Alcoholism is a family disease. Not only do alcohol abusers experience discomfort and develop organic and psychological disorders, but the whole family group can experience discomfort and develop an organic and psychological disorder just because a member of the family abuses alcohol.
The World Health Organization defines alcoholism as a disease that affects the entire family group. Physical diseases of organic or psychological origin can arise in children, made more fragile and vulnerable given the family situation.
In a family where there is a problem related to alcohol use, roles and functions often change: children take care of their parents emotionally and physically, or they become partners of the parent. Children exhibit school problems and behavioral problems. Family balances become complex and a source of suffering for everyone, recrimination and guilt affect all family members. It may happen that you do not notice that someone is sick and suffering from some disorder.
It communicates with difficulty, with anger and resentment: relational and sexual difficulties emerge among adults, communication difficulties and misunderstandings between adults and children. It is not always possible to guarantee the role of guide and support for children from parents taken by alcohol or by the care and concern of making the other stop drinking.
The reproaches and blame fall in most cases on the family member accused of drinking who feels so excluded and devalued: everyday life becomes tiring and heavy. Often some members of the family develop a depressive disorder or anxiety and panic. Distracted parents may not realize that their children are being bullied or are involved themselves as “executioners” of bullying. Various types of intra and extra-family violence can occur due to the loss of control and protection by those who take alcohol or the desperate and distracted response of those who live in a family where a member abuses alcohol.
Alcoholism must be treated as soon as possible!
In the treatment of alcohol dependence, therapy in all its forms, for example the Sinclair Method of treatment, constitutes a valid support tool and an adequate means of exploration to lead the patient to an awareness of the problem. Often in the treatment of alcoholism, multiple different methods of intervention are used, precisely because of the sensitive differences that are present in each individual subject. The therapeutic approach is different from that adopted for other psychological disorders that derive mainly from the interaction between the subject and the environment, because for ethylism there is a third element, namely alcohol, which acts by changing the interaction between the two more. The drinker, through the use of the substance, significantly transforms his internal reality, the perception of the external one and his body. All this determines reactions capable of upsetting any context and making a psychotherapy program particularly difficult.
In individual treatment, the greatest difficulties arise when the patient continues to drink during the treatment period and alcohol abuse becomes the means of not dealing with unpleasant topics and the excuse to skip the sessions. It is rather difficult for an alcoholic to regularly respect therapy appointments, to attend sessions regularly and to respect the rule of abstinence from drinking. These are the reasons why it is essential that the therapist knows how to establish an open and elastic relationship with the subject, so much so as to be able to include, alongside psychotherapy, also active interventions such as advice, prohibitions and controls on behavior and, if necessary, resort to time of need, to the request for hospitalizations and medical treatments.
The will to quit is an extremely variable reality between the various subjects, who face the therapy with attitudes that oscillate from doing so only because forced by physical reasons or by external pressures up to real personal good faith that clashes with unconscious resistances. When the subject is in a condition of extreme and serious alcoholism, it is impossible to establish individual treatment, precisely because of the patient’s lack of collaboration. In this particular situation, it is preferable to start with an exclusively supportive therapy based on listening and aimed at reducing the emotional manifestations and distorted interpretations of reality by the subject. In this case, we recommend medication for the Sinclair Method.
Who is it for?
The individual therapy approach varies according to the different types of patient and the different reasons that lead to the choice of this therapeutic approach. A broad subdivision can be made into two groups of potential candidates for individual therapy.
The first group includes the subject who has never undergone detoxification treatments, who has never tried to refrain from drinking for prolonged periods and is hardly motivated to face the cure. The insufficiency of motivation on the part of the subject must not however be a reason for refusal by the therapist Often the use of this therapy is wanted by the family, or is stimulated by the presence of a problem of dismissal or by the fear of a physical danger, but certainly not from a real personal conviction.
The second group includes those drinkers who have stopped drinking several times for short periods and who have made the inability to remain abstinent almost a lifestyle. These subjects see the therapist as the surgeon capable of cutting off evil. The personal characteristics and attitudes of the drinkers in this group are truly many, because the personal conditions, behaviors, ways of drinking and the motivations that drive this choice are so different.
Over time, abstinence must become the central element of the psychotherapeutic relationship for all alcoholics, sometimes it is not possible to avoid relapses, but it is always possible, from time to time, to evaluate with what suffering the patient experiences them, as against this danger and how the consequent progress on the therapeutic path takes place. When the condition of alcoholism presents intolerance to psychological therapy and the tendency to seek refuge in alcohol again and physical damage is also present, intervention by several principals is advisable. On the one hand, the therapist, aimed at understanding the patient, on the other, the clinician engaged in checking the physical condition of the subject: the physician will have to establish and provide for any collateral or restrictive.