Monday, November 30, 2009

Hopeless cases

I listened to a sponsee talk today about his frustration over the alcoholic in his life. After a stint in rehab, the loved one has started drinking again. He spent a few minutes reflecting on how angry he used to be but how now he is resigned that a fate of death will occur soon.

The sponsee talked about beginning to spiritually detach and move on. Yet, he still wonders whether there is any hope for this person who he doesn't want to see die. He asked me what he should do.

I know that there are "hopeless" cases. But I also know that the hopeless cases may decide that they need help. These are questions that I don't have answers to. I could give him the answer that I so often hear which is to detach with love, keep the focus on yourself, and move on with living your own life. Those are good answers but seemed somehow hollow today when faced with the horrors of an alcoholic death.

So I told him what I knew: That no amount of judging, condemning, and arguing would get an alcoholic to stop drinking. It didn't work for those years that I tried with my wife. In fact, my efforts to control her drinking only set up resentments, frustration, and more denial. As a non-alcoholic, my attempts to help an alcoholic actually did more harm than good.

But an alcoholic, who has a desire to stop drinking, will usually listen to another alcoholic. There is no judgment, no resentment, no fear but just plain straightforward information about what the disease will do. So I suggested that he contact the local AA intergroup and ask for a couple of AA members to make a 12th step call. It would be a couple of alcoholics talking to another who may be in dire enough straits to want to quit.

I knew from attending open AA meetings, listening to speakers, reading blogs, and being in Al-Anon that there are many called "hopeless" who have found recovery. I like what Fr. Wigmore wrote:

"The human ego has an almost infinite capacity to bypass reality. But life has its own ways of grinding us down and bringing us to the gates of a different reality. In the Big Book it is called the Great Reality – the 4th dimension of our own existence. It exists inside each of us and awaits our call. It provides hope for the hopeless. It always has and it always will. Rarely have we seen a person fail to find it who has experienced his own hopelessness and made the call."

I said that there is always hope.


  1. I hope your sponsee listens to you.jeNN

  2. Yes Syd, There is always hope. I received the gift of recovery, as can all others. I hope your sponsee makes it through, as I do his partner. You being there is a fine example of hope. Take care of yourself.

  3. There is definitely always hope. Sometimes it's really hard to find it, but it's always, always there!

  4. Your post today is so appropriate as the 1st candle of Advent was lit yesterday and the sermon was on Hope. I have seen the miracles and am one myself. There is always hope.


  5. Syd,
    You are a good sponsor and a good guy.



  6. I love that. Hope. That's the KEY thing in recovery for me. Hope works miracles.

  7. Meet at 7 AM??? Answer: NO...but I am hot on his trail. He has one more chance with me--before God decides he needs someone else. I DID get this morning a "returnee" and another (sober four years) who could become a very good friend also--so much honesty between us.

    Hope: In Big Book, Forward to First Edition--

    "We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly HOPELESS state of mind and body..."

    GREAT post Syd. There IS no hopelessness where God is concerned. And with me alone, there is only "powerlessness"!

  8. You gave him good advice. The truth is we're not ready until we've reached our bottom, and some of us never reach it, dying an alcoholic death. I'm an AA who was in a hopeless state of mind and body, and when I found that truth one day, I began my journey with Alcoholics Anonymous. I pray your sponsee's partner gets sick and tired before death takes her. Prayer and detachment are the only tools we have with active alcoholics. You're kindness was wise. And thank you for your kind comments on my blog. You are special to me.
    Have a blessed day,

  9. There are hopeless cases. I see those cases in the hospital. It is a very difficult concept to admit. But even in the hopeless cases, most everyone has one person who will keep the faith for them in their heart.

  10. By the time I quit drinking I could easily put away a 1/5th of what you were having, a bottle of wine and beers in between to get my throat "wet". I was in dire straits with a warning from a doctor of impending death from alcohol poisoning which was coming quicker each time.

    I am sober 22+ years. Do I have bad days? You bet. Am I hopeless? No. What broke me essentially is not only the friend who put it on the line but the doctor who bowed her head and offered me prayer. PRAYER.... I couldn't put alcoholism and jesus in the same sentence. I hit the shame bucket bottom.

    Tel them Syd when they ask, HOPE, PRAYER & a "call me if you need me" card must be present to work.

    What do they say.. try try try again til you succeed?!! If I counted how many times i've fallen on the way to standing today, It would be shocking.

  11. There is always hope and, in my experience, God's grace is boundless.

    Blessings and aloha...

  12. God, what a wonderful blog. Sounds like a very heartbreaking situation, yet - there is always hope. What good suggestions you gave. Your sponsees are very lucky to have you as a sponsor.

    Love and prayers to you Syd,

  13. "We can't hit the bottom until all the enablers get out of the way." Great advise Syd, and there is no such thing as a hopeless case. Blessings to you and your sponsee.

  14. This is one of the most incisive blogs that I've ever read. You told it exactly as it is, Syd. As an alcoholic with more than 20 years sobriety I can honestly say that I've seen miraculous recoveries but I agree that the enablers have to get out of the way...and that is so hard for the family. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a fellow AA member say in a meeting that "my family almost loved me to death"!
    I hope your sponsee took your advice and above all please tell him not to feel matter what the outcome.

  15. I believe that where there is life there is hope. I held on to that as my daughter was a "hopeless" case. As long as there is breath, there is the spirit of God in each of us.

  16. Everyone needs someone in their life to "tell them like it is". He found you-Obie One Kanobie. ;)

  17. This is the only blog I am going to read today... I need so badly to learn to detach with love. I'd go to Al-Anon but for the time, there simply isn't any. I sit here at my computer praying that this alcoholic find the courage to reach out and grab God's Grace. I pray that those around this person are able to give them what they need to get recovered, that this alcoholic is at last ready to surrender. And I pray in thanks for friends like you Syd. You're right, there is ALWAYS hope... ALWAYS.

  18. We must never lose hope, never give up on anybody. That I am alive and sober today is a miracle.

  19. :) Thank God for people who can reflect truth in hopelessness.

    I pray for those who still struggle, pray desperately for those who are so blind to the destruction to see light, to see the way of hope!

    Thanks for sharing this Syd!

  20. there IS always hope. i hope he follows your suggestions...

  21. I loved this post. Sounds like you are very much at peace.

  22. Hope keeps the flame alive... thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope your friend takes your wise advice.


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