Kate Heavey – BACP Accredited Psychotherapist and Counsellor. Qualified in Individual, Couple, Marriage and Two’s Counselling. Specialties – Relationships, Alcohol Addiction, Loss / Bereavement and Single-Session Therapy. Online Zoom, Skype and Phone Therapy in the UK + Worldwide.
What is alcohol addiction / dependency to you?
An illness? A symptom? A coping strategy? Escapism? A disease? A result of trauma?
My honest answer is that it really does not matter what you feel alcohol addiction is as the fact you are here means it is causing you a problem. The most important thing right now is that you get the help you need.
There can be much shame linked to the over use of any substance, i.e. alcohol or food, and people can think it is choice. To shatter that illusion; if you are active in your addiction you have lost choice as the substance (coping mechanism) will be picking you up long before you pick it up as it is now integrated in your way of life; a mental obsession. And, chances are, once you start you will not be able to stop.
So how have you learnt to soothe yourself when you are feeling at dis-ease in your internal world?
When you feel you are bad, unlovable or maybe feel worthless?
As survival creatures, our brain will remember the first substance used (or were given), that brings relief.
Therefore, the continual use of substances can be remembered as a coping mechanism for unpleasant emotions such as sadness, rage or anger, etc. or to combat internal fears, i.e. not feeling good enough, worry of being liked, etc.
As a child you will have needed two things in relationship; attachment and authenticity. If you did not receive these you may find you are unable to express yourself.
You will have learnt ways to stay in relationship at any cost to you. What this then means is that you find ways to escape the uncomfortableness and longing you feel on the inside which is why the relief given by your drug of choice is so important; it gives you a dopamine hit which gives you temporary oblivion. This then becomes problematic as the more you fix through using, the more that is needed to have the same dopamine hit, after that first fix, as your body now ‘craves’ more.
If you have crossed the line with your drinking and find when you now take that first drink you cannot stop then the chances are you may be alcohol dependent (the new-age term for alcoholic). AUD (alcohol use disorder) is a condition and not choice. To be alcohol dependent it is not about how much you drink, it is about why you drink.
Do not let shame stop you from getting the help you need today; you can be free from your addiction.
Click here to view an article I wrote on ‘could you be an alcoholic or addict?’
The very nature of the therapeutic relationship means there is acceptance and that you are seen for who you are. I offer a space where you will not be judged. Infact, quite the opposite; I will encourage you to tell me your life story and to empty out all that you feel on the inside. This may be linked to feelings such as resentment, shame, rage, guilt etc. Or it could be that you feel that you are not deserving of a good life and, as others abandoned / rejected you, you are now abandoning / rejecting yourself. Well I want to say; you are deserving of a contented life. You are deserving of recovery. You are deserving of a life worth living.
We will look at the addiction cycle, amongst other things, the elements of which are: –
There IS hope. You CAN recover if you are prepared to make a few changes in your life.
“Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside of you, as a result of what happened to you. Underneath the traumatised persona is a healthy individual who has never found expression in his/her life.”
Dr Gabor Mate