Point of Surrender
The goal for me in my writings is to make people aware of alcoholism and that anyone can be an alcoholic no matter what their life looks like on the outside and that it IS something that one can overcome. It also is something that helps me through my sobriety while learning more about myself and this disease in the process. While also realizing more and more about how lucky I am to be where I am at today. As people have opened up to me and come to me for advice, it makes me thankful that my message is working. Again, I do not have all the answers and these are just my personal opinions and experiences. My intentions are also not to try and push sobriety down anyone’s throat. Take it or leave it but if you think you may or know someone who has have a problem, please take it.
Getting someone to quit drinking is a very difficult thing to do if they do not want to quit. I would just say to show your support as best you can and let them know that you will support them in any way that you can if they choose to stop drinking. I don’t believe there are any secret tricks to this whole sobriety kick, for some people imagine that there might be a way to threaten or trick an alcoholic into quitting drinking. There definitely is not. If you threaten them, they will simply withdrawal further away from you.
Most, if not all alcoholics, are slowly self-destructing, and they know it. Threats mean nothing to someone who is self-destructing. You can’t intimidate someone who has nothing to lose. It is simply more fuel for the alcoholic fire.
Trying to shame an alcoholic into sobriety doesn’t work either, this will only make them want to drink more because they will truly feel shamed and I know this first hand. So basically in my opinion, there is no way to directly convince an alcoholic to quit drinking.
For me, I had to have a point of surrender (I like this better than “rock bottom”) when I finally threw in the towel and stopped fighting against my problem. This is when I believe my recovery started. I do not know how to provide this moment and if anyone did then we would have solved the problem of addiction ages ago. The best I can say to do is to encourage people towards this moment, hoping they will reach this point sooner rather than later. Once the point of surrender is reached, anything you do to help them will hopefully work. If they have not yet reached the point of surrender, then nothing you do will matter. Nothing you do can overcome a lack of surrender. The alcoholic is still fighting and struggling and trying to control things and it’s just not going to work.
Treatment for me in my so many attempts was just a sham because I was so good at blending in and pretending like my purpose there was genuine. It is tough because you cannot make someone go even though you want it so badly for them. All the times I had to go to treatment because it was court ordered was a waste of everyone’s time and money because I only went because I had to. It only worked when I went on my own terms, it was a whole new experience for me because I wanted to be there and I wanted help. Do not try and force treatment on someone, simply offer to take them to treatment. If they’re not interested, then it makes no sense to press them further, because they are not ready. Even if you can somehow manipulate them into it, you are wasting your time. Not ready means not ready and this has never been more true than when it comes to quitting drinking. The best anyone can do is to be prepared to get them into treatment when the moment is right. Have a plan, make some calls, see what is available. Then when the person has finally surrendered, you will have some options as to where you can take them.
How do you know when they’ve surrendered? When they ask for help. When they are ready to change on your terms, not on their terms. When they throw up their arms and say “I’ll do whatever you tell me to do.” that is surrender. That is the start of recovery. Anything else on their part is more manipulation (such as “give me money,” or “I promise to go to treatment next week.”).
Do not enable someone, if you enable an alcoholic, you allow them to continue drinking when they otherwise might have had to stop for some reason. If you can stop enabling the alcoholic, then this will get them closer and closer to facing reality and making an eventual decision to stop drinking on their own. Trying to convince them verbally is pointless. Threatening them is pointless and do not deny them the consequences of their drinking. For example, if the alcoholic in your life gets pulled over for drunk driving and lands in jail, leave them there. Do not bail them out. Sitting in jail is a consequence of their behavior, and they need to experience that consequence. It is part of the learning process and if you deny them that consequence, then they cannot learn. But if there are never any consequences, why would the alcoholic ever decide to change? They wouldn’t. So do not deny them the consequences that occur due to their drinking.
Nobody can do this alone and the way I see it may not be the perfect way or the way others may see it. However, when I look back at what I went through, these are things that I see as being helpful for anyone in a similar situation.
This is my wish for you:
Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Hugs when spirits sag,
Beauty for your eyes to see,
Friendships to brighten your being,
Faith so that you can believe,
Confidence for when you doubt,
Courage to know yourself,
Patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.