1. Chelsea
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    Chelsea Member

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    Alcholism

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Chelsea, Jul 1, 2015.

    Hi,

    In my book the main character's mother is an alcoholic. At the beginning of the book my main character is a teenage boy and his mother is already an alcoholic he and his family preform an intervention and she ends up going to rehab. She comes out of rehab clean and stays that way for a few months and then she begins drinking again. She drinks on and off until the point where her family leaves her. The main character is now an adult and his mother still drinks he chooses when he sees her.

    Now, my question is could this happen? Could she drink on and off for years? I am also looking to find out anything I can about Al Anon, rehab, interventions or anything anyone can tell me about alcoholism. I know this is a very sensitive subject so if you can help me at all please feel free to message me.
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I have an alcohol problem and lots of my friends do too. There is a lot of variety of alcoholics. I used to think that alcoholics were only the ones who start the day with shots of vodka, but that's not the case. There's probably a whole ton of information people could give you, but for myself, I wonder what specific information you need. I don't see a problem with the relapsing alcoholic character who goes through treatment -- it happens.
     
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  3. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    That could totally happen. I think you're on track looking into those groups. Without a doubt, there is an AA meeting near you. I recommend sitting in on a few to hear the stories of hardcore alcoholics. Anybody can go to the meetings. Al Anon, too. Hearing about wives, kids, friends of alcoholics whose lives have been impacted is eye opening. Addiction is indeed a sensitive issue but it all has to do with trying to find a way to be okay, which we can all relate to. It's as if the addict has designated this one destructive object as their savior, and that their programming is so off that they can't see it's killing them and hurting others around them. So yes, after several years, somebody can relapse and descend into hardcore addiction with alcohol or anything else. It happens all the time.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure what you mean by her family "performing an intervention", but the rest of what you propose is definitely on the right track. My father was an alcoholic. He died when I was 15, and I personally stopped him from killing himself twice before that. The second time, we called the police, and since they stopped him he was required by New York State law to submit to a psychiatric examination.

    As a general rule, alcoholics who do not voluntarily request treatment do not remain sober for long. It takes a very strong personal commitment. My dad tried at least twice that I know of. The second time, I watched him go through the DTs. When he went back to drinking, I couldn't believe what he'd done to himself after going through all that.

    Good luck with your story. Make it as real as you can.
     
  5. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Yes, it can; my mother was an alcoholic, and she would go through patches of months or even years of stone-cold sobriety followed by occasional massive relapses. Often the relapses were triggered by anxiety about people finding out about her past, etc.
     
  6. Chelsea
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    Chelsea Member

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    Thank you so much sharing with me.
     
  7. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    I suffered on and off with alcohol for a long time. Much of it was depression. I turned to drink, simply because it was something to do. Before long I couldn't get through the day unless I'd been to the bottle. Stank of whiskey every morning. My mom was horrified, my friends started to distance themselves from me. Eventually the drink becomes your best friend and worst enemy. You can't stay away from it, but you detest it.

    Alcoholism, like any addiction, is the inability to function without your fix. Relapse is likely, if not expected. Your plot makes absolute sense.
     
  8. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Any addiction can linger for years, even the big ones like heroin. It's usually a cycle of 'get clean, fuck up, get clean, fuck up'. My dad was an active alcoholic for 30 years.

    And technically speaking, AA follows the 12 Steps which say that once you're an alcoholic, you're always an alcoholic. It's just a matter of whether or not you stay clean. Many people believe (including me, after years of bitterness) that relapse is a part of the recovery process.

    The kind of person you're referring to is the kind who more than likely rejects the 12 Step Program and AA/meetings. For whatever reason, they swear it either doesn't work for them, or that they don't need a program to stay sober. I have nothing for or against those programs, but it's been my experience that those who reject them really struggle with staying clean until they have a rock-bottom moment. Not everyone has that moment right away, and not everyone's is super drastic. My dad said that his rock bottom came when he was sitting on a bench outside of the hospital he worked at and realized that he turned into his mother.

    You'd think it would have been when he lost his children, but ya' know -- whatever works.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  9. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    AA and Al Anon are the same thing. My step-father was 26 years sober when he died, but he still went to meetings, and I came along for a lot of them. It's completely normal to get clean, relapse, clean again, relapse again. @No-Name Slob is right, you're never not an addict. If it wasn't alcohol your character would be using cocaine, or heroin, or video games. The addiction is in her and nothing can get rid of it. The only hope is to try to recover.

    There's a lot of trash people talk about the 12 step program, mostly because they don't understand it at all. But it has the highest success rate of any addiction program. The mantra is, "keep coming back, it works if you work it."
     
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  10. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The two kinds of addicts who refuse the 12 steps/talk trash from my experience are:

    A) The person who thinks it's cheesy/stupid. This person probably hasn't come to terms with Step 1: admitting you have a problem. They're more than likely court ordered to be there, or have been pressured by family.

    B) The person who is in the relapse stage of addiction and insists that since they went through it once, they don't need go through it again. They already know all the steps, so it isn't important to go to rehab again, attend meetings, or find a sponsor. They can do it by themselves.

    The only issue I do have is with NA. At least in my area, the people in NA are not as serious about getting clean, and it turns into a druggie networking event, rather than a group devoted to holding each other accountable. Not saying the 12 steps don't work for drug addicts, I just feel like NA isn't taken as seriously as AA around where I live.
     
  11. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's debate about the success rate...

    And I think often it has to do with the quality of the sponsor. A shitty sponsor, even if you're committed, can mean shoddy recovery.
     
  12. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There's debate about the "success rate" because of the nature of addiction. What does someone consider "success"? An individual staying clean for the rest of his/her life? I feel confident in saying that's more than likely not going to happen. Relapse is usually imminent.

    Is "success" staying clean for a year? Six months? A week? Hell -- for some addicts, success simply means avoiding the drink for a day or two.

    With that kind of instability, it's pretty difficult for an outsider to adequately measure "success."

    But yeah, a good sponsor means a great deal to someone's recovery.
     
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  13. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    You meet a lot of A)s who went to one meeting and think they understand the whole thing.

    My father-in-law is actually deep in to NA and he's getting his 12 year coin this July. My wife is the only one of his kids who will talk to him, and she does that on the condition he stays sober. He's got a sponsor, and is a sponsor, so I think the group is working out okay for him. (This is in Walla Walla Washington though, just about as fare away as you can get from Texas without leaving the contiguous states.)

    But I'm not surprised that a community has spun out of control. That's pretty sad.
     
  14. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It does suck, but what is great is that drug addicts can still go to AA and reap the 12 Step benefits they can't get at local NA meetings, since generally speaking, addiction is addiction is addiction.

    This is what my brother (recovering heroin addict) does, and it's worked really well for him. In fact, my dad (recovering alcoholic) is his sponsor.

    ETA: And congratulations to your Father-in-Law. That's a huge accomplishment! I get where your wife is coming from; it's a really crappy situation. I used to be that way with my dad (the contingency portion, I mean) but he has relapsed since then. I don't mind relapse, so long as you're proactive about it. In fact, I think it can be extremely detrimental for a family member make too big of a deal about relapse. I'm assuming your wife is the same way?
     
  15. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I dealt with a horrible alcoholic father. It was probably the worst because he worked third shift. So basically he would drink himself to sleep, then get up and go to work, rinse ans repeat. I raised myself. He got a new job and met a new woman and she started to get him out of his cycle but eventually he just cared to much about the alcohol. He lived the rest of his life dealing with alcohol problems until he died of cirrhosis of the liver.
     
  16. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    These are good questions. I was in Sex Addict's Anonymous and later Sex and Love Addict's Anonymous (SAA and SLAA respectively), so that's my actual experience with the 12 step model. So honestly, I can't speak on AA or NA from direct personal experience, but my sponsor was a hardcore AA guy with like 20 years sobriety and we talked about AA a ton. And we were in daily contact for about a year. Yes, I was extremely committed.

    In these sexual/romantic impulse programs we measured success by the number of days we didn't do things like:

    -watch porn or certain kinds of porn
    -spy on people having sex
    -make people watch us masturbate
    -stalk or e-stalk ex partners

    I will not say which problem I had, but my problem was pretty low-level compared to most people. One guy came in every Monday with enormous pupils talking about having lost sleep because he kept having dreams about having sex with children. This was not a choice he made; he was literally powerless over his desire to have sex with children. It was one of the most morally confusing experiences I've ever had, feeling enormous amounts of sympathy for him while also thinking he should be put in a cage forever. But I'm pretty sure he was court ordered. But anyway.

    One guy brought up how, with his porn addiction, he felt he had made enormous strides but that his wife didn't think he had made any success. He said that when he was extremely vigilant about the "three second rule." Only checking out a woman for 3 seconds and looking away. That at his job, he hardly had any thoughts about sleeping with other women. And of course, he had gone years without porn. But his wife seemed to think that he was still the same icky kind of person. I wondered sometimes if maybe his wife was the problem!

    But the point of all that is that, as you say, what really is "success?" Substance addiction issues seem simple enough. Success should presumably be measured by days sober. More days, more success. Less days, less success. But as @Jack Asher says, although I don't agree entirely, "once an addict always an addict." The real recovery may really be in personality structure changes. (But... we can measure those just like we can measure days of sobriety...)

    Since I'm doing a master's in clinical psychology now I come across studies here and there, and I hear professors (who have been doing clinical practice for decades, usually), throw out little truisms. One is that addicts (and abusers) are typically pretty narcissistic people. I'm coming to think that the hardcore addict is really just somebody with a deeper personality structure problem -- such as narcissism. People look at the object of addiction (booze, heroin, child porn, religious extremism, video games, puking, starving) as the problem. But it seems to have more to do with the personality, which takes an extraordinarily long time to change.

    Then there's trauma, which needs enormous attention and lots of time. It's tied to personality and core belief schemas, which influence behavior and impulse control. There's so much to consider in all this.

    My comment about the debate is based on what I've seen when I look stuff up. From Wikipedia's Effectiveness of AA page:

    While some studies have suggested an association between AA attendance and increased abstinence or other positive outcomes,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] other studies have not.[10][11][12][13][14]
    As you can see, there are studies that support both sides. Jack quotes the 12 step adage "it works if you work it," and I think that's true. However, I think that this adage can be applied to other models. In my psychopathology course a few months ago we were shown this one addiction recovery model that had way better outcomes than the 12 step model but we learned that the 12 step model has a bit of chokehold on most recovery centers and agencies at this point and it's really hard to get them to try anything new. Plus, the "better" models are expensive. They require months-long impatient membership, lots of highly trained counselors and so on. People at "rock bottom" typically can't afford expensive rehabs.

    So yeah... the 12 step stuff can be really helpful. Because I was abnormally motivated to change my sex/romance impulse problems, it basically saved my life. It was free and the meetings were available a bike ride away from where I lived. My therapist at the time wasn't very helpful. But there is a lot I would change about the 12 step model if I could, because I also think it has some flaws.
     
  17. No-Name Slob
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    There is a lot of debate among psychologists, though, about whether or not this is a chicken or the egg scenario regarding narcissism (and even sociopathy) and addiction. Are addicts already narcissists, or did the addiction turn them into narcissists? Many, many people I know very well are not at all narcissists and didn't even have any childhood traumas, but in the throes of their addiction, any psychiatrist in their right mind would diagnose them as such. But get them into recovery, and the narcissistic tendencies go away, also. So this is another issue that's extremely difficult to measure, and where it's really important to be objective.

    In general, this is where I think a lot of the disagreement with the 12 steps comes from -- psychologists and therapists. Many of them feel that the 12 steps can't work because the program doesn't address the root issue of the addiction, and only solves for the addiction itself.

    It's so important not to discount either method of recovery, and instead to work both in tandem, in my opinion. But until an addict can get into recovery in the first place, you can bet your ass that they either won't go to a therapist, or that a clinical psychologist is the last person who they should be seeing (seekers). Not to mention the fact that addressing all of these traumas so early on can cause a huge amount of stress, and thus contribute to the desire to use. And in that way, one program should probably come first until the addict has a little bit of clean time. What you're referring to, I feel is slightly different. Sex addiction is rooted in an inward problem. There is no research to suggest that going without sex can cause physical withdrawals in the addict (not that this discounts the seriousness of the addiction). I think this kind of addiction would probably benefit more from therapy than an addiction that's heavily influenced by external factors, like booze and drugs. That's just my own opinion, though, having absolutely no experiential input to add there.

    But regarding the three second rule, here's a woman from my hometown to lighten the mood on the subject. She's hilarious and very serious, and has a large cult following of homosexual men in New York and in LA, for reasons I can't fathom.

    DISCLAIMER: This does not adequately describe the majority of the people who live in this area. This woman is delusional, and everyone knows it. ;)

     
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  18. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Well they say the alcohol magnifies a person's personality. So maybe that is why people become narcissist during their addictions.
     
  19. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree with this statement, in general. It's a downer ... it can't enhance or magnify someone's personality, overall. Will it lower someone's inhibitions when they're in a particular mood, causing them to act like assholes, or to behave more promiscuously? Sure. But the issue isn't really alcohol in itself, but addiction at large. It's the addiction that causes the narcissism, not necessarily the drug of choice.
     
  20. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    My two cents is that there's a reason why people become alcoholics. My belief is that the majority of alcoholics need -- at the very least -- therapy from a professional to stay sober. I know there are some who do twelve steps and swear by it, but the alcoholic always has pre-existing problems prior to alcohol dependence, and AA will not, in itself, have the resources to address what caused the alcoholism in the first place.
     
  21. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well said @No-Name Slob

    :)
     
  22. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    My step-father saw a professional, and I know a lot of professional therapists who also work with AA. Hell my 3rd therapist ran a group that had a lot of overlap with the local AA. Sometimes people who couldn't make it to the meeting at AA would sit in on one of hers.
     
  23. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Do you think there are people that have a problem with the link between AA and religion?

    Useful fact: AA was started in Akron, Ohio.
     
  24. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, that's a huge issue for lots of people. And the cultish culture of AA doesn't help. When you have people being like "surrender to Christ OR ELSE" it's not the most welcoming thing. But there are agnostic 12 step groups too.
     
  25. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I think there are, and I think those people are idiots. When Bill talks about a "higher power" he means anything. You can put your trust in science, and surrender to it if you wanted to. The way the system works, science wouldn't even be a bad higher power, and there are atheists all over the country who wouldn't mind surrendering to it.

    I would always tell people, "You can just trust the process. Put your faith in the process."
     

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