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Helpful Info/sites for those struggling with another's addiction (angel4u)
May 20, 2007
2:25 pm
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angel4U
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Hi all,

I haven't been here for awhile posting (again), but I still pop in every now & then to read posts. And as always, many have brought me some insights I never had before ... and for that, I thank you. For those who know me, please understand that my not posting is nothing personal ... it's simply something I need to do for myself right now. I still pray for you all, and have confidence that you will find the knowledge & strength within you to find the peace & happiness you sooo deserve!

Ok, enough of that mushy stuff ... =))

As many of you know, I have struggled with addictive personalities all of my life ... mainly with (what I see as) alcohol addiction with family, friends, boyfriends, workers, you name it. What I couldn't understand is why I struggled so much, while others seem to be able to walk away so easily. (I can do this more easily with a drug addict, but not so with an alcoholic. I think the reason for this is that my dad was an alcoholic, so I could relate to it more & had more of a desire to understand it ... as well as the fact that alcohol is legal, and is more socially acceptable.)

I am a true believe in "Information is Power" ... so in my own journey over the years, I have been doing LOTS of talking to others that have has similar experiences, and reading - in books & on other sites. I recently bumped into some information that I thought some of you would find beneficial ... mainly those trying to understand an addict's thought process & behaviors, as well as the impacts it (the insanity, in my opinion %-) has on those close to them and our reactions to them. I have also attended 2 Al-Anon sessions (suggested by many here and other sites) over the last 2 months, but haven't decided if its right for me yet.

What I plan to post (in a couple of follow-up posts so that it's easier to read) hit home for "me" in a very strong way (finally!!!). Your experiences may not be the same as mine, so please take what you want, and leave the rest.

I will do my best to try to respond to those that have follow-up questions/info/experiences. If I am slow at it, please forgive me.

Blessings to you all!

May 20, 2007
2:49 pm
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angel4U
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The info below nails it on the head for me as to exactly how I have felt during & after my experiences with an alcoholic over a period of time. (Hopefully the bold formatting turns out, as that is what I found to be truly important for me.) I think you can replace "spouse" with family member, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. and alcoholic with "addict" and get the same results (my experience is that way anyway).

I believe they key is that I was trying to make sense out of things that truly were not sensible/healthy. My mind knew it, but the power of an addict's denial/persuasion - due to what I see as a strong conviction to "needing" alcohol to cope - can be so strong. Now tie that with my upbringing (seeing dad drink & use me as a scapegoat), my need for security (i.e. love & compassion I was denied as a kid, as well as natural needs we all have), my fear of loss, and my compassionate nature (that doesn't always work in everyone's best interest, I am learning) ... and you have someone that starts to become just as sick as the addict. And at times, I truly have felt "physically" and "emotionally" exhausted.

Worried Sick About His Drinking?
from: http://www.bma-wellness.com/pa....._Sick.html

Alcoholism("alcohol dependence" in the official diagnostic language) is a serious, chronic, usually progressive mental and physical illness characterized by:

Excessive consumption of alcohol and often other drugs
Inability reliably to control the quantity of alcohol consumed and the duration of drinking
Continued attempts to drink despite increasingly severe negative consequences
Loss or impairment of insight with denial, rationalization, blaming others

The non-alcoholic spouse of the drinking alcoholic is often exposed over a long period of time, continuously or intermittently, to the destructive effects of the alcoholic's drinking, thinking and behavior. The result of this prolonged exposure to active alcoholic addiction may be (and often is) a spousal alcohol syndrome characterized by:

Chronic activation of the fight-or-flight stress response with resulting physical symptoms and/or exhaustion
Confusion, bewilderment, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, despair, shame, guilt and other negative emotions
Learned helplessness and demoralization,
feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, self-blame
Progressive social and psychological isolation, withdrawal from friends and family

The wife of the drinking alcoholic believes herself to be in a troubled relationship with the person who drinks too much. But, at least in the more advanced cases, she is actually in a relationship with the addictive process itself. And because the single and absolute goal of the addiction itself is sheer survival of the addiction, no matter how high the human costs may be, her emotional involvement and influence are hopelessly one-sided.

Addiction is a natural, biological and fundamentally inhuman process that responds poorly, if at all, to common sense measures aimed at ordinary human rationality, compassion and concern.

The first step to an effective coping strategy is an accurate understanding of the problems being faced. Because most people are not acquainted with the true nature of alcoholism and other addictions, they therefore attempt to cope with such problems, either in themselves or in those close to them, in a manner that is either ineffective or actually injurious to the healthy goals they desperately desire.

May 20, 2007
2:57 pm
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angel4U
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sorry, I screwed up on the bulleted list format .. should say:

Alcoholism ("alcohol dependence" in the official diagnostic language) is a serious, chronic, usually progressive mental and physical illness characterized by:

    Excessive consumption of alcohol and often other drugs
    Inability reliably to control the quantity of alcohol consumed and the duration of drinking
    Continued attempts to drink despite increasingly severe negative consequences
    Loss or impairment of insight with denial, rationalization, blaming others

The non-alcoholic spouse of the drinking alcoholic is often exposed over a long period of time, continuously or intermittently, to the destructive effects of the alcoholic's drinking, thinking and behavior. The result of this prolonged exposure to active alcoholic addiction may be (and often is) a spousal alcohol syndrome characterized by:

    Chronic activation of the fight-or-flight stress response with resulting physical symptoms and/or exhaustion
    Confusion, bewilderment, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, despair, shame, guilt and other negative emotions
    Learned helplessness and demoralization,
    feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, self-blame
    Progressive social and psychological isolation, withdrawal from friends and family
May 20, 2007
2:57 pm
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mamacinnamon
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angel4U:

So very nice to see you again, and thank you for the information. I don't think we can ever get enough information that someone here cannot use it. Thanks 🙂

May 20, 2007
3:27 pm
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angel4U
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This made alot of sense to me to as my whole growing up years (with my family) was about ignoring my feelings (actually being ignored or humiliated many times for even having any), living with very compulsive (mainly manipulative & controlling) people, and in the process (possibly for survival), letting my own integrity slide (what was I think'n?!?!?!) to gain some (false) sense of security from people that are unable/unwilling (due to their own deficiencies or simple lack of desire) to meet me half way.

From: http://www.bma-wellness.com/pa.....holic.html

According to Cermak(1986), treatment of codependency involves helping clients to understand that when they say they are codependent, they are accepting that they are powerless over areas of their lives they have tried to control. Education is an important cornerstone of therapy. Teaching assertiveness training and communication skills is seen as vital.

A tremendous amount of internalization will occur as the client stops blaming low self esteem on outside causes and starts recognizing that it comes from having done violence to her own feelings, having lived life controlled by compulsions, and having sacrificed integrity for the sake of security.

Many clients experience profound depression as part of the grieving process. The relief that comes from no longer feeling responsible for the chemical dependence within the family will invariably be accompanied by a sense of loss.

The client must relinquish her illusion of being powerful enough to force the chemical dependent to become and remain sober. According to Cermak(1986), treatment during the recovery period has two primary goals: helping clients to become aware of how their codependence has pervaded all aspects of daily life, and helping them see how their efforts to control the chemical dependent have intensified this problem.

May 20, 2007
3:46 pm
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angel4U
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Hi mama!!! Thanks for the warm welcome. It's great to see you too! I hope you are doing well.

I've been struggling with some depression which really hit the fan when I was layed off a few years ago (that's actually when I found this site). I sat bawling on the floor at the time (with my lovely blessed cat =-) and asked God to please help me understand why I had all the fear and pain in me that I have had all my life. You couldn't tell from the outside that I struggle - thank goodness - but its something that has always been there.

It's funny how things happen when we seek Him, and then patiently keep our eyes wide open ... and I have had so many experiences since then that have helped me to grow and better understand myself. Most have not been good things ... struggling with my family during my mom's cancer & passing away was a "nightmare", and I also went back into the insanity with the alcoholic boyfriend for awhile. But I kept my eyes open to what I needed to learn from it.

I still have some work to do, and it has been a painful process at times, but it is all starting to come together and make sense. My motto at this time is: "To Thy Own Self Be True" ... at all times ... =))

May 20, 2007
4:20 pm
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angel4U
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This list made me (sadly) chuckle because I have heard all of these excuses. I can kind of relate somewhat since I am a smoker and am having a hard time kicking the habit. But I see alcohol/drug abuse as so much worse in many ways as it not only more drastically effects a person's physical body, but also their behavior.

The irrational (almost insane) thought process of an addict is what I see as the crux of why we feel we're going insane when dealing with them, and why it's so important to understand how addiction works, and to detach from it and take care of ourselves. While an addict is in the throes of it, they cannot (whether conciously or otherwise) see past their own needs, no matter how much what they are doing effects their lives & those around them. Hence, why we always end up feeling frustrated, "unimportant" to them, or not even in a real (two-sided, healthy) relationship at all - because in reality, we are not.

I truly see it now as a deep sickness, which makes it that much easier to detach and not fall into the insanity.

From: http://www.bma-wellness.com/pa.....olics.html

By the time a chronic addictive process such as alcoholism has become frankly problematic it has invariably acquired a complex and sophisticated array of psychological defense mechanisms aimed at protecting its continued existence by minimizing the cognitive dissonance the addict experiences as a result of his progressively irrational self- and usually other- harmful behavior.
.
.
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Because addiction is a stereotyped and fundamentally inhuman process it produces predictable signs and symptoms that may be used to gauge the degree of its progress as it penetrates and invades the personality of the individual afflicted by it. One set of symptoms of addiction are the customary excuses the addict makes to himself and others for the irregularities of thinking and behavior foisted upon him and those around him by his addiction.

Common stereotyped addictive defenses include but are by no means limited to the following:

Problem? What problem?
Primitive and unconscious denial is classified as a psychotic defense mechanism because it denies or distorts reality itself. Those in the grip of psychotic denial are literally out of touch with reality. Thus an alcoholic with multiple and perfectly obvious negative consequences from his pathological drinking(legal, health, marital and job problems) may, difficult as this is to believe, indignantly and -from his perspective- honestly deny that he has a serious problem with alcohol. He doesn't know what people who criticize his drinking are talking about - and he is genuinely hurt and offended at what he perceives to be their unfair and unreasonable attacks upon him. He often reacts to expressions of concern about his drinking with self-pity, resentment, and -of course- more drinking.

I'm not THAT bad!

Minimization and downplaying of the problems connected with addiction fill in the gaps and take up the slack left by the failure of psychotic denial to adjust reality completely to the requirements of the addiction. The addict admits that difficulties exist - but he stoutly maintains, frequently in the face of an astonishing and rapidly accumulating mountain of evidence to the contrary, that they are not really as bad as others make them out to be.

It wasn't my fault or It's not the way it looks!

Rationalization and projection of blame attempt to distance the addict from the consequences of his(actually, of his addiction's) actions. Alternative explanations are constructed and stoutly defended, e.g. the employer who fired him or the officer who arrested him or the wife who divorced him were actuated by dishonest or frankly corrupt motives.

All I want is a little relief!
Justification of addictive behavior is often self-pitying and subtly manipulative. The addict feels victimized, perhaps even martyred by what he believes to be the unfair circumstances of his existence and seeks consolation from his addiction. He believes himself thereby an exception and entitled to special treatment, including remission or at least mitigation of the sins caused by his addictive behavior. The prospect of giving up his addiction or, even worse, having it taken away from him by the unsympathetic demands and requirements of others fills him with horror and indignation. Blind to the fact that it is his addiction and its consequences that are making him miserable, he falsely believes that the addiction is the only source of comfort and security available to him in a cruel, cruel world.

I'm not hurting anybody but myself!
Frequently phrased as "Leave me alone! I'm not hurting anybody but myself!" this defense invokes a legalistic right to self-harm at the same time as it denies the interpersonal and social realities of the addict's harmful behaviors. The addict, unable or unwilling to recognize how his behavior does in fact impact and thus harm other people, indignantly and self-righteously proclaims "It's MY life and I can do anything I please with it!" Curiously -and revealingly- the addict seldom finds anything incongruous in the notion that he might knowingly and willingly be harming himself, regardless of whether he is harming anyone else.

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen!
A blatant claim for special status based upon self-pity. Because it is seldom as persuasive to others as it is to the addict himself - other people usually have difficulty seeing how one's problems, no matter how severe or unfair, justify adding further misery resulting from theoretically avoidable addictive behaviors- the frustrated addict usually becomes resentful and sullen, convinced that "nobody really understands me." This licenses, at least in the addict's mind, still more flagrant and egregious addictive acting up and out.

I've got to be me! or You knew this when you married me!
Unable to distinguish himself from his addiction, the addict cannot imagine himself or existence without the addiction. The prospect of "losing" the addiction is unthinkable to him since it would, he believes, mean the loss of himself and of everything that makes life worth living. The addict paints a Romantic portrait for himself and others which, while it may acknowledge at least some of the destructive effects of his addiction, attempts to rationalize the insanity of addictive behavior as glorious, if tragic self-actualization and fulfillment, and to represent anything less than this, e.g. abstinence and sobriety, as a kind of forfeiture of the self and living death, to which a premature addictive exitus is much to be preferred. The fact that many addicts actually believe such transparent foolishness is a somber testimony to the power of addictive insanity.

I HAVE to drink (or drug) for my work!

The addict insists that he will not be able to make a living or that he will no longer be successful if forced to "give up" the increasingly harmful and destructive behaviors caused by his addiction. He may regard the latter as "the cost of doing business." In the vast majority of cases, of course, his addiction has already begun to impair his work performance, his judgment, and his interpersonal relations.

You're not so pure yourself!

Following the adage that "the best defense is a good offense" the addict seeks to turn the tables and distract attention from himself by "attacking the attacker," i.e. the individual who attempts to point out to him the reality of his addictive behavior. Under the spur of necessity to defend their addiction as they are, most addicts possess a keen eye and a sharp tongue for the shortcomings and faults of others - even as they deny or are indifferent to those of themselves. Thus the addict is often almost demonically astute at exploiting the vulnerabilities and Achilles Heels of those who, wittingly or unwittingly, threaten the continuance of his addiction.

Trust me - I know what I am doing!

The addict, blinded to reality by his own denial, attempts to reassure those who have begun to wonder about his judgment, perhaps even about his sanity, that he is in control and that all will be well. He informs them that he is perfectly aware there is or may shortly be a problem, that he does not intend to let it get out of hand, and that he is or will be taking steps to control it.

I can stop any time I want to!
Unaware that his addiction and not he himself is calling the shots, the addict genuinely believes that he is choosing to behave the way he does and therefore he can stop doing so any time he makes up his mind. Unfortunately for him and for those who must deal with him, he seldom makes up his mind to stop(even though he most certainly could if he wanted to, &etc. &etc. &etc.)

I'm not nearly as bad as OTHER people!

An almost universal addictive rationalization. The addict compares himself to people who are in his opinion in far worse shape than he believes himself to be and concludes from this that there is no reason to be concerned about his own addictive behavior. Since there is always someone worse off than himself the addict feels entitled in continuing his addiction.

I HAVE to drink (or drug) to drown my sorrows!

The victim of a dysfunctional childhood or the survivor of a difficult life, the addict attempts to persuade others, as he has largely persuaded himself, that continuing to engage in destructive addictive behavior is a rational and healthy response to his problems - or that if he does not drink or drug, he will fall apart or behave even worse.

Now is not a good time to stop!

Another nearly universal addictive rationalization. "I'll quit tomorrow" is a familiar addictive refrain. The time never seems quite right to stop - even though the addict may be or seem to be perfectly sincere in his determination to cease his addiction "just as soon as I get through this difficult period." He may even convince himself and attempt to convince others that stopping his addictive behavior immediately would be a bad and counter-productive idea, and that the chances of success will be enormously increased if he delays his attempt to stop until a more favorable time.

It will never, ever happen again!

Following an unusually painful or embarrassing episode caused by his addiction the remorseful, frequently tearful addict promises those he has harmed that nothing, absolutely nothing could ever cause him to repeat such behavior. He may take the lead in excoriating and flagellating himself for his unpardonable sin as a demonstration of penance and a reassurance to those he has harmed or offended. Almost always effective in allaying anxiety and soothing hurt feelings on the first occasion of use, this defense rapidly loses effectiveness with repeated use as those whom it is intended to reassure become, usually with good reason, increasingly skeptical.

Nobody is going to tell ME what to do!

The problems caused by addiction are avoided or obscured by a heroic pose worthy of Patrick Henry("Give me liberty or give me death!"). By focusing on his supposed freedom to do as he wishes -actually the freedom of his addiction to do as it wishes- the addict sidesteps the more difficult question of the rationality and sanity of his behavior. Defiance and oppositional behavior are common defenses of addicts against looking at themselves.

I'd be OK if it weren't for you!

The addict blames his addictive behavior on his significant other, usually his spouse. He feels resentful and self-pitying about the way he considers himself to be treated and uses this to justify his addiction. Since one of the commonest causes of resentment and self-pity in addicts is criticism by others of their addictive behavior, and since the characteristic response of the addict to such criticism is to escalate addictive behavior, this process tends to be self-perpetuating. The addict is often quite cruel in highlighting, exaggerating and exploiting any and every defect or flaw the significant other may have, or even in fabricating them out of his own mind in order to justify and rationalize his own behavior.

Look at all I have done for you! or This is the thanks I get!

Another "guilt trip" designed to disarm or deflect criticism of addictive behavior. References to the hard work, long hours, job stress and material status of the family are common attempts to win sympathy and understanding for behavior that has become harmful to the addict and others.

I don't have time (or money) to get help!

Almost universally deployed whenever the question of seeking professional assistance or attending AA or other mutual-support group meetings comes up. If the addict does actually take a step to get help -usually as a result of external prodding of some kind- there is a 98% probability that he will not agree with the frequency, intensity or duration of the help recommended. Underestimation of his problem and the belief that it can be controlled by what others more informed about such matters know are half measures is the rule rather than the exception in addiction.

I'll handle it myself!

Another nearly universal defense. The addict finally acknowledges and even believes that he has a significant problem but is adamant that he can and will deal with it by himself rather than seeking any kind of professional or support group help. Because he does not yet understand the nature of addiction he supposes that recovery is merely a matter of will power, hence that it is superfluous or even a disgrace to ask for help from others for what he ought to be able to do by himself.

May 20, 2007
5:17 pm
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Rasputin
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Thanks Angel for this valuable & generous info. A definite keeper. Welcome back hon! (((Angel4u)))

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