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Seven Characteristics of Functioning Alcoholics Seeking Rehab

Alcoholic afraid of lifeIn the past I have worked as consulting psychologist to an alcohol and drug addiction treatment center for men. This is not my first experience in dealing with addiction; I had earlier worked five years in a coed treatment center. I have worked with a lot of functioning alcoholics and drug addicts in my private practice as well.

Although the reasons for substance abuse and subsequent seeking help for addiction are as varied as any human population can be, there is a pattern of sameness in among those men voluntarily going into rehab.

The seven characteristics presented below relate to what is going on at the point men seek help, not to the years when usage turned to habitual substance abuse and then to addiction. Some of the characteristics, but not all, apply to women as well as men. I have become aware that certain things emerge in a group of men that did not surface when men were in a coed group.

Since the characteristics are more psychological and spiritual than physical, they apply whether the addiction is to alcohol or other drugs.

  1. Alcohol and drugs help men suppress feelings they are worthless and undeserving. These horrible feelings usually emanate from unresolved trauma, sometimes going back to childhood. This is sad, because all unresolved trauma is treatable even after years have passed. Most of the other themes below also have traumatic origins.
  2. Drinking and drugging help men avoid facing a profound lack of self-respect. The silver lining is that if they had acknowledged how little respect they had for themselves, say 10 years earlier, they might have suicided or died through other reckless action. Many have.
  3. Many alcoholic and drug-addicted men carry a lot of anger, and along with the anger they often have a fear they will become violent and hurt someone. Drinking calms them, at least temporarily. The problem is it eventually becomes an addiction. In my experience healing the origins of anger trumps managing anger every time.
  4. Often by the time men seek rehab they are mired in feelings of hopelessness about their addiction, about their marriages, about their careers, about life or about all of these. Yes they may project an image of bravado and self-confidence, but underneath there is a loss of hope. They go to rehab as their last hope.
  5. Men who have turned to alcohol or drugs often carry a great deal of shame about not being able to make their wives happy or otherwise care for them. Of course, each of us has responsibility for our own happiness, but that does not stop men from subconsciously taking on that responsibility. This is a peculiarly male burden.
  6. Men may come to terms with their addiction at any time of life, but middle age is prime time. It is in middle age that we all find ourselves facing up to the big questions about the meaning of life and the meaning and purpose of our own lives in particular. Alcohol or drugs may cover a man’s inadequacy to face the big questions. Unfortunately, it may be the failure of a second marriage or the death of a child that pushes him to clean up so he can tackle life’s big questions and begin to create a meaningful and purposeful second half of life.
  7. Finally, alcohol and drug usage foster isolation. They help people deny their connections to one another, to the universe, to God, to their higher powers, to their true selves. In other words substance abuse is a spiritual blocker. Recovery from an addiction is often accompanied by an awakening of their spirituality.

If any of these seven fits your husband, excellent treatment programs are available.

If you are a functioning alcoholic or drug addict and are reading this, do ask yourself honestly if any of these fit you. Perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at your life and make some changes while you still can.

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38 comments to Seven Characteristics of Functioning Alcoholics Seeking Rehab

  • Jeff

    Wow! How do I go on? How can so much of this be me without having been able to realize it? Where do I go from here? The reason I have been doing this research is because I have been preoccupied with suicide. How does someone go on. How does someone forgive themselves?

  • Jeff

    Is there really such thing as asecond chance? would it be the same

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Jeff,

    Most people using alcohol or drugs are doing in part from being aware of their pain. So as usage stops or slows, realizations may flood in.

    Where is a good question. My standard answer is to find a good psychologist or other therapist who also knows his or her way around addictions, and stay with them until you are past any suicide risk.

    You said, “How does someone go on. How does someone forgive themselves?” How questions are usually roadblocks. What is important is that you decide to go on, and decide to forgive yourself, not how you will do it. The how will follow your decision to do it.

    Get whatever help you need to follow through on your decision, but please be wary of people or organizations who try to tell you that your condition is permanent and that you will be “in recovery” for the rest of your life. I was an alcoholic, but I am not in recovery. I live a full life.

    Of course there is a second chance…and a third, and a fourth, if you are still with us. But little will be the same. When you make a major change, everything changes. It’s unpredictable and there’s no going back.

    However, my experience, and that of tens of thousands of others, has been that after the initial turmoil of change, life is better than it was before…a lot better. That is why I like working with people after they have “quit” to help them recreate their lives. In fact, I am designing a program for just that. It should be ready by the summer. If you are on my notification list you will get the announcements.

    Decide to live; you will thank yourself.

    Neill

  • Sally

    What, if anything, is the appropriate thing to say or do if you think a man you know is addicted to drugs and alcohol?

    I started dating someone recently and after several dates it became clear to me he was always using when we were together and using a lot. I got out of the relationship as soon as I realized he has addiction issues and is emotionally unavailable. I never confronted him about it.

    I have no intention of going back to him but I do care about him and wonder if there is anything I can say or do? It’s sad because he is a young man in his mid-twenties and I hate the thought that he may spend many more years of his life addicted before he gets sober. It seems like such a waste of precious years.

    Thanks in advance for your feedback,

    Sally

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello Sally,

    Your opting out of the relationship at an early stage has likely saved you a mountain of pain and grief. Smart! It may take a few painful breakups for him to decide he has to change and take action, but he might never do it.

    There is really not much to say, unless you bump into him one day and he asks why you stopped seeing him. Then you could tell him about your "such a waste" feelings. However, he knows that. He may say, "I’ll quit if you come back." Don’t bite.

    You might meet him ten years from now and hear him say, "I quit 8 years ago." Congratulate him, and privately thank your lucky stars that you were not part of the carnage that got him to that place of decision.

    Neill

  • Sally

    Thank you so much for your feedback and support. Dating an alcoholic has been a profound experience for me.

    Are these things common among active alcoholics? (These are observations I made of the man I was dating and I’m wondering if they are part of the disease.)

    They are narcissists.

    They talk and act as if they are happy and on top of the world.

    They are emotionally unavailable.

    They make you feel crazy even though you are the healthy one in the room.

    It was a very disorienting experience for me.

    Thank you,
    Sally

  • Kat

    My hsb(functioning alcoholic)and I have been married 10yrs and it has been a rollercoaster with finances. I hv put him out 3times becuz I couldnt take his emotional,disconnect,verbal abuse! Our daughter who is 7yrs old misses him becuz this last time I sd I cant save him and he already hd a car accident drinking with our daughter and when he is with her he says indirect mean things about me to her so now she is poisoned and thinks Im the bad guy and her father is just the greatest,becuz when i am not around he talks bad about me (your mom has a big mouth,talks too much,i love her,but sick of your mom,etc) so I have cut all ties with him blocking his numbers from work and cell and i am taking our daughter to Al-teen. I still love him but cant deal with him anymore i am now living for me. only thing he hasn’t tried to call or filed for divorce so my life is on hold becuz im saved so i wonder if he will miss us although i hear he is cheating!

    now that he is out the house around all his enablers (sister,ex-girlfriend,friends tht drink)c i have never drinked or smoked,etc so this has bn a learning experience for me he’s not the least bit concerned also told our counselor he wld not be coming back after i cut off his phone contact i just think its best to c if falls or moves on. its hurtful but i think about the bad which outweighs the good. he has a good heart but the drinking cant handle it and he has a anger problem……i pray he gets saved & driven to JESUS CHRIST! then comes home a saved man then i could deal with him better. thanks for listening:)

  • Shauna

    I am worried about my husband and think he’s a HFA. He drinks everyday, sometimes only a couple but other weekdays up to 6 or more, and on the weekends usually at least a 12 pack for everynight. He never gets violent with me but will occasionally drive drunk and doesn’t see it as a problem to drink a beer in the car with the kids as long as it’s in isolation and he’s not drunk. When I confront him on the exessiveness of his drinking he denies it and becomes very defensive. He agreed a couple of months a go to cut back and take a couple nights out alltogether, but has only taken out maybe 2 nights a month. I’m worried about his health and think he would open himself up emotionally to be a better husband and dad if he weren’t drinking at home all the time. Is he a typical HFA and what do I do to get him to listen or to get help?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Shauna,

    There’s not a lot you can do, except take care of yourself and your children. Don’t any of you ride with him if he has had a drink. Don’t support his drinking. Educate yourself on treatment options so that you are ready with information when and if he admits he has a problem.

  • Susan

    My husband is a heavy drinker. Over the past 4 months he has been drinking even more. He goes to work daily but the moment he walks in the door, he fixes a scotch. I have lovingly confronted him recently. He made no comment. He went to AA for over a year but stopped going in April. I have been contemplating leaving but think, why should I leave my home. We have been married 40 years. I don’t know what to do.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Susan,

    Wanting to stay in your home is one of the practical details to look after. Talk with a lawyer. He or she will explain your rights and may recommend a court action ordering him to leave.

    Do make a decision, because you deserve a life. Delay is the deadliest form of denial.

  • I was a heavy drug user for 20 years also drinker…I stopped it all 7 years ago,,,drugs,booze,fags. Its far easier than one may feel it is…quit the lot then one won’t bring you back to the other..I even quit eating meat too…even now at times i crave..but hold on and the feeling passes by in a short time…set new challenges..mine is travel..for 20 years i spent every penny i had on getting high..never leaving the house..since i quit the lot..i have more money and have travelled the world..i needed a aim..travel is that..if you can get past the first week or so fix free..then you can do without it for the rest of your life..now im really happy and have more money than i ever had..go on..give it a try..slow jog or fast walk it off..you can make it..good luck

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Thanks Mark,

    I did the same thing; I simply quit. That was decades ago.

  • Ashley

    When me and my boyfriend first got together two years ago, he had been hiding his addiction from me very well. I soon found out what a monster his drinking made him. He would not go to work, he had no social life, he would even drink so much he would black out and urinate himself. He’s young and has so much life ahead of him. He’s been to jail, sober houses, AA, but nothing has honestly made an impact. Everyday I hear the same excuses, “It takes time.” or ” “I drink because I got drunk.” and everyday (when hes drunk), he throws in my face my achievements in life. Constantly telling me I’m perfect, and I do no wrong. (sarcasticly)HE has lost all of his families trust and is seriously loosing mine. His drinking is the root of all of his problems.. and he is aware of that. When he’s sober, he cries a lot. Because of things hes said or done under the influence and his inability to succeed. Is there anything I can do? I know you can’t help people who do not want to help themselves, but I believe he does, he just has been down so many dead end roads he doesn’t know where to go next.

    Thank you.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Ashley,

    There is not much you can do for him as long as he lives his life as a victim of alcohol. If he chooses not to be a victim, he will quit, getting help if he needs it. It is quite possible that alcohol is not the root of all his problems, but the medication he is using so as not to face his problems. But you cannot be his therapist.

    The dead-end roads will continue to be dead ends as long as he is looking for solutions outside of himself. He might find it useful, when sober to check out my website, http://www.conqueralcoholism.com, particularly the questionnaire about getting help.

    It might be some consolation to you, to know that alcohol does save lives, although it ruins more than it saves. Sometimes, suicides and murders are averted by the calming effects of alcohol. By drinking, he can avoid facing the horror of his life.

  • Susan

    I recently read your book and found it to be so helpful. Here I am 22 years married and my H has a great job, but 3 or 4 nights a week, he gets home and has 6 or 8 beers and a whole bottle of wine until he cannot even stand up or walk. Sometimes he is home from work on Mondays complaining of chills and weakness. He tells me that it is allergies. He has a different personality when drinking; very mean, and rude and scolding. I am worried about my teenage kids. My H says he is getting some help but he continues to binge drink (He is 49 yrs old) and had 14 drinks this past Saturday. I am at the point that I want to leave. What is the best way to help him get help?

    Thank you, Susan

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Susan,

    If he really want to get help, he could read the last section of the book, which is on treatment options. Then go to the info on http://www.conqueralcoholism.com

    If he isn’t ready to leave that life behind, there isn’t much you can do. Sometimes, just ending the marriage is enough of a jolt that he eventually decides to turn his life around. However, the marriage really has to be over, or quitting drinking become just another bargaining chip.

  • Pam

    Hi Neil,

    I can see myself in those 7 questions. Past childhood trauma is a big one, I’d say. After my 12 year relationship fell apart I was lost for a few years. Guilt, shame, anger over what wasn’t or never will be was at the forefront of my addiction. Although I wasn’t a drinker, I was drugger. Addiction is an easy way NOT to feel the emotion of any kind.

  • Kim

    Hi, Neill. I’m dating a high functioning alcoholic. He has a very responsible job and never misses work. We’ve been seeing each other for a year, and he is wanting to get married or at least move in together. We live in different cities and see each other every couple of months for 2 wks or so. I adore this man and he treats me like a queen. I’m in my fifties, divorced with grown children and thought I was just going to be alone, until he came along. I’ve come to realize he has a drinking problem. At first I thought I was just being a prude, but that isn’t the case. He will go through a big bottle (750cc) in less than 48 hrs. A “drink” to him is a few ice cubes and a full dixie cup of liquor! I’ve caught him taking swigs in the morning when he thought I was still asleep. After several “drinks” he can fall asleep while we’re watching tv and I’m unable to wake him. I finally just go to bed. Several hours later he comes to bed and in the morning chalks it up to being terribly tired. This summer when asked why I’m holding back I told him I had a problem with his drinking to which he said he didn’t need it and would stop…lasted briefly then started again. At least twice since he has said he’d do anything for me, but he continues to drink. Just recently he said once he finished this bottle he was quitting along with tobacco. But when we talk on the phone I can tell he is drunk. A voice in the back of my head says “RUN” but am I giving up too easily? I don’t want a relationship with him if he continues to drink, but I don’t want him to just quit for me. When he drinks he gets sloppy mushy and if disagreed with can fly off the handle in a moment (I witnessed this with his adult son).

    I guess the questions are 1) do ultimatums work? 2) does it sound like I should run. I haven’t waited this long to now marry an alcoholic! Maybe I’m better off alone.

    Thanks in advance.

    Kim (alias)

  • Kim

    Do ultimatums work?

  • This is extremely helpful except for the part about “god” and “spiritual blockers”. I am an atheist who made it out of a family addicted to alcohol and then rabid Christianity (Christoholics). Both were horrible addictions. Both were destructive. Both impeded rational thought. Making it out of alcoholism and Christianity was an incredible feat. I speak out against both. Thanks for the information.

  • I admire your efforts in putting together this impressive informative article. This is excellent writing and great content. Thank you for sharing this quality content.

  • Donna

    I have rececently started dating a man (for the 3rd time) who had an addiction to alcohol and drugs. I have known him for 6 years and we have dated previously, however at the time I did not know that he was a HFA. He told me a few months ago that he had a drinking/drug addiction but that he has been sober for almost 2 years. It seems that whenever I get too close to him or tell him that I care about him, he pushes me away. In the past when he did this, he blocked me from his life completely and I had no contact with him at all, but after some time had passed he would get back in touch with me. I see the same thing happening again only this time he is not blocking me from his life, he is just being very distant and uncommunicative.

    I’m wondering if this is common characteristic in men that have/had addictions to alcohol and drugs? He’s had other relationships fall apart because of his addiction. I don’t want to give up on him as I do love him very much and I want him to know that I’m there for him. But neither do I want to beat a dead horse, so to speak.

    Any light you can shed on this is greatly appreciated.

  • You describe stonewalling, a very common pattern among alcoholics. And if stonewalling has become a pattern for anyone, that means he/she is unable and/or unwilling to change it on their own without appropriate.professional help.

  • Maria

    I met this guy in Dec 2010. We went out a few times and
    One thing I observed was that after every date, I was intoxicated.
    I do not drink often and when I do, it’s usually one glass of wine.
    With this guy, we would drink around two bottles at a time.
    Do you think that he is a functioning alcoholic? Some other odd behavior:
    1. He is in process of getting a divorce after 18 yrs of marriage. He uses this as an
    Excuse to be unavailable though he tells me he cares about me and
    Wants me in his life.
    2. He sees me only 1 time every 6 weeks. He tells me that he is purposely
    Keeping a distance from me. Apparently, I am too smothering because I want to
    See him more often. He is afraid of being stalked.
    3. When I suggest a date (ie: a movie, play, exhibition),he doesn’t even respond
    With a no. He just pretends I never made the suggestion. I am literally ignored.
    4. He makes promises and says things to make me feel like I’m
    Special and part of his life, but then there is no followup.

    Is he a functioning alcoholic? Is he a narcissist? Is he insane?

  • What I see is why his wife left him. You are seeing a lot of red flags. I hope you pay attention.

  • Rachel

    I grew up with several alcoholics in my family, so it didn’t take me long to figure out that the man I had begun dating was. We had been friends for many years and recently reconnected. He admitted to me he needed to stop, but it lasted just a few days. He didn’t seek professional help. He is so hungover several days a week he can’t function. I told him I thought it was best if we were just friends and started going to church with him. I contacted the priest regarding my friend and asked for help. When I emailed a copy of my letter I had written the priest my friend went crazy! He dropped me at that very second and has completely turned on me. He is hateful, belligerent and hostile with me. He has told me to mind my own business and that I stabbed him in the back. I don’t understand. I was only trying to help. It seems I’ve made things even worse. I just want to make amends with him. What do I do now? I would so appreciate any advise you can give me to help find peace with this.

  • Hi Rachel,

    You did what many do: you made an intervention on his behalf. It worked in the sense that it really go his attention. Unfortunately, his response makes it very clear that he is not ready to make a change. You wouldn’t have known that without trying to help him towards his stated intention to stop drinking. Alcoholics blame others, and that’s what he’s doing. You didn’t make things worse for him; you made things better by being the first person to come along that didn’t enable him, that actually cared about him.

    There’s nothing to do. Just hold your head up and get on with your life. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Just move on…without him. That would be the best thing you can do for him…and you.

  • Vuyi

    Oh my word, been at it with my husband for 6yrs now – have done everything, church , psychologist , keeping quiet and nothing! Am at my wits end and I just want to go onceith my life and provide for my kids( I have three kids) the one thing I have learnt is You cannot do a thing for them until they come to the realization themselves. He has been in a nasty accident with the car being written off as he was drunk thank God( and yes I believe in Him) he was not injured! Let’s find a way to get up and go on as women, our kids need us more!!!!

  • Sarah

    By the grace of God and the unfettered love of AA, I have 11 years of recovery from the hopeless disease of alcoholism. Everything that posts above have described in regards to the insanity I pulled on loved ones. I was a complete train wreck. It took what it took though and when I say by the grace of God that I got into the halls of AA, I mean it.

    I didn’t want to go there, I didn’t even think I had a problem (imagine drinking alcoholically for 25 years and not believing you have a problem!). I thought everyone else was the problem! Alcoholism is the only disease I know that says that you are fine, that all is well, that you simply need to manage better. Only recently have I encountered another alcoholic, a loved one, whom I witnessed alcoholism in another and what a total shocker to my pride to see what it must have been like to deal with me. I felt as though I was going insane trying to make sense of alcoholism in another person.

    It is impossible (IMPOSSIBLE) to get an alcoholic to see your way of life. Heck, once in awhile we (alchies) may even tell the truth! I say to all that are trying desperately to hang onto an alcoholic that we really don’t care about anyone or anything while we are still out there drinking. It is literally impossible to reach us until we want a better life for ourselves and you can’t make it become so. But…. when we do want a better life, it will take at least (very least) 2 years to clear our heads, work our 12-step program and face you with a 9th step amends. You are better to pray for your sick friend from afar and trust that God has their back and get on with your life.

  • Tori

    I am with my husband 22 years. After a slide down in employment where he has ended up in 2 successive jobs that made him feel ‘less’ he has taken to drinking now for a year. He is becoming more and more dependent, and every weekend is on a ‘bender. My only child, son aged 19 is displaying classic behaviors – over-responsible, very ultra serious etc., and I hate to see his youth being so sadly impacted by this, not to mention our lives together as what used to be a fairly nice family. My husband had a horrible family life growing up and he has never sought or received therapy. His mother (who he compares me to now constantly, I am the horrible taskmaster now) was a very non-loving person having been beaten as a child herself, and his father showed no fatherly abilities that I have heard about. Just kind of swept along with the life they led, the 3 children. Each is damaged in their own way.

    Is it really true that I need to leave my husband now? And if so, it seems like I read here that I can get a court order for him to leave our home, not vice versa. I know he has to want and care about getting, treatment. But how does he do so – how does an alcoholic ever come to that self-realization given the tendencies they already have to low self-esteem and defeat before starting? I am not dying to give up on our life together, but also am not even close to enabling him – if anything I have to calm down on the complete opposite.

  • Chris

    I am the mother of five children. I believe I do live with a person who calls himself a functioning alcoholic. However, I did leave him and took the kids to give them a better life. I continue to stay involved with him. He stays at my home every weekend. Says he loves me and I’m the one with the problem. Been yrs of blaming myself. But, after reading a bunch of theses messages I realize what I thought a few yrs ago when I left him on a domestic violence charge after a night of alcohol is I am in love with the monster. I’m not the monster. He lies, cheats all about himself. Him first. Then if time for kids and me we should feel lucky.

  • To the writer Marci. You sound like you may have met my husband; or should say at this point will be ex husband. If this guy makes excuses to not spend a lot of time with you you can be sure he’s covering up something more than a drinking problem. Be careful. Don’t go down a road of abuse .. Run

  • Heather

    Hi Dr. Neill,

    My son is 21 years old. He’s a drug addict and alcoholic. He started using at 16. hen he was 17, he willingly went to rehab. He stayed clean for a year until his best friend committed suicide. After that, he got even worse. Because he’s an adult, I can’t force him to do anything.

    He moved out of my house a year ago and didn’t have much contact with me. When he would talk to me, everything was just fine even though I knew it wasn’t. He was living with his dad and one night they got in a fist fight. His brother asked me to please take him because they didn’t want him there anymore. I immediately took him to detox where he stayed a week. He’s been with me 2 months now and hasn’t been doing drugs, but drinks a few nights a week. When he does, he disrupts the whole house and acts insane, saying he has a demon and makes loud noises. He’s violent, speaks of suicide, and is belligerent. Last night, he tried choking my other son and we couldn’t control his erratic behavior, so I took him to the hospital again. He went to a friend’s house instead that enables him and he’s mad at me because we took him to the hospital.

    Is there any hope for my son? What do I do at this point? I feel helpless and it kills me to watch my son do this to himself and his younger brothers and sister. Please give me some advice. He wont go get help. He thinks because he’s off drugs he doesn’t have a problem.

  • Amber

    Hello,

    As I read this article, I realized you were describing my husband. He drinks 6-8 beers a night, he has been convicted of 2 DWI’s with one major car wreck. He no longer drives after drinking due to an Interlock. I truly believe that his drinking is keeping him from addressing some of his anger and the abuse he never addressed from his childhood. He never seems truly happy. I am devout in my religion, and he use to be as well, but now any time I mention anything spiritual, I am ignored or even scolded. This is ruining our marriage, I constantly think about divorce, but in all, he is a good, loving, father and husband. What can I do to help him see the damage that his drinking is doing?

  • Meg

    I recently spent three months dealing with this. At first I thought everything was hunky-dory and he just liked to have fun, but as we got more comfortable together the demons started to show.

    On a weekly basis he would get extremely intoxicated to the point of being unable to control his balance and focus. It was extremely unattractive. His emotions fluctuated onto of that. He was either really happy and so “in love” or very angry and frustrated. I have never feared anyone and I was scared of him when he was drunk. The last straw was when I asked him to please respect my wishes and stay sober for a night together (I work a lot so anytime I have a couple of hours to spend I wanted to take advantage of it) and he got drunk. He tried to act as if he wasn’t but I knew better.

    I think my mistake in all this was not taking a softer approach to it. I told him I had a problem with his drinking after he had been drinking. Now that we are broken up, I have this strong feeling of guilt like it’s my fault even though I know it’s not. I am extremely sad for him because he does not realize what he is doing to himself and to the people that care about him. I have also learned that I can’t change him unless he wants to change. This is such a tough thing to go through and my heart aches for anyone that has to deal with it long term. The last thing I wanted to do was give up on him but I am hoping that by walking away something might click and he will come to terms with whatever he has buried emotionally and deal with it without abusing liquor.

  • DJ

    Thank-you for this interesting website. I am 56 and living with my 82 year old dad (long story). My family has a long history of alcoholism starting with my grandparents and dad (now a sober alcoholic). The problem is my brother who is 54 and at the point of death from his alcoholism. He is homeless and shows up at our door with a taxi and wanting money. Last night was the last straw for me. I have got to move out of this house as I cannot take dads enabling of him any more!

    He called and said he was in the hospital and he had a heart attack-well of course we rushed down only to have the ER nurse say, “No, he didn’t have a heart attack. He simply passed out from drinking in the supermarket and someone called an ambulance.” I confronted my brother that he must seek treatment and he assured me he was “going to change”. When the nurse came in, I asked her in front of him if she would have the doctor order detox and in patient rehab. She looked at my brother and said, “Is that what you want?” He stared back at her and said nothing. I said, “HELLO, do you want detox and rehab?” And he (very angrily said), “I’m thinking”! I was outta there! Meantime my dad was chatting with him as if they were having coffee. I told dad on the way home, “He WILL show up at our doorstep tonight. He can’t stay with us and don’t give him any money.”

    Well sure enough, he knocks on the door at 11 PM with a waiting taxi behind him! Dad promptly gives him taxi money and hotel money! This is very sick and I am going to look at an apartment today! I told dad he is on his own, even though he’s in his 80’s and shouldn’t be living alone. I am DONE! My nerves are shot and I want to crawl into a hole because my brother (and he isn’t the only one), but you don’t have enough room for me to type the hell I have been though with all my alcoholic relatives.

    The Lord is my refuge and I love him. God bless you all and may you find peace.

  • kristina

    Hi Dr. Neil,

    A few years ago I became involved with an attorney at work. At the time I was employed at the firm for over 9 years and he had worked there for close to 20 years. Before getting involved I really didn’t know him to well other than the happy go lucky funny guy. I really enjoyed being with him, but I soon learned that he drank a lot of beer and also smoked marijuana. In the beginning of our relationship, he told me that he liked me from the beginning and also told me that he was in love with me. I questioned his love for me because I felt he needed to spend more time with me and get to know me on a deeper level. Not long after this, things were going on at work and he was threatened with losing his job. As a result of this turn of events, he told me that he was depressed and could not be with me anymore because if he lost his job, he would have to sell his home and move away. I was confused by this, but told him that we don’t have to be so serious and still continue to hang out together and we did. A few months later, he went back to his ex girlfriend, from a few years earlier, and said he was in love with her. He eventually lost his job and not long after that he ended up starting a relationship with an attorney at work and said he was in love with this person.

    As far as his drinking, it starts early in the morning which is around 7 until pretty much when he goes to bed. It’s not the hard stuff, but still he’s consuming alcohol. I was devastated when he went back to his ex girlfriend because I felt betrayed and that whatever we had going on meant nothing. However, because at the time we still worked together I though it would be best to form a friendship and he agreed to this. But with this new girlfriend he really doesn’t want to be friends. I don’t want to be with him or any man that pulls that kind of stuff, but I do care for him as a person and I thought it would be nice to part ways and still be friends. Dr. Neil, this is a 61 year old man. My question is that being that he’s an alcoholic would this impair his judgment to the extent that every woman he’s involved with he believes he’s in love and then use her up and then move on? He never showed any signs of hostility or anger and is a very likable person.

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