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Quitting Alcohol with Psychotherapy

Updated on July 13, 2020
DrVihan Sanyal profile image

Dr. Sanyal is a Mental Health Specialist and a Hypnotherapist with over 15years of International clinical practice in psychotherapy.


What are some of the tools available to help people reduce excessive intake of alcohol or to quit it completely?

The most important ingredient required for therapy to be effective is the will to quit. If a person has the desire and positive intention of giving up alcohol completely, then various types of therapy can prove to be effective.

One such therapy is Hypnotherapy. While the client is in a state of trace, the hypnotherapist would make powerful suggestions to the client’s subconscious mind to help the person to quit. The desire to drink or the craving for alcohol diminishes. Suddenly the person no longer feels the urge to drink. This happens at the subconscious level of the person as it starts to support and strengthen the will of the person to quit the substance completely.


Another method is through challenging cognitions. Here the therapist would look at the cognitive patterns of a person and look for possible triggers, which once corrected, will no longer influence the client to drink. Here we look at how the thought influences the behavior of the person and results in the act of drinking.

Conventional methods of counseling can address some of the reasons behind the person drinking excessively. If the reason is sadness, loneliness or depression, then such things can be addressed through talk therapy. It is helpful to let the client know that Alcohol as a substance is known as a downer. It reduces the amount of “happy chemicals” in our brain and can contribute to the person feeling low and depressed. Hence, it can be counterproductive for a depressed person to drink. This can lead to risky impulsive behavior (including self harm).

Binge Drinking & Health

Many people drink occasionally, but, tend to drink excessively. This is known as binge drinking. Men who consume 5 or more drinks and women who consume 4 or more drinks in a span of 2 hours are considered as binge drinkers. Studies have proven binge drinking to be much more harmful for a person’s physical as well as mental health. Many people who drink in this way do so because of an impulse control issue. They either do not know when to stop or are incapable of stopping themselves from drinking excessively. In such cases, resilience and tolerance building exercises in therapy can work wonders. A skilled psychotherapist will be able to help a person who may be struggling in this area.

Therapy can encourage the client to connect with likeminded people who are also on the same journey and who wish to quit drinking. They can help each other to stay motivated and celebrate every small achievement they would have made on this journey together. Soon the client is likely to see some of the positive results of cutting alcohol out of their life. They may look physically better, they may feel that they now have more energy and are able to accomplish more every day. They also may notice a drop in their weight, drop in blood pressure (From elevated blood pressure), drop in cholesterol, improved liver function, stronger immune system and an improvement in the quality of their sleep.

Emotional & Physical Health

Alcohol consumption is linked to a condition called fatty liver. A fatty liver can increase bad cholesterol levels and triglycerides which in turn increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The good news is that the liver repairs itself. Once a person reduces their consumption of alcohol or stops drinking alcohol completely, the liver starts to heal. Once the liver begins to heal, a person’s liver function improves and in time they may no longer have a fatty liver. A healthy liver will also reduce overall cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease.

Many people, under the influence of alcohol, often say or do things which they later regret. For example a person might become rude or aggressive towards family and friends and tarnish their relationships with them. They might go on a spending spree and buy expensive gifts for themselves or for their loved ones (spend beyond their means). They might lose their savings by gambling. They might make promises which they may not be able to keep once they are sober.

Psychotherapy Can Help

Alcohol is also a major contributor to strained interpersonal relationships, disharmony, and tension within members of a family, aggression and of rage. Many victims of verbal, physical or sexual abuse attribute their pain to the perpetrators’ drinking problem. Even if this is true, know that there are treatment options available. One does not need to suffer in silence. Please speak with your family physician or a mental health specialist and they will be able to discuss best treatment options available with you.

A person (depending on the case) may require several sessions of therapy with a psychotherapist before they start to see positive results. Psychotherapy often takes time. It is not a quick fix solution. However, once a person diligently perseveres with his/her therapy sessions, the results are often remarkable and permanent.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Dr Vihan Sanyal


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