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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Symptoms of a Recovered Addict Are What?

12/28/2011

Question:

I would like to know if there have been any studies on addicts that have been clean for more than a decade? I am a recoverying addict now for eleven years, my sister say`s that my memory is distortied of my childhood life due to my drug usage. I did crack for 13 years, only 3 years of heavy usage. I am from a dysfunctional family of alcholoics and physical abuse, yet my sister say`s we were not. I am not the only addict she as well as two other of us were/are severe alcholoics and drug users. I sometimes feel that she is right, but I am well aware of my surroundings, phyciritists have found me to be of sound mind, so why does this bother me? She is a Alcholoic, her kids use refer and alcholo, all of our family except the eldest are drinking or have drunk for a long time. I feel that her actions are abusive to keep harassing me with this issue since I quite in 2001 and have not drank or did drugs since. Maybe you can help me find my answers.

Answer:

Thanks for your excellent question. The likelihood is that your recollection of your home life, now that you are looking at it through the lens of being sober, is more accurate than your sister's recollection. 

Think about it this way: BEFORE you got sober, did you completely realize how problematic your family of origin was?   Most people do not recognize exactly how many problems there were ... because they just got used to them and thought that the family was pretty "normal". Then AFTER you got sober I predict that you gradually began to realize more and more things about your family of origin that were a problem and NOT normal. Well, if your sister has not gotten sober, or learned about sobriety, she is probably thinking about your family of origin the same way you thought about them BEFORE you got sober. So she thinks it was pretty normal! 

It would probably be very helpful for you to read a few books about family systems and addictive disease. "I'll Quit Tomorrow" is a good one. Also "Adult Children of Alcoholics" book titles are often useful. "Freeing Someone you Love from Alcohol and Other Drugs" by Ron Rogers and Scott McMillen is a great book though real hard to find. 

Anyway, remember several things: 
1) Different people in the same situation have different perspectives. 

2) Children from the same family - especially if it was an abusive family - OFTEN have very different memories. 

3) Your perspective now is affected by your recovery, and hers may still be affected by "stinking thinking". 

4) Often people in your sister's situation feel threatened by your sort of memories ... since it can force them to reconsider their own use of alcohol or drugs. If she is feeling threatened, she might very naturally react with anger, defensiveness, or accusations toward you. It is best to try not to take these things personally and remember that it is just the other person's insecurity that is really talking. 

 I hope this helps a little, and be sure to read those books. 

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University