Hi there. I hope I am not intruding on this board, but I really need some insight. We are trying to help a friend who exhibits traits of borderline personality disorder so much so that he could be a textbook case, and he is getting increasingly unstable. Compounding this is his substance abuse (alcohol and marijuana); he drinks and smokes pot daily. His mother is a recovering alcoholic currently in AA, and she feels that if he would go to a meeting and stop drinking all would be well. She does not believe there is any other effective treatment option for drinking except for AA, because this is what helped her (though she never tried any other treatment.) She also ignores or dismisses the marijuana addiction.
She will not consult anyone except her Al-Anon sponsor about this. She refuses to speak to any therapists, crisis teams, etc, and will only approach the situation from the standpoint of a recovering alcoholic who now has an alcoholic son. The issue is that her Al-Anon sponsor tells her what to do (i.e. explicit directives: "You have to take this measure in exactly this way." The advice is always based on how to deal with someone who drinks, which at times are things that would actually make matters worse when dealing with someone with BPD.)
His BPD is hurting and causing problems for SO many people, and her insistence on approaching it as if he's an alcoholic only is impeding any other attempt to get him to seek treatment. She views her AA and Al-Anon sponsors as experts and WILL NOT listen to anyone outside of these groups. And her Al-Anon sponsor seems to be happy playing the role of "expert." One day, when told by her other son that the advice from her Al-Anon sponsor would be harmful to someone with BPD and even against the advice of the psychiatrist we all had consulted, she said, "Well, my Al-Anon sponsor is going to get mad at me."
Are Al-Anon sponsors supposed to give directives and advice and get upset if you don't follow them? I was under the impression that AA and Al-Anon were for support and shared experiences and that direct advice should not be given. The sponsor is aware that other behaviors besides drinking are present and that most everyone feels he has BPD, and she agrees he is likely suffering from mental illness, but she still continues to give advice and say what "needs to" or "has to" be done. I feel this sponsor is taking on a role other than what Al-Anon is intended for, and by viewing her sponsor as an "expert" who knows how to deal with the situation, it is making any attempts the rest of us make to address both the BPD and substance abuse futile.
I feel AA is wonderful and helps many people (including one of my very best friends), but I also know that this person has an underlying psychiatric issue and also needs to deal with that, not just stop drinking. I feel he will be much more likely fail the program (or any substance abuse program) unless he also deals with being borderline. His mother disagrees and says that he has a genetic propensity to alcoholism because of her and if he could just stop drinking he'd change. Are we correct in thinking her sponsor may be overstepping some boundaries?
I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I don't know anything about sponsors, but I wanted to tell you I think you are right on target with your thinking. The alcohol abuse is just a symptom of BPD. Alcohol abuse isn't the problem.....the BPD is the problem. Even if this person never touched another drop of alcohol in their life, they would still have BPD......it wouldn't solve the problem.
Thank you for your responses, I appreciate them very much. I think his mother's heart is in the right place but she's just not realizing that this is a different situation than what she went through when she stopped drinking.
lol...you're not mixed up, my post was so long it was probably hard to follow! My friend is not attending any treatment or support groups. His mother is the one who attends AA and she has an Al-Anon sponsor giving her advice about her son.