PREVIOUS: Alcoholism INTRO #1a
SITE: Behavioral Addiction (many articles)
HIGH FUNCTIONING alcoholic (HFA)
• trouble seeing themself as alcoholic because they’re successful , & not on Skid Row
• use alcohol as stress-relief & a reward
• have few tangible negative consequences from drinking, by sheer luck
• keep consistent employment, well-respected for job performance
• have a good education , with academic accomplishments
• make artistic, social or political contributions
• externally seem to be managing life well
• maintain family &/or romantic relationships & friendships
• skilled at compartmentalizing (separate professional & drinking lives)
• usually have one or more co-dependent helpers covering for them (rescuers, enablers)
• one alcoholic drink sets off craving, become obsessed about next drink
• obvious personality changes, compromise morals when intoxicated
• repeat unwanted drinking patterns & self-destructive behaviors
a. Problems – external stressors & internal emotional pain causing anxiety
b. Fantasize – about using something for relief of symptoms
c. Obsession – about how using a substance will make life better
d. Actively using – engage in addictive activity
e. Frustration – dissatisfied that relief doesn’t last
f. Addiction – lose control over substance use
g. Shame – feelings of remorse & guilt re. bad behaviors
h. Promises – to self (& others), resolves to stop using, but can’t
Then BACK to: a & b
a. EXPERIMENTAL : non-addicted
• Use a substance out of curiosity, peer pressure or rite of passage. No change in behavior or emotional reaction & is limited
b. SOCIAL : pre-addicted
• The ‘use‘ is part-of & acceptable in their social environment. They still consider the amount normal, & keep it only to those events
c. INSTRUMENTAL : early-addicted
• Substance starts being needed to cope with personal, work & social problems, as a substitute for facing & correcting them directly
d. COMPULSIVE : fully-addicted
• The substance is the person’s main preoccupation – how / where they can get more. Shame develops, so there’s a need to hide its use, & their life is negatively effected, spinning out of control.
⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️
Characteristics of “DRY DRUNKS”
If an alcoholic stops drinking, they’re not sober, mental-health-wise. But then it’s early days. AA says: “It takes a drunk 5 years just to get their brain out of hock!” Then they can start growing up.
OR maybe – the person is a narcissist who resists self-reflection & so can’t mature emotionally, even though their life may improve in many other ways – which mainly shows up in personal relationships
Dry addicts are as angry after, as when they were still drinking. But instead of directing it at the effects of the substance, they often aim it at whoever forced a change, coming from : a spouse threatening to leave, a boss to fire them, or a judge to jail them…. Resentment can surfaces after a few weeks into the ‘honeymoon period’ of abstinence. Unchecked, it can lead to a resumption of drinking. “The person I was – will drink again”.
The ‘dry drunk’ may sink into depression when beginning to see their life with a little clarity. While drinking, they may have though everything was OK. But sobriety can bring an awareness of age, missed opportunities, health problems & career failures.
New expectations & demands are rarely welcomed, such as promising to be monogamous, to babysit the children, to attend church or family gatherings, to do well at work….. Pretending to be happy about these changes is waring & can’t be kept up
Not ‘using’ doesn’t change the alcoholic’s basic impulsiveness, which usually involves doing things against their best interest. Even if the addict did want to stop drinking, it’s common for them to switch substances. Irresponsible behaviors can be promiscuity, gambling, over-eating, over-spending…..
AND unfortunately, poor judgement can be ‘encouraged’ by still hanging out with the old crowd of bad influences, OR the family’s attitude : “As long as they’re not drinking, we don’t care what they’re doing”
Newly dry alcoholics often miss many opportunities provided by psychological maturity – not ready to handle a job, a healthy relationship, parenthood…
Unlike their ‘grown-up’ peers, they’re still acting like irresponsible teenagers.
They still demand immediate gratification, & when charm doesn’t get them what they want, they can become withdrawn, manipulative, passive-aggressive, complaining, attacking …..
NEXT: Alcoholism #2