Alcoholism is a Lifelong Disease
anonymous Asks ...
Can a person who was an alcoholic learn to drink in moderation ever again? My brother went through a real rough time with drinking and Dui's and even arrests for drunk and disorderly for a long time. He was sober for about 5 years but I went over yesterday and saw him drinking beer. He says now he can have a couple per day and leave it at that and that he has been doing this for the past year and that it is no problem. Should I be worried and tell the rest of the family that he is back at it or is what he is saying possible? It will be a big deal if I get everyone excited about this again so I don't want to do it if it is not necessary.
Florence Cameron Says ...
I'm at a disadvantage not knowing your brother's age, how long he had been drinking, what it took for him to stop drinking for the five years you stated he had been sober and the time and triggers that made him begin drinking again. I would like to think that you have been reading the threads from choosehelp.com on alcoholism and addiction and have discovered that alcoholism is a progressive disease with no cure. If you had you would also know how denial plays a huge part in both the alcoholic, and in the family that wants to believe that the addicted person hasn't slipped back into the old habitual patterns, and coping methods that was familiar to them when they began the process of addiction. If not I would invite you to go back and read the articles on addiction and alcoholism and arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can.
It is at this point I'd like to ask you dear sister, are you your brother's keeper? Is it up to you to begin the winds of the storm in the family. It appears that your brother is an adult now and is making life choices on his own and not taking into consideration the effect that his drinking had/has on his family. My advice would be for you and perhaps your family to seek assistance in Al-A-Anon, if you don't want to include your family at this time then garner the knowledge for yourself to part on your family when the time comes. It is time that you give your brother back his disease. This doesn't mean you stop loving him but it does mean that you stop letting him affect you in the negative ways that caused you pain and worry in the years prior to him getting sober. You can certainly tell him you're concerned and that you will help him if you are indeed available and want to, but please know dear, that you cannot change someone unless they want to be changed. I'm guessing that your brother is not part of the recovery community, or in touch with his sponsor, and attending meetings. The program only works, if one works it. There are excellent treatment programs your brother can enter to get him back on track. However, with his remark, that he "can have a couple and leave it at that" tells me that your brother still holds the notion that he can control this disease.
It appears to me that you have a gut feeling and I would invite you to trust that feeling. I would venture to guess that finding him drinking probably sealed some doubts of your own. Your question, "should you alert the family"? Only you can answer that. What you can do after a few mettings in Al-A-Non is share your knowledge with your family in the event 'anything' were to happen, and perhaps asking your family to join you so that they too can learn to distance themselves from the chaos and drama that ensues when someone chooses to go back into that lifestyle. I hope I have been helpful and also hope that you and your family find peace in the situation and through Al-A-Non.