02:20am Monday 21 October 2019

Alcohol dependency brought under control with help from study

Jonathon and Lauren took advantage of up to 10 free individual therapy sessions that are still available to people concerned about their drinking.

The sessions, conducted by trained therapists, are part of a study to trial two innovative types of psychotherapy for reducing alcohol use and easing problematic drinking behaviours.

Jonathon (not his real name) said when he was growing up, beer and sport was part of his psyche.

But when his three sons reached their teenage years and he had a change in job, he turned to drinking a lot more alcohol.

“I didn’t deal with either event very well and having a few beers was a cop out,” Jonathon said.

Before starting the program earlier this year, Jonathon was averaging 35 to 40 beers a week.

“It was impacting on my marriage and family life,” he said.

“The program has helped me to bring my drinking down to a very acceptable, controlled level.

“I looked at how I was drinking and how I was unsuccessfully trying to combat the desire and urge to drink.

“I learned it’s all about thought processes. Thinking about having a drink can’t hurt you. It doesn’t matter if you think about it 40 times a day – that doesn’t mean you actually have to drink one.

“You learn to have your thought processes turn to something else and you realise you have been able to go past the desire to have that drink.”

Jonathon said the program was very gentle in its approach.

“The therapist used my strengths to outthink the desire to have alcohol,” he said.

“I, my wife and kids have benefitted a lot from it. I was headed for a marriage breakdown, and who knows what from that point onward.”

When Lauren’s (not her real name) workplace relationships became stressful and personal financial strain increased, adding to the pressure of caring for teenage sons, she found herself becoming reliant on alcohol.

“I was drinking an average of a bottle of wine a night,” Lauren said. “And on occasions the amount I was drinking increased.

“I noticed as I drank more my body started to build a resistance, making it hard to gauge the true effect the alcohol had on my body.”

Lauren said the opportunity to be involved in the QUT study made her evaluate how dependent she was feeling and recognise the fact she wanted to change.

“I had really bad constant heart burn and found the effects of alcohol were impacting on my intuition,” she said.

“As much as I didn’t notice at the time, it was impacting on my life. In hindsight I feel so much better.”

Lauren said the program helped her to focus on the triggers for her drinking and deal with underlying issues that helped cause her to feel stress.

“In the beginning, I was worried that it was all or nothing,” she said. “Some nights I thought if I had one glass I wouldn’t be able to stop.

“But now I’m able to stop drinking after one or two glasses and I feel better for it.

“Now I don’t drink for stress, only on social occasions.”

The free sessions, which are only available for a limited time, involve either a type of therapy that helps participants to increase their motivation to stop drinking or Metacognitive Therapy, which aims to help clients become aware of their thinking and feeling processes associated with drinking and learn to tolerate the urges to drink.

The sessions take place at the QUT Psychology and Counselling Clinic, Level 2, 44 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove. Public transport is available.

People in the Brisbane area aged between 18 and 65, who are drinking more than the recommended number of standard drinks each week (28 for men, 14 for women) and are not currently in treatment for alcohol problems are encouraged to contact 3138 0999 or 0414 463 089.

Media contact: Rachael Wilson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1150 or rachael.wilson@qut.edu.au.

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