Finding Help and Treatment for Alcoholism

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Alcoholism is a serious condition that can ruin lives – both the lives of the sufferers themselves as well as the lives of those in contact with them. It can cause irrational behaviour that leads them to ruin relationships, lose jobs, behave recklessly, illegally, impulsively or aggressively, forget long periods of time and cause damage to property and others. On top of these problems, alcoholism can also damage health, leading to liver problems, high blood pressure, angina, loss of brain cells and eventually heart attack or stroke. As well as these problems, though far less important, alcoholism can pose a financial strain as money is wasted on bottles of wine, beer or other liquor. While there are many treatments and a lot of support groups available for alcoholics, there is no certain cure and recovery will take a lot of work on the part of the individual. It is important then for sufferers to seek the method of treatment that works best for them, be this a ‘rehab’ center, counselling or therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous (or another support group), or a homeopathic treatment center for alcoholism. This article will attempt to explain the prevalence, psychology and physiology of alcohol dependency and look at which methods work best and how they can be used most effectively.

The causes of alcoholism are myriad and will vary greatly from individual to individual. Certain genetic or innate traits may make a patient more susceptible to succumbing to alcoholism, and it is common to hear of individuals with ‘addictive personalities’. This is by no means a sure sign that they will develop a drinking problem however, just as anyone with no such ‘weakness’ could just as easily fall prey to the condition. Often alcoholism is triggered by a stressful event or events in the life of the sufferer which causes them to ‘turn’ to the bottle to drown their sorrows. Sometimes chronic pain can cause alcoholism due to alcohol’s pain killing effects. Effective treatments for alcoholism should help deal with the route of any psychological susceptibility and any current stressors and help the individual to deal with their stress in more constructive ways in future. Sometimes a combination of treatments can be used to target a variety of problems. Any good treatment should look at cases of alcoholism as individual rather than dealing with each case in an identical manner. A homeopathic treatment center for alcoholism, though fairly controversial in other respects (which we’ll discuss later), is effective in that it examines every aspect of the individual and their condition.

Alcohol is useful as a way to ‘deal with’ (or rather avoid) issues due to the effect it has on the brain. Most of these occur via imbalances in the chemical hormones produced which can affect emotional and perception. The inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid) for example is produced in larger quantities which leads to increased impulsivity; while glutamine production decreases which leads to depression of the nervous system – resulting in slower reactions and decreased perception of pain. At the same time, dopamine levels increase, which causes feelings of happiness and contentment (this is the pleasurable aspect of drinking).

Alcohol also impairs the ability of the neurons to communicate via synapses, and increases blood flow to the frontal temporal lobes. This is where higher-order thought takes place such as planning and goal setting. With these functions impaired the consumer can then focus on their baser instincts, ‘freed’ from nagging doubt and uncertainty. At the same time however this leaves them with a lack of foresight and judgement and can cause them to make irrational decisions. Finally the memories will be affected and this will help them to forget whatever it was that was making them stressed or unhappy in the first place.

Addiction then takes place in multiple ways. On the one hand, there is the ‘psychological’ addiction, whereby the individual feels unable to cope with the real world after enjoying relative calm in their intoxicated state and by the simple enjoyment of the experience. At the same time it is possible for drinking to simply become a ‘habit’ or a ‘crutch’ from which it can be hard to break free, and social aspects also play a role. On the other side however there’s the physical addiction which is caused by the permanent affects of alcohol on the brain. Here over time the brain will become used to the state induced by alcohol and so will produce less dopamine and GABBA, which will make life unpleasant when there is no alcohol present as well as meaning more alcohol is needed to achieve the ‘high’. Some treatments, such as support groups and therapists will attempt to address the psychological and social sides of the addiction, while others such as a rehabilitation center or homeopathic center for alcoholism will attempt to address the symptoms of withdrawal and the physical addiction.

Support groups such as the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) attempt to provide a comfortable and confidential environment in which alcoholics can talk about their problems and their experiences. Often a ‘buddy’ system is used in order to provide alcoholics with a companion to help them on their path to recovery, much as a spotter helps a bodybuilder in the gym.

As well as this, the AA outlines a 12-step programme that focuses on a personality change which should facilitate successful sobriety. The 12 steps however have a strong emphasis on spirituality and particularly Christianity (though it is compatible with other religions). The first step involves admitting a lack of control over alcoholism and surrendering to a higher power (God as the patient understands Him) to help cure them. This has been criticising for removing the responsibility and the locus of control from the sufferer, and may be unsuitable for atheists or practitioners of other religions. Some critics have even likened the AA to a cult. Other support groups however place less of an emphasis on spirituality. Group therapy differs in its approach in other ways too, with some insisting upon complete abstinence while others recommend rationing and moderation at first to ease patients into the process. The method that works best for the individual will depend on their personality and the nature of your problem, so it can be worth ‘shopping around’ for the group that best fits the individual.

Therapists meanwhile will take a more personal and in depth approach to finding the often deep-seated psychological issues that relate to alcoholism while teaching the patient skills and supplying them with psychological tools to prevent relapse and deal with stress and other issues. Depending on the type of therapist the methodology can greatly vary. Psychodynamic therapists for example will look for early childhood traumas that may have left the patient with an addictive personality, or more susceptible to stress. Meanwhile cognitive behavioural therapists will look more at current thought patterns that lead to unhealthy behaviours and teach patients to be ‘mindful’ of their own thoughts, looking out for ruminations such as ‘I can not cope with this until I have another drink’ and replacing them with more positive affirmations. Other therapists will look more at the social context of the patient and their problem. Fortunately most therapists today are trained in all schools of clinical psychology, and use an ‘integrative’ approach to apply theories from each school to the specific cases.

Meanwhile, other treatments focus on the physical aspect of the problem. Homeopathic centers for alcoholism will focus purely on the symptoms of the condition. The central concept here is that medicines should cause the same symptoms as the original condition, in order to encourage the body to learn to combat those symptoms. These ‘symptoms’ apply not only to the obvious withdrawal symptoms, but also to traits and preferences of the individual in question to look for deep routed and innate causes. Homeopathic centers for alcoholism then will look at all these factors to draw a complex picture of the case before selecting the correct herbal remedies, such as nux vom. Unlike most medicine however, these substances are not actually used in the medicine themselves, instead they are increasingly diluted by water and alcohol using a process called ‘succussion’ (shaking and beating) until the point where no molecules of those materials exist.

This is alleged to transmit the ‘vital force’ of the active ingredient into the water utilising a form of ‘water memory’. Unfortunately there is no scientific support for this system working, and the molecular structure of water is fully understood making it highly unlikely that it has any system for storing information. At the same time however, homeopathic centers for alcoholism prove successful for some individuals, and may operate simply as a placebo – the power of which should not be underestimated, particularly in cases of addiction. However it should only be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment and users should be aware that homeopathy is a ‘pseudoscience’ which sometimes makes unfounded claims.

A rehabilitation center will similarly attempt to use medication to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by using drugs as a substitute to mimic the effects of the alcohol. During this time the patient can then abstain from alcohol, going ‘cold turkey’, to allow their system to begin recovery. Though successful in the short term, many patients will suffer a relapse after rehabilitation and so should seek some form of counselling or group therapy upon release. Sometimes further medication can be prescribed by medical professionals to help the patient maintain sobriety. For example, ‘Antabuse’ can be used in order to cause an unpleasant sensation when alcohol is consumed. Others such as ‘Naltrexone’ limit the effects of alcohol making it less satisfactory for the user. While these drugs can prove effective they often carry their own side effects and potential risk of addiction.

Many patients also use a large amount of self help, benefiting from empowering books and general lifestyle changes. Meditation, a healthy diet, exercise and an attempt to address the stressors in their lives can all help in the battle against alcoholism.

Which treatment works best will depend largely on the individual, and while some will benefit from group therapy and a homeopathic center for alcoholism, others will find cognitive behavioural therapy and rehabilitation more useful. Those struggling with alcoholism and those around them should look into multiple treatments to find the most suitable solution and would usually do best to combine several treatments at once. Here holistic approaches are preferable and the patient should address their alcoholism on multiple fronts, as well as making efforts to improve in other areas of their life and health.

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About the author

Adam Sinicki
Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

Follow Adam on Linkedin: adam-sinicki, twitter: thebioneer, facebook: adam.sinicki and youtube: treehousefrog

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Adam Sinicki By Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

Follow Adam on Linkedin: adam-sinicki, twitter: thebioneer, facebook: adam.sinicki and youtube: treehousefrog