Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

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Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby LauraWeare » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:19 am

I've been sober for 30 years. I share a house with a close friend who is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, and a teetotaler. He is 81 years old. He tells me that he once tried getting drunk to find out why his father and sister liked booze so much. He got a little relaxed, a little woozy, but didn’t see the point. I have never seen him take a drink; I have never seen him intoxicated. Instead of drinking, he became a chronic rageaholic. I had to spend some time in Al-Anon to learn how to deal with this. Occasionally, when things got bad with his sister, he too went to Al-Anon, but resisted any real recovery ... until this past Christmas, when his Higher Power finally brought him to his knees.

His temper tantrums no longer bring him relief. He is a raw nerve, filled with fear and self-loathing; he resembles an alcoholic in early recovery. We tried Al-Anon yet again, but we’re in a rural area where meetings are sparse and not very good. He said: “I’ve been thinking maybe I should go to a bar and develop an alcohol problem so that I can go to your AA meetings.” So I took him to some open meetings, and he identified much more strongly with the drunks than he did with the Al-Anon ladies. He is now reading Chapters 4 and 5 in the Big Book and memorizing the Third Step prayer.

Our next move is to find some ACOA meetings, hoping that is the pigeonhole where he fits. But I am wondering: COULD he be a latent alcoholic?
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby avaneesh912 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:01 am

My father never drank but there were all the isms. We were so scared to tell him he needs help. Eventually he had dimentia and other issues and died.
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: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Brock » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:21 am

To me the term 'latent alcoholic,' applies to someone who is secretly drinking, if he were he would just come out and admit this and be welcomed at AA meetings, I suppose you mean he is showing the symptoms of an alcoholic without actually drinking, you do say he resembles an alcoholic in early recovery.

It is very nice that you are trying to help him, and we can only hope he does find “the pigeonhole where he fits.” I do think that more and more people have started to believe that it's OK to introduce non alcoholics to AA, I have seen a lady insist that her husband has to attend, partly for moral support for herself, but mainly “because he has problems like everybody else and will benefit from the program.” All the meetings in our area are open, but I don't believe that means we should move one inch from our primary purpose, there was another person going through a rough divorce who someone introduced to our meetings as well.

Sorry I have not answered the question very well, but instead used it as an excuse to warn against the trend I see developing, of AA accepting anyone who can benefit from the program. We have let the drug users in to some extent, but now seem to be opening the door to anyone who feels they can benefit, further weakening the message being given and eroding our primary purpose.

Congratulations once again on caring about your friend, and also on looking for the type of meeting which would help him, best of luck.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Noels » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:00 am

Hi Laura and welcome to e-aa. This is a tough one for me as according to our traditions AA is for those suffering from alcoholism hence the only requirement being a desire to stop drinking. To me however, spiritual laws, Creator and Higher Power tops any man-made rule, law or tradition and if your friend's Higher Power brought him to his knees and is leading him to an AA meeting which meeting offer him relief I do not see what authority I have to show this man away.

So in this particular instance I would personally adhere to the spiritual laws and do what our friend Duke often says "the next loving action available to me". So in short, he would be sitting next to me at the next meeting and introduce himself as "here for support" which wont be a lie - nobody needs to know that he means "for his own support". :D
Good luck and thank you for sharing with us,
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Layne » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:33 am

Your friend might be a latent alcoholic. Your friend might not be a latent alcoholic. The answer to the question is not one that I need. Me knowing the answer would solve little.

If your friend derives help from attending open meetings, I think that is great and it makes me glad. I never want to hinder another person in their efforts to alleviate suffering. My only request of your friend would be that he not share, unless of course he admits and accepts that he is an alcoholic. If he is not an alcoholic, listening and attending open meetings are no issue that I see.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Brock » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:13 am

In certain smaller areas like the one in which I live, all meetings are 'open.' We are happy to have a non alcoholic come as support to someone who feels they might be one, but it's for the first meeting maybe two at most. In smaller communities we see each other often outside of meetings, we encourage new people on this forum and elsewhere, who are scared of attending due to fear about their anonymity, by saying every one will be there for the same reason you are, it makes them feel safer. Also, there is a noticeable toning down of the honesty and openness I have seen in shares when a non alcoholic is present, we really must stick to our primary purpose.

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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Noels » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:40 pm

I'm actually not so sure that that is what killed the Oxford Group ..... There are only 2 "real" emotions - one is love and the other is fear. Where there is love there can be no fear and where there is fear there can be no love.

So when I look at the "this kind of crap killed the Oxford Group" I see "fear"? What we "fear" we draw to ourselves.

Does spiritual progress not mean moving further away from the "fear" which is where our defects are based and closer to "love"?

Exceptionally interesting toping.

Mwah xxx Noels
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Brock » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:29 pm

I'm actually not so sure that that is what killed the Oxford Group

It's not, I was just taking a literary license and making that up, the Oxford's suffered from evangelism according to Bill's writings, and there was too much preaching. But it is also true that they lost site of the primary purpose, to carry the message to the suffering alcoholic, and started thinking they could cure many other types of problems.
Does spiritual progress not mean moving further away from the "fear" which is where our defects are based and closer to "love"?

Yes I agree, and for myself I have no fear, because I am a recovered alcoholic, and don't see meetings as particularly important to my sobriety. But I do have love for newcomers and fear, because we the recovered ones have a responsibility to provide a place where they will feel safe and get the solution we got. I would feel less safe (fearful) as a newcomer if I suspected non alcoholics were there, because they might not be responsible in observing the anonymity which is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions. Many support type groups have been formed covering all sorts of emotional and addiction problems, AA seems to be the best organized and attracts all types, I say hard luck, if the group formed to help with your particular problem sucks work on improving it, instead of going somewhere where the requirement is a desire to stop drinking.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Noels » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:19 pm

:) The message I received to tell you is " Goodnight Brock, you'll have better understanding tomorrow" :)
Nite Nite,
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby ezdzit247 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:03 pm

LauraWeare wrote: ....But I am wondering: COULD he be a latent alcoholic?


If there is a history of alcoholism in your friend's family, that's generally an indication that he may be genetically pre-desposed to alcoholism. Lots of sober alcoholics in and out of AA become dry drunks or "rageaholics" and that is another red flag that your friend might be suffering from untreated alcoholism. If your friend is able to identify with what AA members share in meetings, that's another clue--only alcoholics do that; "normies" don't. If he is reading the BB, and wants to continue attending AA meetings to learn more, that's great. it sounds like his HP led him to the right friend and right place. Good for both of you!
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Duke » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:12 pm

It seems that the simple answer is that if a person never drank alcohol, they can't be defined as an alcoholic. That doesn't mean, however, that they can't or don't suffer from the save spiritual malady that alcoholics suffer from. I know many who have and do.

I also know several very successful and valuable members of our program who will readily tell you that their drinking was never anything like that the "typical" alcoholic experienced, yet they have a desire to stop, want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it.

I'm not sure what to think about this person attending closed meetings, but I've never kicked anyone out who is respectful of what we're there for and doesn't try to pedal some alternative version of the program.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby LauraWeare » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:32 am

Thanks all

It seems I opened a can of worms about attendance of non-alcoholics at meetings. I would certainly never take my friend to a closed meeting. He mostly sits silent at the open meetings, although occasionally, he bursts out with a comment about how much he identifies with the emotions that he is hearing about.

Yes, he has alcoholism on both sides of his family of origin, so I have been wondering if his teetotaling is actually a defense mechanism against the genetic predisposition. It really doesn't matter at this stage of his life. The bottom line is that he needs the spiritual solution provided in the Twelve Steps. I'm still hoping we can find him a male sponsor in Al-Anon or ACOA.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby clouds » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:33 am

I would just ask, does he have a desire to stop drinking? If he does, he is welcome at AA closed meetings.

Of course he can go to all open AA meetings.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby michmjon » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:36 pm

Increased rage in an elder person can be a sign of worsening dementia. The rage comes out of frustration of not being able to recall recent events, not being able to remember even the simplest of things or out of being overwhelmed when in groups of people. Has this person always been a "Rageaholic" or is this a recent condition? My father started to show this behavior recently. He was diagnosed with early stage dementia a couple years ago and has been getting steadily worse. He never used to get mad or fly into rages about anything (well, except the Detroit Lions) but over the past few months even the littlest things sets him off and it is extremely difficult to get him out of it.
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Re: Can a geriatric teetotaler be a latent alcoholic?

Postby Lali » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:46 pm

To the OP, good luck with your friend. You sound like a kind person. It sounds like Al-Anon and ACOA would be good fits for him.

As an aside: I have also heard many people being told "Don't fear going to an AA meeting as everyone is there for the same reason" and I have told people the same. I would hate for anyone to be mislead. Though I tell many non-alkies that I am an alcoholic, people who don't want to do so shouldn't have to and should have a "safe" place to go. It's called Alcoholics ANONYMOUS for a reason. I'll get off my soap box now. By the way, my motives for anything that I share that could appear controversial to some, are out of concern for the newcomer.

Thanks for letting me share.
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