CASE STUDY 4: ALCOHOL/ANXIETY
In such a case where the reasons for drinking are unknown, drinking can be viewed as a form of 'acting out'. That is, expression of an underlying feeling that is not fully conscious and gets expressed in behaviour.
This is particularly distressing and concerning to people, as their normal behaviour is being over taken by a set of actions that they no longer identify and can't stop.
I believe this is to be common to all 'addictive behaviours' in that they are driven by processes that we do not experience as consciously as the other choices we make in life.
Any behaviour which is driven by a feeling that we are unaware of or unconscious of, is outside of our control. We simply 'do not know why I am doing this.' This is genuinely disturbing to us and leads to a secondary level of added stress, worry and further compounds the primary lack of self control. Adding worry and over thinking on top of basic stress creates chaos.; generalised stress and disruption of life creates overburden. These are the seeds sown that precipitate a further decline in functioning and a loss of control over life, effecting relationships and wider necessary life functioning.
Quickly identifying the contributing issues and the life factors which are creating the stress is central to begin to change the pattern and accumulated stress levels of the individual. Changing outlook, changing behaviour and changing these key life contributing factors starts to bring real change. If this is not having a positive effect on behaviour, as a clinician you know that you have identified as the problem is incorrect. But if change starts to happen, you know that potentially you are correct.
It is on this feedback of observing the effects of treatment, in mood and behaviour as well as sustainability, that significant change and enduring self management is delivered and achieved by and for the client.
Done correctly, significant changes to self control and quality of life can follow quickly, as the underlying factors that create the problem are in remission.
Making the decision to go to Edward for help with my drinking has definitely been the best decision for me to have taken.
When I went to see Edward I had finally admitted I had a problem with alcohol, it wasn't just affecting me it was affecting my family and I was at the point where I was so close to losing my partner.
It wasn't just that I was drinking to the point I didn't know what I was doing, I would have no recollection of the things I had said, I was aggressive and I didn't know why. I had never been like this in the past, so I couldn’t understand myself. The anger was only aimed at my partner, I would say horrible things to hurt him, things I would never normally say when I was sober. Hearing what I had done the following day would make me feel sick. But even with that, a few nights later I would do it all over again...... I just couldn't stop and wasn’t in control of myself.
I started seeing Edward regularly every week. Each time we met we talked about my circumstances, what was going on in my life and what was going on in the present. He picked up on a few things that he could potentially identify as being the problem that were contributing to my behaviour, stress and anger. Each week I would take these home as bits of homework to start putting in place.
Within as little time as three weeks I really started to feel a difference in myself. His ways of treating anxiety, identifying the problems and outlining changes I could make to change these was really starting to work. I was not drinking, I felt different at home and things were starting to make sense. As I put into practice what he told me to do, the more it started to come naturally to me. Now, as I look at my family the people around me, and life in general, it appears so differently to how it was months ago.
My life has changed completely. I feel like a totally different person and don't need or even think of alcohol in the way I used to. Previously I couldn't even enter a shop without buying some. It’s amazing how much has changed, myself and my family. I even thought I would miss the alcohol but I really don't, the old ideas and compulsions to drink are no longer there. My feelings and ideas toward alcohol are different.
I could never just have had one or two drinks before, I had to go to the extreme, either drinking more, or stronger alcoholic drinks. There was no end until I was no longer in control. But to show how this has changed, the other week I went for a meal had one drink with my partner (I was nervous!) but found I didn't need anymore, the idea of having more did not even enter my head. That would not have happened previously. I really never thought I would see that day.... but I have. I feel more in control and my choices are much clearer to me now, the compulsions are gone.
I never thought that this was possible.
I used to hate getting up in the morning I couldn’t enjoy life, but now it’s a totally different thing and I will never go back to drinking like that again. The thought of getting drunk now makes me feel sick. A few months ago that was all I could think of and I would look forward to the next time I could get drunk. But now I feel different, the way I am has changed, the way I think and feel has changed. All these changes that were pointed out to me over the weeks and I applied, have changed the way I am.
I can't thank Edward enough. Not only did he stop me from getting into a dark hole with alcohol that might have meant losing what I had, but he helped rebuild my family by helping me change the things that needed attention.