One of my areas of interest and expertise is the treatment of addiction. During my time working as a therapist I have helped many hundreds of people get clean and/or sober and stay that way. Around 90% of those I have worked with were substance or addictive behaviour-free by the time we had completed therapy. If you have the desire to stop, I can help. Our work will focus first on understanding where your addiction has come from and what your 'triggers' are that tend to precipitate your use of an addictive substance or behaviour. In conjunction with this I will teach you a range of strategies and exercises to help deal with difficult moments where you may be tempted to re-engage in your old behaviour. Ultimately, you will find you develop a much healthier, and happier approach to living and re-discover a sense of calm and peace of mind.
Help for Family Members
It is often the case that those who are closest to an individual with an addiction problem become depressed or feel powerless to help. They may feel angry or frustrated. Supportive help for those family members or carers can be vital for all involved if progress is to be maintained. I can also help those families where an individual is not willing to acknowledge their problem or seek assistance for it. Guidance can be provided to enable families to help motivate the individual to accept support, or where this isn’t forthcoming, support them through this.
1. How do I know if I need treatment for alcohol?
1. How do I know if I need treatment for alcohol?
Generally speaking, there are four 'levels' of alcohol drinking - social, heavy, problem and dependent.
There is a quick test at the end of this article which will help you
to decide if you need treatment now.
Social drinkers tend to have the occasional glass of alcohol and keep within the recommended safe limits which are :
For men : no more than 21 units of alcohol per week and no more than four units on any one day.
For Women: no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and
no more than three units in any one day. Pregnant women should abstain
from alcohol completely.
One unit of alcohol is in about half a pint of beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small pub measure of spirits.
Heavy (hazardous) drinking
Drinking above the recommended safe limit is hazardous and constitutes ‘heavy’ drinking. That is, it increases your risk of developing diseases such as cirrhosis (liver damage), damage to the pancreas, certain cancers, heart problems, sexual problems, and other conditions. About 1 in 3 men, and about 1 in 7 women, drink more than the safe limit. In general, the more you drink, the greater the risk.
Problem (harmful) drinking
This is where you continue to drink heavily even though you have caused harm, or are causing harm or problems to yourself, family, or society. For example, you may:
• Binge drink and get drunk quite often. This may cause you to lose time
off work, or behave in an antisocial way when you drink. However, not
everybody with problem drinking binges or gets drunk. Many people with
an alcohol related condition such as cirrhosis drink small amounts frequently,
but do not get drunk.
• Spend more money on alcohol than you can afford.
• Experience problems with your relationships or at work because of your drinking.
Many problem drinkers are not dependent on alcohol. They could stop drinking without withdrawal symptoms if they wanted to. But, for one reason or another, they continue to drink heavily. In a recent NHS report it was found that more than one in 20 men and one in 50 women in the UK were considered to be harmful drinkers and likely to suffer related problems such as liver disease or depression.
Alcohol dependence (addiction)
This is a very serious situation where drinking alcohol becomes a major priority in one’s life. Someone addicted to alcohol will drink every day, and often need to drink to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (see below). In the UK about 2 in 100 women and about 6 in 100 men are alcohol dependent.
What are the symptoms of alcohol dependence?
If you are alcohol dependent you have an extremely strong desire, and sometimes an overwhelming compulsion to drink alcohol. You have great difficulty in controlling your drinking. In addition, your body becomes used to alcohol. Therefore, you may start to develop 'withdrawal' symptoms 3-8 hours after your last drink as the effect of the alcohol wears off. So, even if you want to stop drinking, it is often difficult because of the withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include: feeling sick, trembling, sweating, stomach problems, and a craving for alcohol. Convulsions occur in a small number of cases.
As a result, you drink alcohol regularly and depend on it to prevent withdrawal symptoms. If you do not have any more alcohol, withdrawal symptoms usually last 5-7 days, but a craving for alcohol may persist longer. The severity of dependence can vary. It can develop gradually and become more severe.
You may be developing alcohol dependence if you:
• Often have a strong desire to drink alcohol and need a drink every day.
• Drink alone often.
• Need a drink to stop trembling (the shakes).
• Drink early, or first thing in the morning (to avoid withdrawal symptoms).
• Spend a lot of you time in activities where alcohol is available. For example, if you spend a lot of time at the pub.
• Neglect other interests or pleasures because of alcohol drinking.
If you are alcohol dependent you are usually tolerant to the effect of alcohol. This means that you need more alcohol to notice any effects and to become drunk. This can make things worse as it tends to make you drink even more. If you are alcohol dependent you may get drunk regularly. However, you may not get drunk. You may drink small amounts regularly to keep any withdrawal symptoms away. You may then be able to conceal your problem from others. However, you are still at serious risk of developing conditions due to heavy drinking (liver damage, cancers, etc).
Now take the quick alcohol screening test below to help you to ascertain whether you have a problem with drinking
1) Do you ever lose time from work because of drinking?
2) Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
3) Do you ever drink because you feel shy around other people?
4) Is drinking affecting your reputation?
5) Have you ever felt remorseful after drinking?
6) Have you ever experienced financial problems as a result of drinking?
7) Do you ever turn to inferior companions and /or environments when drinking?
8) Does drinking ever make you careless of your family’s welfare?
9) Has your ambition decreased as a result of your drinking?
10) Do you crave a drink at a particular time of the day?
11) Do you want a drink in the morning?
12) Do you have difficulty sleeping because of your drinking?
13) Has your efficiency decreased a result of your drinking?
14) Is drinking jeopardizing your job or work?
15) Do you drink to escape worries or trouble?
16) Do you ever drink alone?
17) Have you ever had a loss of memory because of drinking?
18) Has you ever seen your doctor about your drinking?
19) Do you ever drink to build up your self-confidence?
20) Have you ever been hospitalised or institutionalised because of your drinking?
If you answered as few as 3 of these questions with a ‘Yes’ it is a definite sign that your drinking patterns are harmful, and you should seek help as soon as possible.
The length of treatment is dependent on various factors, such as the severity of the problem, the client’s level of motivation and his or her other support networks.
It is very often the case that once an individual has stopped using a substance, other issues come to light and it can be important to spend a little time addressing these. I would encourage the client to consider utilising other sources of help – such as AA, or NA – throughout the course of their contact and after contact has finished so that there is continuity of support and personal development. Ultimately the client decides how long the duration of the counselling lasts but further sessions can be organised if and when needed.