The Dangers of Alcohol Misuse
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Toby Ingham MA UKCP BAPPS
14th August, 20080 Comments
Alcohol misuse is a serious problem. A successful 40 year-old man is in trouble at home. His wife is threatening to divorce him if he doesn’t get his drinking under control. She has told him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous but he doesn’t want to. Drinking has been a big part of his life for the last twenty years, part of his business culture and his social life.
Privately he knows that his drinking is taking its toll. He has made mistakes at work, work is more pressured these days and he doesn’t want to stand out as a liability. He’s been scared by repeated memory losses which make him feel guilty and ashamed because he can’t remember what he’s done, and he’s becoming more anxious about what people are saying about him. He knows things are difficult at home, he’s been losing his temper with his wife and two daughters. He is frustrated by not knowing what is causing these problems, but he is caught up in a spiral, he gets frustrated so he drinks, he drinks and he gets more frustrated. So it goes on.
So what can he do? Firstly, as he partly knows, he needs to stop drinking. The questions of why he drinks so much is important but that has to be looked at after the drinking has stopped. If the drinking stops, a lot of his symptoms and problems will fade away. He’ll have better relationships at home, he won’t be so anxious about what people are saying about him at work, he’ll sleep better, he won’t have the memory problems and so on. The trouble is that on his own, he can’t seem to stop drinking.
Could psychotherapy support his attempt to stop drinking? Yes, it might be somewhere he could have honest conversations, where he could look at his behaviour. It could be a safe confidential place where he can confront these issues and develop commitment to his ideas to stop drinking and break the habit of backsliding.
It might be helpful to go to Alcoholics Anonymous - whatever that looks like from the outside it is a place which provides ongoing support to people who are similarly trying to break destructive cycles of behaviour.
The first thing is to stop drinking.
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