Drug / alcohol Use

Having worked as a volunteer counsellor in Brighton and Hastings for several years, I've noticed many similarities with clients. In particular, they used substances as a way of coping with seemingly intolerable pain or pressures. With alcohol, some drink to achieve oblivion as quickly as possible whilst others have a very controlled way of using measured quantities of weaker strength drinks until they overcome their fears or achieve greater freedom. Alcohol is a depressant so whilst magnifying depression in some, it can counter oppressive and controlling thoughts inherited from the past. For some, drinking leads to feelings of freedom and perhaps even elation.

In either case however the path in therapy is the same - focusing on addressing the need to drink, the cause, rather than the symptom of substance use - which is often actually a form of self-medication. As with human nature in general when the cause of a behaviour is removed, the behaviour goes away and a clearer sense of the true person emerges.  

There is a popular joke about how many therapists does it take to change a light bulb - only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change - and this does reflect the reality. No change is likely to occur without a desire for change by the client, therapy undertaken to please others or without a strong commitment is unlikely to succeed. If you have worries about your use of drugs (and alcohol is just another drug) and are ready to make changes, do please give me a call. We can look at strategies to give you a breathing space (I have been trained in 'Solution Focused Brief Therapy', a cognitive approach) whilst investigating any deeper causes that have been leading to the need to use substances.

I do not follow a belief that any slip along the way on your part means we have to go back to the beginning, in the same way it is not necessary to start from home again when getting lost in the final stages of a journey. The path is not like a game of Snakes and Ladders, where all the snakes lead back to the start. One blip after, say, a month means the score stands at thirty to one, the clock does not reset to zero.

My experience so far leads me to believe that treatment paths which require participants to surrender all sense of personal responsibility and to abdicate autonomy to a 'higher power' can end up replacing one addiction with another. I remain convinced that the person who can walk into a party, pub or restaurant and comfortably refuse any offer of a drink has far more control and is more successful than someone who feels that they are unable to consider even being near a possible temptation.

For articles on substance use (including mine) and for other resources, please follow this link to 'Help 4 Addiction