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Trying to help a friend & deal w/ my own issues

Old 04-29-2013, 07:50 AM
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Trying to help a friend & deal w/ my own issues

I'll try to keep this as short as I can because I need to deal with some tough issues by this afternoon.

I'm almost 40 and I have a history of alcoholism and drug abuse, mostly marijuana, as well as social anxiety, depression, weight problems and possibly ADHD. My stepfather was an alcoholic and physically abused me until a relative became my legal guardian at age 12 and saved my life. For the last few years, I've been cutting down on my drinking, smoking weed and even cigarettes. Two weeks ago, I finally quit weed and have made a serious effort to limit myself to a beer or two when I'm out with friends, and take care of my health. A few days after that, I had a panic attack which was probably a good thing because it made me even more serious about dealing with all these issues. Starting next week I'm committed to seeing a counselor of some kind to sort it all out.

Here's where it gets really complicated. My best friend who's like a brother since grammar school had a similar childhood to me, but I don't want to compare us too much because I know everyone has to deal with things in their own way. Last October, he got separated from his wife not too long after they had their second child. I invited him to stay with me until he could find his own place. It was a hard situation to watch a friend go through - at first I thought it was just a matter of time, but when it went from a trial separation to a divorce, he started drinking a lot more, but I was still dealing with my own problems so I wasn't seeing the big picture. He lost a drastic amount of weight and has been blacking out while drinking recently and was sometime getting angry/impatient with the kids when they come over. Last week I made the mistake of inviting him to a bar to see our band play. He doesn't remember some things from that night and I regret not taking his car keys from him. Last night we went to a neighbor's house with the intention of drinking one beer - myself and my neighbors had a few drinks each but my friend had a few drinks and several shots and was very drunk. I should have said something earlier but didn't want to call him out in front of someone else. I think he had a very bad reaction to the alcohol during the night and I barely slept because of that. I thought he had alcohol poisoning and was about 5 minutes from calling 911 early this morning but I didn't want to overreact especially because I called an ambulance 2 weeks ago for myself during my panic attack. If things don't change today, I feel like I'll have another one. He got up to leave for work just as I was thinking he was really sick and I got everything off my chest about the excessive drinking. There's still a lot of denial going on here so I'm going to continue the discussion this afternoon. I felt like I had no one else to turn to so I called his ex-wife after he left and finally heard her side of the story which I should have done a long time ago before things got to this point.

I already lost one friend to addiction 5 years ago - I don't want to lose another one.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:03 AM
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Welcome to SR DMB. I'm sorry you're dealing with all this, but glad you came here to talk about it.

You sound like a wonderful friend, and I hope those who've been through a similar situation will have some advice. I watched the destruction of my husband years ago, so I sympathize. (I didn't realize then that I was an enabler.) I've also had my own battle with alcoholism - so I see this thing from both sides - as you do. An alcoholic has to be ready and willing to make the change, and that's what makes this so difficult.

I hope you'll keep posting and let us know how it's going. Glad you are here. Please check out the Friends and Family Forum too.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:06 AM
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Thanks for your reply - I also talked to my aunt that I mentioned because she is one of the few people I can really rely on. I also made plans this morning to start getting more help for myself so I can practice what I preach so to speak. I've always put other people's needs before my own in a lot of ways and that's really a big part of the overall problem. The advice I've been getting from people about these situations is exactly what I expect them to say but it doesn't make it any easier. I told my friend this morning that I would never turn my back on him and I meant it. But now it will be his decision to get some help for himself or I have to tell him to find another place to stay because I can't watch him hurt himself or someone else.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:10 AM
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First thing first, you won't be able to help anyone else if you aren't well yourself. From the sounds of it, you are still drinking, so it's kind of like the blind leading the blind. I understand that he is your friend and you want to help him, but could it be a possibility that you are taking on too much? In some ways, I feel that you are being codependent on this person too. You are using all your energy to help him when that energy should be spent helping yourself at this point in time.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:18 AM
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Thanks for coming to SR for help DMB. I'd echo others' comments in that you need to find help for yourself above and beyond anything else. Good move on going to see a counselor, do you think total sobriety is going to be your goal? I finally found that was the only way for me, moderation never worked after many attempts.

Regarding your friend, as much as you are trying to help at some point you have to let them help themselves. No matter what you do, your friend won't quit his addiction until he decides to. So literally, turning your back an him might be exactly what you need to do although it seems like exactly the opposite of what you think is right.
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:27 AM
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You're 100% right and it took me a long time to learn that, which is why I had to explain my own situation as well. I've gone through a lot of different stages over the past few years where I thought I was handling my problems but they seemed to come back even worse. And this one thread is covering so many different things at once, and there's some I haven't even mentioned yet.

Once this immediate situation is dealt with today, I'm focusing on an appointment with my primary care doctor the day after tomorrow and I already have the name of a therapist who I promised myself I will call this week. I was still in a state of confusion and very impatient with my doctor right after the panic attack, but I'm going back with an open mind this time.

I've heard the term co-dependent many times but never really understood it until now. I can see how it relates to my mother and stepfather which made me who I am, and my current situation. The main thing is I want to continue overcoming my social anxiety with my love of playing music which usually happens in a bar. And I know that some of the women I've been talking to (for the first time in almost 10 years) will only bring me more temptation with alcohol and drugs. These problems are all connected so it's impossible to address my alcohol consumption with getting into the other stuff. I'll continue to post on some of the other forums where I can get more into specifics.

I really appreciate the feedback I got here.
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottFromWI View Post
Thanks for coming to SR for help DMB. I'd echo others' comments in that you need to find help for yourself above and beyond anything else. Good move on going to see a counselor, do you think total sobriety is going to be your goal? I finally found that was the only way for me, moderation never worked after many attempts.

Regarding your friend, as much as you are trying to help at some point you have to let them help themselves. No matter what you do, your friend won't quit his addiction until he decides to. So literally, turning your back an him might be exactly what you need to do although it seems like exactly the opposite of what you think is right.
Good question. When I had the doctor's appointment, he suggested I quit drinking. At the time, I sort of dismissed the idea, thinking that I was doing ok by cutting back slowly. But the only time I was mostly sober at the bar was last week, and even then I probably drank 2 or 3 beers and half a mixed drink over a 6-hour period. In my mind, that was me being sober but it's still so easy for me to lose track of how much I'm drinking and overdo it. Also, I only go to that bar twice a month to play and I can go the 2 weeks in between with almost no temptation to drink. As I'm typing this, there's about 10 bottles of booze in my kitchen (which will be removed this week) and I have no interest in them at all. It's only when I deal with people in public that the problem comes up for me. I don't know what will happen in the future but next time I go there, I'm only drinking plain soda or water.
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:55 PM
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I'd like to add that if anyone is reading this thinking I have things figured out, it's only because these thoughts have been in my head for so many years and I've shut out anyone who tried to help me. Somehow I surrounded myself with people who told me what I wanted to hear like my friend and now I have to look at all my relationships from a different perspective. It's just the tip of the iceberg and I have so much still to learn.
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:22 PM
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You're not alone in that, DMB - I was the same way. I'm glad you're in the process of sorting it all out.
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DMB54 View Post
I've always put other people's needs before my own in a lot of ways and that's really a big part of the overall problem.
Me too! In fact I have always been a people pleaser. Stirring the pot always caused problems and I learned at an early age it was just best to not stir it. It carried on in my work and personal life. I hate confrontation and hate telling people how I really feel.

I commend you for wanting to help your friend, but remember, your sobriety has to come first. I know for me, I lost myself along the way and in order to get myself back, I have to be a little selfish.

I think talking to a therapist is a great idea. I had a counselor and it helped me alot.
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:31 PM
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I saw a therapist for quite a while when I was in my mid teens - it helped a lot on some level just to talk to someone but I was also avoiding a lot of the real issues. It will be a lot different now.

As for my friend, I continued the conversation as soon as he got home from work. There were good and bad sides to it. When I mentioned AA, he blocked me out and tried to ignore it. But then we got to talking little by little about things that he has probably never faced. I told him I wouldn't back down about him being drunk around me and that he had to keep the booze out of the house. I'm still not sure if he realizes the seriousness of the problem, but I've said all I can for today. I'm trying to do what I need to do for myself and walking a fine line with him. I can see where an AA meeting could be a little intimidating, even for me, so next time we talk I might suggest an anonymous forum like this one because he has been online a lot since the divorce.

Thanks again for the responses.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:43 AM
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I know this is just supposed to be the introduction thread but I'm continuing here for now since I already laid out a bunch of issues. If it fits better in a different section, could a moderator please move the whole thread for me?

I'm trying as hard as I can to face the things that made me drink too much and do drugs. At some point I might move on to a different website for myself only because physical addiction to alcohol is not my main problem. I've had a lot of realizations but it takes time to sort them out and find people I can rely on to help me. I've addressed any problems with my physical health over the last few weeks and am making a lot of changes. I'm still a little hesitant to see a clinical psychologist but I'm getting to that point.

Part of my own recovery was making peace with two people very close to me who are alcoholics. The first one is my roommate who I mentioned here, and I've said all I can say to him. I think he's still drinking too much but he has respected my wishes to not come back to my place drunk. I tried to get across that his addiction is the problem, not him. Anyway, he's moving out in two months and that's the best thing for me.

I won't get into as much detail about my other friend, who is also like a brother to me, but basically I found myself caught in the middle of people and I was forced to step up and be brutally honest again. We play music together and he was being rude and insulting to other people when he drank. Up until now, I continued to buy him beer even though I saw the problem when I was sober. The situation reached a boiling point where we had to replace him in the band and I took on the responsibility of saying something to him. The only difference was that I learned a lot from the discussion with my roomate so I really got to the point and didn't get angry or judgemental. I also made it clear to our bandmates that I didn't appreciate getting put in the middle with no one backing me up. Hopefully they understand that I'm putting myself first now or I have to move on.

The reason I'm mentioning this is because I feel that my only choices are to confront these situations or run away from them. As I'm learning to meet new people, I'm being very careful to avoid those who will put me in the same situation in the future.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:43 PM
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there's a lot of people here who can identify with an addiction aspect beyond the physical DMB so you're in good company.

There's a lot here about your friends - but how are you doing?

D
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:02 PM
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Thanks - I'm dealing with things and trying to be patient. Last night I had 3 drinks over 4 hours and turned down a 4th one that someone put in front of me, so that was pretty good but still a little more than I planned to have. I was sober enough to realize they were strong drinks, so I have to find a way to pace myself more next week
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:09 PM
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Sorry...it wasn't clear to me that you were still drinking, DMB.
I tried to help a lot of people during my drinking years - often I made things worse.

I think I would have been better off helping myself first.

I'm not 'having a go' here.

I found my perspectives, my idea of what was common sense, and my capacity to help others was a lot different - vastly so - when I was truly, fully, sober.

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