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Posts Tagged 'your beautiful mind'

Is it time you discovered the truth about alcohol?

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

 

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”

~ Albert Einstein, genuis

 

December 2016—the year I took control of my drinking. Like you, I’d grown concerned about how much, and how regularly I was consuming alcohol.

I knew the side-effects, and I didn’t like them—insomnia, depression, aggression, muddled thinking, bloating, weight gain and more. But still, I couldn’t quit.

One month of sobriety was the longest time I’d ever managed to not let a single drop of alcohol pass my lips.

I tried reading books, used self-hypnosis, made a star-chart and ticked off my alcohol-free days. There were two ticks one week, none the next, then some longer stretches. But despite my positive intentions and extraordinary will booze always ended victoriously.

Nothing worked.

Until Christmas 2016 when I finally got angry—and scared—enough to make a change. To protect others’ privacy I won’t go into detail, suffice to say my turning point involved a rifle, shots fired and fearing for my life.

But my motivation and my personal story of alcohol being in control began earlier than that. My grandmother was an alcoholic. And her father before that—and both their stories, like many people affected by alcohol was one of tragedy.

In the 1930’s one drunken brawl outside the local pub in New Zealand left one man dead and my great-grandfather charged with murder.

My grandmother was four, and her brother aged six, when they were taken into foster care. They never saw their mother, father or each other again.

I’ve always wondered, had it not been for the trauma Molly experienced as a child, and throughout her life, would she have sought happiness in a bottle?

The tragedy didn’t end there. Years later her brother, then in his 30’s and married with three children, took his life.

Recently, at the time of writing, my mother shared how her childhood was scarred. “Mum was always drinking. We would come home and she would be in bed. I don’t recall her ever not being drunk.”

Their story, my story, your story is a far too common one.

”My step-father was an alcoholic and I lived through rough times with alcohol,” shared a reader recently.

“I hope your book does help many people. I personally believe a book like this would not have helped my dad. Only complete removal of alcohol would have helped my dad. Just my opinion that you cannot control alcohol. You must remove it,” he added. “I do hope your book does help many lives that are affected by alcohol though.”

Hope, as you read through this book, is an important element of any recovery—as is a desire for change.

As an advance reader, for whom alcoholism runs through her family, wrote to me, “Drunks believe they have ‘freedom’ because their stupor releases them from what they cannot face in life.”

For many, many people complete removal of alcohol is the only cure. Our booze-loving culture does not make it easy. Many people don’t know why they drink, nor how to find alternative help. Something, I have written this book to change.

Mindful drinking

This book is not an anti-alcohol book, although I don’t sugar-coat the truth about alcohol and the powerful economic and social forces that profit from misery.

It offers a fresh approach, encouraging you to approach your relationship to alcohol more mindfully.

While I feel it’s important to highlight the dangers of drinking too much, my aim is to highlight the life-changing benefits of drinking far less.

Importantly, I’ll share some simple but effective ways to build greater resilience to triggers, alternatives to alcohol and how to mix, mingle and practice sober socialising—and still feel cool.

 

A fresh approach

In 2014, I was struggling through my psychology degree after a 10-year break from study.

For years prior to this I had been obsessively collecting newspaper articles which highlight the social harm alcohol imposed. And I began to get frustrated not just at my own inability to control my drinking, but why—when everyone knows how harmful alcohol is—the problem was only becoming worse.

Bored and frustrated with my studies and the tendency of Western psychological approaches to pathologize alcohol dependence, I decided to research spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction. I went from D’s to A’s in my grades and found both passion, purpose, and calling.

(I invite you to visit my earlier posts where I share some of my research:

—The truth about Alcohol Addiction and Recovery—Wrestling With the God Thing

http://www.cassandragaisford.com/the-truth-about-alcohol-addiction-and-recovery-wrestling-with-the-god-thing/

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 

But importantly, I found something that resonated with me in my own quest to stop drinking.

Drinking too much didn’t make me psychologically abnormal—as those who pathologize alcoholics, and alcohol-dependent people would have us believe.

 

It’s time you knew the truth…

Drinking too much is a culturally sanctioned, actively encouraged “cure” for the dis-ease of modern life. Except it isn’t a cure at all. It’s not a sustainable quick fix. It doesn’t heal the damage, stress and unresolved wounds of your past.

Many people are using alcohol, consciously or unconsciously, to self-medicate all or some of the following:

• Stress

• Anxiety

• Depression

• Low self-esteem

• Sexual Abuse

• Trauma

• Shame

• Guilt

• Boredom

 

There is a cure

Many people who have battled their alcohol addiction overcame obstacles just like you and I. But the single biggest factor was their ability to take control of their own life.

Sometimes they deferred to experts. Sometimes they turned to God. Sometimes they joined a support group, or they embraced spontaneous sobriety and went it alone.

But the one thing they all had in common was the knowledge that their drinking was taking more than it was giving.

In every instance, when people nailed their drink demons, they universally agreed that their life was more beautiful sober.

“I gave up alcohol in 1980. I enjoyed it far too much, to the point where I frequently got intoxicated. Everything in my life changed for the better stopped. It was the right decision,” said medical doctor and self-empowerment author Deepak Chopra

Why I wrote this book

The pursuit of sobriety born from my own experience, both professionally as a holistic psychologist, and personally as a woman with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, fueled my desire and determination to liberate others from the clutches of booze.

During a recent interview, I was asked: ‘What do you hope readers get out of Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More? My response was “wisdom.”

If I can help people gain new knowledge, enhance their awareness and stretch their minds—not necessarily agreeing with what I’m saying but at least starting a conversation, or helping them along in their lives in some way—then Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More has added something to their lives.

My hope is that you will discover freedom, find happiness and change your life. And that one day, should our paths cross, you will tell me that your life is beautiful.

 

Who Is This Book For?

If you want to control your drinking and live a life on your own terms, this book is for you.

If you’re a heavy drinker or love someone who is, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More will provide support and encouragement to continue the journey to health and happiness.

If you suffer from stress, fear, doubt, or overly trying to fit in with others, Drink! Control Alcohol and Love Life More will come to your rescue.

Or, you might just want to inspire others and lead the way by controlling alcohol, either by cutting back or giving up completely.

This was my motivation for writing this book, and for sharing the strategies that have worked for me and which have also worked for my clients.

Often we have to be the change we want to see. Part of this involves passing on the knowledge that we’ve learned.

As New Zealand psychologist and television personality Nigel Latta says, “It’s also interesting, don’t you think, that given the alcohol industry thinks education is so important, their contribution to ‘education’ of the public is so… well… limp. They don’t even bother to put any real resources into ‘education’ even though they say it will make a difference.”

As you’ll discover throughout the book, many techniques which have helped people successfully control alcohol and overcome addictions have their origins in body-based healing. Others originate in the mind, others still by resolving harmful emotions and other still from spiritual approaches, including meditation and prayer.

I had originally thought to separate the chapters into mind, body, and spirit, but as everything truly is connected I felt it was important to present the information as such. Therefore what you will find is a smorgasbord of offerings for you to digest at your leisure.

All I ask is that you maintain an open-mind, follow your curiosity and trust, that with knowledge and the right support, you truly can heal yourself.

Where to draw the line? When you’re worried that you’re drinking is getting out of control or are suffering from the effects of alcohol it’s likely you’ll want a quick cure. Something instant to take the pain away.

I can honestly say, that I wrote this book to find my own quick-fix. But once I began to research, uncover the lies and awaken to the truth,  this fascinating area became a full-blown obsession.  As you’ll discover in this book cultivating new healthy purpose-driven cures can totally and quickly cure harmful addictions.

You may not find all the answers here, I had to stop somewhere, but there are a great deal many helpful resources at your disposal—many of which lie within this book and some of which I have included in the back section.

We have always been told that drinking lots of alcohol or make us happy, cooler, more relaxed—that sobriety is for losers. These are big fat lies.

We’ve also been told that it’s our fault that we drink too much—we lack will-power, we’re weak, we just can’t handle it, we’re self-centered, too lazy—plus a truckload of other insulting and disempowering stuff.

These are also big fat lies.

It’s also a big fat lie to say that only drug companies and their rainbow-colored pharmaceuticals are our relapse-safe cure for addictions.

So stop listening to people with hidden agendas, quit putting yourself down, and read this—really read and absorb this—because it will empower you to achieve the results you want….fast!

 

My hope

Profit-driven alcohol companies may not be driven to make a difference, but I am.

My hope is that you step into this journey joyfully, that despite any trepidation, fear or worry, you may feel, that you’ll discover learning to control alcohol is a pleasure that you never forget to enjoy.

 

About This Book

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More offers short, sound-bites of stand-alone readings designed to help you cultivate awareness and reexamine your relationship to alcohol amid the challenges of daily living.

More than a collection of thoughts for the day, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More offers a progressive program of holistic—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual—study, guiding you through essential concepts, themes, and practices on the path to sobriety, well-being, joy, and happiness.

The teachings are gently humorous, sometimes challenging, occasionally provocative, but always compassionate and kind, and, I  hope, seemingly infinitely wise.

All that I share are strategies that have worked for me personally through many of my own life challenges, and for my clients in my professional work as a holistic psychologist and self-empowerment coach.

A central tenet of this book is to provide you information and education that counteracts the dominant messages provided by booze barons whose purpose in life is to help you drink more. Of course, they want you to drink—their mission is to spin a profit. But now it’s time to open your eyes and educate your mind, and make informed choices about what you are ingesting (ethanol and sugar), how much, and why.

Armed with the Truth about alcohol you will gain:

• A new way to see and understand your relationship to alcohol

• The removal of the fear and stigma of trying to admit you need help

• Insight into the reasons why drinking too much is not your fault and that you have just become another cultural conditioning statistic

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More will strengthen your subconscious desire NOT to drink and help you make healthy, lasting, self-empowered change.

Experts suggest that it takes months, even years, of hardship to stop drinking. This book offers a different view.

But at the end of the day, no one can make you control your drinking. You have to want to change. It is my hope, Your Beautiful Mind will strengthen the intention to quit or cut back drinking. The choice is yours, my friend.

Within this choice, is the choice to seek help, or not, for problems that keep you stuck, peer pressure that keeps you drinking, or traumas and open wounds that need healing—not numbing with alcohol.

I hope you will choose to free yourself from pain freedom, happiness, health, and joy.

Your Beautiful Mind features the most essential and stirring passages from my previous books, exploring topics such as meditation, mindfulness, positive health behaviors, and touching on ways to working with fear, depression, anxiety, and other painful emotions.

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More expands upon my previous books and blends the latest scientific research, spotlights the cultural, social, and industry factors that support alcohol dependence, and also encourages a more holistic and mindful approach to the seriousness of life and the ever-present stressors we all face.

As one advance reviewer,  wrote to me, “The people who I work with are wanting to eliminate alcohol from their lives and rebuild their lives, families, and relationships. They do not want permission, approval or instruction on how to drink mindfully or in any other way.” The purpose of this book is not to condone, legitimize or sanction problem drinking. Being mindful doesn’t mean being obstinately blind to the very real perils of alcohol abuse and addiction. Being mindful is a call to awakening and purposeful action to build the life you want—free of addiction.

Through the course of this book, you will learn practical, creative and simple methods for overcoming subconscious scripts that keep you craving alcohol, heightening awareness and overcoming habitual patterns and addictive behaviors that block happiness and joy and hold you back.

Brimming with a smorgasbord of easy to apply strategies that will boost your mental, emotional and physical well-being, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More is a timeless call to action for anyone who wants to cut back or quit drinking alcohol, get their life back and create a healthier, happier, joyful time on this planet.

 

Your Concise Guide to Success

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More  is a concise guide to controlling alcohol. My vision, like many of my other self-empowerment books, was simple: a few short, easy to digest tips for time-challenged, distraction-loaded, people who were looking for inspiration and practical strategies to encourage positive change.

In this era of information overload and distraction, I knew that people didn’t need a large wad of words to feel inspired, gain clarity and be stimulated to take action.

In coaching and counseling sessions I’d encourage my clients to ask a question they would like answered. The questions could be specific, such as, ‘How can I stop drinking?’ Or vague, for example, ‘What do I most need to know?’ They were always amazed at how readily answers flowed.

In this era of information obesity, the need for simple, life-affirming messages is even more important. If you are looking for inspiration and practical tips, in short, sweet sound bites, this guide is for you.

Similarly, if you’re a grazer, or someone more methodical, this guide will also work for you. Pick a section or page at random, or work through the tips sequentially. I encourage you to experiment, be open-minded and try new things. I promise you will achieve outstanding results.

Let experience be your teacher. Give your brain a well-needed break. Balance ‘why’ with how you feel and embrace how you feel or how you want to feel. Honor the messages from your intuition and follow your path with heart.

At the time of writing, I’ve just turned to the chapter, Your Body Barometer. It’s a timely reminder that when you drink too much your mental, emotional and spiritual health can suffer.

The following remark from Coco Chanel may also speak to you: “I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like.”

 

Three Holistic Principles of Success

Your Beautiful Mind takes a holistic look at what it means, and what it takes, to control alcohol. Everything is related—mind, body, and spirit…to succeed in your quest to control alcohol you’ll need to empower them all.

To avoid overwhelm and facilitate a smorgasbord of healing options I’ve sectioned Your Beautiful Mind into a cluster of principles. Principles aren’t constricting rules unable to be shaped, but general and fundamental truths which may be used to help guide your choices.

Let’s look briefly at The Three Principles of Sobriety and what each will cover:

 

Principle One, “The Call For Sobriety” will help you explore the truth about controlling alcohol and define sobriety on your own terms. You’ll discover the rewards and ‘realities’ of becoming booze free, and intensify success-building beliefs.

You’ll learn some truths powerful business would rather see hidden, and clarify the huge costs alcohol imposes on all of us in Principle Two, “Rethinking Drinking.” You’ll also discover why love, anger, igniting the fire within, and heeding the call for self-empowerment is the cornerstone of future success.

Actions shout louder than words. Principle Three: “Strategies for Sobriety,” will help you take back control. You’ll learn how to tame your subconscious mind, deal with stress, trauma, societal pressure and other life-stuff that may drive you to drink.

Love will be your new drug of choice. Love for yourself, your significant others and your life. Passion, purpose, joy—call it what you will, love is the cure for all our ills.

It sounds simple. And it is.

In this section of the book, you’ll clarify and visualize what you really want to achieve. You’ll then be better able to decide where best to invest your time and energy. You’ll also begin exploring ways to develop your life and career in light of your passions and purposeful sobriety, maintain focus and bring your vision to successful reality. Strategies to help you empower your spirit urge you to pay attention to the things that feed your soul, awaken your curiosity, stir your imagination and create passion in your life. You’ll also discover how to strengthen your connection to your superconscious mind.

You may be surprised to discover that you have three mind tools—you’ll discoverer ways to empower them all to overcome obstacles, achieve greater balance and fulfillment and maximize your success.

Your health is your wealth yet it’s often a neglected part of success. Techniques to help you heal and empower your body recognizes the importance of a strong, flexible and healthy body to your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual success. You’ll be reminded of simple strategies which reinforce the importance of quality of breath, movement, nutrition, and sleep. Avoiding burnout is also a huge factor in maintaining sobriety. When you do less and look after yourself more, you can and will achieve freedom from alcohol.

Throughout Your Beautiful Mind, you’ll also boost your awareness of how surrounding yourself with your vibe tribe will fast-track your success, and when it’s best to ditch your booze buddies or go it alone.

Even if you think you’ve got the alcohol thing licked or you don’t believe you’re addicted, so many people struggle to control their drinking or quit. You’ll discover some of the most successful ways people have overcome their dependence on alcohol or addiction to booze and achieved freedom for good.

You’ll be inspired by others success. Importantly you’ll learn how following your own truth will set you free.

 

How This Book Will Help You

 

“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”

~ Alfred Mercier, physician

 

Whenever I’m in a slump or needing an inspirational boost I turn to people who are smarter or more skilled than me for good advice.

I’ve done the same with qualities I’ve wanted to develop, like patience. “What would Mother Theresa do now?” I asked many years ago. Mother Theresa wouldn’t shout! She wouldn’t lose her cool. She’d send loving kindness and smile. And that’s what I did whenever I got frustrated.

As I wrote Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More I applied the strategies I’m sharing with you in my own life—personally and professionally.

If you’ve been drinking too much, or just getting in your own way, you’re in good company, many successful, talented, beautiful people have been there. I’ve been there too—as have many, many people. Guess what, drinking too much and getting in your own way is, sadly, normal.

I promise there are solutions to the problems you’re currently facing—and you’ll find them in the pages that follow.

Dig into this book and let me, and other alcohol control experts, be your mentor, inspiration and guide as we call forth your passions, purpose, and potential.

Through the teachings of others, extensive research into alcohol recovery, the mysteries of motivation, success, and fulfillment, and my own personal experience and professional success with clients as a holistic psychologist, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More will help you accelerate success.

Together, we will guide you to where you need to go next and give you practical steps to control alcohol and find freedom and happiness.

Growing up I wasn’t encouraged to drink less. My hope is that after reading Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More that you will be!

Step into this ride joyfully and start creating your best life today.

• If you want to have more energy and fire in your belly

• If you want to have happy, healthy, loving relationships

• If you want to stress less and love life more

• If you want to improve your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health…

Then Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More is exactly the right the book for you—whoever you are, whatever challenges you are facing and however you define health, happiness, and sobriety.

The ideas described in this book apply to anyone who’s trying to control alcohol and inject some purposeful sobriety into their life and work.

 

Your Caffeine Hit

Think of Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More like a shot of espresso. Sometimes one quick hit is all it takes to get in the mood. But sometimes you need a few shots to sustain your energy. Or maybe you need a bigger motivational hit and then you’re on your way.

You’re in control of what works best for you. Go at your own pace, but resist over-caffeinating. A little bit of guidance here and there can do as much to fast-track your success as consuming all the principles in one hit.

Skim to sections that are most relevant to you, and return to familiar ground to reinforce home-truths. But most of all, exercise compassion and enjoy your experience.

 

Mindful Sobriety: Your Challenge

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More focuses on strategies to increase your awareness of how and why sobriety is the new cool. When you’re stressed or feeling the urge to drink this knowledge can be one of the first things to go.

You’ll discover ways to increase happiness, reduce stress, minimize anxiety and reclaim joy in the chapters that follow.

You’ll identify common obstacles to success, slay a path through them, and empower your tenacity to persevere with your quest for sober change.

 

Importantly, you’ll be challenged.

I love your works to date—provocative and supportive at the same time,” a gentleman who’d read my Mid-Life Career Rescue books wrote to me recently.

To provoke is to incite or stimulate. It’s the reason I’ve included open-ended questions and calls to action in the Sexy Sobriety section at the end of each chapter. The best questions are open, generative ones that don’t allow for ‘yes/no’ answers; rather they encourage you to tap into your higher wisdom, intuition, or go in search of answers.

 

Dive Deeper With The Sobriety Journal: The Easy Way to Stop Drinking: The Effortless Path to Being Happy, Healthy and Motivated Without Alcohol

Creating a Sobriety Journal was a major aid in my own recovery—you’ll find some excerpts sprinkled throughout Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, and I’ve written a handy resource to help you create your own.

This guided book leaves you free to create your own bespoke journal tailored to support your needs. Includes, Journal Writing Prompts, Empowering and Inspirational Quotes and Recovery Exercises that can be of use in your daily journal writing, working with your sponsor or use in a recovery group.
Available in print and eBook here—getbook.at/SobrietyJournal

 

Your Beautiful Mind Workbook

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol & Love Life More print book will also be available as a workbook, with space to write your responses to the challenges and calls to action within the book.

Stress Less, Love You More & Create a Beautiful, Successful LifeToday!

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book. Be the first to know when Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, is released. Sign up for her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cQXY4f.

Would you like to drink less? Cut back or quit drinking entirely without becoming a hermit, being ostracized, or cutting back on an enjoyable social life.Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Sexy Sobriety: Alcohol and Guilt-Free Drinks You’ll Love: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life. Available in ebook and paperback here—getBook.at/SexySobriety

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

Friday, January 19th, 2018

 

 

Below is an edited version of the 300-level essay I submitted as part of my psychology degree back in 2014.The paper was Abnormal and Therapeutic Psychology Assignment. At the time, I was struggling with the focus placed on pathologizing peoples behavior—ascribing a sickness mindset, rather than looking at holistic and systemic issues that impacted people’s ability to heal, or not—so I took a ‘risk’ and wrote about something I was genuinely interested about and believed in—the power of spirituality to heal. I still love the opening quote—a powerful reminder that we are not powerless…we can (and do) heal ourselves…very often without drugs, expensive rehab and medical intervention.

 

Date: 25 September 2014

 

 

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 

“Science has sometimes been at odds with the notion that laypeople can cure themselves” (Liotta, 2013). Sparking my interest in examining spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction, Liotta’s article examines the success of the 12-step programme prescribed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for the treatment of alcohol addiction. AA’s programme has a strong spiritual framework, and Liotta explores the premise that the programme’s success may eventually be empirically validated through medical and psychological science.

The relevance to the domain of abnormal and therapeutic psychology of spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol abuse is multi-faceted. For many people, their spirituality is a central part of who they are, and what they believe, and spiritual sources of healing are a major source of strength for many. For others, it may be an, as yet, untapped resource (Dowsett-Johnston, 2013; Miller et al., 2008).

Arguably, no therapeutic approach can be regarded as complete unless the spiritual dimension is attended to yet both history and current practice has shown that ignoring the role of spirituality, forbidding its practice (Bennett, 2009), or pathologising its existence, in favour of more cognitive, rational, or medical interventions is neglectful and can be harmful (Bennett, 2009; Langman, 2013; Miller, 1998). For example, A. Abraham, Prison Manager of Arohata Prison, was informed by forensic staff that they wanted to medicate a woman they thought was psychotic when she said she ‘saw spirit’ and talked to dead ancestors (personal communication, 17 July, 2014).

Importantly in New Zealand particularly, enabling spiritual approaches to the treatment of disease is also arguably evidence of honouring the commitments made in the Treaty of Waitangi, yet this is not always actively embraced and at times has been outlawed. (Bennet, 2009) cites the Tohunga Suppression Act, 1907 which threatened criminal conviction if a person allowed a Maori person to treat them using spirituality, “by professing or pretending to profess supernatural powers in the treatment or cure of any disease” (Bennet, 2009, p. 171)

 

Spirituality defined

Spirituality is difficult to define given the uniqueness of the experience for people, and differing orientations to spirituality – including a diverse range of religious beliefs (Miller, 1998). However, the view that spirituality is “that which gives people meaning and purpose in life” (Puchalski, Dorff & Hendi, 2004 as cited in Galanter, 2007, p. 266) appears to have a universally applicable meaning. Galanter (2007) also notes that spirituality is not something accessible only to people of religious orientation, or self-proclaimed spiritual orientation but accessible to all, including non-believers (often referred to as Agnostics) (Miller, 1998). This echoes the view of Carl Jung who believed spirituality was an intrinsic part of being human and that lack of connection to one’s spiritual self leads to dis-ease, including the disease of alcohol addiction (Galanter, 2007).

 

Alcohol addiction defined

Alcohol addiction or alcoholism (also referred to as alcohol dependence) is defined by the American Medical Association (AMA) as “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations” (Alcohol addiction, 2014). It is characterised by, “a prolonged period of frequent, heavy alcohol use; the inability to control drinking once it has begun; physical dependence manifested by withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops using alcohol; tolerance, or the need to use more and more alcohol to achieve the same effects; and a variety of social and/or legal problems arising from alcohol use” (The Free Dictionary, 2014).

Addiction (termed substance dependence by the American Psychiatric Association) was once defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring any time in the same 12-month period:

1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: (a) A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect or (b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.

2. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: (a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance or (b) The same (or closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

3. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.

4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.

5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance (such as visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances), use the substance (for example, chain-smoking), or recover from its effects.

6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.

7. The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (for example, current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).

DSM-IV criteria  (The Diagnositic and Statistical Manual) for substance dependence include several specifiers, one of which outlines whether substance dependence is with physiologic dependence (evidence of tolerance or withdrawal) or without physiologic dependence (no evidence of tolerance or withdrawal). In addition, remission categories are classified into four subtypes: (1) full, (2) early partial, (3) sustained, and (4) sustained partial; on the basis of whether any of the criteria for abuse or dependence have been met and over what time frame. The remission category can also be used for patients receiving agonist therapy (such as methadone maintenance) or for those living in a controlled, drug-free environment. Source: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.)

This definition which provides a psychological stance rather than a medical one, was altered in 5th edition of the DSM. As compared to DSM-IV, the DSM-5’s chapter on addictions was changed from “Substance-Related Disorders” to “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” to reflect developing understandings regarding addictions. The DSM-5 specifically lists nine types of substance addictions within this category (alcohol; caffeine; cannabis; hallucinogens; inhalants; opioids; sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics; stimulants; and tobacco). These disorders are presented in separate sections, but they are not fully distinct because all drugs taken in excess activate the brain’s reward circuitry, and their co-occurrence is common.

Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD in the DSM-V.  AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. An estimated 16 million people in the United States have AUD.  Approximately 6.2 percent or 15.1 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2015. This includes 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women. Adolescents can be diagnosed with AUD as well, and in 2015, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD.

To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.

To assess whether you or loved one may have AUD, here are some questions to ask.  In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?

“If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change,” say professionals.

Challenges in testing and measurement of spiritual constructs

This brief research paper examines recent research that reveals the significant role of spirituality on mental and emotional health, and therapeutic approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction. However, as Galanter (2007) notes, it is difficult to measure empirically many of the elements that make spirituality an effective part of treatment. He advocates for “a new model of recovery from addiction that is compatible with the spiritual orientation espoused by many members of AA” (Galanter, 2007, p.265). The new model he defines is, “ based on accounts of substance dependent individuals’ own subjective experience. These experiences are not directly observable by the clinician but are available only as reported through the prism of the person’s own introspection and reflection.” (Galanter, 2007, p.265). Miller (1998) support’s this view and argues that spiritual constructs and measures can be used in addiction research as: “predictor, dependent, covariate, and independent variables” (Miller, 1998, p.982). Clear hypotheses can be derived and tested in these areas, assuming the reliable measurement of spiritual variables” (Miller, 1998, p.982). However as Miller, Forcehimes, O’Leary, and LaNoue’s (2008) clinical research shows, differences in interpretations, meanings, and values ascribed to definitions may impact reliability and validity.

Galanter, Dermatis, Bunt, Williams, Trujillo, and& Steinke, P. (2006) developed a 6-item scale, the Spirituality Self-Rating Scale (SSR), which attempted to operationalize spiritual constructs and measure patients’ subjective spiritual beliefs. However conceptualising spirituality is challenging, and people may ascribe different meanings to words, and thus misunderstandings and misinterpretations may skew results. For example, one question asks, “Do you believe God or a universal spirit is: c.) an impersonal creator” (Galanter et al., 2006, p.259). The word impersonalmay suggest a non-caring person. The inability of researchers to always clearly and consistently define constructs may impact reliability and may not be applicable across cultures. And this is a limitation of such measures.

Nevertheless, while defining spirituality and its mechanisms, and evidencing spirituality empirically may be problematic, a body of research suggests common themes, or key mechanisms core to spiritual approaches to successful treatment. These spiritualty dimensions include: the role of attitudes and beliefs; meaning and purpose; community; self-awareness, forgiveness; attachment to God/a higher Power, control, and daily spiritual practice as a source of strength (Lyons, Deane, & Kelly, 2010; Galanter et al., 2006; Miller, 1998).

 

The role of attitudes and beliefs

The growing interest in integrating clients’ spiritual and religious beliefs into addiction treatment is explored by Galanter et al. (2007), who assessed the role of people’s attitudes and orientation toward spirituality and how this affected their views of addiction treatment. The SSR was administered to three distinct groups: a diverse range of patients currently in treatment programmes; doctors and other medical caregivers; and trainee chaplains. It was also administered to people who were not in treatment programmes. Administering the test to a control group was a strength of their research, highlighting that spirituality was rated more highly by those in treatment, than those not suffering from addictions. Despite issues of reliability I have already discussed the strength of their research was also the finding that “medical students and faculty members underestimated the value patients placed on spiritual orientation.” (Galanter et al,, 2007, p. 260). This finding is also shared by other research which highlights the untapped reservoir of help many helping professionals fail to tap into it (Miller et al, 2008).

Powerlessness and control

Empirical research on spirituality and alcoholism reveals that prior to participating in AA’s 12 step programme all participants reported admitted feeling a sense of powerlessness over their alcohol dependency (Brown & Peterson, 2008). During the completion of their 12-Steps they gained a stronger sense of control over their lives and their drinking (Brown & Peterson, 2008; Bliss, 2007; Liotta, 2013). The studies of Robinson et al (2011) controlled for AA involvement, and reported decreases in alcohol abusers previous coping strategies, such as judging, and condemning, and these changes were associated with a greater sense of control and improved drinking outcomes. However these findings were not supported by Miller et al. (2008) which found no changes (Miller et al, 2008). A possible explanation could be the strong religious association with Miller et al.’s study and the negative religious associations participants may have had, especially given the directive nature of the research. Robinson (2011) found that participants who felt judged, abandoned, or punished by God “were less likely to feel in control of their lives than those who had a ‘benevolent perception of and relationship to a deity” (Robinson et al, 2011, p. 660). Moreover differences in the two findings may also be explained by Miller et al.’s use of video recordings and monitoring of sessions where Robinson et al. did not use these techniques.

The relationship between forgiveness, spirituality and the treatment of alcohol addiction

Langman and Cheung Chung (2013) widened the focus of their research, exploring the impact of co-existing conditions (e.g. trauma) among people with addiction, but their findings still confirm the “degree of symptoms varying depending on specific coping resources such as spirituality” (Langman & Cheung Chung, 2013, p.15).

However, given all but five of the 81 participants, either in treatment or service users, were Caucasian, the potential for bias limits the generalizability of their findings. In addition, 84% of participants were unemployed, and that the majority were single also introduces the potential for biased results. A possible lack of intimacy, and stress associated with unemployment potentiality limits the applicability of results only to people with similar life histories.

Langman and& Cheung Chung’s study suggests that spirituality and forgiveness are beneficial, while “guilt is detrimental to relapse management” (Langman & Cheung Chung, (2013, p.12). These views are also shared by Lyons et al., (2010) who suggest anger and resentment (non spiritual constructs) towards self or others, can predict negative health outcomes.

However, in contrast, in a more diverse and larger sample of 364 people, Robinson, Krentzman, Webb, and& Brower (2011) found no significant relationship for forgiveness of others, but did find increases in forgiveness of self was a predictive factor in reduced drinking outcomes. Their study, contrasting with Langman and & Cheung Chung’s (2013) also provided longitudinal evidence (9 months) that significant changes were sustained.

Meaning in life and life purpose

Robinson et al.’s (2007) research found that a positive change in drinking outcome was linked with alcoholics’ spirituality and/or religiousness (S/R) and that having a sense of meaning and purpose of life, in particular was predictive of abstinence. Conducting a longitudinal survey over six months, on a survey group of 123 outpatients with alcohol use disorders (66% male; mean age = 39; 83% white) they used a range of questionnaires to assess 10 measures of S/R, covering behaviours, beliefs, and experiences, including the Daily Spiritual Experiences and Purpose in Life scales. (Robinson et al, 2007. P.). Other statistically significant findings included the predictive role of meaning and purpose in reducing drinking outcomes was also found by Brown and& Peterson, (1991); and Langham, (2012). The high mean age of Robinson et al.’s research and high percentage of white participants, are limitations of their research, and may negate the applicability of this research to younger addicts in particular, for whom a sense of meaning and purpose may not be significant.

 

Daily spiritual practice

A habitual practice of daily spirituality was found by Robinson et al, (2007) to be associated with the absence of heavy drinking at six months, regardless of gender or involvement in other group support activities such as involvement at AA. The results of their study support the view of many clinicians and individuals recovering from alcohol abuse and addiction that changes in alcoholics’ spirituality, and the adoption of practices such as prayer, meditation, and reading spiritual books, and being involved in a spiritual community are important to sobriety (Brown & Peterson, 1991).

In a contrasting study, Forcehimes, O’Leary and& LaNoue (2008) tried a more directive approach, where rather than assess patients subjective experience of spirituality, people who were fresh from a detoxification programme received a 12-session manual-guided spiritual guidance (SG) intervention during and after inpatient treatment. The SG intervention was “hypothesized to influence substance abuse outcomes by increasing spiritual functioning on three measures: Daily Spiritual Experiences, Meaning in Life, and Private Religious Practices” (Miller at al., 2008, p.439). Contradictory to expected outcomes SG had no effect on spiritual practices or substance use outcomes at any follow-up point. A potential strength of their study was a wider range of cultures, Hispanic (50%), White non-Hispanic (35%), and Native American (12%), however this is somewhat negated by the high drop out rate (43%) and the failure to find an effect.

While the participants in Robinson et al.’s (2007) research are predominately Caucasians, a predictive link between daily spiritual practices and reduced alcohol consumption was found. Relatedly perhaps, a potential limitation of Miller et al.’s (2008) approach, unlike the other research cited previously, may have been the prescriptive, interventionist approach and the focus on techniques drawn from the Judeo-Christian tradition (Miller et al., 2008). While the authors claim this is the most common religious background in the US population this may have only been substantiated in census reports and not representative of the participantsbeliefs. In addition religiousness and spirituality are different constructs and experienced uniquely (Miller, 1998).

While the authors say they anticipated potential resistance to their approach, other than say they incorporated a clinical style of motivational interviewing, they do not specifically address how they overcame this resistance. Significantly 43% of participants dropped out after attending between 1-3 sessions and this is not accounted for. Potential strengths of this research and its failure to find an effect are summed up by the authors, “If spiritual formation is a developmental phenomenon that unfolds naturally over time, like cognitive or moral development, it may not be amenable to acute interventions designed to speed up the process” (Miller et al, 2008, p.440).

(Motivational interviewing is a specific technique to overcome resistance).

 

Conclusion

In the beginning psychology was interested in studying the psyche – the “human soul, spirit or mind” (Dictionary.com, 2014); however cognitive and rationally oriented mind therapies appear to have dominated therapeutic practice in modern times. Recent research re-establishes the importance of spirituality as an important therapeutic intervention, and integrates it into the mainstream of empirical psychological practice. The research confirms supports the theory that understanding this core dimension of human functioning, evaluating, understanding, and responding to the spiritual aspects of clients’ lives is an essential skill for health professionals who wish to understand this core dimension of human functioning, and tap into this reservoir of inner strength. “Comprehensive addictions research should include not only biomedical, psychological and socio-cultural factors but spiritual aspects of the individual as well” (Miller, 1998, p. 985).

While the research reveals the ongoing challenges in defining and measuring the elements of spirituality that make it an effective intervention, including differences in meaning and spiritual values, the desire to find ways of integrating clients spiritual beliefs and practice into the treatment of alcohol addiction continues to grow.

Future research could explore how spirituality could be incorporated into treatment/ therapy programmes, but practitioners should be wary of trying to impose spirituality on others, or to rush the pursuit of spiritual transcendence. As Miller et al. note, “Many people recovering from substance use disorders, including members of AA, report transformational experiences that seem to occur spontaneously rather than as the product of an intervention and that often have substantial spiritual or even mystical features” (Miller et al., 2008, p 440).

A tendency of the research presented to dominate their studies with middle-aged Caucasians is a limitation of their research, however this is helpful in illuminating a path other researchers may wish to explore. This is especially relevant for practitioners in New Zealand, treating Māori and other cultures for whom faith and spirituality are either embraced, or have been neglected – potentially opening the door to new forms of healing and treatment.

Regardless of issues presented in trying to empirically validate spirituality the research still confirms supports the view that spirituality is an important aid in helping people either currently or in the past abusing alcohol (Langman & Cheung Chung, 2013).

References

Alcohol addiction (2014). In Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/alcohol+addiction.

Bennett, S. (2009) Te Huanga o te Ao Māori, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Māori clients with depression – Development and evaluation of a culturally adapted treatment programme. (Doctorate Dissertation thesis, Massey University) Retrieved from http://mro.massey.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10179/1159/02whole.pdf?sequence=1#page=2&zoom=auto,-187,813

Bliss, D.L. (2007). Empirical research on spirituality and alcoholism: A review of the literature. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 7 (4). Doi:10.1300/j160v07n04_02 Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Brown, H.P., & Peterson J. H. (1991) Assessing Spirituality in Addiction Treatment and Follow-Up, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 8:2,21-50, DOI: 10.1300/J020V08N02_03. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Dowsett-Johnston, A. (2013). Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. London: HarperCollins Publishers.

Galanter, M. (2007). Spirituality and recover in 12-step programs: An empirical model. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33, 265–272. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Galanter, M., Dermatis, H., Bunt, G., Williams, C., Trujillo, M., & Steinke, P. (2006). Assessment of spirituality and its relevance to addiction treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33 (2007) 257– 264. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Langman, L., & Cheung Chung, M. (2013). The Relationship Between Forgiveness, Spirituality, Traumatic Guilt and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Among People with Addiction. Psychiatry Quarterly, 84:11–26. DOI 10.1007/s11126-012-9223-5. Retrieved from Scopus.

Liotta, J. (August 9, 2013). Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130809-addiction-twelve-steps-alcoholics-anonymous-science-neurotheology-psychotherapy-dopamine, 15 September 2014.

Lyons, G.C.B., Deane, F.P., & Kelly, P.J. (2010). Forgiveness and purpose in life as spiritual mechanisms of recovery from substance use disorders, Addiction Research and Theory, 18 (5): 528–543. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Miller, W.R., Forcehimes, A., O’Leary, M. J., LaNoue, M. D. (2008). Spiritual direction in addiction treatment: Two clinical trials. Journal Oof Substance Abuse Treatment, 35(4), 434-442. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Miller, W.R., (1998). Researching the spiritual dimensions of alcohol and other drug problems. Addiction, 93(7), 979-990.

Robinson, E.A.R., Cranford, J.A. , Webb, J.R., Brower, K.J (2007). Six-month changes in spirituality, religiousness, and heavy drinking in a treatment-seeking sample. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68, pp. 282–290.

Robinson, E. A. R., Krentzman, A R., Webb, J. R., & Brower, K. J. (2011, July). Six-Month Changes in Spirituality and Religiousness in Alcoholics Predict Drinking Outcomes at Nine Months.* Journal of Studies on Alcohol Drugs, 72(4): 660–668. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3125889/

Psyche (2014), In Dictionary.com. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psyche?s=t

 

Feedback!

Well done with your assignment Cassandra. You have a nice writing style and chose an interesting topic. You reviewed the literature well and critically analysed identifying both conflicting and supporting information. Try and avoid using so many quotes at this level the majority of your writing should be paraphrased. A few referencing errors to improve on. Best of luck with your future studies

Grade: 84.5/100

 

 

 

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