The Alcoholic Patient

Alcoholic patients are both physiologically and psychologically dependent on alcohol. Most of the time, interviewers conduct the sessions when the patient is not inebriated. Excessive drinking is often an attempt to deaden feelings of guilt and failure. The more patients drink, the more they are abandoned by their family and friends. They feel castigated and alone. They are left to their only ''friend'': alcohol. They are often ready to talk, and their account of their drinking habits may be interesting. Alcoholic patients generally have a low opinion of themselves. They may even be upset about their persistent drinking habits. Their hatred of themselves may be a manifestation of a self-destructive wish. Alcoholic patients may also have fears about sexual inadequacy or homosexuality. It is not easy to open up such topics because these patients are likely to respond explosively. The sensitive interviewer should approach these issues in a manner that is neither condescending nor moralistic.

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