What Is Alcoholism?
Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is a condition
that occurs when a person has a dependency on alcohol. This will impact their
life and their relationships with others. Alcoholism can be a deadly disease. The
condition can lead to liver damage and traumatic accidents.
Traditional alcoholism treatments include
stopping drinking. People accomplish this by quitting “cold turkey” or
gradually cutting back on drinks. Doctors can also prescribe medications to
reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
People who are long-term, heavy drinkers require
professional medical detoxification or detox programs. This is because withdrawal
symptoms could cause seizures and hallucinations. Withdrawals can also affect
brain functioning and lead to death.
However, those trying to overcome alcoholism may
choose alternate or supportive treatments to boost chances for success in
The decision to quit drinking
requires mental discipline and self-control. Drinking can serve as a coping
mechanism and stress relief source for some individuals. Certain people may
choose meditation as a means to replace drinking with a more positive stress
Meditation involves taking a few
moments to maintain focus. Some people may choose to chant or repeat a positive
thought in their minds. Examples could include “I will commit to living a
healthier lifestyle.” Another practice involves a person picturing themself
overcoming alcohol addiction and how they will feel when they successfully
Acupuncture is a traditional
Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting small needles into the skin.
Its purpose is to restore balance to the body. People may use acupuncture to
relieve pain and depression. According to the National Center
for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), people also use
acupuncture to quit smoking.
The evidence that acupuncture
helps people overcome alcoholism is more anecdotal than research-based.
Acupuncturists believe techniques can help people detoxify their bodies,
especially the liver. Because alcoholism can cause liver scarring, this is a
rumored direct benefit.
No definitive published research
can back acupuncture’s benefits in treating alcoholism. However, the practice
is not associated with health risks if a licensed practitioner performs it. People
should not attempt acupuncture on their own.
Yoga is a gentle exercise
designed to help people get in tune with their bodies. Because alcoholism can
make people feel out of control, yoga may help. The practice involves careful
breathing and slow, gentle movements to stretch and tone the body.
Yoga helps people make a
mind-body connection. The exercise provides stress relief that could enhance a
person with alcoholism’s sense of well-being. Yoga can teach people to use
their bodies in a healthy way.
Many types of yoga exist.
Community centers, gyms, and yoga studios offer classes. Instructional DVDs are
also available to help beginners learn yoga positions.
One of the side effects of
alcohol withdrawals is poor-quality sleep. Those living with alcoholism are at
greater risks for sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Boston University
researchers conducted a study
on the benefits of bright-light therapy and a medication called naltrexone in
helping patients overcome alcoholism. The results showed this regimen was just
as effective as intensive alcoholism treatment programs.
Also known as phototherapy,
bright-light therapy involves exposing a person to bright, artificial light
during typical waking hours. Light therapy is a common treatment for seasonal
affective disorder. The proposed benefits are two-fold for those living with
alcoholism. The light could reduce depression and promote a more natural sleep
University researchers studied the benefits of the herb kudzu in binge
drinking. Kudzu is a weed considered a nuisance in the Southern United States.
However, Chinese medicine practitioners have been using kudzu to reduce excess
alcohol consumption for more than a thousand years.
The researchers asked men and
women to take a pill and then drink up to six beers. Some people got the kudzu
pill while others got a placebo. The group that took the kudzu pill drank
slower and less beer than those who didn’t. While the study’s size was small,
it showed promise in this herb possibly helping those with alcoholism.
Kudzu has an ingredient called
puerarin that boosts brain blood flow. Researchers theorized the herbs helped
people feel satisfied after drinking less beer.
People with alcoholism should not
start taking or drinking any herbs without a doctor’s review. Herbs can have
serious interactions with medications or alcohol. They also may not outweigh
the benefits of alcohol abuse medications.
Alcoholism affects a person’s
nutritional status. According to the
Cleveland Clinic, nearly all patients with alcoholism are malnourished in
some way. Doctors use nutritional therapy to help patients feel better. When
patients make healthy eating choices, they can boost energy. This can help them
resist temptations to drink.
A dietitian can help people with
alcoholism identify healthy foods.