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Alcoholism and Guilt

"Alcoholism and Guilt, Because you are guilty!"
copyright 2011, all rights reserved

by Toby Rice Drews
author of the "Getting Them Sober" books

If a recovering alcoholic tells the spouse that "she shoulda done xxx" or that "she shoulda not done xxx" for his recovery.....and/or "she's trying to make me feel guilty"--------------

What many of the "good oldtimers" in A.A. would say to him, is this: 1. "you're lucky she's still there!"

2. "you know why you feel guilty? Because you're guilty!" The A.A. Big Book, in the chapter about working Step 3, says very clearly that the MAIN problem of the alcoholic is selfishness and self-centeredness.

When I'm training counselors, I bring out a blackboard and draw a bell-curve on it...... on one end of the curve, is "the family disease"----characterized by "both the spouse and the alcoholic blame the spouse".

On the other end of the curve, is the "recovery" of both the family and the alcoholic------characterized by "the alcoholic centering on ----- cherishing ------- the spouse ----on a consistent basis................. and the spouse being able to enjoy it, without reverting again to giving, giving, giving." Both of them find it very difficult....... the alcoholic finds it difficult to not revert to self-centeredness......and the spouse finds it difficult to not revert to centering on him and his needs....... But to consistently .........and continually....... over many years....... make these 180-degree changes ----- is imperative for the family to truly heal.

b.) What about this term "enabler"? I've dealt with this in earlier "tips of the month"...... but want to quote, here, a small excerpt from the book, "Getting Your Children Sober" -----------

"When a family member rescues the alcoholic, and I label her "an enabler", she obviously is still doing the rescuing behaviors and is not yet unafraid enough to give them up. She knows that I am being judgmental when I use this term. Even when I say it lovingly, I seem to be admonishing her to go faster than she is capable of doing at that time. And she feels despairing, because she IS doing her best. She may get so discouraged and frustrated and overwhelmed that she stops treatment.

"More specifically, the term "enabler" implies that while the family member did not CAUSE the drinking, their rescue operations CONTRIBUTED to the perpetuation of the drinking. Such thinking is dangerous; it leads alcoholics, who are ALREADY looking for a way to blame others for the drinking, into again placing responsibility for the drinking on the family.

"Alcoholics do not need any encouragement to blame others! Alcoholism counselors spend much of their time trying to crack through the blame-systems of alcoholics. It is considered to be a major breakthrough in the wellness process of alcoholics when they begin to acknowledge that NOTHING "got them drunk". In contrast, alcoholics who have had relapses and are re-entering treatment are now often heard saying, "I wouldn't have gone out that time if I hadn't been enabled!"

(p.s....... instead of calling families "enablers", try saying "rescuers"------the connotation is much kinder....... the family member will stay around and not run away in shame if "called a rescuer"...... We did not enable the disease----we rescued the ones we loved..........And the rescuing stops when the family member is gently taught about alcoholism and how it works......and how to stop fearing the alcoholic's behavior....... when we lose our fears of "losing them"------we can so much more easily stop the rescuing.) IMPORTANT------- Of course, only do or not do anything that this site ----or any site on the internet----- talks about, if it is safe for you and your children.

Recovery Communications, Inc. • P.O. Box 19910 • Baltimore, MD 21211

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