Alcoholism Recovery and Grief Healing Story

To honor our confidentiality commitment to our clients, the story below uses the fictional name of “Maria.” “Maria” worked with counselor Catherine Hunter, licensed clinical professional counselor (LCSW, CADC, PMH-C), at Catherine J. Hunter & Associates.

What initiated counseling?
Maria was becoming more and more concerned about her oldest daughter’s drinking habits. Her daughter had just graduated from law school and there seemed to be an issue. Her worry was causing panic attacks and a feeling of helplessness.

What did Maria discover?
“I discovered that the signs were there and I was not crazy,” said Maria. Through Catherine’s extensive experience with and knowledge of alcoholism, Maria became fully educated about this destructive disease. “It can be difficult to tell if someone is an alcoholic, so learning more about the disease was very important,” said Maria. She also discovered that co-dependency existed; her actions enabled her daughter to avoid addressing the disease.

How did the counseling sessions work?
Catherine and Maria first focused on how to handle her daughter and break the codependency cycle. “We practiced scenarios. For example, it was difficult to handle the holidays,” said Maria. “I had to learn to tell her not to come home if she was drinking.” Catherine suggested books for Maria, including Codependent No More and Beyond Codependence, as well as attending Al-Anon, so she could connect with others.

To help manage anxiety, Catherine and Maria also established self-care goals focused on working out 3 times a week, losing 20 pounds, and finding faith in a higher power. “I learned how to have a healthy boundary with my daughter, detached but sill loving her,” explained Maria. “With Catherine’s help, I discovered valuable resources and how to solve co-dependency. She is sober today and living a full, happy life.” Maria’s daughter is completing her education as a certified alcohol/drug addiction counselor and therapist.

How did counseling help you with the most difficult changes?
Maria describes the time during her daughter’s drinking as simply terrible. “She kept losing jobs, needed rent, and more. I cried so much the first time that I saw Catherine and shared my story,” said Maria. “Catherine spoke to me very frankly about the situation and even prepared me that I may lose my daughter. It was very difficult to hear, but it helped me get rid of my guilt and move forward.”

The multiple treatment attempts were also a big challenge. Finally, after several tries and almost dying, Maria’s daughter was admitted into Betty Ford for alcoholism treatment.  Trying “one more time” took a strong commitment from Maria and her husband, but her daughter was finally ready for help after realizing that her addiction had almost ended her life.

Catherine also helped Maria at a difficult time a few years later when she suddenly lost her husband. “I never would have made it without her holding my hand,” said Maria. “She told me that my life would never be the same and she was right. We worked on how to manage change.”

Maria laughs as she describes one of the changes. “A man asked me out on a date for coffee,” she explains. “I told him no, but felt really upset. When I told Catherine the story, we both just began to laugh. We then talked about the serious part, which was that I wasn’t ready. It’s a great example of how Catherine blends humor with practical help.”

Any advice?
Maria feels that when people go through a difficult time, the emotional part is so strong that it can be hard to think rationally. “You may have stopped living and need outside help to connect back with life,” said Maria. “Outside help is really important for sensitive issues. You can talk to friends about grief, but can be ashamed about an issue like alcoholism. Counseling can be the best solution.”

She also points out that people’s perception of therapy as a never-ending process was not true with Catherine. “When my wings were ok, Catherine and I decided that my counseling was complete. The door is always open, but there was a definite end,” explains Maria.

How has counseling changed her life?
Maria feels much more connected with a higher power and is living life to the fullest. “Catherine helped me find a new perspective in a completely accepting and non-judgmental way,” said Maria. “She reminded me that life is a beautiful gift and I am enjoying it every day.”

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