Problem Drinking cases
How you can end your problem drinking
Alcohol misuse is usually an attempt to self medicate. These Problem Drinking cases show that the problem is not alcohol itself. In every case the drinker has issues from childhood that they just cannot deal with. It is easier to numb the feelings with drink.
Problem Drinking Case – the apprentice
This young man came in because he was drinking too much. He was drinking to oblivion four nights a week, and getting hangovers that didn’t clear until 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
When I asked him why he drank, he said “I really didn’t know why I drink”. He wasn’t violent, he just drank until it was time to go to bed. Then he would swear off it for a month and somehow start back again.
He looked forward to Friday nights to relax with his mates. And then it all got out of hand. He would wake up with a hangover and no memory of the previous night. Lately he had been missing days from work due to feeling too ill in the morning.
I tried to find the source of the problem but he said that there was no sort of trigger, no particular time. His parents broke up when he was five. He shuttled between them. At age fifteen he was taken out of school because of anger issues. Now he worked in his dad’s firm as a plumber. He felt he was stupid, he could not retain information. His drinking was threatening to stop him completing his apprenticeship.
Exploring the issues
I couldn’t find a way in to him. He didn’t seem to have any emotional issues. He felt that he had got over his upbringing. I suspected that he had not, and the anger was a feeling of injustice from childhood. I got him to think about his problem.
As soon as I started talking about his feelings he went into trance on his own. Twitching, REM movements, all the spontaneous indicators of trance. I have always wondered if highly susceptible people made their problems worse, or whether susceptibility is unrelated to emotional problems.
I asked him to get in touch with his feelings but it took a long time for him to feel anything physical.We started with Metaphor therapy. He experienced his anger as something that was burning with a lot of smoke. I got him to put the flames and smoke of his anger/disappointment into a chair. And eventually got him to put a wet towel over it and extinguish it. I then woke him up but neither of us was convinced that we had fixed it.
Removing the source of drinking problems
I started teaching himself hypnosis but decided to go for Regression instead. To go back in time to the initial sensitizing event you need an emotion to start from. He had no open emotion to work with.
So I started without an emotional target. I put him into trance and kept talking about ‘that feeling‘ without specifying exactly what he should be looking for. I then did the normal regression technique and took him back in time. He got a memory of his dad holding him by the arm and pulling him away from his mother and trying to put him into the car. He felt lost and confused.
I did Inner Child work on that feeling and he started gently crying. Then as he rescued that frightened child he used to be, he started smiling. I worked through the rest of the technique and brought him out..
He said that he felt the most powerful bond when he went back to the child.
“It’s all right now.”
Problem Drinking Case Bob Brewer
Bob came to therapy because his wife insisted that he do something about his drinking. He didn’t drink all that often, but when he did he couldn’t just go home when he should. Instead he would stay out drinking to the last and then arrive home drunk many hours after he had promised. This upset his wife. She thought he was unreliable and disrespectful. She was unhappy and the marriage was under strain. Bob was also unhappy. He loved his wife and family and generally was a good husband, worked hard and contributed to the household.
But when he went out for a drink with his friends he just could not bring himself to go home at the time he had agreed to. He felt bad about his behaviour, he realised it was upsetting his wife, he did not want to upset her, but he did not seem to be able to leave the bar and go home when he was supposed to. He had thought about his behaviour, tried to understand it, could not see any reason for it, tried to change, but just could not go home at the right time.
The origin of his problem drinking
Questioning Bob uncovered the reason for his behaviour. He had been born in Turkey but his parents left him with his grandparents while they went to Germany to look for work. Bob had a wonderful childhood living on a farm with his grandmother and dozens of aunts and cousins and cats, dogs, pigs and everything else that a young boy could love.
That all ended abruptly when he was five and half. His mother came to the farm one day to take him away. Suddenly he was living in a tiny apartment, alone most of the day, with adults who were complete strangers and where he couldn’t understand a word anyone said. And instead of a warm loving circle of indulgent relatives, he now had these strangers pushing him around.
So he rebelled. He decided that no one was going to tell him what to do. That frightened little boy decided that defiance was how to get control back into his life. And so he grew up with a determination never to let anyone tell him what to do. He learned that he could happily obey some rules, but would not tolerate anything relating to his personal freedom. He did what he wanted. And this rule served him very well, most of the time. It got him thrown out his family home at seventeen, but he became successful in business, never working for anyone else, because he would not have anyone telling him when to go for lunch or what time to get to work.
Problem drinking in marriage
But then he got married. And he could no longer have everything his own way. He had to make allowances for somebody else. Someone who had their own rights and expectations: who wanted him home by a certain time. So now Bob had a problem. His internal rule was to never let anyone tell him what to do, but if he followed that rule he would make his wife unhappy which made him unhappy. So he found himself in a bind.
He could not go home when he said he would because that meant he was being told what to do in his personal life, but he actually wanted to go home, and he dreaded the phone calls from his wife reminding him to get home on time because that made him even more anxious. The more anxious he got the more he drank and the easier it was to stay on and drink some more. Part of him wanted to leave and go home to a welcoming wife and family, and part of him was determined to show that he wasn’t going to be pushed around. Logically he knew what he should do, but his mind just wouldn’t let him.
The Treatment: Cognitive Modelling
The treatment consisted of getting Bob to accept one part of the dilemma, and to reject the other. The way to do that was to get him to realise that he could control his drinking by controlling the way he thought. Metaphor therapy is based on the idea that every feeling and memory is associated with a picture, an image that is actually a metaphor that represents that feeling or memory. Metaphor Therapy consists of changing the feeling by changing the image.
I taught Bob how to visualise his feelings, and then how to alter the images that represented the feelings. Then I showed him the Swish Technique and he was able to transfer images that represented success to the image that represented his problem. One cancelled out the other. He was able to alter his behaviour immediately and get his marriage back.