I constantly get telephone calls from relatives, partners and friends of people who are alcoholics or are out of control in their use of recreational drugs. They telephone my clinic with three basic concerns. Here is how the conversation generally goes:
Barry: “My daughter has a drinking problem and I think she should be in treatment. I think she’s an alcoholic. As her dad I’m very concerned about her future. She’s 33 and not in a relationship. If I book her into your clinic and pay for her treatment, can you fix her?”
Dr Tracie: “Let me say I acknowledge your pain and distress around your daughter’s situation. I can hear you’re very worried about her welfare and future. Legally I’m unable to discuss her case with you because I’m obliged to protect the privacy of her case notes and all the information around her situation.
“So we only accept appointments from patients themselves. You see, it has to be your daughter who initiates change, otherwise we’re just talking about what you want her to do. Give her the number and get her to ring us if she’d like help.”
And then there is this one:
Kathy: “My partner’s taking a lot of drugs. He’s doing a lot of cocaine, smoking dope and drinking. He’s been in rehab several times but nothing has worked. He’s now getting very violent and shouting at me all the time. I don’t know what to do anymore. Can hypnotherapy help?”
Dr Tracie: “If you think you or your children are in danger, you need to immediately remove yourself and your children to a safe space. Yes, we do help people who have been addicted for decades who learn to stop using drugs and live a clean and sober life. Hypnosis is a very important part of this treatment.
“But the most important element of treatment is that it is patient-driven. Our treatment program is interactive and we are not here just to listen to people talk. Patients must be invested in changing their lives and pay for their own treatment.
“My philosophy is that if people have thousands of dollars for drugs and alcohol every year, they have money to invest in their own treatment. The best thing to do is make them aware of our services and if they want help we’d be happy to talk to them.”
Or this one:
Robert: “My son is 21 and has been living on the street and taking drugs. Eventually I just gave in and went and collected him and brought him to our home. My wife and I have tried everything and he still goes out and scores drugs. I don’t know what to do now. He does say he wants help. Can you help?”
Dr Tracie: “First of all, you are not a clinician, don’t have the skills about drug cessation and are too close to be objective. I hear you are trying to be caring but you may be feeding the habit. Perhaps it might be a good idea for you and your wife to come into the clinic to begin with so we can discuss the best way you can support your son and how you might be able to get him into the clinic and engage with treatment.
“Because he is living at home with you we can take a family systemic approach as well as treat him individually. As I always say, he must want professional help and be willing to accept that help.”
So what can you do to support someone suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction?
- You need to get them into treatment including hypnotherapy
- That treatment must be initiated by them
- Support them to attend their appointments regularly
- Keep a clean and sober environment around them
- Do not take drugs or drink alcohol around them
- Respect that they have a serious problem so the only safe way for them to live is clean and sober; never forget that and always support that way of living for them.
If you know someone with an alcohol or drug addiction who would like help to overcome it, get them to call my Sydney clinic on 02 8021 6429 to book an appointment.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath In Sydney. You can get help by booking an appointment with her at Australian Health & Education Centre.