A True Story from Dr. X

The following story was posted by Dr. X.  I check his blog daily because besides being an astute political observer, I almost always agree with his views on how human beings function.  I highly recommend dropping by his site and reading what he has to say.  The following story struck me because it speaks to how I see addiction.  Not so cut and dry, as many so called addiction experts would have us believe because human beings are the epitome of the concept of shades of gray.  Read on:

A True Story

I know a woman who was a hopeless alcoholic for nearly 20 years.  Through much of her marriage, her husband browbeat and denigrated her over her considerable failings as a spouse and mother.  At the point when it seemed she could barely function, her husband divorced her and married another woman.

Literally the day after the divorce, she stopped drinking.  She says that quitting was effortless because she lost all desire to drink.  In fact, she hadn’t even intended to quit.  She simply lost the urge to drink.

Several years later, she has a glass or two of wine occasionally, but she says she has never been tempted to get drunk.  She is remarried and has what I believe to be a very good marriage.

She doesn’t blame her former husband for her drinking, but her story raises an interesting question: which came first the denigration or the drinking? Can we, in the case of this woman’s first marriage, view either husband or wife in isolation from the other?

The usual caveats:  Experiences not typical.  Your results may vary.

I am not suggesting that all or even most alcoholics would stop drinking if their spouses left them or that abused spouses have provoked their abusers.  What I am saying is that, quite often, our understanding of human behavior is lacking when it is without reference to the intersubjective dimensions of psychic life.  Inner life is itself dynamic and, additionally, there are moving, interacting parts in marriages and families.

Link To Original The Story

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8 Responses to A True Story from Dr. X

  1. Trevel Randolph says:

    it can be so hard to gauge, observe, overview, or for that matter just plain understand. Why do humans become dependent or addicted to drugs that alone anything. Not only why do we become addicted, but how do we become sober or winged off. The question is why do we become addicted, attracted, interested, and then persuaded to what it is of our liking? why are different people addicted to different things? These are questions that may always elude us, but the only way to try to gain perspective or knowledge is try to understand and study stories like this one from Dr. X.

  2. Tiffany Morales says:

    Through this reading most addicts need a support system. I find that alcoholics drink there past life or future worries away. It is a blind affect that just wont ever go away. As for the side effects abuse, and neglect of a normal life can portray someone they are not. Change is hard and scary. Thinking that your numbness will disappear and all the pain you felt that led you to drink can never be the same without that drink is life or death to them. It is a dependency that seems to fail with wrong reasoning. What ever that women felt to have no desire to drink again was realization that life itself was worth not another drink to live and succeed yet another relationship that will prosper.

  3. Pam White says:

    There are many variable missing from the story, however I would rather sit down with the woman and get some history on her childhood. If she allowed her husband to denigrate her for many years, she may have issue we know not of. I can only speculate why she chose to suddenly quit afte divorce, she may have realize her own self worth. If only it was that easy for many alcholics, but for now let’s keep trying to find solution until we have the right formulas.

  4. Lisamarie Seidel says:

    With this situation with the lady i believe that the lady had a rough past where drinking helped her drown out her issues in the first marriage. Also she might have had a parent or two drink when she was a child which she learned from them to drown her problems away. When she finally got divorced from her first husband she finally hit rock bottom and changed her life around. We all learn from our mistakes and try to make our life better in a lot of ways.

  5. Amanda says:

    When some people get mentally abused it can have a negative effect on them. They may lead them to drinking, and more drinking. “Numbing” the pain people call it. The Lady could have felt invincible while she was drunk. Hear the unhappy things that her husband was telling her didn’t exist while she was drunk. Then when the marriage was over and the mental abuse was gone why would you need that “comfort” of being drunk anymore since the negativity wasn’t in her life anymore. She might have showed signs of being an alcoholic but when she just stop and didn’t want to feel that way anymore but could still handle a glass or two of wine years later, to me that isn’t an alcoholic. That is a person that chose the wrong path in life and then found her way out of it when it was over.

  6. Sandra says:

    I really love this story.. I must say that she was right to stop drinking, and i know that its very cliche to say all this, but she has a very bright to stop drinking when she broke up with her ex husband, because if she didn’t do that, she would not have found the happiness that she so deserves now… I know how hard it must have been for her, because i am a recovering alcoholic myself..

    • Maryam Davis says:

      I can relate to this story a lot. That’s because I had a similar situation. I don’t know which came first , but I believe isolation and redefining oneself play a major role. I believe that there are influences that causes individuals to change. And in other cases there are individuals that causes another individual to change. She might feel that her husband wasn’t the reason for her drinking, but in a subconscious way he probably was. I used to drink a lot. People would tell me that I had a problem. It was not until I moved to Arizona that I realized I was drinking a lot. Now I hardly drink at all. So was I to in denial or tired of Milwaukee or was my body just sick off all that booze.

  7. This is a tricky question and I want to explain why I posted it. These are my observations based on 30+ years of working with chemically dependent adolescents and adults. Many people end up in 12 Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous because their lives are shattered because of many factors, one of which is the use of alcohol. However, in all my years I have never seen a person in AA who is only there because of drinking. Divorce, loss of job and family, physical, emotional and mental problems are what every “alcoholic” presents in addition to the abuse of alcohol and other chemicals. The key in the treatment of alcohol use disorders is a differential diagnosis. By this I mean it is important to try and determine if the alcohol is a primary or secondary problem. To simplify, sometimes people begin to abuse alcohol because of personal problems such as those mentioned above. Alcohol does become a problem. Others start drinking alcohol and a switch goes off in the brain that says, “I like this.” They drink to excess and then the problems start piling on. There is of course some overlap and for the purposes of explaining, I have simplified it quite a bit. When you are treating someone, you get a feel for it. My point is that everyone who has abused alcohol is not necessarily an alcoholic. An example might be an ASU student who plunges head-on into drinking while in school for 4-5 years. My argument is that unless there is some underlying predisposition to addiction, this person may in fact be able to socially drink when they leave school and start a normal social life as they move through the developmental process that all adults undertake (adolescence, young adult, adult, middle age, etc.). If you are in fact an alcoholic, you will never be able to drink. So for the purpose of addressing this question, as social workers treating someone with a presenting problem of alcohol abuse, we treat it like this:

    12 step meetings
    The message is complete abstinence
    Concurrent individual and/or group psychotherapy to determine a proper diagnosis

    It is up to the client on their own to determine if they can ever drink again. We do not make that decision for them or give them tacit approval to drink. When we are sure, based on their behavior and patterns that they are in fact alcoholics, we support their continued abstinence of all chemicals. When a client reports to us that they are drinking socially and their lives are still improving, we do not approve or disapprove, we simply support. People are going to do what they are going to do regardless of what we say or do. Some people have experienced problems with alcohol. That does not mean that they are alcoholics. It is not a simple issue. It is a gray area as is true in all matters related to human beings.

    People are going to accuse me of not believing alcoholism is a disease. This is not what I am saying here. When we label, we are locked into the terms set out by the disease. This discussion is forcing people to look at shades of gray.

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