Alcohol Abuse or Addiction?
Firstly, when we talk about Alcohol Abuse we are NOT talking about Addiction which is something different.
If you take a drink to avoid feeling bad, or alternatively to make yourself feel good, then it’s possible that your drinking could be a problem. This problem can “sneak up” on without notice and what can seem like the same old “social drinking” can take on a new dimension.
Understanding the problem is the first step in doing something about it.
So what actually is Alcohol Abuse?
As with all Psychological conditions, there are a large number of factors that can influence your likelihood of becoming an “abuser” or not. There are just as many factors which might lead you take up drinking as a way of coping with life’s stresses and anxieties.
If the environment in which you grew up was associated with heavy drinking then you are more likely to develop an drink related problem.
People suffering Anxiety Disorders or Depression are also more susceptible as the temptation to “avoid” the factors causing the problem by “drinking them away” can be tempting.
The most reliable measure of whether or not you have a drinking problem is the degree to which it is affecting your life, in your relationships and in your home and work environments.
Alcohol Abuse Video
Do I have a drink problem?
It is possible that you do have a problem if you experience any of the following:
- Have feelings of guilt or perhaps shame about the amount you drink
- Hide your drinking from others
- Lie about how frequently or how much you drink
- Frequently have comments made about your drinking by friends or family
- Believe that you NEED to drink in order to feel better
- Have memory loss about drinking sessions
- Drink much more than you intended to
If you believe that you have an addiction problem then we advise, before consulting for Hypnotherapy, that you discuss the matter with your GP.
Read more about Alcohol Abuse on NHS Choices here.
What are the symptoms of Alcohol Abuse?
Sufferers differ from Alcoholics in that they have some ability to influence their actions by conscious intervention. This does NOT mean that Alcohol Abuse is OK or is not a problem. For many Addicts, Alcohol Abuse is the stepping stone to full blown addiction. (Again this may depend on many factors mentioned above)
Some of the more common Symptoms or Behavioural patterns associated with Alcohol Abuse are:
- Persistently neglecting your responsibilities at home or work because of your drinking. (Taking days off due to a hangover, Performing badly at work and finding yourself facing disciplinary actions because of this neglect.)
- Drinking in situations where there is a clear danger such as driving or operating machinery.
- Getting into trouble with the law because of your drinking, for example, fighting, drunk and disorderly behaviour or drink driving offences.
- Drinking even though you know it will cause friction in your relationships.
- Using drink as a way of relaxing after a particularly stressful day at work, or after a rather minor disagreement with a friend or partner.
Some early warning signs of Alcohol Abuse
If you need to drink more than you “used to” to get that “high” feeling, or you find that you can “out-drink” others before you get drunk, then you may be developing a “tolerance” to alcohol which could indicate alcohol abuse.
If you develop the “shakes” or the “DT’s” and need a drink to steady your hands then this could be warning sign. This drinking to offset the symptoms of withdrawal is a significant sign that Alcoholism may be developing.
You may also develop some other physical signs which could include:
- Trembling hands
- Sweating when it’s not particularly warm
- Difficulty sleeping
- Easily Irritated
- Frequent headaches
In severe abuse cases, withdrawal from drink can also involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous.
If your Alcohol Abuse is more severe it’s possible that you could also suffer from hallucinations, seizures and severe irritation.
These are all signs to get some help
Because of the socially acceptable dimensions of drinking in our society it is very easy to become self-deceiving over your drinking. Denial takes place when the internal dialogue you have with yourself (the conversations in your own mind) finds ways of making excuses that your drinking is fine and under control. It is much easier to convince yourself rather than others that a problem doesn’t exist.
Your ability to be completely honest with yourself may well determine your likelihood of getting help before your Alcohol Abuse turns into Alcoholism.
Examples of Denial
- “I can easily stop drinking whenever I want to (I just don’t want to at the moment!)”
- Maybe you can, maybe you can’t, but by trying to convince yourself that you really are in control you ignore the fact that you are really just making an excuse to keep on drinking. If it’s that easy the why don’t you stop drinking for two weeks and prove it to yourself
- “I’m not hurting anybody and it’s my own business what I do with my body.”
- Of course that’s completely true, it’s your body and if want to ruin your life then that’s up to you, but it is self-deception to believe that it’s only your life that is affected by Alcohol Abuse. Your friends and family will all be affected by watching you doing this to yourself.
- “I only drink Beer or wine so I can’t have a “real” drink problem.”
- Alcohol abuse has very little to do with your choice of drink or, to that matter, how much you drink. Alcohol Abuse is all about the EFFECTS of your drinking. One “blow-out” once a week could easily be symptomatic of an Alcohol Abuse problem.
- “I’m holding down a job so I must be OK.”
- The notion that you have to be swigging “meths” out of a brown paper back on a street corner to have a problem is nonsense. Many people with a drink problem are able to hold down very senior roles seemingly without a problem, but it is important to be aware that Alcohol Abuse rarely falls into an “even and balanced” pattern, instead it normally escalates over time.
- “Well, it’s not as bad a drug abuse is it?”
Alcohol, of course, IS a drug and has the same potential for damage as any other narcotic. Alcohol can affect the way the brain functions leading to the “need” to drink more to keep supplying the brain with the “pleasurable” experiences. The good news is that these changes in Brain Function CAN be reversed through the appropriate use of drugs or Psychotherapy.
Therapy for Alcohol Abuse
Hypnosis for Alcohol Abuse
Hypnosis combined with Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques over one or two sessions may be able to help you to manage your situation more effectively, particularly if the problem is relatively minor and the principal issue is one of not being able to relax without taking a drink.
In most cases, however, we would recommend a more thorough approach to this problem, particularly as people with drink issues have a tendency to be in denial about the problem and opt for easier solutions.
Psychotherapy for Alcohol Abuse
Cognitive Processing & Integration Therapy may help you to uncover the badly processed experiences from earlier in your life that can lead to unwanted behaviours in adulthood. Re-processing these “causative” events in a more useful context can often help you to get your life back on track without any unconscious motivations to self-harm, which is undoubtedly what Alcohol Abuse is.
The Thrive Programme can help you to gain an understanding of how your belief systems can have created a set of “thinking styles” and “behaviours” leading you to believe that you do not have the ability or fortitude to overcome the problem. This in itself can become a “self-fulfilling” prophecy in which you simply continue to drink as you see very little point in putting in the effort to change.
This type of therapy is best suited to those problems that might be described as “inconvenient” but not necessarily “pervasive” and normally produces quick results.
CPI normally requires a course of sessions, typically 6 – 12, during which you examine past experiences and re-process them in more useful contexts.
Thrive is typically a 6 -10 session course of cognitive training which utilises a detailed but fun workbook to help you make changes to your thinking.