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Struggling with effects of pandemic and my years of sobriety


Hi, 60y old diagnosed at 55. No meds as heart condition. Used alcohol to manage, got sober through A.A. 2 years and was doing well till this pandemic threw most of my coping strategies out the window. Have now found my self using alcohol again,not as bad as before but who knows. Scared about this situation as family are really concerned. Would be good to hear if anyone else has experienced similar. Thanks

14 Replies

My experience is not very similar, and I don't have excellent advice for you. But I can offer support. I know that the pandemic has unearthed some issues for me that I never expected to need to overcome, so I can imagine sobriety would be difficult to hold on to when the rug is so drastically ripped out from underneath you. I can imagine that your AA community is still available to you to better offer understanding in that respect, and as someone who has lost several family members to alcoholism, I do hope you'll reach out to them. With everything you've already overcome, I know you're strong enough to do it.

Hi Creighton, I had a period of about 5 years where I stayed 'dry' and then something came up to trigger my drinking again, something which was quite permanent, so I do drink, but at a very much lower level than I used to. The Lockdown is not permanent and we will all eventually go back to some version of 'normality', I would expect that once that normality returns, you will find that you will be able to get back on the wagon. The main thing is not to feel bad about it, you're having a perfectly normal reaction to a stressful situation. A situation which is temporary. If you are able to 'discipline' what you are drinking, i.e. you only drink the smallest amount, when the stress is at its peak - for me that's in the evening and I drink really small amounts, one at dinner and one after 8pm - and that's it. Then at least your brains circuitry is 'seeing' the alcohol, but it's not getting gallons of the stuff. The light is there at the end of the tunnel and it is getting closer, and you have managed to stop before - you will stop again. All the Best, Mark

Thank you so much for your post as I feel like what is happening here😥I am not drinking like I used to but family pressure is immense as they see what I was coming back. But I don’t feel that and am caught between a rock and a hard place. A.A. helped set me with a set of tenants ie 12 steps and a faith. That is still burnt into my soul. But I have never experienced this pandemic and how it strips you of so many daily rituals that empower me. My church has just opened up again so that hopefully will help. But as of one day at a time it’s all I can do and pray my family understand. Thank you so much for your time.

You're welcome. Understand the loss of routine. Perhaps see if there are alternative ways to achieve routine things, or find something 'equivalent' - I find just being outside the house is a huge relief, even if it's just sitting looking at the lawn growing, the birds chattering away in the trees or the weather (good or bad). As long as your family understand that for us folks with ADHD, we don't actually choose to be this way and some of our behaviours are to do with our 'wiring'. I had to get this over to my wife recently and it was a tense time, but it did help her get a sense of why I did certain things - not out of choice. Wishing you all the best.

Thank you for those words of wisdom. My family however see my death through drinking again and I can’t seem to explain it is not my desire to drink again but a coping mechanism for what is a torrid time . I am limiting my alcohol to weekends and in a smaller amount to when I was lost in the helplessness. But I do worry as I don’t have anyone that understands this. My adhd doesn’t help as I struggle with valuing myself at the best of times. But I keep praying and doing the steps with my family whatever. And hope all the old strength comes back. Hope you are ok? Take care.

Hi mark, thank-you for your honesty doesn’t go down well in a lot of places but it does for me. You got to be there to truly understand. Feeling a lot more hopeful from the support I’m getting. When it was only family so emotionally involved it was dreadful, pure guilt and fear. But starting to see a way through this. My church has started back up which was one of my vitals. Early days but so good to have people out there who understand and care. Thanks

I come from a long lineage of alcoholism. I got caught up in drinking during my divorce but have not touched the stuff in almost 10 years so my temptation for the drink isn’t the same but I struggle with needing person to person support to get through the “2020” blues.

You might have telemed options available to you. That is how I am doing therapy at the moment. It isn’t the same but I know most doctors are offering video options as well that may seem less lonely. The same goes for online and virtual AA meetings.

There are also virtual ADHD support meetings, I plan to look for one later today.

Do you have a person in your life the you can see and talk to about this? I am lucky and I have my adult daughter and her partner that I can check in with when I really need it.

Also, and I don’t want this to sound trite, but I have you tried adopting any meditation into your daily routine? I had a hard time getting started but I use a 5 minute meditation on YouTube and it slows me and my mind down just enough to keep me from diving into some of my compulsive behaviors. I just started this a couple of months ago and it is crazy how much it helps. It is a guided meditation so I feel like someone is there with me and it’s only 5 minutes so even if my meds are not working that day, because that happens all the time for me, I can get through it and feel better and less lonely afterwards. It also makes me feel empowered because I did a thing! And a thing that is good for me at that, so it also boosts my confidence and helps me to not give into destructive behaviors.

I hope this helps. 2020 has been rough and uncertain but we are not alone. Isolation is so painful and I hope you can find something to help you through.

I second meditation. More specifically I recommend you look into mindfulness-based coping strategies. The pandemic took away your old ones. Mindfulness is a key practice in a constellation of coping strategies you can use to learn to sit with, rather than medicate unpleasant emotions. There are other good books I am sure, but "The Mindful Way Through Depression" is an excellent introduction, even if you are not battling depression. Good luck!

Hi Creighton. I have experience getting sober, and having ADHD, but haven’t drank anything for a while. That was a choice I made years ago. It may not be the only good choice. A friend of mine was going to commit suicide and decided to drink. He lived to be sober another day. So who am I to say what’s right for you. That being said, as you know the 12 step program is one of complete abstinence, and if that’s what you told your family you needed as a solution, and then you started drinking, it would be reasonable to be worried. A head full of AA and a belly full of beer are horrible partners. That’s a hell of a lot of shame to deal with.

You need support. Can’t tell from this side of the computer screen whether it’s AA or something else. But alcohol isn’t a trustworthy treatment for ADHD or emotional dysregulation, and it sounds like that’s how you are using it? Please be careful.

Yes you are right I know it is not the way out of anything. The 12 steps are a hard guide to to live by but it saved my life, linking that with adhd was why I stopped going to meetings, you got to have it to truly understand. But it had gave me a great sense of how to live. So this present time has thrown me off course but thank you for being there and showing someone cares. I am feeling more positive about the outcome of all of this. Have started relating my situation to some of my family, hope and pray I will turn a corner and get some control back. Started a bit of mindfulness this morning. Take care .

Hi dnz, yeh my drinking started when my wife left me to be free of the four children we had together. Managed for years struggling with being ok for them and not for me. But got there eventually with them all grown up and then it all came crashing down for me and alcohol took over. Ended up in AS and found a new life of forgiveness and faith. But this pandemic was I say has ground me down. Any useful sites of recommends positive meditations mindfulness etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

This is a link to the YouTube meditation I started with. There are more and longer meditations.

I also highly recommended the book “practicing peace in times of war” by Pema Chödrön. She has an audio version on audible that you can get a free trial for. I find listening to books while I am doing other things helps them stick in my brain better. The focus of this topic is catching what trigger you and practicing the catch before the trigger sets in. My dad is Buddhist and this book helped me get sober and almost 10 years later it is helping me cope with rejection sensitivity.

Isolation is the worst thing for alcoholism, depression, adhd etc. we are social animals and with the previously mentioned issues, when left to our own devices, our brains will run amok and get us in a bad spot. I wish you all the luck. I wish you relief from your suffering and I wish you success in your sobriety. ❤️

Thank you I will most certainly look into your suggestions. I appreciate the wisdom hard earned I’m sure.

Hi dnz. What floored me is where did the trigger come from,I know it sounds obvious on reflection. I was doing so well with living amends to my wife 4 children. What is it about that adhd brain that just slips so easily into the negative. Firstly let me say I have four beautiful children that I have a valuable dad relationship. They all say they would do anything to help me with my struggle. A wife who although doesn’t totally get the adhd but sees the alcohol and makes me feel so guilty. Adhd on the one hand has helped me be an attentive dad and husband. Always there always showing I care and managing daily life for them, cooked tea time to listen put the washing on etc etc. But at this time I have drank, not drunkno where what I was but the jury says “drank”. Started going to church again which is a building block in my spiritualitymay just maybe.i still sit here reflecting on how I got here again. Will and try download the audible book you suggest, and dig out those meditations. We have a total life story to tell but that would take soooo long. God bless Moz aka Creighton .

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