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Addiction Story: Charlie’s Refusal

Several years ago Charlie called me up from several states away desperate for help with his drinking addiction. He was in his fifties and had been in rehab six times, each time returning to serious drinking within days of leaving it. He had heard about how childhood wounds can be the cause of alcoholism. He had also heard about my work with addiction and was so eager to work that after speaking with me on the telephone he immediately got in his car and drove three states to get to my office.  As it happened I was just about to conduct my workshop, The Renaissance Experience, and Charlie enrolled. Although Charlie agreed that a person’s childhood experiences can be the origin of addiction he did not believe that his childhood was in any way harmful. As he shared the conditions and events of his childhood the group was struck by the amount of pain, emotional and physical abuse, and emotional abandonment Charlie endured as a child. And even as he told his stories he could not connect with his inner child. He could not give him the love and compassion he needed to heal. Instead he remained “strong” and refused to acknowledge any of the sadness, shame, and anger he had tucked away. Unfortunately for Charlie he left the workshop not having done the emotional work he needed to do in order to release the need for alcohol. He was drinking again in days. Instead of realizing that he needed to face his memories and feelings he re-checked himself into rehab where (in that particular environment) he did not have to face his feelings. Charlie is a sad example of how we can choose to run from our pain and remain trapped in addiction.

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