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substance and alcohol abuse

(169 Posts)
Iam64 Sat 24-Mar-18 19:34:32

Is it unreasonable to expect all of us to take some responsibility for our behaviour? My experience has been that those working in the field of addictions, who have themselves been 'addicted', are the least likely to make excuses for people who abuse substances.

paddyann Sat 24-Mar-18 20:31:17

I believe the addiction takes over the person and renders them, in many cases, helpless.My late sister was an alcoholic ,she died aged 50 as a direct result of it .Nothing and no one could help her and she was incapable of taking responsibility so expecting that she should would have been and indeed was a waste of time .We all did everything in our power to get her sober ,I used to think she had to hit rock bottom and then she would find a way back but sadly even rock bottom made no difference

MissAdventure Sat 24-Mar-18 20:36:53

Without taking some responsibility I dont see how someone can ever hope to recover.
Unless you can lock someone away and not allow access to anything, then somewhere along the line they need to find the strength to overcome the problem.
Some do, some can't.

OldMeg Sat 24-Mar-18 20:46:33

paddyann sorry to read that. Only those who have (or have had ?) someone close to them with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or someone who has worked with addicts, will understand.

Anniebach Sat 24-Mar-18 21:01:04

In my experience those working in the field of addiction, who have been addicts themselves, never make excuses for people who abuse substances.

farview Sat 24-Mar-18 21:35:35

Addiction is an illness...not always recognised as such...

mumofmadboys Sat 24-Mar-18 22:04:42

I think it is helpful to think of overeating as an addiction to food. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes,overeating are all addiction problems. Many people have addiction problems including a lot of us!

Anniebach Sat 24-Mar-18 22:08:37

True mumofmadboys, if an addiction is something we cannot stop doing even though it harms us should OCD be classed an addiction ?

True farview

Welshwife Sat 24-Mar-18 22:17:42

My first husband died as a direct result of alcoholism. It takes a long time for those close to realise the wish to stop must come from the person themselves. I know they class addiction as an illness but I cannot help but think willpower also features in these problems.

NanaMacGeek Sat 24-Mar-18 23:15:20

I only have experience of my DS's alcohol dependence. I don't know about making excuses for someone who has moved from being a cheerful social drinker into a solitary alcoholic but I think I understand how alone he felt and can see how a combination of alcohol, natural self-deprecation and eventually, self-loathing contributed to his dependence.

As for taking responsibility, how can you expect that of someone whose brain chemistry has been altered to such an extent that the removal of alcohol causes blackouts, paranoia and DTs? One alcoholic drink at any time in the future could result in a return of the addict.

DS doesn't tell us how he feels (he has lived with us since his last detox) but I can see he suffers. There is also the self awareness and shame that a recovering alcoholic has to contend with as well as trying to rebuild their life. It's a wonder that anyone manages to go into recovery, let alone maintain it for the rest of their lives. Yet many do, my DS’s counsellor in rehab has been in recovery for decades. It is this knowledge that keeps us hoping for a better future for our DS.

We should take responsibility for our behaviour but at what point do we recognise that someone's behaviour is not governed by a sensible brain? We know some can recover from addiction, how can we improve the chances of those who can't seem to make it or is it just no-one's responsibility?

M0nica Sat 24-Mar-18 23:18:46

I do not think addiction is an illness, nor do many doctors. Telling addicts that they have an illness just gives them another helpless poor me excuse.

As has been pointed out, it is ex-addicts who are hardest on addicts. An addiction is just that an addiction.

maryeliza54 Sat 24-Mar-18 23:25:28

In the area in which I work, I see examples of people with substance and/or alcohol misuse problems. Some have turned their lives around, others have tried and failed and others haven’t even tried. I’ve not seen any common factors which explain these differences such as those with supportive partners succeed and those without fail. Clearly some people who have addiction problems do manage to overcome them. I have read that sometimes it’s hitting rock bottom that is the wake up call but clearly that doesn’t work for everyone.

MissAdventure Sat 24-Mar-18 23:26:55

I dont think we can improve a persons chances of recovery if they are unable to try and improve them for themselves.

Anniebach Sun 25-Mar-18 09:38:42

Seems little has changed regarding opinions of addicts, a life style choice.

My daughter was an alcoholic and yes she hit rock bottom, the river bed.

Humbertbear Sun 25-Mar-18 09:45:54

PaddyAnn - I am very sorry about your sister. My sister is an alcoholic, now sober. My experience was that rock bottom was lower than anyone could ever imagine. By the time she agreed to go to rehab she was not eating and could not walk so she was having fits from alcohol withdrawal and the lack of potassium in her body. Just try to imagine what happens if someone literally can’t get up and walk to the loo. She was an alcoholic before her husband died but tells everyone that it was his death that caused her to drink and she won’t go to AA as she ‘is not like those people’. I really don’t see alcoholism as an illness. At one stage she smoked 80 cigarettes a day. Now she is addicted to fitness and long may it last.
Anyone dealing with relatives addicted to alcohol or drugs has my sympathy but you need to remember that there is nothing you can do to help them. They have to want to help themselves. Trying to look after my sister made me ill and gave me high blood pressure for the first and only time in my life. She has never apologised for what she put me and our elderly mother through and I doubt if she even remembers. All her friends walked away and her oldest friend sent her back to me , like a parcel, in a taxi. I’m happy that she is now sober and leading a purposeful life but have no intention of ever putting myself through that again.
My sympathies go out to anyone who is going through it now. I didn’t go to a support group for relatives but I wish I had.

Iam64 Sun 25-Mar-18 10:07:40

I've worked with addicts and have loved ones whose addiction led to death, or to the breakdown of all their relationships. I know three people very well, who are currently either avoiding or attempting to reduce or stop their alcohol/cannabis habits because they recognise they're on the edge of losing everything.

Without exception, addicts or substance abusers I've known or worked with, had loved ones or families who tried to get them to see their substance/alcohol use was no longer "recreational" but dominating their lives. My sympathies go to anyone in the situation of trying to support a loved one. When someone I loved died young as a result of alcohol (and drug) abuse, I felt my heart would break. For the previous 20 years I, and all the others in this persons life, had encouraged them to seek help, spent endless hours talking about the problem. As others have said, only the addict can make the change and they have really want to because of course, giving up anything is difficult.

I do not see addiction as an illness and agree with others here, that is isn't necessarily helpful to call it an illness. None of us would choose to have chronic or life threatening illnesses. We have less choice over that than whether to continue drinking/taking drugs, when everyone around us is asking us to get help.

Anniebach Sun 25-Mar-18 10:10:14

No one chooses to be an alcoholic

MissAdventure Sun 25-Mar-18 10:13:10

Its not a moral judgement to say that the person needs to physically stop drinking: its a fact. The drink is poisoning their system. As long as it keeps being ingested, their problems will still be there.

Iam64 Sun 25-Mar-18 10:17:34

Anniebach I know that you believe no one chooses to be an alcoholic. I'll say again, how sorry I was to hear of your daughters difficulties and the way her life ended.
My point is at what point can we be expected to take some responsibility for our actions. Yes, it's hard to stop doing something that gives pleasure or blocks out emotional pain, however briefly.
only the addict can make the decision and in many cases, loved one's are there to help.

Anniebach Sun 25-Mar-18 10:49:24

The one person who caused my daughter harm was "the expert" who counselled her towards the end of her life, a dry alcholic ., he told her her lifestyle choice ! was not only harming her but her children, her husband, her mother , he just piled on the guilt so she took her own life, I have her diaries, I have her mobile phones with his text in them. I have a text he sent me telling me to walk away from here, he ended with - you reap what you sow.

icanhandthemback Sun 25-Mar-18 11:08:23

Having lost my brother to addiction, I can only say that people who don't think it is an illness or caused by an illness are somewhat lacking in understanding. Do you really think that people want to self-destruct? Do you really think these people continue because they want to? Most, if not all, have an underlying problem which the addict thinks is insurmountable. For example, my DB suffered from an extreme form of anxiety which in the early days could be quashed with a drink or two. Unfortunately, alcohol is addictive so eventually he became unable to cope at all without it. The failing rehab and mental health services did not kick in early enough despite pushing hard for it and the medication he was given for the anxiety played havoc with his brain. Eventually he became addicted to prescription drugs swapping one addiction for another. He did manage to kick those as well but another attack of anxiety saw him take an overdose as his 'clean' system couldn't cope. As a family we watched his slow descent into his private hell, watched an honest, decent individual become dishonest and self-loathing, and he did not get any happiness out of it, just a short moment when he felt able to cope before despair took over again. All the way through he felt responsible for his illness, he just didn't know how to overcome it. Sometimes you know what you have to do to survive, you are just not strong enough to do it. Thank your lucky stars if you have the wherewithal to cope with life.

pamdixon Sun 25-Mar-18 11:10:30

am I right in thinking that some people are (genetically) more pre-disposed than others to have a drink/drug addiction? i agree with Anniebach here.

grandtanteJE65 Sun 25-Mar-18 11:14:01

I too had a sister who was an alcoholic for many years, but who did manage to quit her addiction.

Some points to remember here are that you cannot help an addict quit his or her addiction before they are ready to do so themselves.

Before the addict makes that decision literally nothing we say or do will help.
Once the person concerned has firmly decided to quit their addiction the rest of us can and should help with encouragement, making sure there is no drink in our house (or at any rate that isn't locked away) when the trying to stay sober alcoholic comes for a visit etc.

It takes a lot of hard work, determination and patience for everyone involved and the road is long and hard. The goal of never drinking or taking drugs again can be reached.

And yes, former addicts tend not to make excuses either for themselves or others, but like everyone else they need our recognition that they had (have) a problem that they are solving.

Anniebach Sun 25-Mar-18 11:14:59

I have been told it is so pamdixon,

Nonna22 Sun 25-Mar-18 11:15:46

Oh Anniebach, that’s awful. I have little faith in counsellors. I saw one a couple of years ago to try and help me come to terms with my childhood. My mum was an alcoholic and she was addicted to prescription drugs (Valium, Mandrax, Mogadon Amytal). Being the eldest girl it was down to me to look after my younger 3 siblings. It was all pretty traumatic and after over 20 years I decided to try get some help via counselling recommended by my medical practitioner. After 1 session she told me it was down to my husband and I should leave him! I never went back! We are happily married and my husband has never done anything that would make me want to leave him. I am so very, very sorry about the loss of your daughter, no mother should go through that. xx