Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

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?

Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Nancy C » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:55 pm

I have 27 years of sobriety without a slip. I have taken on a sponsee who is very smart; but, continues to relapse. She is very smart. Probably too smart! I had a great sponsor who taught me how to work the steps so I am trying to help this lady. We have gotten through Step 3 and getting ready to work on Step 4. But she relapsed again when out of town with her husband and had a grandchild in emergency room for three days. My thought is to go back to Step 1. When I first got sober I did a written 1st Step(answered questions on a form). It really help me to see my powerlessness and unmanageability. She needs to go to treatment but will not. I don't want to drop her; no one else will sponsor her because she is a hard case. What does the forum recommend? She is about 62, newly remarried and dedicated to her children(they are older) and her husband. When she relapses it is with a bottle of Vodka.

Will appreciate your input.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Lali » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:25 pm

Hello, Nancy! The majority of people I know take their sponsees who slip back to step one. Apparently she didn't get it the first time. What does your sponsor say (if she is still around)?

I'm sure you will get some other responses; however, the boards are often quiet on weekends.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Layne » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:27 pm

People like you are a huge part of the reason I am sober today. I was fortunate enough to have people in my life that never gave up on me when I appeared to be a lost cause. Keep living the responsibility declaration, the program, and sharing what you know with her. The rest is up to her.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Tosh » Sun Oct 23, 2016 12:50 am

In circumstances like this, if they still have the desire to stop drinking and wish to carry on with the program, I start with the Step 3 prayer and give them paper for an inventory. And I'll always ask sponsees to find somewhere special and say the Step 3 prayer again, when they're alone, and flipping well 'mean it' this time. :lol:

I do this becaue they've relapsed; they know at a heart level that they're powerless over alcohol. I can't see why giving them a better intellectual knowledge about Step 1 will help. Step 1 really is about 'knowledge'; understanding how I am powerless over alcohol. The Big Book says knowledge of this nature (self-knowledge) won't keep us sober; it really stresses this point. We can't stay sober by fear either. Fear generally wears off, or pushes us towards, a drink.

So it's Step 3 after a relapse (as long as I've taken them through the early parts of the Big Book prior) and straight into inventory and the rest of the program.

In the Joe McQ book called Sponsorship he writes about 'keeping your sponsees moving [through the steps]'.

The opening of Chapter 7 is telling too:

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.


Even if someone I sponsor hasn't had that 'spiritual awakening as a result of the steps' yet, because they're new, I'll encourage them to greet newcomers with a warm heart, to offer them lifts to meetings (if they have a car) and to generally just be a kind and decent human being; even if they don't feel that way.

I may not have been able to articulate it as well as the Big Book, but I knew I was powerless over alcohol without having someone explain to me every little nuance of what that really meant. I think the solution is more weighted in the 12th Step than the 1st Step.

Personally, I think we as a fellowship put too much emphasis on the first three steps to the detriment of the later steps, where the solution is really found.

Anyway, I've probably upset a bunch of people; apologies; those are just my thoughts and you're welcome to disregard or call them stupid. :lol:

Regards

Tosh
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:01 am

She has to realize, if she has an alcoholic mind, she is going to come up with some stupid excuse to drink. Thats because of the warped mind. You could help her see where she hits the blind spot, every time she relapses. Go back to the recent event and ask her the surroundings/situation where her mind said, its ok this time. You may get a clue. Some may never see the insanity, hopefully you are prepared to handle it.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Tosh » Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:13 am

avaneesh912 wrote:She has to realize, if she has an alcoholic mind, she is going to come up with some stupid excuse to drink. Thats because of the warped mind. You could help her see where she hits the blind spot, every time she relapses. Go back to the recent event and ask her the surroundings/situation where her mind said, its ok this time. You may get a clue. Some may never see the insanity, hopefully you are prepared to handle it.


Helping her in this way may help her with some self-awareness about her condition; i.e. it will give her some self-knowledge, but as the Big Book points out:

"I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots."

Alcoholism isn't rational; when I was sober and desperate to drink I wasn't in a rational state of mind.

Therefore no amount of reason was going to get me out of that hole.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby clouds » Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:15 am

I take chronic slippers back to the a. b. and c. then immediately read the Step Three section and then the Step three prayer.

My own experience was that before I called AA for the first time I already knew that I was hopelessly powerless against alcohol, that my life was unmanageable. I came to AA to learn how to stay sober.

I've seen chronic slippers eventually get it. Patience. Its our part to keep doing service, leaving the results to God.

Best wishes, its sometimes hard to understand why a certain person just doesn't seem to be getting it. I find a lot of release from self pity and feelings of uselessness by working with others. So even if I'm not the one who has the right answers for that paricular alcoholic, just guiding them to the AA principles and doing the best I can to carry the message has a lot of benefits.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby ezdzit247 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:20 pm

Hi Nancy

I was a chronic relapser for almost two years after I first sought AA's help for my drinking problem. At that point in time, I didn't know why I kept picking up that first drink again. I doubt the woman you are trying to help has any idea why she keeps relapsing either but from what you've written about her, it sounds like she recognizes that she does have a drinking problem and that she does want to be sober or she wouldn't keep coming back. I really like what old timer Nancy O. wrote in her Grapevine article about working with relapsers:

"A twenty-four-hour program

When I was about seven years sober, I started doing Twelfth Step work with alcoholics who were in relapse, and I did this exclusively for the next seven years. The first question I would ask someone was, "Were you on the twenty-four-hour program?" I never got a yes. You work differently with relapsers; they've been around AA, they know people, they know open meetings, they know closed meetings, they know names. Sometimes they're well-known because they used to do a lot of Twelfth Step work themselves. When I was living in Westchester, I'd pick people up and take them into Manhattan to one of the big meetings. This was 1951 or later. I'd say, "We're going to sit in the back; never mind the speaker, just look around the room and tell yourself that all these people are getting sober. They don't know me, they've never seen me before in their lives, they're just getting sober the way I am. And if I practice the AA program, I'll get sober too." I would never talk about anything except getting re-established as a member of A.A. that and the twenty-four-hour program -- and so I was forced to practice it...."


What Nancy O. seemed to know "intuitively" through gaining insight into her own drinking problem is what relapsers needed first and foremost was hope that they were not different from any other alcoholic in AA and a simple method, a way to go, which would help them put the plug in the jug and keep it there. Is your sponsee on the 24 hour plan?
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Nancy C » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:36 pm

Lali wrote:Hello, Nancy! The majority of people I know take their sponsees who slip back to step one. Apparently she didn't get it the first time. What does your sponsor say (if she is still around)?

I hope you get some other responses. Unfortunately, the boards are often quiet on weekends.



Thanks! That's what I did. Gave her a First Step form to fill out so we could discuss. She had just finished Step 3. But I am so Happy! She agreed to go to treatment which is what she needs. Don't know if she did the First Step work. I just pray she goes through treatment and stays sober.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Nancy C » Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Thank you everybody! You are so helpful! Good news! She told me today that she is going into treatment for alcoholism! I really think that is what she should do and had suggested it several times. I did send her back to Step 1 via written form. Don't know if she did it. Doesn't matter now. She drank because she is an alcoholic who hasn't had a spiritual awakening. I pray treatment will guide her there and that she continues the program upon return.

I had taken through Step 3 then she slipped. I was ready to take her to Step 4. I use the Joe and Charley Form for Step 4 and find it works well. My sponsor has dementia and my current sponsor is not as step-oriented as I am. But we do communicate well.

Thanks Tosh for this: "I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots." It really does apply in this case!
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Tosh » Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:22 pm

Thanks, Nancy, I hope she does okay too. My suggestion is to try to keep in communication with her (difficult in treatment) and grab her as soon as she gets out.

All I do is follow the suggestions in the Big Book; we treat them as instructions and when we come to a bit that requires action, we do the action.

How does that look? Well when we get to Chapter 5, we do the a, b, and c, say the 3rd Step prayer, and straight away I show them how to do an inventory. No-one I sponsor has ever done a 3rd Step prayer without it being IMMEDIATELY followed with me getting my 4th Step out and showing them how to do one.

After I show them, we set a mutually acceptable date for a 5th Step; it helps focus the mind and prevent procrastination. Two-or-three weeks is more than enough time. If they're a chronic relapser it's one-or-two days.

I once took a chronic relapser through the first three steps on his first day sober (he was sweating like a sweaty thing), he spent the whole of his 2nd day sober on his 4th Step, and we did Steps 5 to 8 on this third day sober and discussed how he should approach his 9th Step. It worked. Within a fortnight he was back in contact with his son who he hadn't seen in over a decade. It was a wonderful experience for both of us.

I just trust the process and even now I'm like '"Wow; I know this stuff works for me, but you too?" :lol:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Nancy C » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:29 am

Tosh, I asked her to keep in touch and we will do the 4th Step inventory immediately when she returns. Am sure she will do it in treatment; but, the brain is foggy in early days of sobriety. We just didn't have time to go onto Step 4 at our last meeting. We ran out of her time. Then she went out of town with her husband. I am just so glad she is going through treatment. She needs that time away from family soaking in sobriety.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Blue Moon » Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:38 pm

Being in treatment is good, even our own literature says that medical help may be necessary to get physically separated from alcohol. If it happens again, maybe ask her what she wants.

When it comes to Step 1, I may ask the sponsee what they think it means. Many think it means we're just physically powerless to avoid getting drunk if we drink, not realising that it's more than that. But remember: Step 1 alone is a guarantee that the alcoholic will drink again. So if the individual is clear about what alcoholism is, and clear that the condition applies to them whether physically drunk or sober, then they've taken Step 1 and the problem lies with Step 3. An alcoholic hasn't really taken Step 3 until they pick up the pen for Step 4. Yes, some do have a propensity to keep taking back self-will, until the pain of doing so gets to be too much.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby D'oh » Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:00 pm

I left last night's meeting, kind of frustrated. There was low attendance but mostly due to a relative New Comer in her 4th month. Her share was that she has been going it alone, working through meetings and venting. 2 meetings a week and home to her dogs. Reading books and trying to relate.

I felt for her, how I would have never have made it without Sponsorship, and help through the Steps from the Big Book. The ability to call anytime, and lots and lots of coffee times.
Guided through them the way he was guided through them.

Then I remembered on the drive home of the saying "Bring the body and the mind will follow" so no matter How Hard I want to shake someone and say "There is an easier way, that is called Alcoholics Anonymous" that some have to go at their own pace. They are still at the right place.
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Re: Sponsee has history of relapses and still drinking

Postby Nancy C » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:16 pm

Her husband called me and said she was doing well in Treatment. Will be out Nov. 30th. She has not contacted me yet; but, hope to hear from me soon. Appreciate everyone's thoughtful responses and experience.

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