"It took eight months of psychotherapy before Dominic stopped drinking for good. Although he remained in therapy for several years after that, the key that unlocked his addiction was nothing more complex or ethereal than an understanding of what his addiction really was and how it really worked.
Dominic had felt enormously pressured all of his life, consumed by a suffocating need to excel in every activity. He was driven by a hunger to be “good enough”—accomplished enough, successful enough—to please his demanding father and blameful mother. Whenever he felt he was not performing up to his potential, his old sense of being trapped by implacable demands arose, and with it came a deep sense of shame and an equal fury at the awful helplessness he felt about this burden. Those were the moments he had to have a drink.
Eventually he came to realize that this odd coping mechanism made a certain kind of sense. By making a decision to drink, he was empowering himself—he no longer felt helpless. Once he understood the connection between his lifelong feelings and his urges to drink, he was able to view them with some perspective for the first time. He found that he was able to predict when his drive to drink would return, since it always tended to surface right after that old, unbearable pressure to perform. He developed enough awareness into what was beneath these urges that he could take a step back and deal with those issues more directly and appropriately. Over time, he was also able to work out the underlying narrative forces that had led him to feel so helpless throughout his life. He had, in other words, supplanted the notion of a Higher Power with something far more personally empowering: sophisticated self-awareness."