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Achieving Sobriety from Alcoholism without Treatment?

by Kelly

My boyfriend of 5 years has been an alcoholic for at least the last 20 years. He stopped drinking about a year ago on his own. He has not attended AA nor has he gone to treatment.

He has been very successful in his sobriety, but I worry that because he's not in any treatment program, the cause of his alcoholism haven't been addressed. He has definitely changed for the better, but I am concerned that without treatment, he will relapse.

He has lost a significant amount of weight since he stopped drinking, and is now obsessed with his weight and working out. He's had a few bouts of depression in the past year as well.

What are the chances of successful sobriety without treatment?


Hi Kelly

Look, it is possible, and some alcoholics do manage to achieve sobriety without ever going through a formal treatment, or finding a proper alcohol recovery program to keep working at so that they don't relapse.

I think what's helping your boyfriend is that he's found something, albeit healthy, to replace his addiction, i.e. an obsession with working out. But like you say, the danger is its not sustainable because the underlying causes of his alcoholism haven't been addressed, and that on a deep emotional and spiritual level he still remains vulnerable.

Having said that though, what he's doing is working, and that's the main thing. Look out for symptoms of dry drunk syndrome because that does become a danger for alcoholics who don't engage in a proper recovery program. But at this stage I don't think you should push him too hard about what he's doing, maybe just try and have a conversation with him about why he doesn't want to engage in a proper recovery program because in the long run it will only help him.

At the end of the day though, it's up to each individual to find way to achieve lasting sobriety that works for them. Yes ideally it helps following proven methods because the support one receives is also invaluable, but there are people out there who do manage it alone, even if they are the minority.

So right now, rather than worry about something that may/may not happen, enjoy what you have. If he does however start exhibiting any dry drunk symptoms or isn't progressing emotionally, then you should really push him to start working a proper alcoholism recovery program. But if he's in a good place and doing well, hopefully its a sign that his ongoing sobriety is sustainable, even without outside help.

Good Luck.

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