Friday, 18 January 2008

Alcoholism and Psychology

Alcoholism - Psychology - Every day that you don't drink when you want to drink is one more moment when you have retrained your mind to stop seeking pleasure through alcohol. You can play tricks on the mind to help stop alcoholism. The mind is trainable, we know that. It can be untrained but it's hard. One example of playing tricks on the mind is the use of Antabuse. This drug takes away the reward element of the action/reward cycle that results in alcoholism. Action=drink alcohol - Reward=pleasure. With Antabuse it's action=the opposite to pleasure (violently sick), so you don't drink. Antabuse could be a placebo and still work (as long as you never drank at the same time, to test it).

At the moment, Jane is doing well. Yesterday she said, "It's 15 days since I drank". This refers to her Christmas binge. She is counting the days, which seems a good thing. I say there is a long way to go because she has a gap in between binges of about 15 days anyway, but she gets my praise every time.

She is soooo much better when she is not drinking - almost childlike sometimes. This is charming but I think this childlike behavior is linked in a small way to her alcoholism. It's almost as if she is stuck in her childhood, being punished by her overly critical parents.

The tricks that are being used are all about breaking the action/reward cycle. She knows that:

  1. Drinking is expensive. When she is working it can cost wages (if they don't sack her instead), plus the booze, plus I withold some housekeeping money. This is intended to produce a bundle of negative effects to create mental pressure to stop.
  2. I might leave the partnership. This is a further negative effect (depends how you look at it though :) - some might see it differently). It is negative (if I left) as there would be less income. Jane is careful with money and likes to feel secure financially. The use of money in applying pressure to stop can I think help. Jane is insecure generally so my presence makes her feel more secure.
  3. I apply gentle pressure on her to go to AA daily. She doesn't want to go, but I remind her that the struggle of going etc. is better than the downside from drinking. In short, life is better this way than the drinking way, thus attacking the action/reward cycle of alcoholism.
  4. She keeps fit by running. Exercise helps one to feel better as it produces endorphines in the brain (due to the stress of exercise). These are naturally produced drugs that induce pleasure. If she feels better she is less likely to be depressed and drink.
  5. She keeps active. This is a kind of mind game/trick. If you keep the mind active it is healthier. A human mind in my opinion needs to be active-used. Like a car, if it is not used it falls to bits gradually. This stops the "devil" entering the mind. The devil for Jane is the desire to drink. Boredom can bring on the desire to drink. Shut the devil out through activity. This takes self-discipline.
  6. I try and make her laugh sometimes. Laughter helps ward off depression and makes you feel better. It probably produces a chemical in the brain. In some countries they have laughter groups. In fact, lucky for me, I can make her laugh (this shows that we are compatible).
Mind games and tricks can help you unlearn what you have slowly learned in becoming an alcoholic.

Photo copyright Saxsbiker


  1. initial reaction:
    loooove that dummy ... too funny.

    Can you help me out here. That post with the lighthouse pic..."Hope" I used it in one of my chat rooms and don't know who originally took it (can't find it here anymore). Name?

  2. This is the photographer: RebelBlueAngel. This is her/his Flickr name. He/she can be found on Flickr.


I'd like to hear the experiences of both alcoholics and the victims of alcoholics, please.