Still Struggling: Is there hope for an end stage alcoholic?


#1

I’ve written quite a few posts about the love of my life. He is what I consider to be an end stage alcoholic. He’s been drinking for 30 years. I’ve know him for about 13 years and throughout our friendship/romance I’ve watched his disease progress and slowly take over him. Over the past 13 years I’ve watch this man go from a fun loving, life of the party and my best friend, to a person in complete despair. He’s been to rehab many, many times, had trouble with the law, lost umpteen jobs, ruined many relationships with family and friends, and has lost most of any self-confidence he once had.

This past year we’ve had many celebrations. He was able to stay sober for 4.5 months, his third longest time being sober. We went to New Orleans during Mardi Gras together completely sober and attended AA meetings. He got back in with his AA guys and started golfing and enjoying some comrade. He says it was the happiest time in his entire life. So I think that says something pretty significant.

In May after a series of slips, he relapsed. Although he has made several attempts to get better and sober he has not been able to stick with it. I think he is truly struggling with self-esteem and also in dealing with emotions minus the booze. Every time he relapses I think his mental capacities are worsening. Yesterday I drove him to rehab. This is the third time since May we’ve tried inpatient. It got so bad this time that I had to block him on every outlet: phone, Facebook, etc. as he gets verbally abusive and very mean and does some pretty crazy things when he drinks. So I have to remove him for my sanity and safety. He is at a point in his addiction where he is completely nonfunctional. He even loses control of his bodily functions. The only reason I opened up communication is because his mother, whose 70 years old and not in the best state of mind or health herself, desperately asked me to try talking to him. Once i opened up communication he just sobbed like a baby. He says he knows I’m slipping away from him. He doesn’t want to lose me. He hates living like this. He wants help. He set up the appointment to go inpatient and I reluctantly helped him pack and go. I say reluctantly because I don’t want to allow myself to get involved and back into the cycle of sober for one week, drunk the next. At the same time, I’ve always said I’d support recovery. So I don’t want to turn my back on him.

I guess I’m at a point where I’m searching for some ounce of hope, but at the same time I’m beginning to feel like how much more can I take? Is there hope for a person whose been drinking this long? I want to believe there is. Has anyone on this site had experience with a loved one getting sober from alcohol later in life or when they were in the end stages of alcoholism? Am I enabling him by being there when he needs me to help him get sober? Or should I be cutting the ties as a means bring him to a rock bottom? His track record over the past 10 years has not been good, but I know he hates this.

Truth is. I still love him with all my heart. Under that monster of a disease is a very kind, gentle, helpful, caring, loving man. But I have to ask, am I cutting myself too short by dedicating even an ounce of my life to this?


Should you say something every time you suspect drinking?
#2

Oooof thanks for sharing @Jess so openly. I can’t speak to end stage / long term alcoholic so look forward to hearing from other community members on that.

I do however, know the feeling of loving someone who was self-destructing through addiction. Back then, as you said it, I was dedicating many ounces of my life to this. I think the ideal is to be a friend when they need the support to recover but to not let it take over your life and to invest in your own development too. I say ideal thinking what would be kindest for them, respect our love - us - while also allowing me to thrive. It’s a tricky balance. But perhaps something that becomes more achievable when looking at each (them, us, me) separately and setting goals and actions that align with each.

We do an exercise in our CRAFT Course around assessing happiness in areas of our life and picking just one to set a measurable, achievable goal to work on. I’ve found this practice immensely helpful when, through the chaos of addiction, it can feel like there’s no progress at all sometimes. It can be hard conceptually to focus on one thing when we want everything to change, but it’s the best way I’ve found to make meaningful progress and get lasting changes :slight_smile:


#3

Thank you @Jane! I definitely plan on taking the course. It’s been a stressful couple of months and I really need to get back into my own therapy and recovery. I definitely agree that it’s a tricky balance. But through all of the work I’ve been doing in my own recovery things do get easier to navigate. I will say, regardless of the outcomes, I do not regret a single ounce of this experience and what it has taught me. :heart:


#4

Hello,
Yes there are more many peoples who are consuming alcohol more than 25-30years and after that they are working on recovery mode for so long and I know many of them personally.
I think you should continue with the long term inpatient treatment around 3-6 months, in which treatment process based on 4 pillars
1-Bio
2-Psycho
3-Socio
4-Spiritual
Boi- comes for medical help and physical fitness.
Psycho- It comes for psychological education about the disease.
Socio- Social support is also important because I cant fight alone with the addiction. Sober social support is very important(AA).
Spiritual- Spiritual comes for a belief, whomever you belief it is not be a god only. May be your loved once, sponsor, doctor, therapist, book etc, etc. it can be any thing.
Try to work on emotional imbalance, triggers of alcohol, 1st step of AA-that is Acceptance.
I think most of the time we cant work up on Triggers which leads us to lapse or relapse.
In addiction every addict has to get recover from 1-Addiction, 2-Emotional state, 3-Routien, 4-Obsessed thought circle, 5-Triggers, 6-Emotional states & 7-Behavior.
I know giving a suggestion is very easy but application of those is very lengthy in process, hard, feel cold blooded, painful but it helps to get a happy life for us and our loved once.
Those all I mentioned are my personal experiences, if something wrong please correct me.
Thank you.


#5

Great @Jess look forward to supporting you more through the Course soon!
I think you’ll find it really transformative.
:heartbeat:


#6

Thank you for your response @Sanket_Swami ! I 100% agree. Unfortunately he’s used up a lot of resources this year and due to being in and out of jobs he never has health insurance, therefore, he has to rely on county funding. The county we live in will usually give him 30 days at most. I do believe there are other programs he can attend out of county, but sometimes he’s reluctant and has certain programs he likes better that have been more successful for him. He’s currently in for 10 days with possible extensions. We shall see.

One of his most difficult areas to address has been emotional triggers. These can range from a bad day at work, loss of a job, to even a really good day which can send him off to the liquor store. His mind starts racing and instead of calling someone or trying other methods learned he tends to head right to the liquor store which at this point almost always results in a complete relapse.

The other issue has been money. Even $2 in his pocket can entice him to head to the liquor store. This has been very problematic for me as he will ask me to hold onto his bank card to help him stay sober. This turns into a never ending cycle of me holding the card, him relapsing and then demanding the card from me. This in turn pulls me into the chaos of his alcoholism. Which I do realize this is part of my recovery and what I need to work on with setting boundaries and keeping myself free of the insanity.

Thanks so much for your response. All of this is extremely important. I just wish there were more thorough programs like that for those who have no insurance.


#7

Oh @Jess, I’m so sorry to hear you’re still struggling. I don’t have a lot of input, but just a thought about enabling… I personally don’t think helping someone access treatment is enabling. I understand sometimes people have to cut themselves off from loved ones for their own mental health and well- being and there’s no shame in that, but if you can support him in getting help, I think that’s amazing. He’s lucky to have you and it sounds like he knows that. I think there is hope, there’s always hope, but take care of yourself too. :hearts:


#9

@Jess … I am so sorry & I feel your pain & can definitely relate. It is the hardest thing to watch. They stop drinking (or drugging or both) & you have hope & then the cycle starts all over again. It literally feels like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet each time & you cannot catch yourself.

Depending on where you are located start looking at long term recovery center (typically 6 months to a year). A lot of these places offer assistance financially to pay for their being there by allowing the person to work while they are there (some onsite/some off site). Google “long term recovery centers” in your area & see what you can find.

I do want to give you the title of this book that I have been reading. It is called “The Alcoholic / Addict Within: Our Brain, Genetics, Psychology and the Twelve Steps as Psychotherapy”. I ordered it on Amazon for my Kindle. I have read so much literature over the years & even though I have a degree in psychology & neuroscience, I never knew some of these things that I am reading about. I am the daughter of a man who drank for 30+ years & went to rehab 4 times before the 5th one worked. I am also the girlfriend of a wonderful man who is an alcoholic & addict who is currently in a long term recovery center with 4 1/2 months to go. This is his 3rd rehab in 17 years. He was about 24 hours away this time from being dead according to his doctors at two separate detox centers where he spent 6 days. He came home & made a “sober” decision to stay alive & to go to long-term treatment. This was the first time he wasn’t forced or given ultimatums by someone (his ex) to go to treatment.

There is always hope. Best wishes.


#8

Thank you @Tlee22. I have definitely been doing better with taking care of myself during all of this. I agree with what you said. My bottom line is and continues to be that I will always help him with anything to do with recovery as long as I am mentally able to. I had to really shut him down during this last episode. For my sanity and happiness I can no longer have communication with him when he is choosing alcohol. I blocked him for several days and went about my life. I missed him dearly, But I felt a sense of relief in the fact that If I don’t want to engage in the destructive and chaotic behavior, I do not have to. I can choose to shut it down. I’ve spent many years first with my husband and now with him allowing myself to suffer and be unhappy and angry over someone else’s suffering. I do not have to choose that. I can choose to live my life and be happy while still loving him from a safe distance.

My Alanon daily readings mentioned recently having “the gift of sobriety.” I never thought about it like that. I am truly blessed to be sober and I can instead be grateful for that. I wasn’t always sober myself. I am today and with that I can choose to be kind to myself and when I’m able I can reach out a hand to help lift him up.

I think this time really woke him up a bit. I know he loves me very dearly. He’s mentioned that he feels me slipping away. When he was drunk and sobbing he told me several times not to give up on him. We had a very productive, heartfelt talk tonight when he had phone time. He told me about his AA meeting tonight and how he felt it was a message for him. The AA guy leading their group tonight talked about how he once loved a woman who took him to rehab one time. And then she took him a second time. She took him a third time. She took him a fourth time. She took him a fifth time. She took him a sixth time and after that Sixth time she left and didn’t come back. She had found comfort in a new love. The man said he was very hurt and angry for many years, but Got sober and ended up reconciling his pain and found understanding through his step work. My S/O said it was extremely powerful to hear this story. He told me he knows it’s easy to lose hope and he doesn’t want that to happen for us. He understands where it sometimes feels hopeless and lonely on my end. It helped to hear him validate how I’m feeling. He said tonight, “I’m going to get this. I’m not giving up!”


#11

@Jess - How are you today? I’m sorry to hear about your partner but also glad that he’s gotten back into rehab and that you’re both taking care of yourselves the best you can. From what I know about your story, there has been a lot of work, courage, strength, hope, and love in your relationship. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep trusting your intuition, keep setting boundaries but know also that boundaries change as the situation changes. Let go of expectations, and hold on to hope and your own truth. Yes, there is always hope. I believe that.


#10

@kmcdaniel66 thank you so much for your response. He’s currently in rehab. Although the county won’t give him a ton of time, they have given him a couple extensions. His therapy is helping him a lot and we are hoping to get him into some intensive therapy along with AA when he leaves the inpatient facility. He sounds very positive. He’s two weeks sober today which isn’t a lot but it’s a start.

I will definitely check out that book. I love reading and I have found books to be very helpful to me and my Own recovery.


#12

@momentsandlight I’m doing well. Thank you for always reaching out and giving your insight. He completed 21 days Inpatient, is home, and will be sober one month on Sunday. He’s attended a meeting everyday and it’s been great to have him back.

Question to anyone with this experience: Should you say something every time you suspect drinking? Last night was the first time when he was texting me that I felt something slightly off. Nothing crazy. He was just a little more talkative than he normally would be at 12:30 am. But we went to bed and I just shrugged it off as he was happy. When I saw him today he was completely sober, but I swear when I kissed him I smelled a little booze. It sucks because overall things have been great. We even sat down last week and had a wonderful talk. He wanted me to tell him everything he’s been doing when he’s drunk and how that makes me feel. He wrote it all down to take with him to therapy. It was a true heart-to-heart. He then shared some of the things he’s uncovering in therapy and things from his past that may be causing a lot of his behaviors. That being said, I don’t want to ruin or taint the progression with accusations that may or may not be true. My gut says he may have found some old booze hidden or bought a small amount of something last night. But this could also be my mind jumping to conclusions. I always struggle with this one. At what point do you say something? Do you let it go? Or is that just allowing him to think he got away with sneaking drinks? Or is he only lying to himself? Again, besides this one possible event, he’s been working his tail off. It depresses me to think he still might want to drink. I don’t get it! It’s mind boggling to me.

My bottom line is he must be working recovery and staying sober. I understand this is not a linear journey, but I also don’t want him to think he’s pulling the wool over my eyes. But then again, the truth always comes out again in the end. Meaning, if he’s not truly working recovery it won’t take long for any possible sneaking to become a glaring truth.


#13

That is so wonderful to hear, @Jess. Recovery is possible. Not easy, not a straight a line, but it’s possible.

I usually do. I hate it the suspicions. I’m tired of feeling that way. But it still happens, after years of an up and down recovery (mostly up lately) - every month, I start getting these feelings like he might be using again. Sometimes they come out of nowhere, sometimes they are triggered from certain behaviors, but no matter what, I still get them. I’m better at recognizing these feelings now and looking at them more closely to understand why they might keep coming up. This is a part of my recovery process. These are my triggers. And I’m working on not letting these triggers make me slip into old behaviors.

So I tell my husband about these feelings. And I own them. It’s my struggle. I tell him because communication and understanding each others’ feelings, triggers, struggles, recovery is incredibly important to keeping our marriage healthy. Not because I’m accusing him of using or that I’m trying to get him to tell me the truth or stop using if he is. I often feel bad about it because I’m sure he gets sick of the suspicions, especially when he’s doing well and there’s no reason for me to think otherwise. I worry that it will affect his recovery to tell him I’m having bad feelings. But then I remember that we’re in this together, and that I’m human, and that if we want to get through this he has to realize that I’m recovering, too. And he is supportive.

This is where marriage counseling has saved us. “I feel” statements sound cliche, but they’ve helped me so much to own my feelings and communicate them with my husband in a way that doesn’t blame him. It helps us have more productive conversations that don’t turn into fights… most of the time. :wink:

P.S. I’m going to add this question as a separate post. I think it’s something that others can relate and deserves its own post so people can find it a little easier. :slight_smile:


#14

Hi Jess,
I have been following your thread and just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you—you’re not alone and we’re all here cheering you on and sending strength!

I just wanted to give a little insight here too. With my hubby, one of my most important boundaries for myself was to not ask questions I already knew the answer to, or that would force him into a lie. I realized my intuition was usually right, and I would ask myself “will me knowing the answer actually help anyone, or will it just satisfy my need to be right?” Usually it was the latter. It was a HUGE process of letting go for me. That said, now that he is in recovery, I feel more comfortable asking, and sharing when triggers one up for me. At this point, he’s able to support me in my recovery as well as vice-versa, but it wasn’t that way before.

I hope this helps a little. Sending you big big hugs and lots of strength. :heart:


#15

This!!! Yes, it’s so amazing how the relationship can transform when we change our approach to communication. It doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it later when the timing is better and more conducive for conversation. But shifting away from fighting and the approaches that haven’t worked. This is gold!