How I Helped My Husband Recover From Alcohol Addiction
I met my husband, Bill, when he had been clean and sober for 12 months.
Both my parents were alcoholics, and as often happens to children in alcoholic families, I married a man who exhibited the same symptoms. Back then, Bill had been a shining example of the success of AA’s ’12 Step Program’ – a story of recovery.
However, things took a change when Bill stopped attending AA meetings.
He started to put up walls, expressed passive-aggressive behaviour and a mental obsession with drinking. He was experiencing symptoms of ‘Dry Drunk Syndrome’ (DDS) – something that happens when recovering alcoholics or addicts don’t attend these meetings on a regular basis and don’t get the ongoing support that they need to help with their distorted thinking
Just like many other partners to those suffering from DDS, I blamed myself, and went out of my way to try make things ‘right’. I stopped taking care of myself, suffered from migraines nearly every day, and I became addicted to my work. I was incredibly stressed, and then, as it became obvious that it was impacting our eight children, finally realised that something had to change.
I visited a 12 Step Program Meeting, for the friends and family of alcoholics, and discovered a life-changing experience. I felt I belonged as those around me stood to tell their stories – all so similar to my ow n. My interest in my recovery, as well as that of my family, and especially my husband, was sparked.
Together, we travelled to the US, to a treatment centre called The Meadows, where the program made an intense impact on our lives. I discovered my passion for the Recovery Movement during Bill’s treatment as we attended family week. We were inspired, as we returned to Australia, to open a facility similar to the one we had been attending. Centres of this type were largely unknown in Australia at the time while the need for them was great.
In 1993 we founded South Pacific Private.
There were many challenges which came from opening the hospital, including the need to sell our family home, which was a necessary action to keep our vision alive as we struggled to keep the business going.
Seven years after opening the hospital, Bill passed away, and despite my grief I knew I wanted to continue in my passion for healing families and saving lives, and to continue running South Pacific Private.
The best advice I have ever been given was to stay away from anything toxic: people, places and things.
To other women who may be facing adversity, I say: always trust your body – your body doesn’t lie.
Do not deny what’s happening, and seek help if you are depressed or in physical pain.
My body was trying to tell me that I needed help as the ramifications of my childhood experiences began to reveal themselves physically. We are fortunate now to be in a time of many options for those seeking help, and the investments you put into your own life is an incredible gift, both to those you love and for yourself.
I believe we all face challenging experiences as we go through life, and my firsthand experience with mental health issues and in dealing with alcoholism has given me the opportunity to dedicate my time to helping others.
Our responses, and how we learn from challenges is important, not the challenge itself.
About South Pacific Private
South Pacific Private is Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility offering inpatient and day programs to treat anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioural addictions, alcohol addiction and substance abuse. Treatment at South Pacific Private offers the best possibility of recovery through its multidisciplinary, tailored programs which are designed to meet the individual needs of clients.
Lorraine Woods is the Co-Founder and Owner of South Pacific Private, Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility. Inspired by her own experiences, she and her husband Bill established South Pacific Private in 1993 as a selfless act to improve the community and offer opportunities for people to recover from their addictions.
Twenty years later, and now in her seventies, Lorraine is still a familiar face in the corridors and the patients find inspiration in her story. She still regularly lectures and sometimes still holds group therapy or meetings.