Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Nomad, Sep 24, 2019.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I don’t know where to put this. I need info about long term alcoholism. Maybe you can post here or pm me. I hope this is ok.

    My main question is what to expect. Although I know all cases are likely different.

    Thirty years ago we became friends with another couple. They live in another state. We see them about once a year. They have great , successful careers. We noted from the beginning...they drank a lot. Him especially.

    Fast forward...they switched from hard liquor to wine 5-10 years ago. They are in their mid sixties. He drinks constantly. As near as we can tell (although we think he is hiding a lot) a little at lunch and a lot at dinner and after dinner. He has two drinks before dinner. about 3 with dinner and then a dessert type alcoholic drink. And then might (often) go to a bar afterward and have another. He keeps a bottle in his hotel room.

    She drinks similarly, but a lighter version.

    He admitted to me recently that he had to have a procedure and Percocet didn’t kill the pain. Huh? Unsure what they had to give him.

    She is doing very well in her career. He is faltering a little. But he is older and has health concerns on top of the drinking.

    He has trouble walking. Sometimes shuffles. Is usually just sort of slowish.

    They never ever discuss the drinking. And we avoid discussing it. She has showed signs of trying to cut back. He might be getting worse. He has no interest in cutting back.

    Only once or twice in the 30 years have o ever seen him get a little loud or grouchy. He is usually fine. Sometimes a little “happy” when he has had a lot.

    1. What can we expect down the road for him health wise? Will the problems walking likely worsen?
    2. Do we dare say anything?

    I do worry.

    Thank you.
  2. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Hi Nomad, I have 28 years of sobriety in AA, and will be happy to share any information that might be helpful.

    Alcoholism is a fatal and progressive illness. The only outcomes that are for certain are jails, institutions, and death. From my own experience and observations, I do think that alcoholism exists on a spectrum, so it can play out at varying levels of severity. Health problems as we age and continue drinking are often side effects of the drinking but won't always be recognized as such particularly if the physician doesn't know about the extent of the drinking or is uninformed about alcoholism.

    It is my opinion that saying something to your friends will not yield any if your desired results. Just love and accept them as they are. The only remedy we can offer others afflicted with the disease of alcoholism is compassion.

    Should the subject ever come up, gently recommend Alcoholics Anonymous . You could just mention that you know someone who was greatly helped by the program. All you can do is plant the seed and then get our of God's way.

    The best thing you can do for anyone is to take care of yourself and allow your light to be a shining example for what is possible.
  3. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I agree with Wise.

    I don't think your observation or good will advice will be taken the way it is intended. Unless his life is in jeopardy and he is told NOT to drink any more by his doctor, he probably will continue to drink.

    One of my childhood friends became an alcoholic. She partied a lot when we were young. She married and divorced a mentally abusive man. She never had children. She drank a lot and went to bars all the years the rest of us were raising families and doing the family thing. She became a full blown alcoholic. She will be 60 in November.

    A few years ago she started having major stomach issues and was hospitalized a few times. It was her pancreas. She was told that if she did not completely stop drinking, she would die. Her pancreas couldn't handle it any longer.

    She did quit. She now smokes MJ oil as her way of "enjoying herself".
  4. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    First off I just want to say to you Wise that you deserve congratulating for 28 years of sobriety. I just think you're amazing and I had to say so! God Bless You.

    I was married to an alcoholic for 30 years. The disease of alcoholism is progressive, it sneaks up on I believe, the alcoholic and their loved ones too. My ex-husband is 56 years old and the last 3 years he has been in and out of re-habs, detoxes, hospitals, etc. Currently, he's in a psychiatric unit even though he's been sober for approx. 6-8 weeks the damage the drinking has caused to his mind and body is really at this point irreparable. He was pretty much a "functioning" alcoholic prior to three years ago. Unfortunately, however he was not the pleasant type. He has had to name a few issues, a swollen a pancreas, enlarged heart, diverticulitis, high blood pressure, headaches, nausia, blood in stools, Cirrhosis of the liver, blurred vision, blurred speech and towards the end of our marriage he could barely walk to get into the car so I could get him to a hospital or rehab where they had to wheel him in.

    I agree with what's been stated that as they get older the body just cannot keep up with it all. Your friend will likely have more and more obvious visible health issues as time goes on.

    I'm not surprised that it's the elephant in the room when you get together because like myself most of us keep it a secret. My family "knew" something wasn't quite right but it was never discussed. The isolation is quite painful and the insider thinks they're doing such a great job of camouflaging all the crisis and awkward moments and scenarios that arise because of the drinking.

    What I know is really praying that they come to the reality that they need help is all you can do. There is virtually nothing you can do to make them sober and keep them sober.

    I've learned you can drop them off at the re-hab in the morning and they've taken a cab home by evening because "they just can't do it".

    It has to be in their own time and it is the most painful thing to watch. You see their lives destroyed, loved ones, hopes and dreams squashed.

    Some never reach their bottom as my ex-husband. He lost his job, home, wife, kids, friends, self-respect, dignity, health and it didn't get him sober. The only reason he isn't drinking right now is he's dying. Sad as that is to say.

    Stepping out of the way is all we can do until they want help. It's the old can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink it.
  5. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I am the adult child of an alcoholic mother. She was the most wonderful woman when sober.

    She tried so very hard to stay sober but she had so much pain in her life from her past that she could not overcome it. I was the youngest by 19 years and another marriage and I often was alone or hungry and she was passed out. My dad worked 2 jobs but he was a drinker also.

    She died at the age of 54 and I was only 15. She took me to every church religion under the sun seeking answers for her pain but unfortunately she never found her answers. I do know that she is in heaven now. She has to be because she suffered so much on this earth.

    I knew at a very young age that I didn't want to live like that when I grew up and that I would never, I mean never, live in the past. It did help make me the strong, independent woman I am today but it could have turned out very differently.
  6. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Thank you, JayPee. You are a very sweet person. I am sober by the grace of my Higher Power.

    You have been through a lot with your ex-husband. It is extremely heart-breaking to watch someone destroy themselves and alcoholism is a very patient disease and a very slow suicide. It is cunning and baffling and powerful . The disease of alcoholism cannot be defeated without spiritual intervention. Alcoholics are bodily and mentally different from their peers. Physically we have an allergy to alcohol that unleashes intense cravings when we put that first drink into our bodies. Mentally, alcoholism triggers obsession once alcohol is put into the body.

    Once we put down the drink , we are not disease free. We still suffer from what we call the -isms of the disease. The -isms are the cognitive distortions, the character defects and the overgrowth of the ego. We are run by hundreds of our fears , self delusion, self pity, and self centeredness.

    It is my opinion that the Al-Anon is the same as the alcoholic with the exception of the allergy to alcohol . The alcoholic is focused on the bottle , and the Al-Anon is focused on the alcoholic making them each their Higher Power. The Al-Anon has the same cognitive distortions (check out Wikipedia for them - it teaches you how the Al-Anon and alcoholic brain work or rather misfunction) , character defects, and self-centeredness because I never put the alcoholic first out of self love. I put him first because I needed his approval, only felt ok with his attention and I manipulated him and the situation to get what I wanted. So the fears, the self pity (victimhood), the self delusions (denial) and the self centeredness are the same .

    This whole topic is fascinating to me and I love learning more and studying this stuff.

    I love going to AA and Al-Anon. They are amazing programs for those who want it, not those who need it.

    It is entirely possible that Nomad's friend would not quit drinking even if a doctor told him to stop or die . Many alcoholics in the advanced stages of the disease will not stop . That is why we have to make it whether the alcoholic does or not.

    I will pray for Nomad's friend to find the willingness, open-mindedness and honesty to try another way.
  7. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Wise why did you stop?

    Glad that you did of course.

    Addiction is the strongest evil that exists on planet earth.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Filled with sheer gratitude and awe at the meaningful and insightful comments.

    I recall speaking with a young man in his 20s who had gotten two dui’s and realized he probably was an alcoholic. He told me that he knew in his heart it would take not only traditional psychology, but a Higher Power to help him. I had to agree.

    Regarding the secrecy. Oh my. Years ago, I either didn’t tell people at all about our daughter or told them she had adhd. I told only my closest friends (2) both of whom lived in cities an hour away the truth about her diagnosis. And these other people I’m referring to on this thread... who live in another state. I big time avoid telling people in my city or community her actual diagnosis.

    Someone here at this site , I believe, once said chances are high you are NOT truly hiding it. Over time, I soon realized that most people knew she was “not well.” Probably nearly everybody in my neighborhood for example. It was not my place to discuss it...but it became clear that for many people...I wasn’t fooling them one bit.

    So, yes it the elephant in the room with these folks. And oddly we talk about everything under the sun. Oddly, he has no patience for our daughter and is amazed that we do. She is much quieter. They both empathize/sympathize regarding the relentless efforts we have made to help her and the stress it often causes for us.

    I sense that he is worsening in a variety of ways. It’s not overt. It’s subtle. They never explain his slow walking. One time his hands shook badly, they didn’t explain it. It went away. They no longer hide the bottle in their room. We don’t ask.

    I sense that she is stressed. He says he will cut back on working. He has mentioned a hobby. He is retirement nothing too weird here.

    Yes, I do think they appreciate that we don’t mention it.

    I have noticed her cow towing to him a little. Making sure we go to a restaurant that has his favorite dessert, making sure he is never bored.

    by the way, he doesn’t sleep much. Up VERY super early even if we come back late at night. Like 5 am early!

    I heard about this author Judith Grisel. Alcoholic and drug abuser. She got clean , got a phD and wrote a book on brain chemistry called “Never Enough.” She started drinking young and it was an instant “high.” An instant strong attraction. Like what WC talked about. I have the book. Some chapters are a bit too science - y for me and it makes for slow (er) reading. But overall...VERY good and very interesting.

    I don’t think this person is at an end stage. Maybe some middle stage , but on a fast slippery slope. She might be just a bit behind him. I sense she may not have that genetic “allergy” pushing her. She is pulling back. Thank goodness.

    They are super Nice, intelligent and motivated. And I sense they may be motivated to try to keep drinking (especially him) and somehow try to avoid (or slow down) the big health issues and certainly the appearance of end stage alcoholism. Like the hobby. Like light exercise. Like eating healthy. Does this make sense? This is VERY likely a losing battle. They both have to know this.especially for him as there is no evidence of him slowing down.

    It is upsetting to watch.

    She is curtailing her drinking. He is not. Not even a little.

    Congratulations wise choices. You are an inspiration.

    I greatly appreciate the information and the prayers.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  9. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    It is my own experience, strength, and hope that I did not drink because of past pain. I did not drink because I was raised in an alcoholic family. I did not drink because I had a childhood disease that rendered me physically different (Shorter in stature) than my peers .I was sexually abused by a physician as a child/teen and yet, that is not why I drank. I drank because I am an alcoholic and that is what alcoholics do.
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  10. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member


    Why do you think the author of the book drank as a young teen and found the first sip wonderful? She wanted more instantly?

    The first time I drank alcohol, I thought it tasted “yucky.”

    I will reread what you wrote.

    I like what you said “in your own experience..”

    My friends seem to simply drink. Both of them. They never have even mentioned difficulties etc. ...they drink. They want more. He in particular doesn’t wish to stop.

    I think they think they can still live a healthy life or something along these lines. I don't know.

    I can’t control them.

    Prayer is comforting and appreciated.
  11. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I drank and did drugs from age 17-24. Alcohol is my drug of choice. I always used alcohol in conjunction with anything else I did. I did not drink every day. I mostly partied on weekends, but my disease progressed to where I had trouble at work, trouble at school, trouble in my relationships, went to jail one night, and was just miserable . I had a rare moment of clarity at age 24 (which I now believe came from my Higher Power) where I realized I had been drinking for 7 years. At age 24 that seemed to be a really long time. And part of me realized that if I did not stop , I would one day say I had been drinking and using for 20 years, 30 years etc .I went and sought help from a therapist and she sent me to NA. I wanted to change, I wanted a better life, and I was ready for it. I was willing to do whatever they told me to do in NA. And my desire to drink was lifted from me. I have never craved alcohol again and I never did drugs unless I was already drunk.

    You get out of the program what you put into it: I made 90 meetings in 90 days, got a sponsor, worked the steps (vitaly important!) with a sponsor , and started to help others in the program by sponsoring and reaching out to newcomers and being of service .

    I attend AA now and added Al-Anon 3 years ago which has helped me so very much. I love both programs and have reaped incredibly insights and benefits from both.
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  12. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    It is the experience of most alcoholics that the first sip is wonderful. Not the taste necessarily, but the effect it has on the body and mind. You see, as alcoholics we are bit ok with ourselves . That is why we drink initially. Alcohol is not our problem. Alcohol is the solution . I felt not good enough , that I couldn't fit in, couldn't measure up, couldn't compete. I drank because alcohol seemed to initially fill the holes I had inside of me. Alcohol changes (temporarily) how I feel about myself. I can suddenly talk to boys where before I was too shy to do that .I feel like everyone is my friend. I finally fit. It's an illusion, of course . Alcohol takes over and becomes our Master.

    I drank because of my relationship with myself. Not because of past pain even though I used that as an excuse with myself and others. Bars are full of people blaming their Mothers or Fathers or whomever. But , for me, ultimately, I drank because I didn't like myself. My relationship to myself was also a reflection of my relationship with a Higher Power (none) and a reflection of my relationship with others (judgemental, resentful, critical) .

    I also want more as soon as alcohol enters my body. I blacked out the first time I drank and I always drank to blackout. Woke up in places not remembering how I got there next to people I didn't know, wouldn't know where my car was .I was reckless with my life . More is the name of the game. We say "One is too many and 1000 is never enough".
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  13. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I am glad I did not inherit that gene. My older son did not either. He had an alcoholic grandmother (my mom) and an alcoholic grandfather that died in his 40's from it (his dad's father). He never met either of them.

    My younger son did get the addiction gene. He is doing well now though. I think his behavior was situational. I don't know. Some things we cannot explain.

    Addiction is in EVERY family somewhere!!
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  14. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    It’s awkward for me, but I’m not familiar with addiction in my family. This absolutely does NOT mean it hasn’t been there, is not there currently or wont be there.
    My husband recalls one person that likely was abusing alcohol on his side if the family. But it’s a maybe. I am not familiar with anyone like that in my family : mother or father. However, I have a grandfather that was killed as a young man. Wrong place, wrong time. I do wonder what in the world happened to him. No one would talk about it. A mystery man. I do recognize it is likely at the very least one person has had this issue.

    But, I also recognize that I’ve seen it’s prevalence more pervasive in other families and it’s profoundly devastating.

    As a side note...I had a Dr once whose father and brother were alcoholics. He believed there is a genetic tendency for this. He told me he has never had a single drink. It made him terrified and he had no desire whatsoever.
  15. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...


    You are very fortunate then. Off the top of my head aside from my ex I could name 11 people who are close relatives, brother-in-laws, nephews and nieces that were or are alcoholics. I'm not even having to think hard about it :*(
  16. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Yikes! I kind of know. It’s actually a bit weird. I don’t even know what to think other than the Gene must not be present plus there are a few clandestine folks mixed in there. So, there is likely at least one..I just don’t know who they are.
    I had someone in my neighborhood with this issue growing up and I recall it seemed like many in the family were afflicted as there was noooo hiding it.
    But, sadly, like all things...I strongly suspect no family escapes.
  17. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Yes I think it is not often you don't find it someplace. I liken it to heart disease I guess.
  18. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    When I did hospital nursing, I cared for a man in his early 40's who was in the final stages of alcohol-related cirrhosis. He was bedridden, of course, and in and out of consciousness, but not really aware of his surroundings. The thing I remember the most is his family. His siblings and parents sat in his room with the most impassive expressions on their faces, watching TV, reading, talking amongst if he wasn't there, and in a way I guess he wasn't. It was as if they were waiting for a bus.

    I could tell from their conversations and their expressions that they had been through so much with his alcoholism; he had died to them many years ago, and they were just there to formally see the physical death through.

    Seeing a close-up of the toll this disease takes, not only the body but on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in the alcoholic's circle, has haunted me ever since.
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  19. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    What a terribly sad scene you describe! Alcoholism takes . From everyone. Alcoholics affect at least 10 people with their disease, and they affect at least 4 people severely .