Apologies if I’m not following posting protocol here. Newbie. I’m an alcoholic and against the proverbial wisdom I readily admit it, which I suppose according to the cliché is the first step.
I became addicted to alcohol after I inadvertently became addicted to Xanax. I know it sounds like a specious scenario, but that’s really what happened. Anyway, that’s how I became an alcoholic. I really don’t buy the line that it’s a disease. A disease to me is malaria. I didn’t “catch” alcoholism. I certainly was predisposed to it, but it seems much more like a learned behavior exacerbated by strife.
I think I have a pretty good understanding of the reasons I drink. I think the whole Xanax affair may have just hastened the inevitable. Why was I taking Xanax in the first place? It all boils down to high levels of anxiety and trying to tamp it down. With the Xanax I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, with the alcohol I did.
Sorry, that was quite the long lead in. My question is: what advice can people offer to quit this? Beyond the conventional. The thought of getting up in a room full of strangers and saying “I’m John and I’m alcoholic” seems ridiculous and more importantly extremely unhelpful. And, as I said I think this is primarily a behavioral problem rooted in trying to tamp down the heightened anxiety I’ve suffered all my life – exhibited primarily by chronic insomia.
I was sober for about 6 months and have lapsed a few times since then. It is completely in step with those periods where I have high levels of anxiety. I am of the opinion that the alcoholism is primarily a symptom of anxiety. So, I readily buy into that part of rehab that addresses the psychiatric and behavioral facets of addiction, but the idea of sitting around in a group sharing is anathema to me. I’d rather have pins shoved in my toes.
I guess that’s it. I realize I have a problem. I realize I need help. I also am of the firm conviction that AA or conventional rehab would not be useful. What other options are there?
Wow John! Don't mean to come down hard on you...but it sounds to me like you have it all figured out. What do you need this website for? Don't you realize that gathering with other people who suffer from similar problems is one of the ways into understanding your addiction? It's called fellowship. You need to humble yourself and be willing to give things a try. ie AA meetings or perhaps outpatient therapy. Course you could always opt for the pins...Gross! Alcoholism is a disease and it manifests itself in many different ways. We are all different but the bottom line is we all drank to quash some sort of problem in our lives. I personnally would love to go to meetings but I am on house arrest for DUI's. So this site is a blessing to me and I have learned a lot just by reading posts and interacting with other alkys. You need to realize straight up that you can't do it alone and to think that you have it all figured out is ridiculous If you think you already know all your triggers than thats great but you still need a support group,person , sponsor,what have you to help you thru the rough times.Get off your high horse John, we are all in the same boat in one way or another. Welcome to the neighborhood. Terry
Believing that my alcoholism/drug addiction is a disease....an allergy of sorts has kept me sober/clean for 24 years.if u find AA unpalatable then find Rational Recovery meetings of SOS meetings....Secular orgs for sobriety.One suggestion as u listen to ppl talk there think about what u have in common with them and don't compare urself outta the room!
I completely understand that AA and the like are extremely helpful to many, many people. And, that many people find solace in identifying this as a disease. All I'm trying to express is my take on my problem and what will work for me - not other people. I quite obviously don't have it figured out but I know myself and what I do have figured out is what will not work for me. I just don't know what the solution is. I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes here. I was just hoping that there may be someone who had a similar outlook but had much more experience in dealing with it.
I have a different take than some: I think that for some people it really is a desease. Their bodies handle alcohol differently, and the end result of their drinking is always bad.
For others, heavy drinking or alcoholism is a bad habit that takes years to develop. These people eventually become physically addicted, but they can break the physical addiction. For this group, it is problem that starts has a behavioral issue, but it takes on a life of its own once the body becomes physcially dependant.
Either way, you are forced to look at the reasons that you began drinking to excess and you have to begin to address these problems. If it is stress, then you are hiding from your stress in a bottle. I know, because I've done it.
Keep asking questions, and when you feel a moment of weekness, try getting on this forum and telling everyone about it. There are many people with different views - just remain open minded.
WOW! You sound very much like a close friend of mine...You wouldn't happen to be a Virgo would you??? Analytical and always looking for the solution....a brick wall? there has to be a way around it, right?
Faith, John...Faith....trust in synchronicity-that certain events occur or people connect for a fortuitous reason. Sounds like you have a real problem getting in touch with your deeper feelings and that might be because your mechanisms of denial are so firmly set in place. Don't limit your breadth of vision with some estimable faith in logic.
Anxiety is not logical. I know. I suffer from it. Insomnia has many, many organic causes as well as many, many emotional causes that transcend all logic.
Saying you feel "okay" can cover a lot of messy feelings you'd rather not examine, doesn't it, John?
AA helps to "uncover" those "messy" feelings in a logical, orderly way. Give a try.
You don't have to go in there and start flappin your yap....hang back...the old timers will tell you to shut up anyway.
Faith, John, Faith! You must give up the illusion of control. Only then can you discover your true purpose and your true nature and find real happiness. At that point, the obsession to drink will leave you, and you will sleep.
With much love
I am not an alcoholic, but I am married to one. Personally, I have always had the same philosophy about alcoholism as you do, I was never able to see it as an illness. I always saw it as a choice that people made, and if they were willing to give up all the good things in their lives because they want to drink, or can't control how or when they drink, then they made the decision and alcohol took priority over family, work, and friends. Basically destroy any relationship other than the one with the bottle.
Deep down, I still feel that way, however there is much medical evidence that proves me wrong. Because the medical profession does see alcoholism as a disease, you can get inpatient therapy if that is something that you are able to do. Even outpatient therapy might work, you still have to admit you're an alcoholic, but not in the middle of a room full of people. You may not realize the benefits of AA, but within that you have a support group, people with the same problems and demons that you have, and you can come away from a meeting every week with a renewed sense of determination to succeed.
I also take Xanex, I have been taking it for years, it started with my ex-husband who I found out was a crack addict just after we were married. It never made me want to drink, but the idea of running out of Xanex would send me into an anxiety attack faster than anything else. I don't need to take it so much anymore, once I divorced my ex and had the permanent restraining order put in place, I had to then put my life back together. It took a very long time, and I'm still not the person I was before I married him. What I went through with my ex and the crack...the lying, stealing, he would disappear for weeks at a time on a binge in a crackhouse somewhere, drug dealers popping into my house and he would introduce them as friends or coworkers, bailing him out jail...it was sosososo much worse than drinking a 12 pack of beer every night, like my current husband does. I am not saying that the drinking is ok...it's still slowly killing him, but after what I went through with my ex, it's less of a nightmare.
Wow, First let me say, that I do understand what you are saying. I too am not an alcoholic but am married to one. I too have had the same thoughts and feelings about being an alcoholic and AA.
Unlike you though, I am not the one with the alcohol problem, and I know from watching my own husband go through it, that this is one problem that generally can not get better without, determination and support.
Like you, my husband thought he could do it on his own. however after 20 years of drinking, that was not the case. He did attend AA and found the support he needed to get sober and stay sober. For the record, his meetings do not include everyone standing up saying, I am so and so and I am an alcoholic. Their meetings are basically a place to go where you build a friendship with other people who have the same problem.
Yes, they do talk about what alcohol has done to their lives, but it is in a very informal way. They are friends not just people with a problem. To be honest though, my husband did try another group before this one, and he did not fit well there. So, I guess what I am saying is, if you do decide to give AA a try, don't think that all meetings are the same and you won't fit in. Find one that you are comfortable in and you just may be surprised how much better you feel when you learn to live a sober life.
I appreciate the comments they are helpful. My "I don't think it's a disease" statement seemed to raise everyone's dander - so let me clarify - I suppose I think of it more as a mental/neurological problem like schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. But that's really just semantics. The bottom line is that it is a problem - whatever you call it. And as far as having control over it, I don't - or very little - hence the post. Oddly, I've not had any difficulty admitting it is a problem - just trying to solve it. It’s conceptually difficult to understand why I can’t go back to being the social drinker I was. It’s moved into that phase akin to George Carlin’s description of how cocaine makes you feel: "It makes you feel like having some more cocaine.” I knew when I tried coke that I should stay away from it and did. It seems I should be able to do the same with alcohol. I understand that AA is immensely helpful to many people and that equally useful is religion. My problem (or one of them rather) is that I have never really thrived in group settings – it’s just not really my cup of tea. Religion and me have much the same relationship. I’m not knocking either one. They just don’t work for me. I wish they did because those seem to be the most prevalent tools for dealing with this.
I'm a little curious about the comments from Tink70. I don't quite understand what I'm in denial about. I have a serious problem and I know myself well enough to know that the most readily availlable solutions are not really for me. I fully realize it is near impossible to do this on your own, but I don't know what the alternatives are.
As far as not being in touch with deeper feelings, I'd say the exact opposite is true. I've always been firmly in touch with them. I distinctly recall being in grade school and learning about psychoanalysis and thinking what a wonderful thing that must be. I'd say being in touch with my deeper feelings is a big part of the problem. It's not having the outlet that's the problem and (I may have this wrong) but my take on what you are saying is AA could be a place to air these thoughts? If I understand you correctly, you are probably on the right track. I have always craved an outlet for that. I've lived overseas for most of my life in places where counseling of that kind is not available and I will be moving away again shortly. One on one interaction is fine. Group interaction is not something I would be interested in - it sort of makes me cringe. I don't have a problem with discussing thoughts and feelings - just not en masse.
Thanks Suzyq0826. You're right it probably is a choice, but there is a point where it turns from the "choice" a normal person has into something else entirely. It's difficult to describe, but it sort of morphs into a compulsion.
I didn't adequately explain the Xanax. While I was taking it there were no problems with alcohol. The problem began when I stopped taking it. I was severely physically addicted to it. I tried to slowly taper off of it but even incrementally small doses were just a living hell. I was vomiting, shaking, sweating ... sort of what I envisage coming off heroin is like (although I'm sure it's nothing like it). The worst part is I couldn't sleep. So, I started drinking to take the edge off, which worked. It took about a month or so.
I was living in China at the time and I'm sure there are alternatives in the US I could have used that would have been much more healthy than downing vodka. And I don't think that it is the reason for my alcoholism. I think it just might have facilitated the whole mess. Apparently, some people can stop taking Xanax with relatively little discomfort, but for others it is extremely unpleasant.
I think that people make choices all the time, and the reason they make the choices they do is not always within their control. I might have oversimplified my perception of what an alcoholic deals with. As the wife of an alcoholic, I live with his struggles every day. He is not trying to quit drinking, and never will. I don't have a problem if he could have a couple of beers after work and leave it at that. I like a glass of wine or two occassionally myself. It also does not interfere with his employment or parenting, he's not mean or abusive...he just drinks until he falls asleep...so let's say it just doesn't do a lot for our romantic life. I accept it, I love him and my main concern is his health. I really believe that if I gave him the ultimatum, "stop drinking or we're through", he would just leave and drink himself to death somewhere.
As for the Xanax..I still keep my prescription filled, but my doctor watches me closely. He won't write a refill without an office visit. I don't need them like I used to, but it's a comfort knowing they're right there because unless someone has suffered anxiety attacks, it's very difficult for that person to understand what it's like. Every once in awhile my husband will see me take a Xanax and ask "what's up now, why are you taking that?, What did I do now?" Sometimes there is no reason...it's not like a tragedy has to happen or he had to do anything to make you run for the pills, sometimes it's just a feeling that you don't even know exactly why you're feeling it. But, if you've been there, then you know that. But when I don't take them for awhile, I haven't experienced any withdrawal symptoms or inability to sleep, but I do know people that have. My prescription is 1mg...I know it's water under the bridge for you now, but if you were in the States, your doctor would have (or should have) reduced the dosage gradually so would not feel the effects of withdrawal and started drinking.
I really wish you the best....hang in there, you have the desire, which is a good portion of the battle.
Thanks for your comments jml1986. I am an alcoholic and it makes minimal sense to me. So I can only imagine how difficult it is for someone who hasn't experienced it. I don't really think I can handle this on my own. To be honest I hadn't really thought through what I expected from posting something on here. I had just got to the basic thought that I needed to do something and maybe there were some alternatives out there I wasn't aware of.
And thanks for your description of AA, but even if I changed my mind about it, that's really not a viable option. I will be moving to Indonesia in a couple of weeks and I'm fairly certain AA isn't active in Surabaya.
disease..illness...allergy...compulsion...psych disturbance.....behavioral problem...however u define this IT 4 urself is personal but what is most crucial is what u choose to do about it!!!There r many different roads to recovery..and what will work for one may not work for another..both of u must find what works for u and to stop it from affecting areas of ur lives if it is doing so!I attended AA,NA,Rational Recovery...each program had something 2 offer me..i took what i could use and left the rest!!!!if i hadn't of done so i would not have what i have today...and there were many fine inspiring ppl who helped me on my journey and still do so today many outside the rooms of recovery!
I just want you to know that I have felt the same way about alcohol as far as the disease word goes. That is a conversation that my husband and I have had on several occassions. I have always been a realist, and anyone that is like me would say the same thing that you and I have both said, it is not a disease if it is self inflicted. So, I you are right about it beeing semantics, because for me it is easier to accept if it is called what it truely is, which is an addiction. Neither word really matters as far as that goes, what matters is that you are an alcoholic and you have expressed desire to stop, and that is what is important.
I also understand what you are saying about going to group meetings. Not everyone is comfortable in group settings, my husband included. I would suggest you look into individual counseling. Therapist focus on several different things and alcohol abuse is one of them. I think it could benefit you in more the one way, you said you have severe aniexty issues which caused to go on xanax, which in turned led you to alcohol. Maybe if you worked on your aniexty you would feel more like you were in contol of your life and how you live it.
John, aside from your posts and all the advice and comments that people have given on this site...It all boils down to "where theres a will, theres a way", Surabaya or wherever. You have no way of knowing what is available until you get there. If you don't seek it out you won't find it. I myself lived in Karachi Pakistan many years ago...There are expatriate communitys that exist that probrably have groups that deal with addictions. It's all up to you! Don't make excuses your just hiding your head in the sand. Terry
You do not know yourself. That is the point. (But you are quite arrogant in a very apologetic way but again, I give you kudos for even posting your dilemma - that was probably very hard for you) Abuse/addiction to any form of a mood altering substance is the desire to change the way one feels run amuck! In my case - I'm a bi-polar, alcoholic. I used it not only to change the way I feel but to also unconsciously regulate my brain chemicals. Emotional and Physical. Addiction is both things. (But, of course, you know that!) Along the way - totally stunted my emotional growth so - I don't know myself and unless you didn't touch a drug/drink/mood alternig chemical until just recently then you, too, have some very unhealthy emotional factors. And yes, AA is an outlet. There are AA groups EVERYWHERE! You would be surprised. I bet there is one in the little area of Indonesia that you are going to - call the AA 1-800 number and check. The one on one interaction is what the sponsor is for. I have a lot of friends in my AA community here in Alabama that don't say a word at meetings but they work very closely with their sponsors for the exact same reasons you have listed and then have an outside counselor/PDoc.
At the very least - buy a Big Book and read it. You can order it online.
Glad that I touched a nerve. Hope that all goes well for you and that your trip is successful. Geographical cures are never the answer but work is work.
Hope all goes well.
Hi...I'm Grace, wife of an alcoholic. My husband has been sober since February. There's a long story that goes with his sobriety but I don't have the time to get into. I'm not sure if it's possible to search for posts by a certain member but if it is, search for the posts I've made on this forum...the story is there and I haven't posted much so it shouldn't be difficult to find.
You'll find that you'll take quite the verbal beating if you don't tow the AA party line. I will never deny that AA is a great organization that has helped many, many folks stay sober. It has absolutely done that. BUT AA is not for everyone and it is very possible to gain sobriety without AA.
My husband had help getting sober because he was hospitalized for Hepatic Encephalopathy. That problem is connected to his Hepatitis C which has now harmed his liver. 25+ years of drinking darn sure didn't help. While he was hospitalized he was able to go through withdrawal from alcohol and that helped immensely in his ability to stay sober. He was not up to driving or anything else for a few weeks and being unable to go buy alcohol or go to a bar also was helpful.
He tried AA many years ago but as you said, it just wasn't his cup of tea. I won't go into the many reasons he wasn't enamored with AA, but suffice to say he was not going to go back again. However he was smart enough to know he needed something/someone to help him deal with ways to manage his stress and anxiety instead of turning to alcohol. Sound familiar?
He found himself a substance abuse counselor and he has been meeting with her weekly since mid February. He feels she has helped him understand why he drank and has helped him discover the tools he needs to remain sober and learn how to deal with stress/anxiety in a much healthier way.
All I can say is that so far...it's working. There've been no slip ups and he is managing the stress of his job much better. He has also learning to talk it out rather than keep it inside eating him up.
I can't guarantee that he won't relapse, hopefully he does not for in his case his very life depends on it. No one, not even the staunchest AA supporter can guarantee a person will remain sober forever. He does take everything a day at a time, putting one foot in from of the other foot and keeps moving forward. He's now in control of his life and I hope he always remains in the drivers seat.
Thanks Grace that's helpful. I'm already realizing that my inclination about AA is correct. I posted on here to seek help and was pretty honest about my condition and outlook. I'm fascinated to find out that I'm arrogant and do not know myself - how flipping arrogant is that for someone I've never met to assert that after reading a couple of postings from me? I find it bizarre to come on a site seeking help for a problem and to get such condescending ("that must have been very hard for you", "you have it all figured out") personal comments. It seems people take it a bit personally if you don't buy what their selling.
I am a recovering alcoholic (sober 12 years) I was homeless and helpless
so I believe that qualifies me for speaking up here.
One I do not want to jump on anyone's toes, however I have found that being
an alcoholic and living with one are 2 completely differnet things. I can not know what
is like to live with an alcoholic because I do not. How can some one who lives
with one tell another alcoholic how to recover ? THAT"A THE FIRST PROBLEM HERE.
Second; What Ibizan said is true John, how can you know your true self when you have been hiding it for years ? That's just a simple question. TO me you could go to AA or
try sel help books, what ever you like but until you are willing to take a true look at yourself nothing will help..... You could go to AA or a Shrink for years but until you open up
to yourself and are willing nothing will work...GOOD LUCK, you need it.
I know people had to tell me the truth and I did not like, I wanted it sugar coated, Life doesn't
work that way.
ccocbean (ps my husband is sober 21 years that's 33 years between us)
Cocobeanlisa - there are often people who live with alcoholics that come to this forum to get answers and learn more about the effects of alcohol. They also come to share stories about the successes and failures of their loved ones who drink too much.... and I've learned a lot from these "spouses" , friends and relatives of alcholics. That's my 2 cents.
I did not specifically mention anyone by name. I know that you and a few others are willing to admit that AA is not the end all to be all. I have also never said AA wasn't a worthwhile organization, it is. It's just not for everyone and one of those reasons is that 90% of AAers jump on their bully pulpit if you don't embrace their beliefs about AA completely.
My husband felt there was too much focus on blame and shame. He knew he had screwed up. He knew he had to change his ways. But he did not like the way the Big Book went about telling you to get your life together. I've never been to an AA mtg., probably never will. So I don't say anything against AA except it is not for everyone. I give them credit where credit is due.
I don't see very many of the AAers on this board who don't slam anyone who doesn't agree with them and their philosophy. The holier than thou, you're wasting your time if you don't go to AA, AA is the only way you learn about yourself, you must have a sponsor and a support group to get through this attitude turns so many off. Too bad they don't realize that a softer approach, a welcoming spirit would get them heard better. Instead so many go off with the attitude of I'm right, you're wrong and you'll never succeed if you don't do it the way I'm telling you and belittling of those who are reaching out for help, such as Johnself makes people who are already struggling and searching for answers feel ambushed. If I was Johnself I wouldn't want anything to do with AA after the way a few on here ripped into him.
Before I get blasted for saying a softer approach is needed I don't mean you have to mollycoddle anyone. I'm just saying that attacking a person who is reaching out and trying to get a handle on their alcohol problem that they don't know anything, that they act like they already have it figured out, that their condescending and up on a high horse is such a turn off to those who are just beginning to realize that they have a problem and they come to a forum like this looking for support and what they get instead is jumped all over for not feeling that AA is the only answer.
If you believe in what AA does for you then you don't have to use that superior attitude to share the information. You can simply put it out in a calm manner and wish the person luck in getting sober. The preachy, you ain't nothin' without the support of AA and the Big Book schtick is not at all the way to get others to listen to your message.
Naturally this is my POV and YMMV. I'm not really interested in trying to prove substance abuse counseling is better than AA...that is not my point. My point really is that some people here who believe in AA really don't need to treat those who don't like pariahs. JMHO.
howdy. hope you continue to use this forum, as i have found it to be very beneficial to my own recovery. a couple of thoughts: don't think anyone noted this yet, but in your initial post you really hit on something it took me years to understand. you wrote "alcoholism is primarily a symptom of anxiety." how true that is. addiction to any drug, alcohol or otherwise, is a developed symptom of an underlying cause, at least for myself and people i know. the process of recovery is identifying that cause for what it is, and taking action to deal with it. this process can be used to resolve all kinds of issues that arise in all kinds of people. alcohol was always able to do for me what i couldn't do for myself. it took away the anxiety, discontentment, fear and eventually my tortured consciousness. until it stopped working and only intensified my problems. i too dread group environments and this site has been a great way to interact with others without being in the same physical location. i do use aa and it's principles in actual meetings and other social situations, but sometimes a place like this allows me to address my demons in a less stressful arena.
as far as what works, one cure doesn't always work for everyone. some people do recover without aa, and all i can relate is what works for me. i look at it this way, if i had cancer and recovery rates were:
2% for doing nothing
15% for using chemo (unpleasant)
35% for using radiation (more unpleasant)
75% for having surgery (this really *****)
90% for hand copying every entry in the yellow pages (wtf?)
i would probably opt for the phone book gig. in recovery, aa's suggestions just happen to be the most effective therapy, as potentially ineffective as they may appear to be. i'd like to be able to say i did the aa thing when it was first presented to me, however i just could not see how it would be to my benefit. i wanted analytical cause and effect. 12 steps didn't seem rational. so i continued with the suicide on an installment plan that was to be my existence for many more years. if i'd listened to what i'd heard the first time i heard it, i would have saved myself a lot of hell on earth. but i'm stubborn and was driven by a sickness that told me in so many ways that i really wasn't sick.
i don't know what your solution will be, all i can offer is my personal experience. just try to keep an open mind and give yourself a break. alcoholism is characterized by thoughts, actions and behaviors that make little sense. and for me, the mechanisms of recovery have been just as mysterious. but today i'm sober.
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