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Helping Clients to Moderate Alcohol Intake

Helping Clients to Moderate Alcohol Intake
Woman moderating alcohol intake (Photo by © Gina Sanders - stock.adobe.com)

Many clients wish to reduce their alcohol consumption. Perhaps they work in a job which requires them to socialise, or they don't want to give up that glass of wine occasionally. When you assess the client the key here is to understand their alcohol use. Below are a couple of examples of types of drinker.

A. If the client is habitually using large quantities of alcohol there is a real possibility that they are an alcoholic, in which case reduction is unlikely to be effective. If on the other hand, there consumption is gradually increasing and simply needs to be staid, there's unlikely to be much difficulty in reduction. In either case a tested and proven method exists for managing the client.

B. Another type of alcohol user who looks for reduction, is the binge drinker. One of the key things here is to look for the pattern. Few binge drinkers start drinking alone - or do so everyday. More often they experience a social situation that moves from a recreational and healthy use of alcohol, to a point where the alcohol use becomes out of control and moves into a very unhealthy process. We use a slightly different approach with clients of this type. If the binge drinking client is female, it's definitely worth asking if they have ever been bulimic, as this can hold many clues to their relationship with alcohol.

When working with a client in the group A category we apply a simple test. A hypnosis session is given purely to establish a limit. The limit should be at about 60 - 70% of their general usage (but should exclude any spirits). The objective is a beneficial reduction, but one that is achievable. If the client is able to hold that limit and not exceed it for seven days, we have a client who we can work on reduction and moderation with. If they fail, they are likely alcoholic and we have to forget about moderation. If they wish to move forward it should be to avoid alcohol, as they will never be able to control their drinking.

When working with a type B client we face some different challenges. Establishing a limit is irrelevant as they often go weeks or months between binges. Accurately assessing which type of client one is dealing with is important. Curiously, Alcoholics Anonymous categorizes both binge and constant use drinkers in the same way, as alcoholics. From the point of view of a hypnotherapist, we can work with them very differently. While one is alcoholic, the binge drinker (who may go months between binges) is 'abusing alcohol' but not really an alcoholic.

As such, at Vancouver Hypnotherapy (www.VancouverHypnotherapy.Org) we use the technical hypnosis solution, of looking for the triggers to the binge events, and then getting our client to recognise the situation, and alter their response to it. This is simply done using regression and an approach that motivates the client away from those 'risk' moments.

Our standard method for helping reduce alcohol consumption is based on removal of all spirits (hard liquor), and spacing each glass of wine or beer with an equal quantity of water. Reduction down to the level the client finds acceptable is then not difficult. This should be done over a period, reducing in easy steps and need only take three or four sessions.

If you are interested in more detail of helping clients reduce their alcohol use, feel free to contact me.

Rob Hadley CHt, http://www.VancouverHypnotherapy.Org

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