Alcoholism and Drug Dependence/Addiction – Counselling with a Difference
Pain may be our overriding problem. There is a solution. We can be pain free.
- When I counsel alcoholics and drug addicts I do not claim to be able to solve the problem. My role is to provide information about the problem. I help them to understand:
- they they are powerless
- why they are powerless
- that they are in pain
- why they are in pain
- how they can get free of the pain
- how they cannot overcome the problem on their own
- and that their best, but not only, option for treatment is in the relevant mutual aid fellowship.
- How do I know this? Because I have had the problem and have recovered from it. I recovered in an environment that was spiritual and free. Hence my job as a professional counsellor is information and referral.
- Alcoholism and Drug dependency in most people are positions of powerlessness. Drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs are not choices people with these dependencies have the power to make or not make. This is a fundamental difference between the work I do and the work of many other therapists and rehabilitation centres. Many believe that an alcoholic or a drug addict makes a choice to drink or use. Hence they erroneously use the phrase “drug of choice”. More accurately it is a drug of ‘no’ choice. This is a critical mistake made by many of the evidence based trials conducted. The assumption made in many of these trials and by harm minimisation programs is that alcohol and/or drugs are the problem. So, for example, countless hours are spent,
- analysing the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain and finding ways to reverse those effects;
- counting periods of abstinence before relapse;
- uselessly contemplating ‘triggers’
- These assumptions miss the surprising yet more accurate point that is the basis of the 12 Step fellowships’ success. That the ‘drug’ is not the problem. Simply put, if the drug were the problem, you would take away the drug and the problem would disappear. There is an expectation that if someone goes into ‘treatment’; that is, ‘rehab’, that the mind and the body might ‘reset’ after a period of abstinence and education. This is an erroneous conclusion, and accounts for the massive relapse rates all rehabilitation centres experience – if they are honest.
In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure.
Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 101
- So the question remains: If alcohol and other drugs are not the problem, what is? The answer is simple. The problem is twofold. One is obvious and the other many may want to reject. The obvious problem is emotional pain – the accumulation and culmination of years of anger, fear and guilt. Of course emotional pain may also be the result of trauma and distress. In counselling these areas are explored and treatments devised or referrals made. Emotional pain is not confined to people with alcoholism or drug addiction and hence it is more acceptable and understandable. The other less popular problem is a spiritual need which Dr Carl Jung dubbed spiritus contra spiritum (alcohol against the soul).