Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hotline


I've been taking some of the calls coming into to our district Al-Anon Information Service. Thankfully, most of the calls are queries about when and where meetings occur. Occasionally though, there are calls that require something a bit more than a meeting list.

Last night, I talked for about an hour to a lady who was struggling with her addicted son. She told me the story of how her son had been in and out of rehab, had lost jobs, and was now in a mid-western city following a binge and subsequent loss of a new job. He had been calling her for two hours to ask her for money, to tell her he was hungry and on the streets, and to scream at her for not helping him. She said that the last straw was when he called his 18 year old daughter at her college to ask her to send him $100.

Today, I talked to another lady whose son is an alcoholic. She told me that he was highly functional with a good job. He has been living with her and his 14 year old daughter doesn't want to be around him anymore because he has become "mean". She corrected me when I called alcoholism a disease. She said that it's an addiction. She said that she didn't really think she needed help but her son did.

I've listened to people weep, rail and question why. The main message that I get is that these people want to "fix" their alcoholic/addict. They often aren't even aware of how badly they themselves are hurting. They don't understand the concept of being powerless. And they are in denial about their own problems resulting from someone else's alcoholism. I hope that they go to a meeting and that the message of the program will get through to them. That's all that I can do.

13 comments:

  1. Great post, and sad. You are so right, we can only fix ourselves. I consider myself fortunate that I'm open to fixing myself. Some people never get to that point; addicts and non-addicts alike.

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  2. I've come a long way from the fixer, still have a long way to go.
    You have to go through the crying and calling helplines in the middle of the night. It's a part of the stage of acceptance.But in order to help yourself and the rest of your family,you have to realize that will not change the situation.You have to get down to business with learning to help but not enable.

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  3. Dear Syd,
    In attempting to communicate with someone in pain (who is probably not likely to 'hear' what you have to say anyway) I found the best tack is to agree with them to try to help them, but in order to do this, they must learn to help themselves first. And, this, of course, is to study and learn the 12 steps, in order to 'be okay' with the help we need to provide. Good luck with this very challenging service.
    Anonymous #1

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  4. You know syd as a recovering alcoholic I look back and see all the pain I caused to all those around me, I carried on only wanting to feel good myself chemically, in the end isolating and loved nothing more than being on my own in the woods with a load of cannabis and super lager.
    Its a long had journey getting sober because the problems that caused you to hide from life have now to be dealt with but after 4 years now its a journey I am enjoying in the present.

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  5. Another good post. thanks.

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  6. of course they want to fix it. that's the base instinct, isn't it. yet sadly, the wrong route to follow. information and knowledge is the key. and of course, if the fixee doesn't want to acknowledge and be fixed, the fixer will remain stuck, in pain, and won't progress. it's a vicious circle, yet someone, at some time, just has to stop walking...

    i take my hat off to you for doing what you are. and you're so calm and together about it. i could imagine myself getting frustrated and would want to 'shake' someone, just so that they'd get it... hmmmm, patience still isn't my strong point i see...

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  7. It is hard stuff. My husband is on the hot line list and will get potential Al-Anoners calling. I will hear him say "you can not make him/her get help but you can get help for yourself." They don't listen and he just sticks to the same lines. What more can we all do? When they are ready they will know where to go.

    Have a wonderful day~

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  8. Sometimes it's hard to see any of your own problems because they all seem to stem from the alcoholic in your life... and you may feel like they would all be solved (or at least easier to focus on) if that problem wasn't there any more.

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  9. yea, that is true. I am glad you were there for them, and I hope something during your conversation with them may help them later on...
    have a good day SYD

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  10. Sometimes people only see thier own insanity when the alcoholic in thier life gets sober, and they, continue to be crazy, out of control, controlling etc. It took my recovered alcoholic brother years to gently nudge me to alanon. When the stress of being involved with an alcoholic finally brought me to my knees, all those years of gentle nudging paid off. I have found when talking to others who are in difficult straits, the best thing to do is listen first, then give examples of how my life has changed, or a particular behavior has changed, since I started to go to Alanon. That way, I honor them, and I don't try to fix them, only share what has worked for me. It has taken me a long long time to get to this place.

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  11. So funny you mentioned this, Syd. Today I was thinking that I am still thinking that I can fix Steve at times. I was daydreaming about shouting at him that he needs to get help.....like doing that would do any good at all. I thought, Tracey, you can't fix him. Stop thinking like that!

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  12. happy 4th of july! hmmm, a long weekend too, lucky guys you are...

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  13. Awesome! Your sharing is expanding!
    :)

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