Alcoholism! Alternative Treatments
An overview of alcoholism
Alcoholism is a term that describes a person’s addiction to alcohol. It occurs when a person is greatly dependent on alcohol. This habitual dependency on alcohol has a negative impact on their relationships with others, their social life, and everything about them as a whole. Alcoholism is not a good thing. It can wreck a person’s life and most importantly, health. This may result in liver damage and fatal accidents.
Conventional treatments for alcoholism include cessation of drinking. This is accomplished by gradually reducing the number of drinks that one takes. In some cases, the physician may prescribe certain medications to help the patient minimize his alcohol intake.
People who have been drinking for quite some time will require detox programs (or medical detoxification). The detox program must be done professionally. The reason for this is that withdrawal symptoms can cause hallucinations and seizures. Withdrawals can also affect a person’s mental health, resulting in malfunctioning of the brain, and even death.
People who wish to do away with alcohol addiction can choose alternative therapies to enhance their chances of success. This article will highlight some of these alternative forms of treatment.
To quit alcoholism, one must be disciplined and have maximum self-control. Many people find drinking as a source of stress relief and coping mechanisms. Meditation serves as a more positive method for stress relief compared to drinking. Making this choice would imply making the right choice.
When a person meditates, he or she takes some time to focus. This may be done by chanting or repeating a positive thought in one’s mind. For instance, one may constantly remind himself of the positive benefits attached to living a healthy life, or a life free from alcoholism. You may also spend time thinking of what your life would look like when you have finally quit drinking.
This is native to the Chinese. It involves the insertion of many small needles into the skin. Acupuncture is used for its analgesic effects. It restores balance to the body. Some people also use acupuncture because it serves as a means of relief from depression. Studies by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that acupuncture can be used to quit smoking.
Actually, there is not much research to prove that acupuncture helps one to conquer alcoholism. It is more anecdotal evidence. Acupuncturists are of the view that the detoxifying effects of acupuncture is what help people to overcome the health effects of alcoholism, especially the detoxifying effects on the liver.
There is actually no published research to show that acupuncture can effectively treat alcoholism. Certain studies have hinted that some benefits may be attached to acupuncture, but there is definitely a need for more research. There are no health risks attached to acupuncture – only be sure that it is done by a qualified and licensed acupuncturist. Never attempt to perform the procedure on your own.
Yoga is an exercise that allows one to get in tune with his or her body. Because alcoholism makes a person somewhat lose control of himself or herself, yoga could lend a helping hand. The yoga practice involves breathing slowly and carefully, performing gentle movements to tone and stretch the body.
Yoga connects the mind with the body. It serves as a form of stress relief that can enhance a person’s sense of well-being. With yoga, you can learn how to use your body in a healthy pattern.
There are many types of yoga ranging from hatha yoga (which has a slow pace) to power yoga, which is very vigorous. Yoga studios and community centers do offer lessons on this. There are mobile applications and instructional DVDs to help beginners learn the various yoga positions.
Withdrawing from alcohol comes with many side effects, one of these being poor quality of sleep. People who suffer from alcoholism have a higher risk of sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
Phototherapy, known also as bright light therapy, involves exposing oneself to artificial light (very bright one). Light therapy is mostly used for treating the seasonal affective disorder. It has many potential benefits, especially for those who are addicted to alcohol. The light can help boost a natural sleep cycle while reducing depression.
Researchers from Boston University have studied the effects of light therapy and naltrexone, a medication on alcoholism. Results gotten from this study showed that light therapy was as effective as intense alcohol treatment programs.
An herb known as Kudzu has been used for over a millennium by traditional medical practitioners in China to combat addiction to alcohol. The Americans actually consider Kudzu a nuisance. However, a study conducted by Harvard University in 2005 has shown that kudzu may have positive effects on alcohol consumption.
In the study, subjects (of both genders) were asked to drink at least 6 beers after taking a pill. Some subjects were given the kudzu pill while others were given a placebo. Those that took the kudzu pill did not drink fast and took in lesser amounts compared to those that took the placebo. Though the study size was not large, it showed that the kudzu herb may actually help people who are addicted to alcohol.
A substance known as
puerarin is present in kudzu. This substance enhances blood flow to the brain.
It is believed that this herb allows people to have a feeling of satisfaction
after drinking just a small quantity of beer.
Please note that alcoholics should only consider an herbal treatment on the advice of a qualified physician. Herbs can interfere negatively with alcohol or medications.
The nutritional status of an alcoholic is usually affected by alcohol. According to the Cleveland Clinic, alcohol addicts usually suffer from some form of malnutrition. Physicians, therefore, use nutritional therapy to make the patient feel better. When you eat nutritious and healthy foods, your energy level is raised. With this, you can overcome the urge to drink alcohol. If you are unsure of what to eat, or you are unsure of the nutritional status of some foods, please do well to consult a dietitian.
There are so many ways by which alcoholism may be treated. These include:
- Gradually reducing your intake of drinks
- Engaging in medical detoxification (this must be done professionally)
Irrespective of the treatment method used, many other alternative means of treatment can ease the journey to sobriety. These include:
- Light therapy
- Nutritional counselling
Whatever treatment method you opt for, be sure to get approval from your physician.
Tonika Bruce, MSN, RN, MBA. is an accomplished nurse leader, published author, and personal development expert passionate about advancing healthcare management and quality patient outcomes.
She taps into the years of experience in healthcare management to produce credible and easy-to-understand health and leadership content. Her exceptional work has been featured in reputable publications, including Forbes, Recruiter, Inc, and the Color of Wellness magazine.