You’ll often hear people talk about “hopeless alcoholics”, meaning the ones who have struggled to get sober several times and failed. Most of the time, the people who say that an alcoholic’s fight is hopeless and that he will never get better have no idea about the difficulties of the recovery process because they’ve never actually had to battle a dependency.
What Had Happened When I First Relapsed?
I, for one, have been referred to as a hopeless alcoholic by many ex-colleagues and even my former boss, in spite of the fact that it was my first relapse. I had been pegged irredeemable by them, even though they didn’t know half the facts and were unfamiliar with the reasons behind my relapse. They just thought “Hey, this guy failed to stay sober after rehab, it must mean he’s incurable and will always be a drunk”. I resented them for it back then and hearing their opinions didn’t really help my self esteem, but I learned that holding onto the bitterness is not healthy either.
The Real Problem
As an alcoholic, you’re not actually admitting to yourself that you’re addicted to booze and many of your friends will talk about your problem behind your back, but never to your face. However, in recovery, when things are starting to get clear, you begin to understand that you weren’t really held in high esteem back then. Also, your current reputation relies on your ability to refrain from alcohol. One wrong step and you’ve been labeled as a hopeless drunk who will never amount to anything. At the same time, there will be those who are just waiting to see you fail because it’s what they foretold will happen.
Now, neither of these things are pleasant to learn for a person struggling with alcohol recovery and trust me, they will hurt. I’ve known – or thought I knew – some people for years and never realized that I was a joke of person to them. I actually used their degrading view of me as an excuse to relapse; the shock of learning their true nature and view of me got me so mad I took the hasty decision of “living up to their expectations” and threw away months of therapy.
The Better Course of Action
I urge you to deal with newfound realization in a better way than I did, because the only thing relapsing due to anger does is confirm the theory of these narrow sighted individuals. Sure it hurts, sure it’s going to give your self esteem a blow when you least need it. But in order to survive it, you’ll have to learn to cope with the fact that you are the only person responsible for your happiness and yours alone. You don’t live your life to make others proud and the only opinions that should truly matter are those of the people who care about you and understand your struggle.
It took me years of therapy and three long visits in rehab to learn this harsh truth, but eventually I managed to avoid letting my self-esteem rely on the misguided comments of others. There’s no such thing as a hopeless alcoholic; where there’s a will, there’s a way for everyone.