Helping with mental disorder

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Helping with mental disorder

Postby kaosxtech » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:13 pm

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
(Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 5, p. 38)
I am not sure if its appropriate to discuss my work with a person, but I feel very anonymous on the forums. I do discuss with my sponsor as well but this is a good resource.
I am currently working with a person who I believe has one if not many mental disorders (maybe mild schizophrenia). He is currently in an in patient rehab. When I read this part of the big book it seems to me the most important thing is for him to be honest. I want to work the steps but personally feel he may not even be understanding the steps as I bring them up in our conversation. I am not a doctor but he has told me he is on many medications and why they dont work and what ones he needs. I dont tell him he should or should not be on a specific medication but I do tell him its good that he is working with doctors.
Should I just continue to explain the first step to him until he maybe grasps it ( and then forgets it before our next visit). How do I best help this individual?
Thanks for any input.
Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62)
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:48 pm

This is a tricky one. I was unable to do the steps if I couldn't comprehend them. I know some who couldn't even read when they walked into AA, yet were able to get sober with the Steps by working with a patient sponsor, speaker CDs, etc.

I would make it less formal, less like a classroom workbook. The principles behind the Steps are self-honesty, open-mindedness, willingness, cleaning up the past, and being useful to others. Those principles were getting AAs sober before the Steps were even written.

Certainly a written Step 4 is ideal for seeing patterns of cause-and-effect, but it doesn't have to be that way so long as the individual isn't trying to evade that leveling-out of pride and ego.

So the question is, how honest, open-minded and willing is this individual? If he has those ingredients, you can work with him; if he doesn't, it would make no difference even if he's a doctor or professor.

Just be aware that certain meds do cause a lot of confusion. There's a difference between willingness and capability.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby 1Peter5:10 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:36 am

kaosxtech wrote:There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders,


I know nothing about schizophrenia. I know that a lot of alcoholics consume(d) quantities of alcohol in order to self-medicate things like anxiety and depression.

In some case the anxiety or depression is probably medical/physiological. In my case, bona fide bad things happened in my life. Depression came as a result of the fact that I was totally incompetent at dealing with them.

I was already a recreational drinker. A normal person would have changed stuff. I reached for a twelve-ounce can of acceptance. Liquid serenity was no serenity at all, or as the great Homer Simpson once put it "Umm, beer! Now there's a temporary solution."

For my own part, if a person, unlike me, has actual physiological depression, and a doctor prescribes Zoloft or whatever I would be perfectly comfortable working with him.

1Peter4:10
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."

If he has schizophrenia I will still befriend him and help him, but with the caveat that I know nothing about schizophrenia and would serve best only as part of a broader multi-person sobriety network.

You specifically asked
kaosxtech wrote:Should I just continue to explain the first step to him until he maybe grasps it ( and then forgets it before our next visit). How do I best help this individual?
Thanks for any input.


I never try to tell anyone he is as powerless as I was. I typically don't know if he is. And even if I am convinced, the nature of our disease is that I can never convince him. It just doesn't work that way. Iam not that powerful

Having said that:
- Page 7 describes Bill Wilson's attempts to treat his alcoholism via conventional means. He does not say such methods are quackery, only that he was too far gone.

- Pages xxi to xxviii describe the fact that by the 1930's many alcoholics could successfully be treated by medical means, only some of us, myself included, are hopeless cases beyond the reach of medicine.

- Pages 26-27 describe that psychiatry, again even in the 1930's, could successfully treat some alcoholics. Others, like myself, are too addicted or too self-willed to be treated by such methods. Again such persons are named "hopeless "

(In fact, it was only later that the founders, low-bottom, hard core, hopeless alcoholics, learned that our steps ALSO work for "high bottom" non-hopeless cases.)

If the person you are helping is described above, if the pages above describe him, then he is hopeless. He is powerless. He will never beat it without a higher power, (steps 1 & 2) and there is no other known way for such a person to recover from alcoholism.

This is it. The last house on the block.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Tosh » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:58 am

I think it's great that you want to help this guy, and I know it's difficult when they've got other mental illnesses and taking medication for them too. Like yourself, I don't get involved with advising about medication; I just tell them to follow their doctor's advice.

As for the steps, I just do my best to carry the message to them, even if inside I think I'm wasting my time.

A.A. philosophy seems to be about 'keeping our side of the street clean', which - to me - implies that it's more about what I do, or don't do, rather than what my prospect does, or doesn't do.

So I'll take them through the steps as best I can and just leave the results to 'God'.
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: Helping with mental disorder

Postby kaosxtech » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:24 am

First I just want to say I am very happy to have found the AA forums. I use forums daily for other interests I have. I appreciate this as another resource.

1Peter5:10 wrote:I never try to tell anyone he is as powerless as I was. I typically don't know if he is. And even if I am convinced, the nature of our disease is that I can never convince him. It just doesn't work that way. Iam not that powerful.


Thank you for the input that we dont tell people they are powerless. I have a habit of using a hard sell. I like to say, Do you understand why you are powerless over alcohol? Perhaps it would be better to explain why I am powerless over alcohol and, if his higher power sees fit to show him (and he is an alcoholic), let him decide one way or another if that is where he finds himself.
The "I am not that powerful"(ego) is a personality defect that I have prayed for my higher power to remove a few times. It does like to creep back though which is why taking daily inventory is important for me.
I have worked with quite a few sponsees in my sobriety and I just like to know that I am doing my part to carry my higher powers will.
I like that if I am honest this forum can help me with another viewpoint. Some are good and some I will pass on.
Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62)
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby positrac » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:55 am

This is a pretty intense topic with a lot of points to consider.
grave emotional and mental disorders
Such as this regarding emotional and or mental disorders. Some of these situations are extremely clear and in your face issues so to speak; and others are on the surface and we may see something and the person might not understand the exact cause. So honesty is a good word as it is a pure emotion of truth and yet some people even with some decent sobriety might not know the root causes of the issues with the "grey matter" between the ears. In today's world tests can be ran to possibly identify those areas of concern, I still see this as one of how do you explain a feeling or action and while not comparing out to others we meet and or know in the rooms for example. Not trying to go off topic as much as drilling down into the deep dark places that keep people hostage even if sober.

Step work back in the day when I came into AA for my final time I knew this guy out in the SF Bay Area who kept a tape recorder with him because of his inability of reading. So his sponsor said when you think of something related to step 4 just talk it out and you'll have a record of the events for the step 5. As long as the individual has a clear grasp of the step and meaning anything is possible for success.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby 1Peter5:10 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:09 am

kaosxtech wrote:. . .
Thank you for the input that we dont tell people they are powerless. I have a habit of using a hard sell. I like to say, Do you understand why you are powerless over alcohol? Perhaps it would be better to explain why I am powerless over alcohol and, if his higher power sees fit to show him (and he is an alcoholic), let him decide one way or another if that is where he finds himself.

Thank you for your response Kaos. I'm learning from this.

I don't think there is anything in our literature that would prohibit us from telling an alcoholic that he is an alcoholic, and no prohibition on telling one who is beyond human aid that he is beyond human aid.

There is no need to hide things.
No hidden agenda is required.
You don't have to co-sign anyone's bullshit.
And it's possible that a good-cop/bad-cop approach will save someone's life.

That said, our literature reminds us


Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection.
- Big Book Working With Others, p.95


FOR ME, final surrender came, around day 45 in treatment. I had lost eveything, (absolutely everything). My plan was to stay sober a while, get my stuff back, then sit on a beach with a bottle of vodka and put this whole nightmare behind me.

Then I thought with alarm 'What kind of person plans his next drink 2 years in advance?'

The heck of it is, I didn't even really admit to myself that is what was going on until I found myself secretly poo-poohing two of my fellow patients for doing exactly the same thing. I am EXACTLY the kind of bastard who cannot see my own faults until I first see them in others. :mrgreen:

When I first shared that story in front of a treatment center, two people gasped in a deeply meaningful way, and I had 'found my voice.'

I have no idea if those two people are sober today, but I can say with confidence they have a better chance than if I had tried to lecture down to them that they are not only alcoholics, but, like me, are alcoholic beyond human aid.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby tomsteve » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:21 am

there is a great chapter in the big book titled,"working with others." heres a little snippet:
If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. Show him, from your own experience , how the queer mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power. Don't, at this stage, refer to this book, unless he has seen it and wishes to discuss it. And be careful not to brand him as an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusion . If he sticks to the idea that he can still control his drinking, tell him that possibly he can - if he is not too alcoholic. But insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Brock » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:17 pm

There’s a local psychiatrist that’s very interested in AA, although not an alcoholic himself he has attended some of our meetings. He has said that most of his patients really dislike the side effects of their prescriptions, and some drink as a form of protesting or rebelling against the treatment. So while there are no doubt some ‘real alcoholics’ who also have mental problems requiring medication, there may be others mainly seeking attention.

There is one fellow who attends meetings in my area, who goes from member to member asking them to sponsor him, most have agreed but it usually doesn't last long. He calls anytime he is lonely which is often, I can’t judge him as alcoholic or not, but it does seem it’s the attention of others he craves more than drink.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Tosh » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:35 pm

1Peter5:10 wrote:
I don't think there is anything in our literature that would prohibit us from telling an alcoholic that he is an alcoholic,


Loads of people, prior to A.A., told me I was an alcoholic. My mother, my brother, my ex-wife, all told me I was an alkie and I denied it. Not because I'm a liar (I am, but not in this instance), but because I didn't think I was an alcoholic.

I thought I was someone with problems who just needed to drink everyday to deal with the stress of a stressful life. I still washed, I still functioned at work; I wasn't in the gutter screaming at pigeons and passing buses; I therefore didn't think I was an alkie.

Eventually when I arrived at A.A. I still didn't think I was an alcoholic; I still thought of myself as a 'problem drinker'. I still washed sometimes, and although I'd lost my career and the family, that was through bad luck (as in I got caught doing stuff I shouldn't have).

But listening to the other A.A. members share about their own experiences, which I identified with, the thought appeared in my sweded "I'm an alcoholic!" It was quite a powerful moment.

The Big Book tells us we shouldn't pronounce anyone an alcoholic (even when it's ruddy obvious), and from my own experience, it appears to have a far bigger effect when we find out the truth for ourselves.
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: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:26 pm

1Peter5:10 wrote:I know nothing about schizophrenia. I know that a lot of alcoholics consume(d) quantities of alcohol in order to self-medicate things like anxiety and depression.

Many schizophrenics will go off their meds, so they tend to "self-non-medicate". Some have symptoms exacerbated by alcohol, even while believing the alcohol is helping. I would not want to sponsor a schizophrenic who's detoxing from alcohol unless he's under close supervision of a doctor.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby 1Peter5:10 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:02 am

Tosh wrote:snip
The Big Book tells us we shouldn't pronounce anyone an alcoholic (even when it's ruddy obvious), and from my own experience, it appears to have a far bigger effect when we find out the truth for ourselves.


Hmm. I stand corrected.

Having been a low bottom drunk, I naturally gravitate to helping low bottom drunks, and most with whom I have worked KNEW without a doubt they are alcoholics and just couldn't kick the problem.

I still have only 18 mos., and I really really identify with that.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Blue Moon » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:43 am

1Peter5:10 wrote:
Tosh wrote:snip
The Big Book tells us we shouldn't pronounce anyone an alcoholic (even when it's ruddy obvious), and from my own experience, it appears to have a far bigger effect when we find out the truth for ourselves.


It says that we don't like to. It does suggest we convince ourselves that the individual is alcoholic before we try to help them recover from alcoholism.

Bear in mind, this was written when society considered alcoholism a moral problem rather than a medical one, so recovery was for low-bottom drunks. The BB itself, and later the 12&12, raised the bar.
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Roberth » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:16 am

Hello kaosxtech, my name is Robert and I am a Los Angeles area alcoholic. First let me be perfectly clear, I am not qualified to diagnose or treat mental health issues.
With that said I have been part of a group that has been taking AA meetings into LA skid row for over 18 years. As you can guess we have dealt with a lot of mental illness there.
What we do there is deal strictly with the drinking. If we can get them sober the people in the mental health field can have a better chance to diagnose and treat them.
I have a sponsee that got transferred to Italy from California. He was having a rough time with it and ask me to come over for a visit. So the woman that I was dating at the time and I when over.
What we found was that he was suffering from depression. You see my girlfriend was a physiotherapist and was able to spot it I wasn't. She worked with him on his depression and I helped him with his ISM. That was over 10 years ago I am still his sponsor, he is still sober and he is still treatment for his depression. The best advice I can give him about his depression come in a form of a request which is “let me know what the doc says about it”
Robert
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Re: Helping with mental disorder

Postby Tosh » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:20 pm

Blue Moon wrote:It says that we don't like to.


I reckon that's Bill being polite. I read that as 'You shouldn't really...". :lol:

He obviously couldn't speak for, and on behalf of, the first 100 (70 something), unless he'd done a survey.
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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