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Stop Drinking Start smoking

Start smoking to Stop Drinking

Start smoking to stop drinking

My client was an events manager who cannot stop smoking. He says that when he stops he gets cravings. He read the Alan Carr book one time, and stopped for three years. Then he started again.  Nothing unusual about that.

He stopped himself smoking for four months. Then he deliberately started again in order to be able to cut down on his drinking. He works in the hospitality industry and tended to binge drinking because it was available all the time. He thought that if he started smoking, he could stop the drinking. Apparently it worked. He did stop drinking but now he is smoking, and he can't stop.

Patterns of smoking

The pattern of repeatedly starting smoking, then stopping, and then starting again is a good indicator of Black and White thinking. A lot of smoking is caused by B & W thinking. I suspected that this client was smoking because he had high expectations and a touch of depression.

I showed him the list of symptoms of dysthymia, and he said that he recognized parts of his behavior in every section. We discussed this for a while. I explained how dysthymia is a common form of depression, and affects many parts of your life, including your habits. I told him it was mainly an inherited problem, and he likely got it from his father or his mother.  He told me that his father in fact is an alcoholic. And it was clear that his father has all the symptoms as well.

Inheriting Smoking

I explained that his father probably had dysthymia. We spent quite a lot of time going over how his behavior fitted perfectly with the drivers of dysthymia. This all came as a revelation to my client.

He could now see that many of the things that he was using as excuses or reasons for his own behavior were in fact not true. Depression was a much better explanation.  He confessed that he had long worried that he might have depression. But refused to go into it, because he was even more worried that he might have schizophrenia!

He recognized that his dad was driven by some sort of 'demons'. At some level he feared that he too had these demons. And didn't want to end up an alcoholic as well. Having dysthymia as a rational explanation was a great relief to him.

Ending stop smoking to stop drinking

I did a standard hypnosis session aimed at helping him deal with his emotional problems. Once he has stabilized his behavior he will be ready to tackle the smoking. One step at a time. The real issue is not that he felt he had to start smoking to stop drinking. The real issue is that same unconscious behavior was driving both, as it had with his father.

He was amazed and delighted by hypnosis and the calming effects of trance. He said that "I want to come back and do this every week". Great.

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Self sabotage with alcohol

Self Sabotage with alcohol

I had a client today who binge drinks to oblivion. She hates doing it, but every disappointment seems to trigger something deep inside. The result is she reaches for the bottle and drinks until she goes unconscious. She does it about once a week.

My initial reaction was that she was drinking to try to avoid something. I got her to talk about her childhood and her upbringing. That was a mistake. She wouldn't stop talking. Words poured out of her. I had real difficulty keeping her focused on what I was asking her. You get some clients who just won't talk about their emotions. With other clients, getting them to talk about themselves at all is like asking them to pull their teeth out. This client just kept talking and talking.

I finally got control of the monologue and asked her for a specific instance of when she felt she had to drink. She told me that she and her husband are trying to buy a new house. They found a house that seemed ideal. She put an offer in on it, and then learned it had been sold to someone else. Her immediate reaction was to start drinking, and keep drinking. Her husband is distressed by this, she is distressed by this, but she just cannot stop herself.

Self Sabotage with alcohol

She wasn't able to explain why she felt this way. She just cannot handle disappointment. I asked her about her feelings in general and it seemed to me that she had quite extreme black and white thinking. Things either went the way she thought they should, or she fell off the wagon. In her case falling off the wagon means self sabotage with alcohol.

She revealed that she hates the idea of others judging her for her drinking. She started crying and said "I don't want to end up like my mother". It turned out that her mother was a nasty drunk. As a child she got verbal and physical abuse when her mother was under the influence. I asked if her mother also had black and white thinking. This opened up another torrent of feelings, memories, and opinions. I was able to work out from that that her mother was almost certainly depressive and angry. All of the stories that she was telling were basically about her mother taking out petty spite on her own children when she was drunk.

Reason for self sabotage with alcohol

Despite an obvious abusive childhood she took a long time to open up to her real emotions about her mother. She finally acknowledged that her current behavior was really all about trying to cope with the stresses of her childhood. Every time she felt disappointed, that something had happened to put her down, it triggered memories of the same thing happening when she was a child. Her drinking was an attempt to drown out those unhappy feelings.

I went on to do some inner child work with her, and that seemed to help. I think she's going to need a lot of help to deal with the conflict between loving her mother, and accepting that her mother is the cause of her problems.

On the other hand, I learned something that I hadn't realised before. I learned why some people talk all the time. It is to stop them having to deal with their own anxieties.

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