Excerpts From The “Getting Them Sober” Book Series

The following 4 excerpts follow the theme, “When we’re involved with adult alcoholics/addicts” The Sober World will be featuring excerpts from the book series over the next few months, touching on different subject matter. By Toby Rice Drews

Getting Them Sober

Excerpt from the chapter titled “Deal with his arrogance!” from the book “Getting Them Sober, volume one’’
“He’s lost nine jobs in seventeen years.”
“He lives with such hate inside him. All the time he tells me how he resents this and resents that. It really interferes with his work. He spends so much time doing what he wants on the job — not following orders and even deliberately disobeying them because he thinks he knows what’s right, or because he resents the boss for having money, that he doesn’t spend his time doing his job right. When he gets told off, it increases his resentment, and then everything goes downhill real fast.”

“But one of the worst times of all for me, is when after he’s lost another job — he begins a new one. For a while, at the beginning when no one knows his game too well (he’s quite charming, you know), he starts to act like he just doesn’t need me around anymore. He gets so puffed up! So arrogant!

Every time a normally nice thing happens to my husband, he acts like he’s King Tut and pretends I’m just not needed around anymore!””

We came up with a few guidelines that did help her feel not as emotionally smashed down again by him—-

1. Remember that his period of “puffed-up time” doesn’t last. It ends when his coworkers
discover the “real” person underneath all the charm. It ends with the first order from an authority figure being deliberately disobeyed. The “I’ll show ‘em whose boss” behavior cannot last forever. It ends, in essence when they see he’s a trouble-maker, when he no longer can stand the strain of looking like a “nice person,” – when he drops his facade.

2. As his illness progresses, it takes a shorter amount of time for him to get arrogant. It’s just like the drinking; he gets sicker quicker. Whereas, before, it would take him several months until he would begin to experience personality changes on the job — now, it would take only a month or so, for those terrible mood-swings to begin to emerge again.

3. Why is it such a relief to the wife when her husband can’t keep up his “act” as long as
he could previously? It is usually because he is so obnoxious during all this time when things are going well for him. She is afraid people will think of her as less than she is because he looks so “terrific” and she is always so angry at him. His public image is so wonderful! She questions her own sanity –is he that terrific? She wishes so much that she could be happy for him in his new job, but his behavior cancels that possibility.

4. Remember, you’ve been conditioned to know that if it’s going to be nice for him – as long as he stays sick — it’s going to be hell for you.

5. Just knowing that this is “typical” of many alcoholics’ behavior helps you not to feel you are rotten or crazy. Most wives of alcoholics don’t get so angry from just the drinking. It’s the related behavior that gets them mad!

Excerpt from the chapter called ’Don’t Believe “Drunk Is Fun!” from the book “Getting Them Sober, volume one’’

He’s absolutely crazy if he acts like its fun.
Living with him is like living in an insane asylum- without doctors.

No one in the “outside world” who is not an alcoholic thinks his world is fun — or sane!

“I yelled at him last week, right after my therapy session. I told him I knew he wasn’t having any fun. I thought that would stop him from trying to hurt me with the idea that he goes out there where all the women want him, in those bars.” I was really thrown by what he said. I got so angry! He outsmarted me again! He acted like he knew what I was going to say and he knew just what to say to hook me into being afraid again. He became real serious-looking, like he was the sober one and I was the drunk. And then he started talking to me in that tone of voice I hate — like he’s a social worker. He sure can pull that one off when he’s drunk — and get me to react just as I would if I didn’t know he was drunk!

He told me, “That’s right, honey, I’m not having fun out there. Whatever made you think otherwise? I’ve got a disease! And that’s why you’ll have to be patient!” And then he just grinned at me.

I could have killed him!

Not every alcoholic is like Carol’s husband. He has a college degree and was a counselor at a halfway house for adolescent boys before his drinking grew worse. But there’s one thing he does have in common with a lot of alcoholics: knowledge of manipulation skills.

Let’s take a look at the dynamics of that discussion between Carol and Ted. Let’s see what really happened. Ted accomplished several things in one fell swoop:

1. He used his “social worker voice” on her, knowing it hooked into her feelings of inferiority about her own sanity.

2. He succeeded in making her temporarily forget that he is sick- again!

I asked her to think of it this way whenever he would try the I’m-the-doctor-you’re-the patient routine again– “Think, imagine, that he is where he belongs — in the hospital, getting treatment for his very sick condition — his physical and mental and spiritual illness. Then, you visit him. You’ve been peaceful for a few days, because he is away from the house.”
“You walk into the room and, once again, he pretends he’s the gracious host and you’re
the patient, about to be admitted to the back wards of a mental hospital.”

But he’s the one wearing the pajamas!’’

Excerpted chapter from the book “Getting Them Sober, volume 4’’
“But He Looks So Good Since We’re Separated ––– Maybe He’s Not An Alcoholic?!”

If the alcoholic “looks good” it doesn’t mean he or she isn’t an alcoholic!

“Looking good” is a stage of the disease.

When an alcoholic or other-drug addict reaches a later stage of addiction, he or she needs alcohol or other drugs to seem normal. Their bodies are so sickened from the toxicity that they need a certain level of drug in them to not go into severe withdrawal. When they get that level of alcohol or pills into them they seem “calm” and “functional.”

The problem is they can’t stay that way for long. After they drink or pilled enough to satiate the biochemical need for the drug, the calming and supposedly “normalizing” effect begins to wear off.

The withdrawal sets in, and it causes an anxiety-producing after-effect that lasts longer than did the original anxiety.

As the disease progresses, the calming periods get harder to attain, and the anxiety and/ or depressed moods get more difficult to shake. This cycle continues until there is sobriety — the only way to end the merry-go-round.

So, don’t confuse a seeming “calm” with thinking there’s not an addiction.

It’s just a stage of the disease.

Excerpted chapter from the book “Getting Them Sober, volume 4’’
“But He’s Drinking Less Since We Separated. Can He Be Getting Better?!”

Lately, since Jan and Karl separated— Karl’s litany is to keep telling her that he “is controlling his drinking just fine.” That he “isn’t an alcoholic, like she always thought.”

Jan tells me “how well he seems to be doing” — and then tells me that he is doing bizarre things in his apartment, like putting dirty ornaments from the yard on the coffee table and thinking they look good. (This is a man who used to be impeccable.)

She insists, though, that he must be better, since he told her so.

But, then she adds, in an “oh, by the way” manner—- “Oh, he just got out of the hospital. His pancreas is acting up again.”

Denial in the entire family is multi-layered, deep, and subtle.

Jan, even though she knew the facts, did not really “hear” when she heard that his pancreas was affected.

Jan knew that was a sign of his progressing alcoholism, because she lived with Karl’s telling her for years that “she was over-reactive,” which resulted in her tending to doubt herself.

She believed that Karl was really getting better.

What is the truth? Alcoholism develops in stages—- In the first stage; the alcoholic usually has a higher tolerance for alcohol than do other human beings. He or she can drink more and “hold their liquor.”

In the next stage, the alcoholic usually can get as toxic from the alcohol as before, while drinking less of it.

It just doesn’t take as much booze to get sick.

Round-the-clock maintenance drinking doesn’t usually occur until the last stages of the disease.
So, if your alcoholic husband or wife isn’t drinking all the time — and therefore seemingly sometimes “controls” it —- it’s because he or she has not yet reached that later stage of the disease.

Toby Rice Drews is the author of the million-selling “Getting Them Sober’’ book series, endorsed by ‘dear Abby’, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie (author of ‘Codependent No More’). Toby trains counselors throughout the U.S. and Canada, and offers telephone consultations with families of alcoholics. Her books are available on her website http://www.GettingThemSober.com. They are also available on Kindle, The Nook, Amazon and in bookstores nationwide.