Unfortunately when many former drinkers go through the grieving process over the loss of their old friend, the bottle, some never get past the anger stage.

It is a very real loss. The drink has been their friend for many years and one they could count on. When the whole world turned against them, the bottle never let them down. It was always there ready for the good times, the celebrations, the parties, as well as the sad, mad, and lonely times, too.

Finally their old friend let them down… they got in trouble with the law, lost a job or career, almost lost their family, or the doctors told them they had to stop drinking… whatever the reason, the circumstances of their life brought them to the point where they made a decision to say “so long” to the bottle.

Whether they realized it or not, they began the stages of grieving — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — the same stages most people go through when they have a great loss in their lives or have been told they have a terminal illness.

First comes the denial — it’s really not that big a deal, I’ve always said I could quit anytime — and then the anger and depression when they realize just how much that had come to depend on their old friend alcohol.

Many make it through the process to the final stage — accepting the loss, learning and growing through the experience, and moving on.

Some never make it. It’s sad to see them, sometimes many years later, still stuck in their anger, bitterness, and resentment at having to make the change in their lives. They haven’t had a drink in years, but they have also never had a “sober” day.

You even see them in the 12-step rooms… been in the program for years and years and their lives seem to be a constant unmanageable struggle. All those years and they have no more of a spiritual awakening than they did the first time they walked into the room.

“Dry Drunk” has been described as “A condition of returning to one’s old alcoholic thinking and behavior without actually having taken a drink.” Or as one wise old drunk put it, if a horse thief goes into A.A. what you can end up with is a sober horse thief. Or a personal favorite: you can take the rum out of the fruit cake, but you’ve still got a fruit cake!

Those who quit drinking but are still angry about it, wind up living miserable lives and usually make everyone else around them miserable too. If it has been said once in an Al-Anon meeting, it has been whispered thousands of times, “I almost wish he would go back to drinking.”

An interesting piece, at least if you’re me.  I find the workings of the human mind fascinating.  As I read this, I had to ponder what is it that would make a person be satisfied with “stuck” in anger, bitterness and resentment?  Why is it that they can’t see past the present and see what is within their reach?  Why can’t they see the promise and hope of moving from where they are to where they need to go?

Ah, our comfort zone, that place where risk is not required.  The state of neutrality.  The state of not knowing what could be.  The chains of bondage.

Why is the safety and security of the miserable preferable to the unknown of joy and happiness?

As I read the description of the non-medical condition above I have to think about so many ways each of us finds comfort, often not in the bottle, but in our unique ways.  Our drugs may change but I believe our behaviors have similar roots in their effort to cope with the struggles of this life.
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