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  1. #11
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Addicts eventually love and need their drug of choice more than anything else in their life. This is an example of true insanity. So using logic to understand an alcoholic may not be the best approach.

    Essentially every addict needs at least one enabler. Someone who makes it possible for him to continue his use of his drug. Early- and middle-stage alcoholics may have a whole group of enablers. They are bosses who look the other way when he's late or doesn't show, people who set ultimatums and allow "just one more chance," the government who sends him his "disability" check, friends who don't see a problem because he uses in the same manner as they do, wives who forgive and don't insist on a change of behavior, parents who fear that allowing the addict to "bottom out" may kill him. A very real fear and totally unpreventable without resorting to locking him up.

    And, being allowed to feel true despair, the consequences of his actions, is the only motivator I know of to wake the dreamer from his deluded slumber. Pain is a gift to the addict. Nearly none of us stop a pleasant habit until the pain it causes is stronger than the pleasure it gives us.

    It requires an extreme amount of emotional strength on the part of those who care for him to allow him to suffer his consequences. There is fear of loss involved. Most enabling is done out of love. But, paradoxically, it can make the person we love even more ill.

    So my thought is figure out what you're doing which enables him to continue using and stop doing it. Not so easy when you get in the way of an addict and his drug. Steadfast statements of love and care and firm resolve not to make it easier for him to use or to deal with his consequences is the key. Much more easily said than done.

    That's why millions of people who are attached to people with chemical health problems attend a group called Alanon. In that group, which was formed sometime in the thirties, people share their stories and support each other in what works to help their loved one to recover. They also learn how they have played a part in the chemical use and how to resist repeating behaviors which may be harmful to the addict, but which have seemed like the logical thing to do.

    When a family member goes to treatment and the family fails to get involved they are missing an important rule of family life. None of us develop in a vacuum and a family has deeply ingrained habits which may promote health or deterioration. Everyone in the life of an addict getting involved in learning healthy methods to deal with addiction increases the probability of the addict getting well.

    He's already gotten the message several times over. Has the rest of the family gotten on the same page?
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  2. #12
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post

    And, being allowed to feel true despair, the consequences of his actions, is the only motivator I know of to wake the dreamer from his deluded slumber. Pain is a gift to the addict. Nearly none of us stop a pleasant habit until the pain it causes is stronger than the pleasure it gives us.
    Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    This is about where I'm at. The only curveball I have left is emotional distance. "Punishing" his choice of behavior by isolating myself from him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    He's already gotten the message several times over. Has the rest of the family gotten on the same page?
    More or less. He's almost entirely alone.

    No Christmas appearance (despite phone calls, random visits to his apartment, etc) or word from him in almost...2 months.

    I try not to consider what this means.

  3. #13
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    I'm having a hard time following through with this. Although I certainly agree with the fundamental wisdom of this approach, I feel like I'm just choosing the path of least resistance to serve my psychological bottom line.
    You mean when you set boundaries?

    I do understand what you mean there.

    On the other hand, it's more a recognition of the fundamental autonomy of the individual. Therapists know this well: The patient dictates treatment, and if the patient isn't committed to a particular treatment or wants to recover, she won't. That's the painful part of psychological healing.

    So you want your brother to know you are available as a resource and help, if he chooses to avail himself; but at the same time acknowledge you aren't responsible for his choices, his life is under his own authority. (In a way, this is sort of liberating for him. Or could be.)

    This is about where I'm at. The only curveball I have left is emotional distance. "Punishing" his choice of behavior by isolating myself from him.
    I think that's one of the issues here.

    You can't allowing your attitude to be "punishing." If you're punishing him, then that's a lousy attitude. It should HURT you to withdraw your aid; that's how you know you have the right motivations. If you're doing things and he's bearing all the cost, you're just abusing him to salve your own hurt; I think refusing to enable should be painful to the person drawing back. It costs you.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  4. #14
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    You mean when you set boundaries?

    I do understand what you mean there.

    On the other hand, it's more a recognition of the fundamental autonomy of the individual. Therapists know this well: The patient dictates treatment, and if the patient isn't committed to a particular treatment or wants to recover, she won't. That's the painful part of psychological healing.

    So you want your brother to know you are available as a resource and help, if he chooses to avail himself; but at the same time acknowledge you aren't responsible for his choices, his life is under his own authority. (In a way, this is sort of liberating for him. Or could be.)
    Agreed.

    This seems like the best way to go about it.

    Yet, my hardship with the autonomous approach is that it presumes a reasonable target. My brother rarely behaves reasonably. So, if his behavior is unreasonable, it's probably also true that his thinking is illogical.

    As a result, while the autonomous approach works (mostly for me, at this point), it doesn't concisely address a reasonable spectrum of behavior for my brother.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post

    I think that's one of the issues here.

    You can't allowing your attitude to be "punishing." If you're punishing him, then that's a lousy attitude. It should HURT you to withdraw your aid; that's how you know you have the right motivations. If you're doing things and he's bearing all the cost, you're just abusing him to salve your own hurt; I think refusing to enable should be painful to the person drawing back. It costs you.
    Good distinction.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    This is about where I'm at. The only curveball I have left is emotional distance. "Punishing" his choice of behavior by isolating myself from him.



    More or less. He's almost entirely alone.

    No Christmas appearance (despite phone calls, random visits to his apartment, etc) or word from him in almost...2 months.

    I try not to consider what this means.
    What I'm saying? "Punishment" never caused a recovery. It can't be "made" by someone else.

    Alcoholics, once they enter third stage alcoholism, already are scared to death at some deep psychological level. They're caught up and they know it. And they know not the way out. Not because they haven't been taught, but because giving up their chemical is the worst possible hell they can imagine. It is seen as life-sustaining to them.

    To present a very ill alcoholic a choice, even symbolically, between family and the bottle is a no-brainer for him. Doesn't work. (Sometimes it will for a period of time until he can be assured that he's got his enablers back in his life.)

    I'm talking about love with detachment. Tough love. A lot of people think they understand the concept and really don't. This is what Alanon teaches. And the method provides hope and a sense of security that they are doing the right thing to people who love alcoholics.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  6. #16
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Fuck, I don't know. I think there's a lot going on with addiction and it takes a while to unravel. The question of where to start (your question, and the hardest question), I think, depends on both where he's at, how his mind and body work, and what your relationship with him is like. Since I don't have any of that information, and since that information is hard to convey in words, I can try speaking from my own experience and what I might do.

    If my younger brother was in that situation, I would probably start by befriending him as much as possible, but drawing boundaries when it comes to drinking and partying. That would just be to open the lines of communication. From there, I would start to lightly probe him for problems and conversations and offer some ideas, perspectives, and solutions while being very careful not to be condescending or patronizing. As soon as that happens, he'll sink into shame, which is probably one of his triggers. After some conversations, I would offer to help by helping him identify his other triggers and finding practical, easy solutions. It's important that recovery doesn't become the focus of the relationship and that we establish some sort of other connections and dialogues. This situation is totally idealistic and doesn't factor in resistance, both to you, and to changing his lifestyle. That just has to be worked with as it arises, skillfully and sincerely.

    Getting him to attend a 12 step meeting or read some books on personal stories of recovery and strategies would be another supplement. I guess the main thing to remember would be that he always has some room to improve his situation, however slightly. That's something everyone has to realize, your family included, because they can serve as a source of hope, and at the same time, a source of time, without even realizing it.

  7. #17
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blueberry LaLa View Post
    I meant YOU. Have you gone to a therapist. So you can stop beating yourself up for his failures.
    I didn't see this question before.

    Good thought.

    I have a natural cynicism for most psychoanalytic theory (ironic, given our forum).

  8. #18
    Seriously Delirious Udog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    My problem deals with my younger brother, Adam. He's 24, lives on his own and struggles with alcoholism.
    I suggest looking into Al-Anon.

  9. #19
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    Fuck, I don't know. I think there's a lot going on with addiction and it takes a while to unravel. The question of where to start (your question, and the hardest question), I think, depends on both where he's at, how his mind and body work, and what your relationship with him is like. Since I don't have any of that information, and since that information is hard to convey in words, I can try speaking from my own experience and what I might do.

    If my younger brother was in that situation, I would probably start by befriending him as much as possible, but drawing boundaries when it comes to drinking and partying. That would just be to open the lines of communication. From there, I would start to lightly probe him for problems and conversations and offer some ideas, perspectives, and solutions while being very careful not to be condescending or patronizing. As soon as that happens, he'll sink into shame, which is probably one of his triggers. After some conversations, I would offer to help by helping him identify his other triggers and finding practical, easy solutions. It's important that recovery doesn't become the focus of the relationship and that we establish some sort of other connections and dialogues. This situation is totally idealistic and doesn't factor in resistance, both to you, and to changing his lifestyle. That just has to be worked with as it arises, skillfully and sincerely.

    Getting him to attend a 12 step meeting or read some books on personal stories of recovery and strategies would be another supplement. I guess the main thing to remember would be that he always has some room to improve his situation, however slightly. That's something everyone has to realize, your family included, because they can serve as a source of hope, and at the same time, a source of time, without even realizing it.
    This is good stuff, Edahn.

    I've tried the buddy-buddy approach as a way to probe deeper into the the inherent workings of his psychological attitude. He's a fun, emotionally-intelligent guy (moreso than I am), and is able to provide convincing alternative indicators that he's "getting better" (which of course feeds into my bottom line and makes me want to believe him, thereby enabling him further (I want to trust him)).

    The 12-step approach is a very good methodology to consider. While he's made a few attempts before, I don't think he's taken it seriously. Getting reinforcement from recovering addicts is a good way to find camaraderie without sacrificing the "elephant in the room"/dignity issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    What I'm saying? "Punishment" never caused a recovery. It can't be "made" by someone else.

    Alcoholics, once they enter third stage alcoholism, already are scared to death at some deep psychological level. They're caught up and they know it. And they know not the way out. Not because they haven't been taught, but because giving up their chemical is the worst possible hell they can imagine. It is seen as life-sustaining to them.

    To present a very ill alcoholic a choice, even symbolically, between family and the bottle is a no-brainer for him. Doesn't work. (Sometimes it will for a period of time until he can be assured that he's got his enablers back in his life.)

    I'm talking about love with detachment. Tough love. A lot of people think they understand the concept and really don't. This is what Alanon teaches. And the method provides hope and a sense of security that they are doing the right thing to people who love alcoholics.
    Hmm.

    It seems like this is something that I should explore deeper. While I understand what you're saying, I think you have a valid point that I'm missing the bigger point of the exercise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Udog View Post
    I suggest looking into Al-Anon.
    Noted -- thank you, Udog.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    I think there's a lot going on with addiction and it takes a while to unravel. The question of where to start (your question, and the hardest question), I think, depends on both where he's at, how his mind and body work, and what your relationship with him is like. Since I don't have any of that information, and since that information is hard to convey in words, I can try speaking from my own experience and what I might do.
    This is true. But it is not the place to start. The best approach is behavioral. Getting into personal action. And the focus needs to be on the person who is troubled rather than on the person who is troubling him.

    When the barn is on fire, you don't go looking for the arsonist. You put out the fire.

    Once your actions are alligned with health for yourself, the stage is better set for recovery of the family member.

    The goal isn't to figure out what's wrong with him and how to fix it. The goal is to determine how you fit into the puzzle and stop it.

    The answers to the causology, if they come at all, come after family stability. Working on those is "fine tuning."

    The neat thing is that the cause of the behavior doesn't need to be determined in order to effect a change, only to maintain it. Addicts don't need to know why they use in order to stop. Thank goodness, because some never figure it out but remain sober.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

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