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 Post subject: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:41 pm
Posts: 34
Hello everyone. I'm a "concerned" spouse. IE the past two years have been H*LL. I don't want to go into detail on all that, suffice to say my smart, funny, kind, loving H of 35 years became a stranger. The person I trusted most in my life now lies to me with such convincing and callous skill that I feel like I'm living in that movie Gaslight. This is horrific, believe me, but after a year of falling for the things he was saying about me and us, and living separately, I happened upon forums for the partners of people with depression, and other forums for partners of alcholics.

And I began to read my story (and his) over and over and over in precise detail. The ages, genders, lifestyles might be different, but the story was the same, right down to the same dialogues. It dawned on me then that this was not about me, or even personal to us. This was depression and alcohol, a universal, predictable, biologically based course of behavior driven by powerful neurological systems.

OK. So that hasn't made it any easier to deal with--in one way it's a relief to know it's not personal, but it's more frightening because I understand now that I'm not actually dealing with my husband, but with what I envision as a sort of monstrous boa constrictor that is trying to drag him under water and drown him, and me with him. It's cunning and strong and tireless, and if I ever suppose he's escaped it, it's just gone into hiding and will roar back from a direction I never expected.

That's the bad news. The (hopefully) good news is that I'm an animal trainer and behavioral geek (amateur, not professional, but a very intense and active amateur) and I know a lot about how all that stuff with rats in the lab plays out in a real world environment with real animals. I'm also very fascinated by all the neurological and behavior research that's just now starting to show us how it all happens in the brain.

I've been reading this forum for a couple of weeks. It's really a huge resource and I bless and support every one of you, and I'm so glad it's working so well for so many, and also quite interested in why it might not be working for others. I find myself speculating (ok, obsessing) about TSM and how it works in terms of learning and extinction, both of which are central to the kind of training I do with animals (mainly horses, which by their nature are a pretty good representation of hypersensitivity, fear and anxiety).

So if nothing else, I might have some thoughts that could be interesting to some of you, from a training and learning standpoint.

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Mrs. Truffle is an animal trainer and behavioral science geek.

Mr. Truffle Pre Nal - 119/wk
Nal started briefly Sept 16 2015, but for health reasons Mr. Truffle currently chooses abstinence

(All forum posts by Mrs. T)


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:41 pm
Posts: 34
Continued...

A brief overview of our situation as it stands right now. Earlier this year, after a complete physical and mental crash that ended in the hospital, and some related illness that's hard to separate from the alcohol, I was staying with H in his apt in another city.

Of course he ended up getting detoxed just by being in the hospital. When he got out, he started on an anti-depressant (lowest dose) given by a new GP about 5 months ago, saying that he wanted to stop drinking but every time he stopped he got so anxious he ended up drinking again. I wanted to cheer when the doc said ok, we'll start you on Celexa, because I already knew he had major depression but he's a guy and of course you can't use that word. So we call it "anxiety," which is all part of the same thing anyway, imo. I saw an improvement in his mood immediately. I was with him for a few weeks, we did some traveling together, and then I went home. And he stayed in his apt and started to drink again, ended up in hospital again, I came back again, wash rinse repeat.

The most recent crash was in late August. I arrived to stay with him in early September, and he said without me prompting that he wanted to "take advantage" of me being there to stop drinking. He has strong outside motivation in the person of his niece, who won't let him drink around her son, and he adores time with the son. The central source of his lying is around this and not wanting me to know he's drinking. Even though I now am very sympathetic and non-judgemental, the world is imposing its own judgment and he's very ashamed. I think I represent the epitome of the person he knows he's disappointed and so he's desperate to pretend he's ok. This has resulted in some really sad situations in which it's so clear that he's standing there lying to my face. At this point I just try to say, "It's ok, I know you're going into the bathroom to drink, I don't mind that." And then he'll talk to me about how hard it is and open up a little bit sometimes.

I do think we are working as a team now. It's clear to him and everyone that he can't do this all alone, or live alone, or he'll die. But when he drinks that all goes out the window. We're really at the edge of cliff for him physically, as he's got other health issues and is 68.

_________________
Mrs. Truffle is an animal trainer and behavioral science geek.

Mr. Truffle Pre Nal - 119/wk
Nal started briefly Sept 16 2015, but for health reasons Mr. Truffle currently chooses abstinence

(All forum posts by Mrs. T)


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:55 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:41 pm
Posts: 34
Continued...

So we arrive at TSM...

Early September, I helped him do a very precise taper over two weeks from 3 bottles of wine a day (17 US units by alchol content). He got down to 3 units/day and stayed there for about a week. His goal, as stated by him, is to not drink, but in the past we have enjoyed wine tasting and trips abroad, and he'd like to be able to have wine in special circumstances. Certainly the best thing for his health right now would be abstinence. We both know that. But I've made clear to him repeatedly that I am not taking a position on it, it's up to him.

During the taper, I was doing a lot of research, and came across TSM and this forum, and read the book. I was immediately taken with the logic, which certainly fits into standard reinforcement and training strategies. But I was quite concerned with how it would work in the real world, knowing well that environment trumps training very easily unless the circumstances are properly shaped and controlled.

This forum has been wonderful to give me an overview of the many possible courses and outcomes.

He already had an appointment with a psychiatrist. His goal was to get some librium to "help with anxiety." He doesn't currently have a benzo issue, but I'm sure he would if he got a prescription, and all the doctors he's ever seen have been very wary of giving him that kind of med outside of detox, thankfully.
This psychiatrist was a young woman who was immediately supportive of him when he said he'd just stopped. (He was on his second day sober.) She prescribed gabapentin for anxiety and neuralgia, doubled the Celexa, and Nal for "cravings." We got the prescription! I felt like a junkie sneaking away with my score in triumph. :>

She prescribed the Nal at 50 mg/day, taken at bedtime. (I know, I know.) I kept my cards to my chest and asked her if it would cause him to feel less endorphins with other activities than alcohol. She seemed confused and said, well, there are all kinds of opiate receptors in the brain. I could tell by how she replied that she was not familiar with TSM or the idea of using it for extinction, and was thinking of it as an anti-craving med. So I didn't say more.

Besides, as long as H was sober, I didn't want to tell him to drink. Also I wanted to see how the Nal affected him (along with the gabapentin--I think many of you have read the recent study of this combo.) He was a bit groggy the first day or so, then was fine, slept well, began to gain strength even over a week, and said he was having no problems wanting to drink. (O that sly boa constrictor.)

_________________
Mrs. Truffle is an animal trainer and behavioral science geek.

Mr. Truffle Pre Nal - 119/wk
Nal started briefly Sept 16 2015, but for health reasons Mr. Truffle currently chooses abstinence

(All forum posts by Mrs. T)


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:15 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:41 pm
Posts: 34
Then, after one week of sober H, I was scheduled to go out of town. A day or two before I left, I spent the day out shopping, called and told him I'd be waiting until after traffic to come back. I didn't intend this as a test, but I was aware that it effectively was one, telling him I wouldn't be back for hours.

Came back, all well, but he did seem quite drowsy before bed. I thought I might have see a flash of the boa constrictor, but didn't mention it.

Then I left. First day I was gone, he bought a bottle of wine. Second day I was gone, he bought 2 bottles and didn't call me when he'd said he would. Third day he bought 2 more. I'd planned to be gone a week, but I got in the car and came back. By the time I arrived, he was dead drunk, having driven over to his niece's house to take her boys to the beach, and passed out there. (Of course he'd had a bottle that day I'd gone shopping, meanwhile telling me very convincingly that he'd had NOOOooo problems that day with not drinking before making an anxiety-provoking phone call. This is the kind of lying that the boa constrictor does so well.)

That was yesterday. From now on, we're going to be officially using TSM.

A bit more to come after a posting break. As the old Chinese curse goes, "May you live in interesting times."

_________________
Mrs. Truffle is an animal trainer and behavioral science geek.

Mr. Truffle Pre Nal - 119/wk
Nal started briefly Sept 16 2015, but for health reasons Mr. Truffle currently chooses abstinence

(All forum posts by Mrs. T)


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:26 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:35 pm
Posts: 1429
Truffle,

I wanted to welcome you and give you a glimmer of hope. I have been doing TSM since May 8 and I can tell you that my desire for alcohol has completely changed. I was up to 2+ bottles of wine a night before TSM and last week I only had 4 glasses (2 last Sunday night and 2 this Saturday night). But I want to warn you that it is not as easy as the book states and Dr. Roy Eskapa will soon be writing an updated book to include everything that he has been learning since 2008. Most people do need to put work into it achieve progress.

If you did need any help please let us know, or JoAnn at the "Options Saves Lives" forum has help a lot of people through the program and she will respond to you very promptly (JoAnn is trained alcohol counsellor and has been successful through the program herself).

Good luck and keep us informed,

Jaba


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:13 pm 
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Posts: 438
Truffle, it sounds like a pretty serious problem to me, if he needs actual detox.

Are you talking about seizures, and liver damage and that sort of thing? The thing about the alcohol infused mind, is that when you're actively drinking too extreme excess, you cannot think rationally or make good decisions about how to deal with the problem. Your mind won't let you, it wants to stay in a drunken state.

There is a way around that, and that is to drink less, and allow your brain to become clear from alcohol. That would mean alcohol free days, drinking minimally on the days you do drink, and allowing your brain to actually learn how to think coherently again. That can take some months, but it doesn't mean you can't drink less to let the extinction occur.

That can be done by following TSM, but TSM is not of benefit if excessive drinking continues to be the preferred behavior.

What that means, is that he must want to do this, and put in the effort to actually not drink to excess every day. If not, it is likely to be a waste of time, and a false hope.

Bottom line, is success with TSM means markedly reduced or no drinking. He needs to be on board with that.


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:57 pm 
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Posts: 34
Thank you Jaba and Guapo. I appreciate your replies very much.

Guapo I'm in total agreement with your comments. It's a very serious problem, but no he hasn't had seizures, etc. The physical problems are gastrointestinal and circulatory, and general muscle weakness, made worse by the alcohol. When he's gone into the hospital for those things, we tell them to make sure they do a detox protocol so that there won't be repercussions from the sudden cessation. His liver is so far ok but the doc says of course it will get worse if he continues to drink.

About 6 years ago, he did stop drinking entirely. After some relapses, he found a psychiatrist who specialized in addiction and diet. He changed to a wonderful diet, lost many pounds, and felt so much better physically that he was hiking daily with our dog in the mountains for several hours. He didn't have any alcohol-related medications, just some CBT with her. I thought everything was ok. But something changed somewhere along the way, or more likely he was white-knuckling all along and he hid it from me, which was easy for him to do because he wanted to spend a lot of time with his neices kids and so we were apart a lot, which I was fine with as I had no idea what was happening.

When he relapsed, it was a classic case of Alcohol Deprivation and he began drinking this past 2 years even worse.

Anyway, yes I believe he wants to quit. He says he has to quit. But as you say, when someone is under the influence, they don't have rational ability to make moment-to-moment decisions. He seems right now to be willing, even asking, me to help. We did the taper and he was feeling better.

He has been on the daily Nal at bedtime for the past week, so at least he essentially was doing TSM for a couple of drinking days and said that he didn't feel buzzed. I have briefly discussed the TSM theory with him, and he gets it, but isn't really conversant with the details.

I think he might have been experimenting, and ended up in a binge. If it weren't for the danger of his drinking that much, I would mark it up to his first experience of drinking "normally" on Nal, because although he had 1 week sober, before the taper he was on 17 units a day, while for the past three days it's 10 units.

So that's a drop, anyway. But it's too dangerous to continue and what I hope is that he will be open with me about it, not sneak drinks and keep it to about 3 units a day. I have to go over the TSM protocol with him more clearly, but right now we don't have privacy to do that.

Right now he tells me he wants to taper off to abstinence again, and that this was a warning of what will happen if he continues, but he has to do some difficult tax work and says he may want to keep it to 2-3 units/day through that before stopping. (I can hear the boa constrictor speaking there.)

So that's where we start. Where we are. :>

_________________
Mrs. Truffle is an animal trainer and behavioral science geek.

Mr. Truffle Pre Nal - 119/wk
Nal started briefly Sept 16 2015, but for health reasons Mr. Truffle currently chooses abstinence

(All forum posts by Mrs. T)


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:08 pm 
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Posts: 1429
Truffle,

It is possible to use TSM to become abstinence, for that is what UK Blonde has done. That is not saying she doesn't have a craving now and again, but it is nothing like before.

I do agree with what Guapo is saying about TSM is not of benefit if excessive drinking continues, for I did not gain control until I cut back the amount I was drinking (mindful drinking) and after that I was able to do an alcohol free day without white knuckling. It was almost as if once I cut back on my intake a switch was flipped and I started to have control (and I will always be on my toes in fear that may change).

Also he has to be honest with you if he will miss that buzz and the way alcohol will not take the edge off any more.

I am actually finding that alcohol is more of a waste of calories and not worth drinking, for I do not get the same pleasure from it. I used alcohol for anxiety and a stress reliever, and it does not do that any more for me.

I think it is a really good plan to taper his drinking off to 2-3 units a day until he feels strong enough to have an af day, for it is a good place to start.

I admire your patience and how you have taken the emotion out of an emotional situation. I do hope you have the strength to continue in this journey for it is not going to be easy; however, we will be here to help you and him the best we can.

Keep us informed when you can,

Jaba


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:44 pm 
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Posts: 438
Jaba is right on the money, and BTW Jaba, i'm glad you're seeing some good progress.

Awesome!

Anyways, the more knowledge your drinking man has, the better. Read the TSM book, read on this forum, the C3 forum, read back to the cured list, read some reddit threats, where the common thought is that anything less than abstinence is impossible, and TSM is roundly trounced.

The reason is, there are many opinions, and to read them gives a good perspective on things. Takes some time to digest, a few months at least.

Not to sound trite, but I took the approach that I would be optimistic and was optimistic, and that was how I succeeded. The other options are to keep drinking mindlessly, or be abstinent forcefully.

Good Luck !!

I wish you all the best


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 Post subject: Re: Training and Behavior Geek
PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:19 am 
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Posts: 446
Truffle, I read your story and I have nothing to add to what Guapo and Jaba said. I just wanted to let you know that you have my support and I hope you will continue to post and let us know how things are going for you.

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Weeks 1, 2 - 15, 50 AF/0
Weeks 3-11 not tracking AF/0
Weeks 12-27 average 18-21
Week 28-42 not tracking


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