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

  1. Mary says:

    So my boyfriend was almost 60 days sober, he didn’t come home last night. We live with my mother, who is 22 years sober. He relapsed last night and I don’t know what to do, cause I don’t want my mom to think he he is a failure or to be mad. I have been crying all night.

    He said he is trying to figure what he has to do next. He starts his out patient program on the 20th, so he doesn’t have a sponsor. I am freaking out. Idk what to do anymore.

  2. Timtam says:

    I’ve been with my alcoholic boyfriend for over two and a half years. In the first year, he tried to get sober, the first attempt lasted for 2 months, with help from meds. After a long relapse, I gave him an ultimatum, go back on meds or move out. He was back on meds, exercising to go on a competition, working hard, and we went on holidays overseas. It was the best 6 months. He suddenly stopped taking his meds without me knowing and relapsed. Since it has been a nightmare. So many attempts and relapses. He refuses to go back to the hospital, some of his drinking buddies told him the meds would mess up his brain. He refuses to go to counselling, he says it’s a waste of time, and he will try to stop drinking on his own. His so called friends are the worst. Everytime he tries to get sober and tells them he isn’t drinking, they always call him to go out drinking. They aren’t even alcoholics. Some of them for sure are using him because he always pays for drinks. His behaviour while drunk is getting worse, doesn’t go to work, and spends all his money on alcohol. He doesn’t drink every day, but when he does, he binges for at least a weak (non-stop). He also suffers from depression. I have tried to give him my support. I’ve been to Al-Anon (unfortunately the only Al-Anon group in my city doesn’t have regular meetings, and the few times I went there there was no one) to help myself, went to see a therapist but stopped because it was too costly (around $150 an hour). I currently live in Korea, there isn’t enough support system for alcoholics, there’s a stigma attached to alcoholics (if an alcoholic go to seek advice from a doctor, they have to seek help from what Koreans called “crazy people doctor”, and it is recorded so if they want to fine a new job or get a life insurance, no employer will take them and no life insurance will take them as they are labelled “crazy”) I feel helpless, I do feel sorry for him, but this is affecting me lots. I am considering leaving him.

  3. Marissa says:

    My boyfriend of over 4 years went to his first rehab facility in February for alcohol abuse. He was doing so amazing, making so much progress. I was going to Al-Anon and making my own progress as well. He came back home and things felt so right.

    For so long before he decided to get help, all I could think about was, “How am I going to get the hell out of this relationship?” But now since he has been working to get clean, I have been able to think about our future, marriage, children. Not just about how to escape the misery. I love him with all my heart. I am 24 yeas old, about to be 25, and he has been there for me ever since my mother died 4 years ago.

    He had about 60 days clean time up until last week, when he relapsed. He started going back to his old behaviors of playing pool in bars with his “friends” and missing out on meetings. He said the relapse was a learning experience because now he sees how much of a hold drinking really has on him. He thought he would have no problem keeping sober, and he did. He does. A big problem.

    He said it wasn’t worth it. Then for a few days we tried to have things go back to “normal,” but I knew this would happen again. He wasn’t attending meetings, and he was complaining about the ones he did go to. He complained about his outpatient treatment and made excuses about getting a sponsor. He refused my advice to tell his cousins or uncle in recovery about his relapse and I just knew this was going to happen again.

    I was right. Last night he said he was going to go skateboarding for just a little while with his friend that I actually find really supportive of him being sober. Hours went by. I called him around 1:30 am and I heard that familiar slurring and that nasty tone that I have not heard in months, that I have nightmares of hearing, and there it was, right in my ear like it was months ago.

    I could barely understand him and when I asked him if he had been drinking he just said “Text me” and hung up. I did not try to call him back. I just buried my face into my pillow and cried until I fell asleep.

    He came home at 3:30 am and went to sleep. I pretended to be sleeping to make sure he would not cause a drunken mess like he used to, but he didn’t. I woke up this morning, and before I left for work, I set the alarm for him. He has outpatient at 10 am. That is a joke. I know he won’t go, or sleep through it.

    I feel so helpless and hopeless. Reading a story on his chain made me really think. Even if my boyfriend gets sober and clean for months or years, he is the type who will test his limits. He would probably try to drink years after getting sober, thinking he could handle it and we will be right back here. Except I will be older and maybe even have children. Then I will really be screwed.

    Thinking of going to Al-Anon at lunch time today. Say a prayer for me.

  4. Isabella says:

    Can’t believe I am writing this. Just lying here in my bed while my daughter who has just turned 1 is sleeping beside me. My partner, who has recently finished 6 weeks in rehab, just relapsed. Actually, he is probably enjoying taking drugs as I write this (I am angry).

    I feel so disappointed and devastated. He was doing so well, things finally started to feel good for a change. I was just starting to hope, something I haven’t allowed myself to do as I am so used to being let down by this man.

    I want to get back to work after having my daughter, & be able to plan. I don’t want to be on this roller coaster & I certainly don’t want this chaos for my daughter. The thing is, I love this person. You try to be there to support, stand by them, etc. But it becomes all about them.

    I am a first time mum & I find this has taken over the 1st year of my daughter’s life — it’s has been all about him. He finally got some help and went into residential rehab & here I am back here with drugs again. I know he’s an addict and relapses are to be expected. I naively thought I would be okay, but I don’t know what I do now.

    He went to rehab because I had reached my limit. I told him I couldn’t deal with him not seeking professional help, so I was walking away and it was up to him whether he chose drugs or got help. So he eventually got help. I just don’t know what else I can possibly do.

  5. Madison says:

    My mom and dad are both drug addicts. My mom is cross-addicted. I’m only 16 years old and I’ve had experience myself, of course. I’ve learned the hard way. I have an older sister who’s 20 and she’s addicted to OxyContin. I have a younger brother and he used to smoke weed and pop pills. But a blessing in disguise happened to us. DSS got involved and my younger brother and I got taken away. We were placed with a foster family, and then we got moved to a group home. I’ve gotten really close with God then, because He was my only hope. I know He’s the only one who heard my cries when I had nobody. March 26th was a year since we were taken.

    Today I went to see my mom and I could tell she had done something. We’d been cleaning this trailer that we were planning to move in, but something was telling me to look in her pocket book. I did and there was a bottle of liquor. My heart just broke. I thought to myself, we’ve came a long way, why throw it away now?

    I’ve come to realize that the devil won that battle. She was a little tipsy, so she didn’t realize what was so wrong, she just kept saying I want to be normal and take a drink every now and then. But what she failed to realize was she’s an addict and anything like that can trigger it off.

    My little brother and I were sitting there talking, both upset and crying, thinking if this is really happening for a reason, and why is this happening to us–why us? It’s hard to comprehend this, but we’ve decided that we’re gonna fight through this battle because God always wins the war. We’ve also decided that we’re going to let this make us and not break us because God has a special plan for each of us, and we’re trusting in Him. And always will.

    I believe our struggle and all the tough times will pay off. You all are in my prayers and I ask for the same. God will never leave or forsake us. Little do we know, this too shall pass. My brother and I have come a long way and we’re not giving up now and never will. We’re sticking through it together.

  6. Josephine says:

    End of February, my 70-year-old mother might have died if not for an out-of-state relative’s phone call to me saying she wasn’t answering her phone. Normally, I would have figured she was out doing Saturday errands. But like the “caretaker” child of alcoholic parents I am, I went to her house with my husband. She was sprawled out on the sofa at 11 am, more or less incoherent. A receipt on her table and the empty bottles indicated that she blew through about 4 liters of the hard stuff in 5 days.

    She did not get up to use the bathroom until 2 pm. Long about 10 pm, and after sitting with her for hours of vomiting and refusing to go to the hospital I finally called an ambulance after she was unable to get back to the sofa from the bathroom with my help. She spent three days in ICU, being detoxed, and several more in a regular hospital room to get the internal bleeding, severe esophagitis, and pancreatitis under control. I insisted to the doctor that she get some home health care when she was released, because I did not think it would be a good idea for her to go right back to her old ways so fast. At least this way, a nurse would be checking on her progress (I clued the nurse in outside when she was leaving after the first visit.)

    After she got “cleared” by the home nurse, she asked for her “stuff” back. The stuff is all the booze I removed from her house. Her excuse is that she had nothing to serve when her friend was over, and so she “had” to buy a bottle of rum. She had to buy a 1.75 liter bottle, which I saw at Easter. I was tempted to stop the next day and see if the level went down, but I’m too tired of trying to change what goes on– she would just lie to me about it and think the lie worked. I think the asking for the stuff back was to cover for the booze she bought being in her house–she says she hasn’t had any alcohol. Bull. I am her power of attorney, and I can look at her bank account and see the amounts she writes to the grocery store– it’s not all food, believe me.

    She thinks she doesn’t have any kind of “condition.” You should see the amount of vitamins she had to take after being pumped full of various IV’s in the hospital. B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, prenatal vitamins, probiotics, along with stuff to control acid reflux and liquid to coat her stomach so she could at least eat something. Her system was totally depleted and she was malnourished– her eyes were sunken and her skin is getting very crepe-y. I think that she was at the beginning stages of “alcoholic wet brain” the night I called the ambulance, because although I was supporting her walking, she thought she was falling forward when she was leaning backward on me– and this was close to ten hours after I arrived at her house, after drinking water all day long (and vomiting it up)– meaning that although she had not had alcohol for that long, she was having trouble walking.

    I think my mother has had her brain damaged by alcohol (liver and other things, too.) She does not fully understand what happened to her and is definitely in denial that she has a drinking problem. She lies and she thinks that her lies are believable. She turns my concerns back on me and tells me I have a problem. It takes an extreme amount of restraint to keep from telling her that any problem I have is a direct result of growing up in an alcoholic household. She cannot empathize or relate to what she put ME through as a child, and is still putting me through.

    I recently read “Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics.” I always knew there was a problem with my parents–I saw a lot of stuff no child should ever see. I always knew it was not my fault, unlike a lot of people in that kind of situation. But what I did not know was how it shaped my personality and thinking and the way I see the world. I would recommend this to anyone who had/has alcoholic parent(s).

    I think I have been in recovery for about 20 years, although I did not know it until I read that book. I have been slowly distancing myself from my mother and alcoholic brother over the years. My husband has helped me over the years see the craziness and the bizarre logic that goes on in my family. Before, I was just used to how my family was. More recently, I have been stepping away from people who are unkind or thoughtless or selfish. I think this is me choosing to take care of myself and my own needs–finally. Right now, I am just exhausted and burned out from all of it. But understanding I have a right to be happy and a right not to be mistreated or take care of their problems is giving me hope.

  7. SHEILA says:

    My husband is an alcoholic who has relapsed. He was a year and a half sober and now he is back to drinking every day and lying to me about it — when I clearly know that he is drunk when I get home from work. I love my husband with all my heart and I don’t want to walk away from him. I do not know what to do anymore, though. He says he does not have a problem, and he won’t go get help. I am trying to help him, but I don’t know how.

  8. Barbara says:

    I’m 22 and live with my 53-year-old mom. She used to be clean, but ever since I was in high school, around 10th grade, I discovered she had been drinking, hiding it away, becoming angry if I didn’t buy her beer, even stealing my money.

    Now she doesn’t care if she drinks, but she’ll get mad if I bring it up that I want her to stop. I am trying to finish college and get a job, a car, and move out one day, but I feel no matter what I do it’s not good enough.

    I quit college to help her out and I feel bad, because it’s my dream. People who don’t have parents like this will say to leave them alone and deal with your life, but how can you when you can’t stand by and watch the people you love destroy themselves?

  9. Alexa says:

    Wow! I can’t believe I’m writing this. I got married to a wonderful guy almost three years ago. We have a 20-month-old baby. He is an alcoholic, but I didn’t know it til after we got married, because we met online.

    He drinks every single weekend on Friday and Saturday. He stays at home, but every morning is a nightmare for me. I don’t want my son growing up with such a bad example. I asked him to stop and he gave me a date that he is breaking today. We are in a hotel in a conference and I found the beers in the refrigerator. I’m so tired of this. I don’t know what to do.

    It gives me comfort to think I’m not alone.

  10. Hops says:

    I’ve been with my spouse for 8 years. We have a beautiful 6-year-old son. He was a pot smoker when I met him. It wasn’t until we moved in together, after 6 months I realized he was a functioning pot-head and an alcoholic.

    We always enjoyed a few drinks together, I don’t smoke or do drugs. After finding out we were expecting, I thought things would change. They didn’t. They got worse.

    We would fight about his pot smoking daily. When our son was 3, he quit smoking pot. I was very proud of him. He had been a chronic smoker since his early teens and was 35 when he gave it up. He was smoke-free, but continued to drink more and more. I couldn’t take much more.

    I justified all the reasons to stay. He was a good father (but was he?). My husband was dedicated to our son. We spent a lot of time together as a family, but it was tiring. Always being on guard and watching how many beers he had. Always making sure he didn’t drive, watching him spend hundreds of dollars a month on alcohol. So when he started smoking again and hiding it from me a year later, I left. I couldn’t deal with the lying.

    Then, stupid me, after a year of talking and working on things, my son and I moved back in. Little did I know in the year we were apart, he became a full-blown alcoholic and cocaine addict. Easy to hide the latter. He insisted on keeping his “social schedule,” drinking and using several nights a week with his buddies. I confronted him a few times over 6 months. He said I was crazy and that he was only drinking, and staying up all night was his prerogative.

    In Sept 2015, I found the evidence (I already knew I was right anyway). I confronted him and told him, get help or get out. He stayed off drugs and alcohol for a few months, but replaced it with a new found addiction to video games. He’s not going to work anymore, playing for hours and hours. He justifies it, just like he did the drinking and drugs. He’s been sober, or should say was sober until last Saturday.

    We were at a family function, and our son was with my parents. He had told his own family he stopped drinking months ago. But his mom insisted that it was ok for him to have a few. So he did. More than a few. Got hammered. I’m angry and annoyed. 4 months in and he couldn’t say no, even with me there.

    I should never have come back. I should have known better.

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