholism is essentially a reversion to a feral state. It also induces a horrific depression and state of constant anxiety that I don't even know how to properly describe.

With sustained abstinence, the brain does heal, though. The depression begins to lift, as does the anxiety, and one's innate sense of right and wrong returns. There are a few "goners," but they essentially have reached the point of what is colloquially referred to as having a "wet brain."

Like others, I do recommend the book "Under the Influence" by James R. Milam. Most public libraries will have a copy, but if not, it costs about $8. I actually recommend it over the sequel put out by Katherine Ketcham, as it is more concise.
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Old 06-03-2012, 01:33 PM
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Alcoholic personality change

This hits home with me deeply, as I too have been married for many years to the same man who has always been a drinker, but for many years of our marriage, he was a gentleman, a kind and caring, thoughtful person, who was sensitive to my feelings and wouldn't deliberately hurt anyone, particularly me. But as the years have gone by, the alcoholism progressed and he has changed - drastically. He is not the same man I married. He is insensitive, cold, cruel and selfish. He has done things to me that I never dreamed he could - lied, cheated, even took me around one woman he was cheating with who worked in a store without my knowing who she was. Why would he do that to me? The person he was wouldn't have pulled such a cruel stunt. The hurt I felt from that, I can't even begin to describe. I too feel like the loss of who he used to be is like a death. I am totally shut out of his life now as he spends almost all of his time (he still works somehow) in the bars. The people he associates with are other alcoholics who just drag him down. Nearly 50 years old and he's talking about getting tattoos and motorcycles - stuff his so-called "friends" have. Now he is losing weight, and isn't eating much - does that mean anything, that he doesn't eat much? He was a hearty eater who enjoyed food and was slightly overweight but now he has dropped at least two clothing sizes. It is just hard. I am glad that I am seeing that others see personality changes, totally different from the person they knew. I just hope that in my lifetime I get the chance to see him come out of this - that this is not how I remember him - that I get the chance to know him again as he was - kind and caring and sensitive and not a hurtful person. The past few years have been horrible - and have taken a serious toll on me physically and mentally. I am struggling to find calm and peace in my life - quite honestly, what he has put me through is similar to a post traumatic stress situation - he has turned our lives upside down. I miss the trust I had in him, of being glad to see him, of communicating with him, of knowing he had my back. It's just hard to accept. Alcoholism is insanity - total insanity.
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:25 PM
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Sadly, I was told how progressive this was and in 4 yrs it has become so much worse. Certainly not the person I thought my EXABF was and to watch the person he has become is so sad! I have since decided their is some type of personality disorder. Almost like bipolar either that or damage over the years! If he stopped drinking would it revert? I don't have a clue. Take care of yourself and hang in there,
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:44 PM
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It's like there's an entity that takes over my AH and speaks inside his head, telling him that anyone or anything that gets between him and his alcohol is to be gotten out of the way, no matter what.

When this entity gets the better of him, he is very different. He even looks different, the expression on his face, and acts different, the way he speaks and moves.

And he often doesn't remember what he's said or done, later on when the "entity" is quieted and he hasn't had a drink in at least a day. So it seems like possession.

In my experience, when faced with the "entity," I am best served by removing myself from his/its periphery.
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Old 06-03-2012, 03:03 PM
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To help myself recognize a truly sober man from one who is not, I picked up a used copy of a book called "Emotional Sobriety" published by the AA Grapevine. It contains personal stories by recovering alcoholics of how they used to be and how they are trying to be today.

Here is a quote from a chapter:

"As active alcoholics, most of us are self-centered, and when we come into AA, our behavior can still be motivated by selfishness, self-seeking, self-pity, and self-centered fear. As we stay sober, however, we get released from the 'bondage of self,' as the Big Book puts it. We no longer have to be the center of the universe. We learn a little humility. We give up the idea that the world must always respond promptly to our demands....We stop playing God--and it turns out there is relief and freedom in that."

I share this just to affirm what you already know, what all of us have experienced: that an active alcoholic is dominating, selfish, frequently ruthless, and seemingly without remorse for the pain he creates all around him. He wants what he wants, and if he doesn't get it, you'll pay.

True recovery for an alcoholic is a return to his divine nature and a conscious decision not to be controlled by his predatory animal nature. He must learn to give, to make the highest good of others as important as his own, and to make action amends for the damage he created and creates.

Our recovery is to a return to our own divine nature, which will not accept abuse or domination. In recovery we stop placing the alcoholic at the center of our universe. We let go self-pity and accept our responsibility to live by our values.

I think that even in sobriety, an alcoholic can continue to evade the profound inner work necessary to re-make himself after years of drinking. And even when she leaves the alcoholic, the codependent can evade her own profound inner work, spinning into yet another painful relationship, and blaming someone outside herself because she did not do her work.

So both sides have to step up, and with time and attention to the soul, get well.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:37 AM
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My AW have gone through major personality changes as well. Lying & cheating are now perfectly acceptable behaviors. She doesn't even seem to care that she is doing this! And demanding as all getup! I can be in the middle of doing something that she asked me to do & she'll want me to something else for her at the same time, like I can clone myself or something! This is NOT the woman I fell in love with. I agree, this disease is TOTAL INSANITY!

And there must be cameras in my house as well! Unfortunately I feel like I'm looking into a crystal ball when I read about this road she's truckin on.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:03 AM
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I am experiencing a similar situation. My AH went from being caring, considerate, and loving, to being selfish, argumentative, and moody. Now he has cut back drastically on the drinking. He then turned into a complete a** who couldn't control his temper or sarcasm. Now, because I told him I am going to completely detach myself from his issues while he figures himself out, he is going to go to the doctor. He says he will do what the doctor recommends, even though he is against any form of regular counseling.

I am sitting in limbo, waiting to see if he means it this time. Trying not to get sucked back in while he is being nice. I don't want to set myself up for another round of fighting, apologizing, forgiving, walking on eggshells, waiting for another stressful situation to cause more mood swings.

Hang in there. It's a tough way to live.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by MeredithD1 View Post
It's like there's an entity that takes over my AH and speaks inside his head, telling him that anyone or anything that gets between him and his alcohol is to be gotten out of the way, no matter what.

When this entity gets the better of him, he is very different. He even looks different, the expression on his face, and acts different, the way he speaks and moves.

And he often doesn't remember what he's said or done, later on when the "entity" is quieted and he hasn't had a drink in at least a day. So it seems like possession.

In my experience, when faced with the "entity," I am best served by removing myself from his/its periphery.
I can totally DITTO this entire post. When my H was actively drinking everything about his communication changed right down to his body & facial language.

It was such a "tell" that later I could not believe I had missed it. Often he would pick small arguments, blow up enormously over nothing & while I was stuck on defending myself in this orchestrated argument he could stomp off in a rage & go hide in a bottle. Those little "tells" went unnoticed while I was left scratching my head & wondering WTF just happened?
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:35 PM
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I have never seen an alcoholic become a "better person" while drinking. Imagine horrible and times it by 10, 100 or 1000 depending on the stage of their illness. My therapist told me to stop thinking of him as the person he was before he started drinking (again). Sometimes this is the only way I can process it - the loving, kind man is gone, the monster is there.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:57 PM
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I think it would be impossible not to do profound damage after years of heavy drinking.

I originally broke up with my ex ah 3 years into our relationship.. I didnt have any contact( bar a 1,000 plus texts in the middle of the night) for 6 months in which she proceded to drink up to 3 bottles of wine a day. I was appalled at the change in her when she rolled up drunk one night. Appalled in the sense that any light any fire she may have had was gone.

I got her to rehab yet still after 6 months sober I thought that she just wasnt the person I met and fell in love with. Whether it was the alchohol or just her It dawned on me she just wasnt a nice person. She had no ability sober or not to look inwardly.

Then she relapsed. We could of re -wound the clock back a year. The vile venom that spewed from her mouth 6 months after her last drink.. shes damaged of that there is no doubt. As for changing Ive thought about it so much.. At 37 shes hardwired into a set pattern which is nigh impossible to break... I should of listened as a kid to the old saying" A leopard doesnt change its spots"
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by EnglishGarden View Post
...Our recovery is to a return to our own divine nature, which will not accept abuse or domination. In recovery we stop placing the alcoholic at the center of our universe. We let go self-pity and accept our responsibility to live by our values.
I have to keep a watchful eye over letting him be the center of my universe in Day Tight (and sometimes Moment Tight) compartments. My mother was (is) a narcissist so I learned about negating myself for another, early, as a survival mechanism. So this change of putting my HP and myself in the center of my universe is life altering and feels like "on the job training."
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:17 PM
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I think that even in sobriety, an alcoholic can continue to evade the profound inner work necessary to re-make himself after years of drinking. And even when she leaves the alcoholic, the codependent can evade her own profound inner work, spinning into yet another painful relationship, and blaming someone outside herself because she did not do her work.
This is a brilliant reminder. Thank you, English Garden. I really enjoy your thoughtful and well-written posts.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Terminally Unique View Post
alcoholism is essentially a reversion to a feral state. It also induces a horrific depression and state of constant anxiety that I don't even know how to properly describe.

Wow. That is one hell of a powerful way to put it. And very very sad.
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