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The End of my Addiction
Mentium

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Mentium

I'm 65 years old and I have had a drinking problem since I was in my mid to late 20s.

I'm an only child in a family that moved around a lot when I was a kid. I went to 14 schools in all and ended up shy and socially awkward, always keeping myself a bit aloof from others. I never made friends easily.

In my college years I smoked a lot of dope. I was away from home – my parents still living abroad and I developed what I now believe to be cannabis induced psychosis. My life was disorganised, I had no life skills and it all went to pieces. It was relatively mild as the condition goes, but one effect was the start of a life-long struggle with anxiety. At the time the anxiety was at times completely crippling and left me curled up on a sofa my arms wrapped around me, trying to stop my anxious thoughts. In later life it has much reduced but I am sure I remain at the higher end of the anxiety spectrum.

I discovered that alcohol handled the anxiety pretty well. The mental anguish that came with the condition lasted into my early thirties, though thankfully the paranoia that was a symptom to begin with eased off after two or three monstrously difficult years. Later of course, I learned the hard way that regular daily drinking generates an anxiety all of its own.

Despite all that I managed to get two degrees by the time I was 28, my first at Art School and then at Uni studying Social Work. Later I qualified as a teacher and then took on an MA and then a further post grad qualification. I mntion this not in any way to brag, but to remind anyone who doubts it that the homeless alcoholic in the gutter is probably not the most typical. The average guy is. I did OK with my chosen career and was successful, as these things are measured I suppose, reaching the top of my particular greasy pole by the end of my career – one that ended five years ago as I applied for early retirement.

I drank all thorough those years, which included two marriages and a third long term relationship, which I am in now. I had two children, both of who are grown up and doing well. I love them both and we are close, which is a blessing.

I drank to relax and to suppress anxiety. And then of course I drank – and still do – because I am addicted to alcohol. As these things are measured the amount I drank was on the moderate side, as alcoholics go. Four cans of beer a night for many years and a bottle and a half of wine in later years. Whatever the amount it was alcoholic drinking- dependent drinking.

I have tried to stop many times. I have had periods ranging from a year here, six months there and last year a further 10 months. To do this I used methods ranging from self control and will power, to counselling and several times AA, an organisation I ultimately grew to mistrust and dislike intensely, which is not to dismiss the help it has given many people.

I don't very much like or feel comfortable with the me – the mental and internal me that emerges once I am sober for a while. Not my personality - I think I am kind and a decent human being. I am tolerant, forgiving and willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have never had what AA refers to as 'resentments'. Alcohol however has made me weaker than I should be. Less tough when it counts than I should be. The 'me' that I don't like when I am sober for long periods is simply a rather tenser and more anxious person than I am when I drink. My whole 'self' tightens up ever so slightly and I never truly relax.

My most recent attempt to stop drinking was by using baclofen. I read Dr Ameison's book, The End of My Addiction, found a forum where it was discussed and started taking the tablets. I built up the dosage to 140 mg and then stalled. I think I increased the dose too fast and I experienced unusually unpleasant side effects in the process. I also struggled with some negativity about the 'baclofen route' and found managing large quantities of the drug – purchasing it and managing it a bit stressful.

I decided to stop taking baclofen – which is to say to slowly reduce the dosage over time - at that point and also to stop drinking. It was pretty easy too – perhaps because of the residual effect of baclofen. I stayed sober then for a two and a half months before drinking again.

I firmly believe that baclofen can and does work. I trust and believe the people who have said as much, however don't be fooled into thinking it is an easy route or that baclofen is a magic pill that will take your desire to drink away. It takes time and effort and for most people tolerating side effects – not dangerous ones but sometimes unpleasant enough ones.

Alcohol has been with me all my life. It has been a crutch and it has been my saviour. It has also been my master and made me its slave. Sometimes the bargain feels worth it but much of the time it feels like a bad deal.

I don't know if I will ever be free of it.

Edited by Mentium
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TimberTim
On ‎2‎/‎27‎/‎2016 at 0:13 PM, Mentium said:

It has been a crutch and it has been my saviour

So true, Mentium. So true! Thank you for your post.

Great site, NE1! Thank you!!!!!!!!!

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Ne1
On 3/22/2016 at 6:45 PM, TimberTim said:

So true, Mentium. So true! Thank you for your post.

Great site, NE1! Thank you!!!!!!!!!

Thanks, Tim. So great to have you here. I'd put in a hug emoticon here, but there isn't one yet. See, this is why we needed to get an early start on this before the grand opening! How'm I supposed to give hugs if there isn't one to give? That's not cool. lol. That is a great quote from Menty about AL being a crutch and a savior. I often feel that way about booze in the same moment, you know? 

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Ne1
On 2/27/2016 at 3:13 PM, Mentium said:

 

I drank to relax and to suppress anxiety. And then of course I drank – and still do – because I am addicted to alcohol.

...

Whatever the amount it was alcoholic drinking- dependent drinking.

...

I have tried to stop many times. I have had periods ranging from a year here, six months there and last year a further 10 months. To do this I used methods ranging from self control and will power, to counselling and several times AA, an organisation I ultimately grew to mistrust and dislike intensely, which is not to dismiss the help it has given many people.

...

I don't very much like or feel comfortable with the me – the mental and internal me that emerges once I am sober for a while. 

...

I don't know if I will ever be free of it.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Menty. 

I can certainly relate to parts of it, and not so much some other parts. My drinking, as far as I can remember, has never been moderate enough that it didn't interfere with my life or my goals. 

I highlighted some of the things that really stand out for me in your story. The part about suppressing anxiety, which I can definitely relate to but had no idea that's what I was managing with alcohol when I drank. And the trying to stop. And definitely not knowing if I'll ever be free of it. I mean truly free. I had 4 years free from craving and alcoholic drinking, or even unhealthy drinking, but apparently that wasn't enough to guarantee long term freedom...But that's for my story which I'll post here eventually. 

I also highlighted something I think is really important, that many of us often forget. There's a whole spectrum of us who have this disease. It's clear in the research, though they don't know what makes us different or really how to quantify and qualify the difference. (But they're working on it!) Still, it's important to remember that the perspective from outside is not necessarily reality and that amount ingested does not qualify the person as having an alcohol use disorder...it's the effect on the person's life and the way the person feels about it...(Though, clearly, a bottle and a half of wine is not at all good for you! Not that I'm passing judgment, God knows.) 

I'm fairly certain that's why the researchers and scholars are using the term "Alcohol Use Disorders" these days and moving away from "alcoholism" and especially the label "alcoholic". (grrrr. If there's anything that makes me want to get on a soapbox, it's the term alcoholic. Anyway. I'll stop before I get on that soapbox!) 

One question for you, though, do your parents or your kids have any predilection for alcohol? Did you grow up with it? 

Thanks again for sharing your story. I hope that together we'll figure out how to be free from the burden of this disease, whatever that means for each of us individually. 

<hugs>

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Mentium

Hi Ne. To answer your question directly, my father drank problematically for a good while. Our life was an expatriate one in Hong Kong and booze was very much part of the culture - parties all the time and very cheap booze. Anyway he succumbed it seems. I remember a lot of drunken behaviour from him in my teens, once very unpleasant. When he retired he pulled back a bit but he always drank every day and probably more than he liked other people to know.

I'm not sure how serious a problem it was for him but I suspect he was dependent for much of his life after middle age. He died last year at the age of 89 so it didn't end his life prematurely it would seem. 

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Ne1

I asked about it because it's so clear that for many, many of us it's genetic. Even people whose parents didn't drink, or didn't drink to their detriment, may have had parents/siblings that did. So it's interesting to hear that your dad did, as well. 

My grandparents on both sides were in the military for 20+ years and it was the same sort of thing--the atmosphere around drinking in those days was pervasive, for sure! 

 

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Mentium

Yep - I'm aware of the genetic predisposition. Unfortunately knowing that particular likelihood doesn't actually help. It would be great if at some point in the future doctors could warn people and suggest they keep their booze consumption low because of the risk of developing a disorder.

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Ne1
On 3/26/2016 at 8:10 AM, Mentium said:

...It would be great if at some point in the future doctors could warn people and suggest they keep their booze consumption low because of the risk of developing a disorder.

They do. Or rather, the researchers and scholars suggest that people who have a genetic predisposition to alcohol be made aware of the fact that they are much more likely to develop the disease themselves. But like so much about Alcohol Use Disorders, it doesn't translate down to the actual medical practitioner. <sigh>

Not only that, research has shown that the longer one puts off drinking (meaning begins drinking at all) the less likely the person is to develop an Alcohol Use Disorder. That doesn't mean that there aren't people who develop it later in life, especially people with a genetic predisposition. But there are many fewer of them (I think the statistic I read is that 65% of us start drinking in our teens or about there) and the ones who start later are much more likely to be able to manage their illness easily. Or easier, anyway. (And no, I don't have the research handy to put it here, [even though I really hate it when people quote research and then don't put the research in a link...] but I read it in my favorite book, A Prescription for Alcoholics.) 

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Molly78

"I don't very much like the  me that emerges when I am sober for a while".

 

You describe yourself as a tenser & more anxious person. I haven't had any significant periods of sobriety in the last 30 years (until now), so I can't say what my mental state would be without baclofen, but when I think about the cravings I experienced, they were all driven by the need to feel more relaxed, more at home in my own skin, more like other people. Baclofen has allowed me to accept myself - I can't think of any other way to put it.

 

Mentium - you are back to drinking at the moment I gather? Was there not a period after you stopped drinking when you were still taking baclofen but titrating down? I seem to recall from your posts on MWO around that time that you came over as feeling pretty good, not experiencing any need to drink. Might that have been the baclofen working?

 

I know you want to try naltrexone, but will that not leave you sober & not liking yourself again? I tend to think that those of us with addiction problems need our brain chemistry reset. Well I certainly did, but I guess we are all different.

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Mentium

Apologies. Somehow missed this. Navigating the new forum..

A reset would be nice! You are not the only person to wonder if the bac helped as I was going down. No way of knowing really. But at least for now it isn't an option for me. In retrospect if I an honest it frightened me a bit. 

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Felina

@Mentium, haven't heard from you in a while. How are you doing? Stop by and check in with us when you have a chance.

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Mentium

Thanks for asking after me. Sadly I am drinking these days. Not a lot to add other than I 'cope' more or less. I am consuming a bit less overall as time goes on and only in the evening. My days can be pretty awful - full of anxiety, though no hangovers as I don't drink enough for that. The first glass of wine fixes all that. Thus the trap is sprung.

I read the forum regularly, watch the antics of the troll over in the old forum and read a lot of recovery stuff, but right now I don't seem to be in the right place to quit.

Anyway thanks again. Will be hanging around, but I don't like to post regularly when I am not actively trying to quit. Just me.

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Felina

Thanks for checking in, Menty. I hope you can find relief from your anxiety soon.  We're always here if you need someone to talk to. 

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Molly78
23 minutes ago, Mentium said:

Thanks for asking after me. Sadly I am drinking these days. Not a lot to add other than I 'cope' more or less. I am consuming a bit less overall as time goes on and only in the evening. My days can be pretty awful - full of anxiety, though no hangovers as I don't drink enough for that. The first glass of wine fixes all that. Thus the trap is sprung.

Mentium, it's good to hear from you again. You sound to be in a very sad position - days full of anxiety can't be good. I also hope you find some relief.

 

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Baclofenman

@Mentium

Hi Menty

Sorry you are not where you want to be with your drinking

I know you tried Bac but had to give up because of the SE - I assume AA did not work either?

Do you actually know what your anxieties are? - Or are you just anxious about....., nothing in particular, just everything?

You know, they all say about addressing your anxieties - which is easy enough, if you have a shit job, owe alot of money - You know the usual stuff

I know you are in the UK but I dont know where? - IIRC your MWO profile says oop north, which is a shame - I am near (ish) to Stansted, would be nice to meet up for a Co-co and swap a few stories?

Anyway - Thought about giving Bac another try? - I am over 150 days now and yes I had some (minor) SE but at the end of the day, its not going to kill you (Bac that is) but the booze may well do

Regards, old bean

 

Bacman

Edited by Baclofenman
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Mentium

Thanks for the responses. Nice to know people are interested.

Bacman - I think my issues work as follows: I am a 'naturally' anxious person - probably above the norm. And I discovered that alcohol is a brilliant short term 'cure' for that condition. It also of course, if used habitually, causes anxiety - makes it much worse in fact. It is a double whammy. When I have managed to stop - most recently for about 11 months, my anxiety levels dropped, but not to a place where I felt relaxed and content - it was still there. Alcohol has the sole virtue of eliminating it completely, if very temporarily.

As to trying baclofen again - the truth is, as I look back at the experience - that it scared the hell out of me. Not only did I have weird and at times unpleasant side effects, but I felt the lack of medical support was making me pretty vulnerable. There were some nights when I was at 140 mg (as I recall) where I felt I was almost suffocating and had pretty awful claustrophobia/panic sensations.

Sorry to sound so negative.  Life has its pluses and I do have good days when the weight of it feels less onerous. I have a great family life, am financially secure and that sort of stuff. So I should not complain too much.

I was going to go back to AA incidentally - that was how I did the eleven months. It is still an option I think about most days - despite disagreeing with nearly everything it stands for!

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idefineme

Dude, people ARE interested!  
I wonder if the reason taking baclofen scared you is because you're anxious?  I'm sure the lack of medical support didn't help!  I wonder if you had sought help and support if you'd have gotten it?  I know for myself that I'm hesitant to seek help when I most need it, and I wonder if you're the same.  I can picture myself going through suffocating, claustrophobic and panic feelings and thinking I need to just ride them through by myself!  I think we would both do better by giving our providers a call and asking for some guidance.  

Mentium, I think you can complain as much as you feel you need to!  You are grateful for the blessings you have in your life!  So feel free to bitch about what you feel is lacking!  It's okay, especially on a forum such as this!  

Where are you with going back to AA?  I agree with you about disagreeing with AA, so I'm interested in what you decided.  

I hope to hear back from you, Mentium and I hope you're doing well! 

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Mentium

Thanks for the input Idefineme. I'm still here - and I contribute to the forum fairly regularly -  and just about to try the Sinclair Method (Naltrexone) starting tomorrow evening (Sunday). We have had unexpected visitors in the shape of my cousin and his wife over the weekend otherwise I would have started yesterday. He drinks more than me!

Anyway I am hopeful and positive about Naltrexone given my drinking pattern from what I have read, so fingers crossed.

AA is a last resort - and though it came to it I would go back I think, the simple abstinence route resulted in feeling a whole lot better in some ways and a whole lot more miserable in others. It seems tot goal for many of us is 'happy sobriety' - an elusive state of affairs if ever there was one!

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Ne1

Ed (husband) is going to have to go to AA in order to fill court requirements related to his DUI. We don't know how many meetings, but I'm kind of excited to go! (I told him I'd go with him.) I wonder if they've changed at all in  my area? It's pretty conservative around here in general, so I doubt there's an agnostic meeting full of people taking meds, but you never know until you try. Right?! 

Good luck today with the nal, Menty. Take it with food! 

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idefineme

It's good you're supporting Ed by offering to go along with him, and it's awesome you're excited to go!  I'm excited for you!  You'll have to let us know how it goes!

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StuckinLA
14 hours ago, Ne1 said:

 It's pretty conservative around here in general, so I doubt there's an agnostic meeting full of people taking meds, but you never know until you try. Right?! 

I went to an agnostic meeting once, with my girl. Look for We Agnostics groups - yeah, that's a chapter title of the Big Book, but the group didn't pray or anything and they seemed real down to earth. The search engine through the AA website is pretty good for finding meetings.

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Ne1
11 hours ago, idefineme said:

It's good you're supporting Ed by offering to go along with him, and it's awesome you're excited to go!  I'm excited for you!  You'll have to let us know how it goes!

Thanks, IDM. Honestly, I'm just going to try not to be judge-y and get pissed off. HA! 

I will definitely check out the website, @StuckinLA, for agnostic meetings. Thanks for the recommendation! 

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joesixpack
On 7/16/2016 at 4:03 AM, Mentium said:

Thanks for the input Idefineme. I'm still here - and I contribute to the forum fairly regularly -  and just about to try the Sinclair Method (Naltrexone) starting tomorrow evening (Sunday).

Best luck, Mentium! Did NHS step up on that one, or are you flying solo on this? 

Let us know how Sunday went when you get a moment, hope all went well!

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SKendall

I drank too much and became an alcoholic.  I started for help with anxiety, was a member of AA and had sober spurts.  I was a relapser and just started to not drink.  After I quit I did drink twice in the first year with no desire to binge or continue.  I am very grateful.

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