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Ask the Rock Doc: Sound advice for a song by psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT 

Dear Dr. BLT: 

My son, age 17, Rockford, is a rock star, and I don’t think he’s handling the sudden fame very well.  He is a Christian boy, but he seems to have lost his desire to serve the Lord.

Rockford was a straight A student in high school until the 12th grade, at which time he began to drink with his friends.  I think he’s doing pot too, but he assures me that the only thing he is addicted to is alcohol.  

He used to dream about going to college and becoming an engineer, now he only dreams about all of the girls he will get being a drummer in a popular rock band, and of all of the wild drinking parties he will be invited to.  He’s already had a DUI that was dropped to an Open Container in a Parked Vehicle after I tossed tons of money at lawyers.  

My son’s drunk right now.  I rarely see him anymore without either being inebriated or having a hangover.  I’ve tried to get him in AA.  He says it’s made up of a bunch of drunks, and that he’s just a kid having a good time.  

Dad of a Drunk Lad 

Dear Dad of a Drunk Lad: 

The good news it that your son is still young, and, as such, his prognosis for recovery is pretty good­as long as he gets treatment soon.  You must insist that he does, and you and the rest of your family must uphold him in prayer.  

He must start by facing the fact that his drinking has taken over his life.  Denial is the Hallmark of alcoholism and any addiction, for that matter.  

It’s pretty normal for a guy his age to want to celebrate with friends.  It’s called celebration and social interaction.  But the “oil” he is using to “grease” the wheels on his “social interaction vehicle” is poisonous to him.  

It may not be poisonous to everyone, for some are better able to exercise control over their drinking habits and not allow the alcohol to take the driver’s seat.  Apparently, Rockford lacks that control, because he has been capitulating to the substance that now rules his world.  

It has become his god, but it has also become his devil, the devil that threatens to destroy his dreams, destroy his life, and destroy the lives of those closest to him. It is a noose around his neck, and it’s getting tighter with every drink, and with every party he attends.   

The problem is not the alcohol itself, but Rockford’s relationship to it.  In his case, it seems that this relationship with alcohol is marked by dependency.  

It is normal to depend on others whom we trust, to a degree.   It is normal to depend upon God, who created us and understands our every need.  It is normal to depend on ourselves, to the extent that we exercise our God-given minds, our talents and our skills towards noble causes and purposes that bring satisfaction to our lives and to the lives of those with whom we interact.  

It is not so normal to depend on things, or substances.  If we are dependent on such things or such substances, we end up losing the things and the people we hold dearest to our hearts.  

Alcohol dependency is especially destructive because it not only has the potential to kill our bodies, it has the potential to kill others, or to render others the victim of the poor judgment that alcohol produces within the drinker.   

I’m not big on NA/AA, though those groups seem to be better than nothing for many alcoholics.  There are a few problems I see in such programs.  First, they assume that alcohol problems develop independently of psychological issues.  I have discovered in my treatment of patients, that this is not always the case, in fact, it is the exception.

Second, they use the generic, diffuse name of “higher power” to refer to God, and third, they dismiss important factors that may have or presently be contributing to a person’s alcoholic behavior as “excuses.”  Yes, they can be used as “excuses,” or “crutches,” but they need not be.  

Pretending that one’s alcoholic behavior is simply biological or genetic (though it may be, to a degree), and ignoring other environmental and developmental antecedents can contribute to prolonging one’s addiction and even making it worse.  

That being said, there are church programs out there, perhaps even in your area, that operate according to the scripturally-based, psychologically-sound principles and these groups could help you. 

In addition, Rockford may need to seek professional help in the form of visits with a Christ-centered psychologist, and, or, a pastor trained to appreciate the psychological factors that contribute to alcoholism.  

Finally, I would suggest getting an apartment off campus that is not near any partiers.  Even he were to select a Christian College/University with a strong spiritual emphasis, there will be students that secretly party, and that secretly party in a big way---in a reckless, wanton way.  I’m speaking from experience.  

Rockford must surround himself with those who seek to glorify God in all they say and do.  They don’t have to be goody-two-shoes types, because they can be phony and superficially “spiritual.”  But he needs to pick people who desire, with God’s help, to stay on a positive path.   

I wish you, and your son, the very best in this father-son journey you are facing together.  I don’t want your son to pay too high a price for having a good time, but he will if he continues to drink.  It sounds like he has a great future in music, and I’d encourage him to stick with it. 

It also sounds like he has a sharp, sound mind, as long as he doesn’t alter his brain’s thinking patterns through drinking.  

Your son is hiding from the problem.  Don’t hide with him.  Gently, caringly confront him about your concerns, and insist on him getting professional help.  Offer to accompany him. 

If you email me back, and let me know of your location, I’ll help you find the resources your son will need to get back on track.

________________________________________________- 

* If you’re a musician in distress, or a friend or family member of one, please email Dr. BLT at drblt@drblt.net 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
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