Abnormal Psychology

Text: Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology 7th Edition, Ronald J. Comer

Notes to consider:

One of the most debated areas in the field of addiction is whether people with alcoholism must become abstinent (not drink at all) in order to overcome their disorder, or whether they can simply learn to keep their alcohol use under better control. Research has not settled this debate.
Fact: The biological children, particularly males, of parents with alcoholism are more likely to themselves develop alcoholism than the biological children of nonalcoholic parents.
Spouses and other family members often shield problem drinkers from some of the negative consequences of their drinking. The spouses may make excuses for the drinker or fulfill the drinker’s social or business obligations for him/her. This is called “enabling.”
Research shows that including the spouse in the treatment of people abuse alcohol increases the probability of a successful outcome.
Case Study Kirk:

Kirk was never a moderate drinker. He began in early high school, and right from the start he consumed large amounts of alcohol, but only on weekends. When he went drinking with his friends, he often returned home after his parents were asleep, so they never realized the extent of his drinking. He never once got into real trouble from his drinking during his high school years. Kirk’s grandfather was supposedly an “alcoholic” though he never met him. There were many family stories that he had heard about his grandfather that included drunken episode and bar fights. The story was that his grandfather also had great difficulty holding down a job. He possibly died from an alcohol-related illness, but no one in the family spoke about it, so Kirk did not know for sure. Kirk had never seen his father take a drink. He wondered if it was because of the stories about his grandfather, but he never asked.

In college, Kirk joined a fraternity and his drinking increased, but no real problems occurred. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business. After graduation, Kirk married Michele. Michele enjoyed an occasional drink, but usually stopped at one or two. She mostly drank socially, about twice a month. She was aware that when Kirk drank, he drank heavily, but she did not focus on that part of their relationship. Kirk was a good man, and they loved each other very much. As far as she could see, he was responsible and the drinking was not a “real” problem.

As the years went on, Kirk’s drinking increased. He was up to 12 drinks per day, throughout the day. Michele knew this was a problem now, but in her mind things were okay, since he was still successful at work, never got into fights and wasn’t a violent person. In her mind, professional success and no violent episodes meant that he was not an “alcoholic.” Once, at an office Christmas party, Kirk blacked out from drinking. Michele covered for him with his boss explaining that Kirk must have had food poisoning. She took Kirk home and he slept all night. He did not remember the party the next day.

One night Kirk and Michele were doing their taxes. The project took about 3 hours, and they completed the paperwork without an issue. They joked about silly expenses and agreed on events that happened throughout the year with their now 5 year old daughter. When they were finished they went to bed in a good mood.

The next morning, Kirk said something to Michele that floored her. He asked her when she would like to carve out time together to work on taxes. She thought he was joking at first, but soon realized he was very serious. He had absolutely no recollection of the night before. Michele showed Kirk the paperwork they completed and he was shocked. That brought up the possibility that his drinking caused memory loss. Kirk, being very scared, told Michele he would cut down.

Answer these questions and submit. Minimum of 2 sentences each. PSYC 205 – Abnormal Psychology

In your opinion does Kirk suffer from Substance Abuse Disorder?
Is Michele an “enabler?” Why or why not?
Might a treatment such as mindfulness or a 12 step program be effective? Would couples therapy be effective? Why or why not?
In your opinion does Kirk need to never drink again in order to recover?

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