THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Roller Coaster Relationship With An Alcoholic/Addict - When Do You Get Off The Ride? Part 2

My last blog explored the beginning actions that one may encounter when involved in a relationship with a prospective alcoholic/addict or one in their addiction. Look at phases 3 through 6 and see if you've already had these experiences or are continuing to struggle with this "Roller Coaster" ride.

Phase 3 - The situation has become more untenable or out of control, and the prospective alcoholic/addicts' actions are now interfering with your day to day responsibilities and routine. Financial and/or legal ramifications may now be part of the landscape. Too much money spent "partying" or even a D.U.I. (Driving under the Influence). You are now frightened and voicing stronger opinions and concerns, not only for the prospective/alcoholic addict but the ramifications that befall others as well.

The prospective alcoholic/addict reaffirms that his or her behavior has caused some problems and promises to "right the wrong" and even realize that they can no longer play the "it's your entire fault" card.

The alcoholic/addict is once again genuinely sorry for their actions and PROMISES that they will take the necessary steps to fix the problem. You are hopeful with trepidation, but have no choice but to believe that now things will be different, as he/she is actually frightened and has every intention of making good on their commitment.

If they are making good on their commitment, try not to be so anxious for success, looking for any crumbs of encouraging behavior. Be careful not to ignore the same warning signs that brought about your initial wake-up call because you are so desperate for better days. Be hopeful with a positive attitude, but don't bury your head in the sand either.
Please don't get me wrong; there are some people that become clean and sober with their first or second commitment to sobriety and stay that way. Unfortunately, the majority of alcoholic/addicts aren't that successful and relapse occurs all too often.

Phase 4 - The commitment made in phase 3 is losing momentum and the substance abuse is starting to creep back into their life as well as yours. The drinking or drug use has turned excessive and the behavior is producing definitive mood swings, anger or even domestic violence. More DUI's, cases of being drunk and disorderly in public or getting busted with narcotics are incidents just waiting to happen if they haven't already. Bad choices equal bad outcomes; out of control behavior and irresponsible actions are beginning to accumulate into substantial wreckage, and it's all starting to pile up higher and higher.

A 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or a rehabilitation program is becoming imperative. This revelation could be just what the alcoholic/addict has needed or been subconsciously waiting for. A very strong reality check dictates that their world is closing in on them and an honest recovery program is their only chance at survival.

You are at the end of your rope. Your patience is worn thin and you can see the physical and emotional toll you're loved one's substance abuse has permeated to you and possibly other family members as well. They profess their need for treatment and that this time it will be different because he or she doesn't want to lose you or their family. Though both angry and scared, you know that you are not ready to cut the cord, so you acquiesce to yet another try.

After a bit of time, your loved one is starting to exhibit a true commitment to a recovery program. You start to relax more and show interest as your loved one talks about the gift of sobriety and learning tore-enter society as a clean and sober individual. Maybe they have embraced a spiritual program or returned to an organized religion for an added boost which gives you comfort and security.
Your relationship is getting stronger, communication better and trust starts to be re-built. Each day that your loved one is exhibiting and living a clean and sober life-style is another day that you feel truly hopeful.

Phase 5
- Regardless of what kind of rehabilitation program your loved one is in, somewhere along the way their sobriety will be tested, and relapse triggers can rear their ugly head at anytime no matter how confident anyone's commitment to sobriety is.
Thinking they have a strong handle on their clean and sober lifestyle, the alcoholic/addict may start to take it for granted. They may attend fewer 12 step meetings, cancel therapy sessions and think "they've got it", and don't need to work so hard. Complacency about working a clean and sober program on a daily basis often leads the recovering alcoholic/addict back into old habits.

This complacency can have them believing that they understand their disease and know how to deal with it; cautiously and safely. They convince themselves that they won't make the same mistakes again and have learned how to avoid the trouble their addiction has gotten them into. Instead of committing to the hard, cold fact that they can never again form an alliance with their "drug of choice", they try to convince themselves (and you) that if they practice moderation the alcohol or illegal substance can be welcomed back into their life. A beer now and then or a line or two of cocaine on the weekends can't hurt... "Trust me", I know my limits now" they say.
You are nervous, and rightly so. You now know enough about addiction to realize that a controlled plan is impossible. Anyway, chances are that has already been tried before with no success. You even find yourself asking "why...when things were going so well?" The answer comes from a place called addiction.

For the alcoholic/addict, they can't help but remember the good times. And no matter how rewarding or stable things are while living a clean and sober lifestyle, they are convinced that they can handle their substance with moderation and still maintain an honest lifestyle.
You feel stuck. Do you threaten to leave your mate if they don't stay on a clean and sober path? Chances are that you wait and hold your breath. Maybe you have your own plan in place in the event of old out of control behavior surfaces or maybe you are so exhausted, so emotionally frayed that you just hope they come to their senses and stay on the course of sobriety.

Phase 6 - The alcoholic/addict has unfortunately returned to his or her full-blown addiction. Whether it has been days, weeks or months, this chapter of sobriety is over. Hopefully, you have had enough of bumping along the bottom with broken promises and unfulfilled commitments that you are now strong enough to take care of yourself and your needs and maybe your families as well. The thought of once again going through the lying and cheating of the old days is too much to comprehend. With great sadness and trepidation you may choose to give them their walking papers, to let them decide on their own if they wish to live clean and sober or a drug/alcohol infested life. Of course, you hope and pray that they will find their way back to a healthy, clean and sober existence. Then and only then can you welcome them back into your life.

If I can be of service to you or your family, please e-mail me at Carole@familyrecoverysolution.com or go to http://familyrecoverysolutions.com/free_one_hour_session.html