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Is anyone willing to try and explain alcoholism/ alcoholic behaviour to me?

(70 Posts)
alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 17:09:23

Are there any recovered alcoholics or those with greater understanding than me, that could help?
Am still really struggling though I left abusive ex months ago. (I've written several threads). I attend Al Anon 3 - 4 times a week.
However there is so much I do not understand. (in meetings, you can't ask questions or 'cross talk' ie there are no two way or more, conversations.. you just share your own experience - and I understand so little so get frustrated at times just being told to 'detach and accept')
I keep thinking that part of my own Recovery would be to understand alcoholic behaviour better.
If I google this subject I get such conflicting views.
I want to know what causes abusive behaviour in alcoholics. To me it's not the simple answer of 'well, ummm,alcohol?!!' As there are alchoholics who are NOT abusive. I've spent a lot of time in the past with ones that aren't abusive, and didn't cause many problems (except to their own health).
Is it alcoholic that makes the person abusive or is the abuse already there in their nature but the booze brings it out? Then why not in everyone?
Is it how alcohol affects brain chemistry? how does this happen on a physical level? Al Anon tell me it's such a spiritual level but I need to know the scientific facts here. I know when I drink(which is rare) I can get sad, maudlin, perhaps a bit paranoid.. sometimes happy.. then tired.. but never aggressive in any way.
Does an alcoholic actually MEAN the terrible things they say/ do? eg if my ex calls me 'an adulterous whore who deserves to die' (he always accused me of having affairs..his ex wife did have many and he does often get us mixed up when he's on his benders).. does he really, truly believe that at the moment he says it? He really wants me dead (eg 'I'm praying for your death' is one he frequently wheeled out. How can someone say they love me more than anyone in the world then say that at the most random times? even when we've been getting on well? He would say it out of the blue so often.. like a switch had gone off in his head..even if we'd managed a rare nice day together) Or is he just saying for maximum effect? It's so hard for me to hear things like this from a once so loving man.
At Al Anon they say it's a disease and so abusive words and violence are part of that disease.
But then i meet people with alcoholic partners, and their partners are quite gentle..even loving at times...(basically just pitiful cases who'd never harm a fly) and never aggressive.... and what of abusive people who never touch drink, drugs? (my own father was very violent..but no drink or drugs involved..he was a policeman and then a fireman, very much against those things) So why do AA and Al Anon give alcoholics the accuse of the disease? Cancer is a disease but it doesn't make people violent.
It is all so hard to get my head around. I know it would kind of help me if I thought my ex didn't actually mean those things (though i'd never go back, even if he stayed sober). When he's drunk, ranting and threatening, is that the true him? Has drink brought out his real nature? Or is the sober man (the man I knew for three years before he picked up the cider again) the real man? (there were still alcoholic traits there, but I didn't realise they were part of an illness.. I knew nothing about it except he was a 'recovered' alcoholic. The only alcoholics i'd met in the past had been jolly, fun, generous etc with no aggression).
At Al Anon they say the disease is hereditory and in the DNA. Therefore does that mean even the innocent child who has never drunk, is still an alcoholic? Just waiting for that bomb to go off once they get their first sip?
And what about the lies and obsessive behaviour? I can understand how alcoholics lie and disguise their drinking... my ex often did, but not always . Sometimes he was very defiant and open about it, and called anyone who mentioned it, a bully.. but what about the other obsessive behaviour made worse by drinking? eg stalking, accusing of affairs etc.. as my ex did and still does with me. Is that already in their nature and alcoholic exaggerates it? or would they be that bad without the drink? Is it a need to control because they know they are out of control in other ways eg the drink? so they try to control the partner? And put all their focus on that?

SolidGoldBrass Sat 28-Dec-13 17:16:56

AA and all twelve-step programmes are based on superstition, not science, and that is why you will not be able to get a straight answer from them. 12-step also has a very high failure rate - it 'works' for some people but what is actually 'working' is that the addict/alcoholic has reached the point where that individual person has chosen to stop drinking/using drugs. The most useful thing about these programmes is that they give people who want to stop drinking some new, teetotal friends to hang out with.

TBH, though, there isn't really a single answer as to what makes one person an alcoholic and another someone who likes a drink but isn't bothered if no booze is available. And some people are quite simply arseholes and would be whether or not they drank too much. (And some people on 12-step programmes are still horrible, aggressive arseholes, only now they have stopped drinking they are selfrighteous arseholes).

There's nothing you can do with an arsehole of a person except walk away. Best of luck.

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 17:24:40

yes i walked away. things are terrible right now. as i was writing this he rang here from a number he's not blocked on (I've stayed at my parents since leaving) and this is the third time in the last few days. They will not block him from other numbers (only his landline..they have to pay for this) and wont get caller display so please dont ask me to suggest it any more..it falls on deaf ears. They have just gone completely beserk saying it's all my fault. And blaming me for my father's recent heart attack (even though he was at the other side of the world at the time)

CogitoMerrilyOnHigh Sat 28-Dec-13 17:36:41

Having lived with an alcoholic from a family of alcoholics I can only give you my take on some of your questions but I'll take a shot

Is it alcoholic that makes the person abusive or is the abuse already there in their nature but the booze brings it out? Then why not in everyone?

I believe the 'chemistry' of alcohol (the same as other narcotic/anaesthetic drugs) is that it binds to receptors in the brain and central nervous system. It reduces inhibitions, impairs judgement, impairs motor skills and damps down a lot of the restrictions on behaviour that we've either learned or had imposed. So the reaction is as individual as the person themselves but (IME) an exaggeration of their personality rather than something completely alien. The depressive/introvert is a maudlin drunk. The extrovert is an amorous/silly drunk. The resentful/angry/offensive person is an abusive drunk. etc.

Do they mean what they say? Largely IME yes. It's the things they wouldn't say sober. Again, exaggerated and with no restrictions in play. It's the same person, just without a conscience or any consideration for others.

'Disease' is just a generic term for any mental or physical affliction. Alcoholics ... and again this is my observation.... often have an addictive streak. When they're not drinking to excess, they're often doing something else to excess.... smoking, gambling, obsessive hobbies, overworking, etc I think that's the 'disease' part if you like i.e. an inability to self-regulate. However, just because there's an inbuilt tendency, it's no excuse for crappy behaviour. The alcoholic still has choices. In the family I'm most familiar with, at least two members opted to be teetotal (successfully) rather than risk following the others down the same slippery slope

TurdOfTurdHall Sat 28-Dec-13 17:49:20

It sounds like his past /lifestyle choices have resulted in problems with alcohol and this has manifested itself as anger with the world at large.likewise his alcohol abuse is wrecking his life present and future.It goes without saying that he must have very little in the way of self-esteem (not your problem now btw), which often manifests itself in angry/ abusive behaviour both internally and externally. You just happened to be in the firing line by sticking with him.
Forget the reasons why. They were not aimed at you. They were aimed at himself. Stay away and he will hopefully bugger off and get some help.

You sound lovely so take care yourself.

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 17:51:48

my parents are going nuts. i'm going to have to go to a friends now jus because they are taking it out on me. i can't help him ringing from unblocked numbers

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 17:54:22

thankyou Cogito. that kind of makes sense. addictive obsessive personality even when he was sober for years. Addicted to energy drinks. Mega hyper (without the red bull!) often up for nights on end. Took speed etc. Would save up prescription drugs and take all at once. About 40k in debt .. could never control a penny of his money. took all mine. Very controlling and possessive..which then turned into total madness once drinking again

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 17:56:36

he was like this in his marriage too.. he was an alcoholic from his teens actually (when i was still a child.. 14 yr age gap) yet still he blames me for his drinking... yet i specifically know what triggered him to drinking again, and it was bugger all to do with me...in fact it was a positive time for him, but he couldnt handle a bit of mild stress... those all around him were drinking..he had one taste and boom! :-( first time in 6 years. My loving man went and a monster appeared

monkeynuts123 Sat 28-Dec-13 18:03:49

You only need to know three things

1. An alcoholic only cares about alcohol, they don't care about you.
2. They will drag you down with them, you will not recover them.
3. Leave as soon as you can get out.

Squeegle Sat 28-Dec-13 18:05:49

I think Cogito is spot on. I'm no doctor, I just have practical experience of one alcoholic family and one member in particular.

I think that some people have personality traits, or are damaged from a young age; this is what causes them pain internally. Some of these people use alcohol as a prop; and because of the way alcohol works, these people's behaviour is exaggerated when drunk.

I am pretty sure that separately to this there is a biological tendency to react to alcohol in a way that can become an addiction. I have seen the way that alcoholics react completely differently to alcohol than "normies". This makes me feel that I need to warn my children to be careful of this tendency.

My own alcoholic has given up alcohol for 3 years now. He's my ex now. He is still moody and definitely has controlling and abusive tendencies. These don't go away without a hell of a lot of work as far as I can see. However, he is not so irrational, twisted and downright manipulative now that the alcohol has been removed from the equation.

Unfortunately though, removing alcohol does not remove the personality imbalance that causes the abusive behaviour. Mind you, it's a start!

Squeegle Sat 28-Dec-13 18:07:57

Agree also there is nothing you can do to change things apart from leave him to it. Save yourself and let him do the same!

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:09:11

i am used to him being like this. but i can't bear the things my parents are saying to me right now. :-(

wallypops Sat 28-Dec-13 18:09:15

Thanks Cogito - a beam of light shining here too. My ex is an alcoholic - not your everyday variety - but if he has a sip there is no turning back until its finished. Also a gambler & smoker - so strong addictive streak.

I agree that you have to believe what they are saying when they are drunk - if you can make head or tails of it - its the unfiltered version of themselves. I would say to anyone that is with an abusive drunk - run for the hills you cannot help them but they might well kill you (emotionally at the least).

I don't know if it was the alcohol or the emotional abuse, but basically everything he accused me of was what he was actually doing - the affair, the behaviour, the lying everything.

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:09:31

and i feel so guilty. they didnt ask for all this stress. but nor did i. but he's my ex not theirs..

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:10:47

really, Wally? Because that's true..all he accused me of...he was lying, he was trying to have affairs with numerous women inc another alcoholic..

goinggreyagain Sat 28-Dec-13 18:17:09

OP in your one post you mentioned when he was sober he was using other medication so in essence he was not sober just had changed is drug of choice.
You seem to want an understanding of the disease of addiction which is good but it truly is hard to get your head around as it goes against all logic.
Are there AA and or NA meetings close to you ? most groups have open meetings in their schedules. It may be helpful for you to go to one of these.

goinggreyagain Sat 28-Dec-13 18:20:07

Sorry hit post too soon. Going to an open meeting may be helpful for you in that it will give you a better understanding that you did not cause any of this and the only way you can help him is by protecting yourself.

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:20:57

is it common for them to fixate and obsess on things to the point of pure madness? It's a bizarre trait in my ex. His obsession is adultery. I was never married yet it's his favourite word for me (adulteress). He goes far beyond this to the point of severly abnormal. He likes to try and 'out' people. He tries to find out who's cheating, even facebook friends he's not met, so he can in his words, undo them. I think it all stems from when his wife cheated on him many times. He then publicly broadcasts this on FB etc (ie the cheats).. (i'm surprised he's still alive really! though I do know someone out to get him) It sounds so weird to be writing this. But it's like a hobby of his.
For example..I have an ex (I'll call him Paul for sakes of confusion), from 11 years ago. He has met Paul once. Paul has done nothing to him and barely knows him. Anyway, my ex found out from a reliable source that Paul has had a few affairs in in his marriage. So my ex broadcast this over Facebook (and in other ways that i wont state as dont want to be outed...yes he actually named/ tagged him) and yes the wife did find out. Why did my ex do this? Because of his obsession that all adulterers should be outed. Even those who are nothing to him! He also thought it might get to me. Which is weird. Because I've not seen Paul in about 5 years and we are not friends.. just merely facebook acquaintances these days. My ex is so proud for having done this..
This is just one example of the complete and utter madness..and that he does carry out his threats

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:21:50

open meetings? do you mean going to AA not Al Anon, so i can hear an actual alcoholics point of view? can anyone go? just walk in?

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:22:25

yes true goinggrey. excessive amount of energy drinks.... abused prescription drugs.. even stole mine sometimes. and also speed and puff.

goinggreyagain Sat 28-Dec-13 18:22:55

OP do you have children with him ?

SolidGoldBrass Sat 28-Dec-13 18:24:48

Something to consider: It's possible that your parents are being unfair and unreasonable - do either of them have issues around alcohol? Or are they just the sort who believe that women exist for men's benefits and therefore think that you should suck up your husband's abuse? Because they are not helping you by refusing to block his number and then blaming you for the fact that he keeps phoning. BTW you can report him to the police for the phonecalls as harassment is not just about partners and ex-partners. Anyone who repeatedly makes phone calls to ANYONE who doesn't want contact is commiting a crime.

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:25:43

no and nor do we own property so in that way, no ties. Most of my possessions are in his flat. Please dont ask me to write them off :-( as i have sentimental irreplaceable stuff eg photographs. I got my pet out, he's in boarding. So it's just the possessions. But i guarantee when i've got my stuff he'll continue to harrass. He doesnt want to lose his link to me. And thinks he's justified to punish me for leaving him etc

SolidGoldBrass Sat 28-Dec-13 18:26:08

Oh, Xpost. Some people (whether or not they have alcohol issues) are obsessed with adultery. This is because they are arseholes. There is actually a clinical condition called 'morbid jealousy'. People like this should be dumped as fast as possibble.

alltoomuchrightnow Sat 28-Dec-13 18:27:10

My parents are very middle class and think alcohol is vulgar. They don't like hearing about booze, drugs etc although my father ws a policeman and he has also lost friends to alcoholism (hence he doesn't slam phone down on my ex and does talk to him at times.. my mother hates him and always screams and slams down phone)

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