Al-Anon helps us deal with relapse

Published by at 4:47 pm under Common Concerns

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Philene, Marianne, and Mike are with us today. All are active Al-Anon members. Today we’re going to talk with people whose loved ones experienced a relapse during their recovery.

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67 comments on “Al-Anon helps us deal with relapse”

  1. Breanna says:

    My husband has struggled with alcoholism for our entire relationship, 6-7 years now. After a bout of serious suicidal thoughts, he decided that it was time to go to rehab and get help. He suffers from severe manic depressive disorder so it has just been a vicious cycle with the drinking. He had been sober for the last 3 months and has just relapsed.

    I understood with the recovery process that this was something that could happen, and didn’t let myself naively think that drinking was forever gone from our lives.

    When I found out, obviously my first reaction was anger, how could he do this to us. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on psychiatrists, hospital bills, therapy sessions and meds. All to help the mental illness that was “masked” by the drinking. I have tried my best to be the supportive wife he needs, which is not easy all the time.

    Now I am feeling deeply saddened. It felt like 7 years of fighting and resentment started disappearing when he got sober. Even his bad days sober were better. We used what he learned in therapy to cope with some of the feelings he was dealing with. He was hopeful for the future. After having a rough week at work, fighting between me and him, and his new medication not working, he decided there was no more hope.

    Now we are back to where we started. He is already putting me down, blaming me for the drinking, telling me to divorce him cause he doesn’t care anymore. At first I lashed out also because I was feeling angry, and now I am keeping cool and not letting the hurtful things he says affect me negatively. I feel he does that so I will fight back and he can use it as an excuse to drink more.

    He says he wants to continue his sobriety, though, that he doesn’t want this. All I can do at this point is support his want and desire to be sober. I hope he follows through and uses this relapse as a learning experience.

  2. Julia says:

    My boyfriend, whom I love very deeply, recently went into rehab (1 week), after I found him after falling off a stool with a dislocated shoulder and head injury. I had no idea he was using. I rushed him to the ER and found out there the drugs and alcohol in his system with liver inflammation. He was hallucinating intensely.

    After the ER visit, and believing his lies, I took him home and left for a hotel. He was clear minded. He yet again used and hallucinated a break-in, called the cops and got arrested for possession and public intoxication. He agreed to go into rehab the night he was released from jail. He is there now. I know it is the right decision.

    I have hopes he can return the man I love. I am so scared though. I don’t know how to deal with my anger and fear and love and forgiveness. I am mad I will be alone for 90 days in our house in the country. I am moreso happy and overwhelmingly grateful to God that he went to rehab for help.

    I don’t know how to communicate how I feel to him–if I should wait for him to come to the step to apologize to those he hurt, or if I should ask him about the crazy things he did in those destructive 48 hrs (like the clothes I found in the freezer). I don’t know if I should tell him I miss him> or if that will just make his recovery harder. I am so afraid of rocking his recovery boat.

    I feel on egg shells. I work a lot, I want to get into Al-Anon. My loneliness is building, and with it feelings of resentment towards him for his decisions and addiction that tainted our new home. But I cannot be angry at him for his disease of addiction. We both have it strong in our families. I just feel lost, and wish I knew the right way to communicate with him the way I feel.

  3. Pam says:

    My fiancĂ© is an alcoholic. We’ve been friends for over 14 years and I’ve seen him at his worst. He has relapsed twice during our relationship together, which is in its 1st year. Today is his 3rd. He left this afternoon and tonight I am sitting here waiting, worried and angry.

    I’m waiting in the living room, thinking every sound is him walking home. Worried that he might freeze in these winter night temps. Angry that he won’t freeze because someone is keeping him warm–uuggh. Mostly, I’m angry at myself for believing his words of love, loyalty and sobriety.

    I read these stories of relapse and relationships that span over decades. Am I wrong to want out of this now? Should I “understand” this disease and be compassioned to hold out, give him a 4th chance?

    I ask myself these questions but my past shouts loudly that it’s in my nature to be empathetic, especially toward men with addictions.

    I am screaming inside for the strength to be empowered. To withdraw from this now, to walk away from this addicted soul that I love.

  4. Paige says:

    My mom has relapsed. I didn’t know what to do. This isn’t the first time. I support her and rent our studio. She blames me for everything, lies to me, and has a “boyfriend” who’s barely a year older than me. I feel like she’s become the child in our relationship. I don’t know what to do, how to deal with this. I’m hurting so much, and not even talking to her helps. Most people just tell me to let her go, but if I do that we will lose the littler kids and it’s killing me. I am 18.

  5. kaycee says:

    My husband came home from an 8 week stay in rehab 5 days ago and my son found a bottle today. I’m hurt and angry. How can he do this? I’m sorry. Everyone says this is a disease and he can’t help it. I’ve been dealing with this for 20 years and I’m so tired of it. But I don’t know what to do. I’m scared and cannot afford to be on my own.

  6. Anita says:

    My husband of 35 years had 25 years of sobriety until 3 years ago, when he decided he could start having a glass of wine for dinner, and that was all she wrote. Three years later, he is full blown in his disease and seemingly close to dying. It is breaking my heart but I had to leave. I cannot stand to watch him killing himself.

    He drives under the influence. He is retired and I still work, so I come home to him nearly every night drunk and high. He smokes medical marijuana for pain (which he says is why he drinks too). Over the summer he took care of some of the grandchildren and we found out he drank and drove them, too.

    He starts fighting with me if I say anything about the drinking when the grandchildren are over so now my daughter, of course, says he cannot watch the kids because of drinking while watching them, and they cannot come over without her because of the fighting.

    Now I have had to leave. I cannot live like this. But I feel worried about him and I feel guilty for not taking care of him. Even though when I went back to pick up some clothes he called me every name in the book, blamed me for everything, said he hopes I drop dead etc. Then he sent me a message about how sorry he was and he feels very remorseful, so much he hopes his heart stops because he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Then he called today and told me to divorce him because he is a hopeless cause. It all makes me so sick. I can’t stand it, and I still love him!

  7. Anna says:

    I read all the above stories and cannot help but feel guilt and shame for having to put my family through all the worries and stressful situations you all feel. As an addict, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not battling with my disease. I have three children, a really good job, and still have urges to use. This does not stop, but hearing your stories makes me think twice.

    Addiction is a disease and family members don’t know how to stop it. There comes a point when you have to give the addict an ultimatum and it sounds from all you have stated you can’t just leave. Getting support for yourselves and seeking a higher power to hand it to can help. I’m sorry you all must go through this and I will pray for all of you.

  8. Sheila says:

    My husband has been sober for a year and a half and relapsed two weeks ago. He has by lying to me and hiding it from me. I don’t know what to do next or how to help him.

  9. margie says:

    My daugther had been in rehab for 22 days. She just came home this past Wednesday and has relapsed. She won’t go to meetings, telling me she’s not court-ordered to go. She’s had two DUIs in not even 2 months. One involved hitting a parked car. She has a two-year-old daughter.

    All we’ve been doing is fighting, saying nasty things to each other. I pushed her tonight, she has me so mad. I’ve been here for her, watched her daughter for three weeks while she was in rehab, and that’s the thanks I get, to get treated bad after everything I do for her. I am so worried about my granddaughter and my daughter. I don’t know what to do.

  10. Mimimomo says:

    I can totally relate with each of you. I am from Asia, moved here and got married 4 years ago to a recovering alcoholic. And now we are blessed with two little kids. My husband was sober for 5 years and he relapsed back in July and went in for treatment for 24 days. Just got out 5 days ago and now he relapsed again. I can’t describe the pain I feel and also the disappointment.

    I’m worried that he’ll lose his job. I have no family here. I’m so scared for him as this disease will eventually kill him, if he continues doing what he does. I’m worried about my kids as well. It breaks my heart every time I think about all of these. I don’t know if I should stay in this marriage or not.

  11. jennifer says:

    I relate with many of you. My 22-year-old relapsed 8 months ago. Not using everything, but he’s smoking pot and drinking. More frequently, he gets belligerent and says horrible things to me–also blames me for everything when he’s drunk.

    He doesn’t want to go to meetings and says he doesn’t want to stop. He binge-drinks every two weeks but has been drinking every week and this week drank twice. I also have picked him up from the gutter, but for some reason he doesn’t see how quickly he’s moving backwards.

    I’m afraid of what may happen to him. Afraid that he’ll start using again. I don’t know what to do. Picked him up drunk today and I hate to say it but I hope he’s passed out already. I’m a nervous wreck. This has been a 5-year battle, but I don’t see him fighting as hard as he could be.

    I want to ask him to leave, but he has nowhere in the world to go. I can’t stand the thought of him being on the street. I’m at a loss.

  12. Amy says:

    I am dealing with my husband of 35 years relapsing after 9 years of sobriety. Most of the years previous to him getting sober were hell. During that time there were periods of sobriety, but they were few and far between. There finally came a day when he agreed to enter rehab and came out a better man than ever, and I was so proud. I could even joke to him that there never was a drug that he didn’t try, a drink he didn’t drink or a woman he didn’t have.

    I also had unbelievable courage after rehab and put in writing that I would never put up with anything and one time screwing up and he would be out. Well, a month ago he admitted he had smoked a joint. I freaked and he promised he would never do it again, but three days ago he came home drunk and stumbling. I lost it and demanded he go to a meeting. He did last night, but the attitude about that meeting was different than it had been before and I knew he went because I made him and not because he believed he needed it.

    I forgot how sick this all made me and how I can’t think of anything else. I am angry that I have been brought back down to feeling this way. Confused as to what my next move should be as I cannot live on my paycheck alone and cannot get a second job due to helping take care of my mother who is in the later stages of Alzheimers.

  13. Martina says:

    The abuse I get from my son is horrendous. I have a drink now and then and he calls me some horrible names. Twice I picked him from the gutter, two-and-a-half years in an ongoing drunk. Does everyone who gets sober treat their mother like this, as I have been. To my own care workers, every week, does everyone that gets sober carry on like this, or am I losing my mind–because everything seems to be my fault, even though I do everything to help him. I think I am cracking up.

  14. Jean says:

    My only child and son is 32. He was a recovering alcoholic of 10 years the first time, one month the second time, and recently relapsed a third time after tow months–one of those months he was in treatment.

    His story is his dad hasn’t been in his life for most of it, which is sad but true. His father and I divorced when he was five, as his father was a full-blown alcoholic. He has lost his wife of nine years to divorce, and is on the path of losing his job he has worked so hard for. I am just sickened inside.

    I need Al-Anon. I lost my second husband to a sudden death four years ago–an awesome man. I can’t do this anymore. I have no life. Since his divorce, he came back home to live for a while. It has been a chaotic six months, to say the least. He and I are very close, but some ways he blames me for things–I believe that is part of the sickness.

    I thought this time he was on the path to sobriety, but it was won out by the alcohol and his choice to drink again. I am in a state of what do I do now? Do I ask him to move and feel guilty and worry sick over how he is? Or do I give him the chance to sober up and lay down a contract of what I will and won’t accept and if he doesn’t live that contract he is then going to have to move out. I appreciate all of the thoughts and shared feelings.

  15. jan says:

    This all sounds so familiar. My ex-husband never helped with my son or around the house. In fact he made messes and just left them for me to clean up. He spent money we did not have on alcohol and now years later I am finding out he was spending it on drugs as well. Thankfully I walked away from the situation after 19 years of marriage. He just passed away a little over a week ago from cirrhosis of the liver. Very sad and such a waste of a life.

    They always make it seem like it is you who has the problem so you stay in the relationship and feel afraid to move on with your life. I did it and it was not easy starting my life over again at 49 but I did it and I am so glad I did. For my son’s sake as well as mine. Also the threat about taking your children if he leaves. My ex said the same thing and it instilled fear in me for years until I realized that no judge in the world would award custody to an abusive alcoholic. He had to stop working soon after our divorce because of his alcoholism and his illness.

    I worked full time and had to arrange care for my son so I could work. I went to food banks for help to supplement our food and got help with my utility bills and did my own divorce because I could not afford a lawyer. I won’t lie, it was tough! And I depended on that child support to keep our heads above water. Once he stopped paying that and because he was self-employed and sick and I had no money for lawyers etc, I got so behind on my bills that I lost my house.

  16. Mo says:

    My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years now. We have 3 children. He hasn’t been around much of their life. He has been drunk most of the time. He was drinking very heavy and would stay gone for a week at a time and leave me and the kids. I would be sick with worry–Is he with another woman? Is he hurt? Is he in jail?

    I would call everywhere looking for him. He got so bad he would be throwing up blood, peeing on himself, and doing crazy things he says he didn’t realize he was doing. He lied constantly and hid everything he did. He drained bank accounts before bills were paid. I would find myself racing to the bank to get bills paid before he had a chance to rob us. He was verbally mean and would break everything in our home. I told him I couldn’t live that way anymore.

    He quit for almost 5 months this last time, and now he is at it again–lying again, and everything is my fault. I caused this. I’m a bitch with daddy issues and he has done nothing wrong. He doesn’t need a momma. He will do whatever he wants when he wants. He dumps beer on me and calls me names and says I’m a worthless mother. If I leave, he will take the kids.

    I don’t know what to do. I love him. I want our family together, but how do you live this way? How do you ignore it and act like things are ok? I’m constantly walking on egg shells, thinking about every move I make. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do.

  17. KEB says:

    I just found out that my 19-year-old son has relapsed. Not sure when exactly, but his father and I suspected he may be using based on his behavior (funny how that hunch is usually right).

    After getting a possession charge last fall, he agreed to go into rehab. He was there for 10 days, followed by 3 months in a halfway house and then was in 2 different 3/4 houses. While he has worked, the best he did was work for 5-6 weeks and then got fired. That was 3 jobs ago. So his dad and I have been subsidizing his living.

    After him getting fired from the last job, I didn’t pay the weekly rent so he had to leave. I was bothered by his entitled attitude. I don’t expect a bunch of “thank-you’s,” but do expect him to keep a job and make forward progress. After a few days living in his car and his dad returning from vacation, his dad suggested he come live with him and that family under certain conditions–working, stay clean, save money, etc. That was one week ago.

    I discovered today that he withdrew the most recent check he received, which was a few hundred dollars, without any regard to the car insurance that is due or the $1,800 he still owes his grandparents. His dad confronted him and he admitted that yes he cashed the check and was using again.

    I feared this day. He had been sober 6-7 months but does struggle with depression, is immature and still sick. Since he was supposed to be sober as a condition of living at his father’s, he has been kicked out. It breaks my heart and I fear what will happen to him. I think he needs to hit bottom. He has to want to be clean–I don’t think he is ready, even though he has legal ramifications to him relapsing. I wonder if I am doing the right thing by letting him be homeless.

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