The alcoholic has ask for help, successfully completed a short treatment stay, has learned about the disease of alcoholism, identified old behaviors, has developed a program to live by, and is now finds himself alone, left to his own devices.
It is quite unfortunate that very few alcoholics who enter treatment are fortunate to attend an extended care facility. The longer in treatment, the better the chances are for the alcoholic/addict to begin a recovery program that will last.
An analogy that can be used to demonstrate this situation is the alcoholic, with barely enough knowledge to be dangerous, finds himself alone, adrift in the sea of life. At this point the question is what does the alcoholic have to hold on to keep him afloat. Did the rehab give him any swimming lessons? Did the rehab give him a stick or twig to hold on to? If the alcoholic was listening, he may have been given a raft or a dinghy to sit upon. The ultimate goal of course is for everyone to have a luxury yacht, capable of sailing the oceans of life in comfort and with the knowledge that the ship can weather even the strongest of emotional storms, without the need to fall back on the use of alcohol and drugs to drown their feelings. Recovered or cured alcoholics will tell you that it took many scary moments and much time until their ship could find the haven of safe docking in a snug harbor.
It must also be remembered that alcoholism is a fatal disease and many are lost at sea without ever having learned that there was hope of recovery. Many are able to see a faith glimmer of hope from the lighthouse, but the noise of the storm, (the mental compulsion of the disease that clouds the thinking), prevents them from hearing the bell of the safety buoy, and the height of the waves, (the physical obsession of the disease that produces a craving that cannot be denied), prevents them from seeing the life line that has been thrown in front of them. Hopefully they will not have died in vain and that their story may help those who seek help.
Weathering the emotional storms of life is what normal, sane people do and it is the goal of every addicted person to learn how to emotionally grow to the point where life can be lived on life’s terms, just like normal people do. Life is a two person vessel that is sailed with a soul mate. The disease of alcoholism wants the alcoholic to be alone, push away anyone who loves them and to kill themselves. Many an alcoholic identifies with the feeling of loneliness, having been in a crowded bar, a crowded reception and feeling that they were totally alone and unwanted. The alcoholic rarely feels the love of others and cannot show true love towards others. I will love you only if you bring me another drink, or if you stop complaining about my drinking. Loneliness does not know love.
Left alone, the alcoholic will die.
However, before an alcoholic can find a soul mate the alcoholic must first learn to love themselves. In the rooms of AA the credo is that the recovered will love the alcoholic, until they learn to love themselves. Self esteem has been ruined by drinking and drugging and recovery begins with the return of self esteem. The paradox is that the ego must be smashed before self can be identified. It takes much introspective soul searching and a great amount of validation from another individual before an alcoholic can determine if he is coming or going in the direction of sanity. The moral compass of the alcoholic has been lost, abused and misused and to restore the compass to working order often requires additional professional guidance or therapy. To continue the analogy, the drunk has been adrift on the sea of life, going in small circles, with a compass that is defective, with no safe port in sight and the probable destination is jails, institutions or death.
Teacher, preacher, priest, therapist, sponsor, medicine man or any other person must be attached at the hip if the alcoholic wants to survive early recovery. There is a daily need to validate the alcoholics program of abstinence and emotional growth. The alcoholic must maintain a constant vigil to assure that old habits and behaviors are not revisited.
In AA the term “stinking thinking” is used to refer to those selfish, self centered, egotistical and arrogant thoughts that once supported the alcoholic’s justifications for drinking alcoholically.
Remember, drinking alcoholically is not how often a person drank or how much a person consumed; it is the act of a person drinking enough to change their emotional behaviors. If one drink made her want to dance on the table top and to takeoff all of her clothes, she was drinking alcoholically. If it took two drinks to turn Dr, Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, and he only drank during a full moon, he was drinking alcoholically. The notion that an alcoholic refers only to the person who lives under the bridge and drinks cheap wine from a paper bag covered bottle is a total misperception. From Yale to jail, from penthouse to outhouse, alcoholics will show up everywhere as a part of the estimated ten percent of the worlds population that are predisposed to alcoholism and addiction.
As uncomfortable as it is, the alcoholic must learn to express feelings in a sane manner. Sharing these feelings with another human being validates the alcoholic’s right to have feelings and that it is healthy for them to have them expressed. Feelings that are stuffed inside, pent up, and not expressed will give cause for the alcoholic to relapse.
If the individual thinks every day, they need to go to a meeting every day. A some point the program of recovery is no longer about drinking and drugging, it become a program for living. Drinking and drugging are but symptoms of the disease. The cause or the result of the disease is an emotional breakdown that can be cured.
People who recover from addictive emotional behaviors consider themselves miracles and miracles must be witnessed to be validated. It takes two to tango. When the addict/alcoholic is restored to sanity, and has learned to love themselves, their soul mate will appear. It may be a spouse or a former relationship that will bloom anew in the realm of a sane world, or there may be a need to move on and find a new healthy person who knows the love and happiness of sharing a miracle.
A healthy relationship requires two healthy people.