If alcoholism is progressive, is recovery too?

Old 04-15-2010, 01:13 PM
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Wow! Fanstasic responses.

I really did not intend to be divisive or to launch another alcoholic or not debate. My own feelings on alcoholism are that once your body has crossed a line (the line is different for all) and has LEARNED to drink in a destructive way, it cannot be unlearned. Think about learning to walk, it doesn't come right away, it easy for some and more difficult for others, but once you learn to walk you can't unlearn it. It becomes automatic. I think that it is the same with alcoholism. Once destructive drinking is learned by our bodies and our minds we cannot unlearn it. We automatically return to the learned level of drinking. That is why, IMHO, abstinence is the only thing that will work for an addict.

Mark I do remember the chart showing the progression of alcoholism and that is one thing that I was thinking of last night. There seem to be many similarities in the posts written by people who have gone down a very rough road. They stopped drinking when they were at the bottom of the 'V' so to speak. They talk of relapses, significant struggles, ultimatums and damaged bodies and relationships. I can empathize with them, offer support and recognize the tremendous growth that they have had but I don't really relate. It made me wonder about recovery and if there are similarities in recoveries that can be predicted based on how much destruction a person's drinking/addiction caused in their life. A set of addiction/destruction patterns and a matching set of recovery patterns or necessary changes. I know that many will put the 12 steps out as the pattern or path to recovery and I don't disagree, but I am thinking more specifically than that.

Thank you all. I learn so much here.

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Old 04-15-2010, 01:33 PM
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Old 04-15-2010, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by 55438 View Post
It made me wonder about recovery and if there are similarities in recoveries that can be predicted based on how much destruction a person's drinking/addiction caused in their life.
I don't think the destructiveness in someone's life from alcohol is really relevent. I listened to a share just recently by someone who was arrested and committed to a mental health hospital and said that he was in such despair that he threatened the doctor that if they didn't give him something to take away the feeling he would drive his head into the brick wall. And he meant it.

I knew exactly what he felt that day because I felt the same. I wasn't arrested nor committed to a mental hospital but I felt like that when I sat at my kitchen table the morning after my last drink.

In AA we encourage people to look for the similarities rather than the differences in other people's sharing. The applies to both their drinking and their recovery.

Similarities and differences may only seem like two words.............but an alcoholic choosing to look at one or the other, literally chooses between life or death.

For a long time I looked for differences and couldn't accept my alcoholism. I nearly died because of it.

And yes, my recovery is progressive. I actively ensure it is. I am very much aware that all the time I am recovered, my alcoholism is also progressive. If I ever were to pick up a drink again, it would be far worse than the hell it was before, and that nearly killed me.

Great discussion, thanks.
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Old 04-15-2010, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 55438 View Post
I can empathize with them, offer support and recognize the tremendous growth that they have had but I don't really relate.
I heard a share from a guy who was hanging by the neck in a self constructed noose from the rafters in his garage when his neighbor, a nurse and paramedic, cut him down. He was at the jumping off place, and, well... he jumped. He's in my home group and I've seen him get his life, family, job... back.

I was never at the jumping off place, but there is something in his share, his story, that I can hear, and relate to. There but for the grace of God... that rings true. He travelled farther down the road than I, and had farther back to come, but his experience helps me, because I know, in the fibers of my soul, that I was on that same road, and we are now on a different one, but it is the same... recovered in the sunlight of the spirit.

Your post, in my opinion, is not at all divisive. It seems to me that you are searching ....

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Old 04-15-2010, 02:24 PM
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Your recovery is your recovery. Your story was your story. No-one elses.

If you are sober and feeling good about this then what else really matters?

Don't worry about point scoring whose recovery is better than whose.

Show the newcomer the light that the booze can be put down and a new life sculpted in sobriety.

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Old 04-15-2010, 02:46 PM
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Mark I agree. I am just trying to understand and I do notice behavior patterns.

Neo - I am not point-scoring or rating recoveries. My story is my story and yours is yours. Both are equal in value. I was just wondering about similarities in addiction and recovery. Sorry if I offended you.

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Old 04-15-2010, 02:55 PM
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Didn't offend me at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I guess I was just passing on my experince that ultimately what it boils down to for me personally, when all of the other stuff is stripped away, is am I sober today? Yes, am I glad I'm sober today? yes. All gravy then.

I think your post certainly has much relevance to many newcomers who are scared off from recovery unneccessarily.
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:13 PM
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I have been sober for more than four months now. No relapses, no withdrawal, no cravings. I should probably count my blessings and be done with it. But I haven't read many posts that are similar to my experience. I am wondering why. I am not questioning whether or not I am an alcoholic and definately NOT judging or rating recoveries, I am just trying to understand.

I am not sure how my post would scare off newcomers, also not intended.

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Old 04-15-2010, 03:36 PM
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My recovery is the only recovery thats any of my business.. I don't have the interest or the energy in anyone else's. I know that drinking is worse for me than not drinking, so I don't.
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:51 PM
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Alcoholics take different buses but ultimately the destination is the same.
complete demorilization........and a level of desperation that i believe only other alcoholics will understand.

in the last 2ish years of my drinking i lived on the street.
i begged for cash........ate handouts or rummaged through bins.
i had long hair.......stank like a ferret and worn sally army clothes.
i was avoided as if i had the plague.....who wouldn't.

but.........there are people replying in this thread that are 100% like me.

some didn't loose there job......some didn't lose there wifes.......most didn't live as a vagrant......and some had plenty of cash.

and they are 100% like me.

for a few reason.......

1...something strange happens when they take a drink....something fires up rather than slowly winding down.
2...something pretty nasty happens when they stop.......they are gripped by an gnaws away at them...
3..and ultimately they make an insane decision...a sober decision to drink again.........even though they should remember the last debacle with clarity.

that list is what matters to doesn't matter the route i took.
how low or how easy or how hard....

i lost total control of alcohol once i commenced drinking.
i was plagued with a mental obssession when i wasnt.
and id make the decision to drink again ...while stone cold sober...thats pretty nuts dont you think?.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:16 PM
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That was a cool post, trucker. Thanks.

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Old 04-15-2010, 05:38 PM
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Alcoholism and the associated drama are two entirely different things.
The expactation that they go together is killing alcoholics because they are waiting for their ship to completley sink they're willing to admit they're an alcoholic.
I went to a funeral last week. No DUIs, No Jail, No Job loss, No Divorce, No Car Accidents, etc... Nothing!!!
Just dead at 26 years old as a direct result of untreated alcoholism.
She was probably waiting for a DUI to convince her she was a "Real Alcoholic"
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Old 04-15-2010, 07:43 PM
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Great thread, 55 - thank you. I think the "V" curve that members in this thread are referring to is the 'Jellinek' curve. I've read about this 'stages curve' in terms of people wondering whether or not they're an alcoholic. The curve shows the downward slide that leads to rock bottom and the process for the climb back up from it.

As with all indiviuals, we're unique - this is not a one size fits all process as depicted - the stages aren't in precise order, some stages may be skipped, some may be backtracked and others may have late stage symptoms that show up prematurely, but it does show a general trend toward rock bottom:

Just an fyi since folks brought this curve up. Forward we go side by side...
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:46 AM
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55438 - I think your central question is a very interesting one. I think if studies were done to measure this, it would be very enlightening indeed relative to the 'course' of the illness. And while I do agree that the most important thing is not drinking, I cannot help but analyze the whole situation. I mean, I went from a perfectly rational person, who could honestly take or leave alcohol, to a person who crossed the invisible line.

I guess all the self-analysis is me trying to just go back, retrace mysteps and find that damn line. I have this need to know what happened to me and why. Not that I ever will...but I want do, boy do I want to.
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:08 AM
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..what an amazing thread...
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:15 AM
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Thank you all for your replies. This is something that I am very curious about.

Humblestudent - I wonder the same things. What happened? When? How could I have prevented it? etc. But also agree that the most important thing is not drinking and the 'medicine' to help do that is recovery and each of us have our own unique recovery.

My question is geared more toward wondering if there are stages of addiction and a matching set of necessary recovery 'medicines'. For example - the self-loathing I felt when I woke up with a hangover and couldn't believe that I had done that to myself again. I would think that a person who repeated that pattern for six months would have different issues compared to someone who repeated that pattern for 10 years. Yes, there are similarities for example both are choosing to escape reality and both are adding to their problems. But there are also differences in levels of spiritual, mental and physical damage that has resulted. Since there are different issues, different recovery approaches may be needed to best help each of these people.

Another example - The healing approach for someone with Stage 1 cancer is very different when compared to the healing approach for someone with Stage 4. No judgement, no decision that one is better than the other. They are just different and are best treated using different approaches.

Once again, that is my focus. I agree that my only hope for a healthy life is not drinking. I am not and have no desire to. Please hear that I am in no way judging the recoveries of others or studying them or involving myself in them.

I am just wondering if there is a discernible set of measures that be used to understand the impacts of this disease on each INDIVIDUAL and a matching set of individual recovery strategies.

Curious in the great white (actually green now) north.

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Old 04-16-2010, 08:32 AM
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Just curious,

why are you concerning yourself over all this?

It is what it is!!!

My body has an allergy to alcohol. Seems your body has an allergy as well. Keep it simple, it'll make it easier to get 24 hours of sobriety .
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:38 AM
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Hey Captainzing2000,

It is the way I am. I am not a 'black and white' thinker, I see a lot of gray in this area, so many possibilities. It seems that I am not alone.

I am actually confused by some of the replies that I have seen here. Some seem to be reacting like they are being attacked or threatened. Why is that?

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Old 04-16-2010, 09:42 AM
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I too tried to dwell on it early in recovery. What am I talking about, I'm still a babe in the woods.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:53 AM
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Just my 2 cents here: Every alcoholic that I have met (and I'm by no means saying that this is statistically accurate, just my experience) have been sensitive and very intelligent human beings. We're extreme thinkers and extreme feelers. For me, alcohol was an off-switch to me-ness. That being said, in hindsight, although it was, IMHO, a fundamental reason behind my alcoholism, it (extreme thinking) also prevented my recovery for a long, long, time. Until I understood it, I was incapable of doing anything about it. Can you see the result? I kept drinking, kept feeling baffled as to why and nothing changed. Only when I recognized that why I am alcoholic is far less important than the fact that I must do something about it, was I able to gain my first tenuous foothold.

I'm not certain what you asking? As far as recovery progression, yes I think that there is. The ability to think clearheadedly has opened up a world of both good and bad. And changes beget more changes. Positive self-esteem lead me to consider what I was capable of doing, which allowed more self-esteem, which allowed further growth and so on. And the flip-side: realizing my self-centeredness forced me to examine my motives, which forced me to examine my expectations, etc. So, if I am interpreting your question accurately, recovery is constant progression. It was my alcoholism that prohibited me from growth.
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