Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Most of us who recovered with AA's program did so with the help of a "sponsor". But what is sponsorship? How do I get one? Who can be a sponsor? What makes a good sponsor?

Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Larryp713 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:00 am

Hi all - Larry, alcoholic. My new sponsee is a young fellow I've known for awhile, since I returned to AA and really started working the steps about 16 moths ago. I love this guy and want to see him receive the same benefits of recovery that I have had, but he is struggling mightily. He asked me to be his sponsor about two weeks ago after another relapse, and it felt like he was making some progress. My son helped him get a job where he works, and after the first night there, my sponsee relapsed. He texted me earlier and told me he wanted to drink, that he had been praying. I asked him to call me after his shift ended and I would take him out for a milkshake and talk about it. He never called. That was two nights ago and I have not been able to speak with him since. I did receive a couple of texts, but he won't call. His wife, who is also in the program, confirmed my suspicions and has moved out of their apartment. He told me earlier that they had received an eviction notice and he needed a job very badly. This job seemed to be an answer to his prayers, and yet after the first night, he was off again.

I struggled with being honest and willing when I was young, and it took me a long time to get sufficiently desperate to surrender to a higher power. I have prayed to have the right spirit and tone if/when I do get to talk to him again. First, there is a big difference between having a sincere desire to stop drinking/using and a wish to be free from the negative consequences from drinking. I don't think I would have had the proper level of willingness to work this program without finally developing a true desire to stop drinking once and for all. I think my sponsee is still in that stage; he doesn't like the consequences, but really wants to keep drinking and using.

Is it possible that he has a sincere desire to stop drinking but lacks the capacity to take care of himself right now? Does he need some longer period of physical removal from the opportunity to drink? I would like to hear others' experience with this type of situation.

And, as a disclaimer, I understand that it is his recovery, not mine. Working with him helps me stay sober whether or not he stays sober. I am not trying to be captain AA, or a recovery counselor, I just want to be open-minded to his situation and let him know he is not alone, no matter what his struggles are. Thanks for any experience and feedback - Larry
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Tom S » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:40 am

...I have no solutions, only empathy.
And the 12 & 12, has the wonderful words about " love and suffering being the great disciplinarians of AA".
My experience, so far, has shown me:
consulting with my sponsor and "the wise elders" has been useful,
remembering the sponsee belongs to themselves, the program and HP, not me has been helpful, and
maintaining "loving detachment" healthy.
I have also been gratified to see my sponsee "failures" return eventually to sobriety, with other sponsors.
Great opportunity for ego taming, this sponsorship arrangement.
Grateful for the gift.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Brock » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:47 am

I would just like to say that in my book you did everything anyone could ask for and then some, unfortunately he may be like others I have met, myself included, who just have to keep digging the hole even when we are offered a way out. I can't see doing anything, except letting him know that if and when he is ready you will try again.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Larryp713 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:17 pm

Thanks, Brock and Tom. Great guidance. I appreciate it.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Noels » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:18 pm

Hi Larry, sjoh, sorry to hear about this man. Its never pleasant to hear or see a fellow alcoholic struggle especially when we know there is a solution and you've already given him the opportunity by ways of a job to get out of the hell hole.
In this instance I must agree with Brock. Let him know you're there to help when he decided he's had enough pain and want to make a real effort at becoming sober. Then move on.
Unfortunately we cant help one who is not ready to help himself and perhaps it is not his time yet. Perhaps he needs to learn some more. The good thing here is that when he does make up his mind he already knows where to go and who to phone. Right now its out of your hands. Include him in your prayers and leave it up to his Higher Power to take it from there.
Have a blessed and peaceful evening and thank you for being available to help other suffering alcoholics still out there.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby ezdzit247 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:24 pm

Larryp713 wrote:....Is it possible that he has a sincere desire to stop drinking but lacks the capacity to take care of himself right now?


Yes. From what you've described, it sounds like he has post acute withdrawal symptoms and needs medical help asap.


Larryp713 wrote:....Does he need some longer period of physical removal from the opportunity to drink?


He needs medical help asap.

I was a chronic relapser for about two years after my first AA meeting. At that point in time, late 70's, very little was known about post acute withdrawal symptoms in the medical community and nothing at all in the AA community. Since that time, scientific studies of thousands of alcoholics has identified a set of common symptoms that present in chronic relapsers, more than enough to discount coincidence and indicate that a syndrome exists. It is generally referred to by its acronym "PAWS" in the medical community. Scientific studies indicate the severity of the symptoms as well as the duration after detox may vary among individual alcoholics, Some alcoholics have very mild symptoms which disappear after detox, but in some alcoholics the symptoms are more severe, especially mentally and emotionally and can become unbearable. Untreated, PAWS can lead to relapse, insanity or even suicide.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Larryp713 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:44 pm

Thanks, EZ. That is great information I did not know. My sponsee also suffers from bipolar disorder and is on medication, which might make his PAWS more acute. I am not sure, but I do think I will suggest he try to seek medical help or evaluation for this. I appreciate your experience on this,
Larry
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Spirit Flower » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:57 pm

Read the chapter "Working with Others" and pray about it.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Reborn » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:10 pm

Larryp713 wrote: Working with him helps me stay sober whether or not he stays sober. I am not trying to be captain AA, or a recovery counselor, I just want to be open-minded to his situation and let him know he is not alone, no matter what his struggles are. Thanks for any experience and feedback - Larry


I quoted this part of you share because its so important. I remember one of the first guys I attempted to sponsor relapsed after a few months. I felt like I had failed...my sponsor reminded me that I didn't fail because I was still sober and that I had planted a seed...if he ever came back he would know who to talk to. Well he came back almost 5 months later and is still sober today...made it through the steps and is helping others. Its important to remember that everything in God's world happens for a reason...stand ready...when he reaches out again you will be there. I also agree with EZ :roll: I had to go through detox and my withdrawal symptoms lasted quite a long time..,medical help was absolutely necessary for me...wouldn't have made it without the great doctors that cared for me.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Noels » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:18 pm

Good morning beautiful people :D now that I hear that he is bipolar it changes my previous post altogether. I now totally agree with EZ and reborn. Twelve years I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after many tremendous and difficult happenings in my life, the last of which pulled the carpet out from under me and left me broken inside. I needed medical assistance. If I didn't get it at that time I don't know if I would have made it.
Bipolar is a chemical imbalance in your brain which needs treatment. Whilst he is hospatilized for this he can be detoxed simultaneously. The day he is released is the day you start working with him but we can discuss this at a later stage. He will however need more understanding as you and him proceed on his journey as the medication will help. He will however need to learn how to read his body and trigger points very fast. Hopefully they will help him with that in hospital.
Bipolar and alcohol together is difficult for the person as you can't really treat bipolar properly whilst drinking but also quitting drinking whilst in mania is impossible.
As he has been unemployed he most probably hasn't been taking his meds and is currently going through the different " polls " within minutes - swinging from depression right up to mania and everything else inbetween. Right now we don't know what his mental state is like but it cant be good. He might be a danger to himself and possibly others depending on where he is on the " poll " right now. The fact that he has been attending meetings looking for help is very important. Swinging between the " polls " means it is not that he doesn't want to stop. He does want to stop at that moment but once he " moves around into the next poll "he is physically and mentally unable to do so. If he is in mania on the high level whatever he does feels right - he does not have the capacity to differentiate - it is a feeling of being " God himself ".
This is exceptionally serious - a life and death situation so
Please get him to a clinic or hospital immediately. NOT a rehab - a medical facility who can treat him for bipolar disorder and include lectures on both bipolar disorder AND alcohol addiction. It is essential he attended every discussion /lecture or meeting whilst there and STAY there for the full period - at least 3 weeks.
Please. You were chosen to help this man and your help can save his life. Act immediately.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Brock » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:27 am

I am sorry, but I believe some of us in our responses are putting an awful load on Larry's shoulders. He said he will suggest to the fellow that he seek medical advise, maybe he will advise a rehab, that's what we do. We are not doctors, let's be careful, especially diagnosing over the internet when the bipolar word came up, and putting this pressure on an AA member, who may not have the ability to find the medical assistance required.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby positrac » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:47 am

This is hard because it sounds like you want sobriety more than he does. All we can do is try and if it isn't going to work maybe they have to finish what they started and at best you've planted the seed. These are lessons to you as well because it is a reminder of how fragile we can become at any moment.

maybe not what you want to hear, although to thy own self be true.
You must live your life from beginning to end: No one else can do it for you.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Noels » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:11 am

Gents I appreciate what you are saying but if you are not bipolar or have lived with someone who is please rather stand aside. It is not my intention to put pressure on anyone. I have explained bipolar disorder very roughly in my previous post. That is roughly. The program of AA is " action " not " suggestions ". I have made it very clear that if this man have been off his meds for a while he could not have the capacity right now to make clear decisions. This is different to - do I want to drink or do I not want to drink. Combine that with the " unable to stop " when alcoholic and see what you get to - most probably not 1 plus 1 makes two. If you do get to that answer then you have no clue what bipolar is.
Being unemployed he probably does not have funds either. I don't know how it works on your side of the world but this side - no medical cover, no money - youre stuffed.
Larry has not crossed this man's path for nothing. I though you read my post yesterday where I said - no experience is a waste.
This type of advice from people who is constantly reminding us to be careful about what we say or post as it means the difference between life and death is in direct contradiction with what they preach.
Perhaps he is not in such a bad state but the fact that he is ignoring Larry's messages or rather only respond now and then to tell him he's fine tells me he is most probably at the bottom end - depression. He has been unemployed (don't know why or how long). has lost his wife, have been given a job = new opportunity and screwed that up. (in his mind for no reason whatsoever = just bad and cant do it). If that doesn't raise a red flag to anybody who knows this person personally then I don't know what will.
All Larry needs to do right now is to sit with him without panicking because if he is in depression (and drinking) he will possibly be going more towards harming himself than another and to get him to get admitted for treatment - the chat should concentrate on his bipolar and the fact that he probably hasn't been on his medication for a while.
Being bipolar doesn't mean crazy person. It means person in desperate need of assistance. First medically, then understanding the disease as most people refrain from taking their meds as soon as they feel better not realizing that it is because of their meds that they feel better and if they don't continue to use the meds they will go back to square one - kind of like alcohol - which part you should understand.
Try seeing it from the other side - if this man does indeed commit suicide and Larry finds out and didn't do anything he can to help him get to hospital how will Larry feel then?
At our meetings there are always a plaque that says " THINK ". I can not imagine that it is there for no reason whatsoever. Apply that.
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Brock » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:08 am

Gents I appreciate what you are saying but if you are not bipolar or have lived with someone who is please rather stand aside.

I did not see the need to explain before, we should not have to. I know bi-polar intimately, the girlfriend I had about thirty years ago, a very pretty lady whose name was Susan, took her life and yes I had tried to help, including attempting to make sure she stayed on the medication.
I don't know how it works on your side of the world but this side - no medical cover, no money - youre stuffed.

Just assume probably the same, this is an AA site we advise on AA matters, we help where we can, we don't I believe have any right to offer the kind of advise we are right now. The plaque that says 'think' is not there for the reason some people believe, maybe more like think before opening our mouth or typing letters, as positrac said -"All we can do is try and if it isn't going to work maybe they have to finish what they started and at best you've planted the seed."
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Re: Sponsoring the habitual relapser...

Postby Noels » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:20 am

I am not going to argue with you. I have said what I needed to say. Just one thing to consider - this man from what I understand IS AN ALCOHOLIC as well which in my eyes falls under AA. Just because he has a further dis-ease does not exclude him from AA. Perhaps you should utilize your own suggestion in the final paragraph.
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