Alcoholism was only designated by medical doctors as a disease in 1956. In spite of that fact many practitioners continue to believe that it's naughty behavior, lifestyle or bad habit.
Since that time many chemical cures have been developed as people strive to solve the puzzle of addiction.
The piece that is missing for those hopeful of curing a chronic condition by medication is that addiction has a two-fold component. When a person has met the criteria of a diagnosis of addiction they have two addictions to deal with.
One is addiction of the body. This is "curable." Once a person has gone through the process of detoxification they are no longer physically addicted to the substance.
The more dificult part to treat is the psychological aspect of addiction. This is the piece which causes relapse and is really too complicated to get into in any depth here. But this is the "other" addiction which causes repeated failure for people who attempt to stay abstinent for any length of time.
So, very much like clinical depression, treatment soley employing a medication will not address the underlying issues of preoccupation and other mental abberations which lead to a return to the use of the drug. Then, again, physical addiction becomes engaged, and the cycle repeats.
A change in the way one thinks and deals with feelings is necessary for long-term abstinence. Most addictive psychoactive chemicals have a mood-altering aspect which causes problems in a healthy processing of emotion. There is damage to be repaired and abstinence itself is usually not a long-term solution.
Then there is the concommitent brain damage to impair thinking which is sometimes unaddressable.
I've heard a few folks I know look to this drug for a hope of permanent cure. And I've heard a lot of laughter about it from recovering addicts. It remains to be seen whether this will provide safety to addicts.
The track record with strictly medicinal treatment so far hasn't been good. But the plague of addiction and its widespread social effects make us hopeful. It would truly be a boon to the world if addicts could simply take another drug to solve their problems.
"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
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.
Do you need the emotional distance? If you are doing it as a last resort to get him to come to his senses I don't think there is any value in it, he just won't care. But if watching him slowly kill himself is too hard then you need to get some distance for yourself.
There is always the possibility that he will take that out of your hands, the fact that he hasn't been in touch is a bad sign. I know that enabling him by helping to support him sounds wrong, but you need to do what feels right to you. He's going to drink until he decides not to, whether you help pay his rent or not. You can't help him if you lose contact. It's possible that he'll never be able to beat the addiction, but his odds drop if he has no one believing in him.
Unfortunately I speak from experience. My younger brother moved back with my parents a number of times over a 10 year period, did programs, nothing ever worked. He felt like a failure and didn't want us to see him like that so eventually he cut off contact and disappeared. He died of untreated cancer 5 years later, with $200 to his name. I don't know if it would have turned out differently if he'd still been in touch and that haunts me.
There is no right answer to this dilemma, if you feel better helping him, then keep helping him. If you need distance, then get some. You matter in this equation, he has to help himself. I know this is cold comfort, but in the end, what you do or don't do probably won't make any difference at all.