Alcohol Dependency: Problem Drinking

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Alcohol Dependency & Problem Drinking
John Greenwald
Edinboro University

Introduction
It is difficult to locate someone in the United States who feels that alcohol dependency and problem drinking is not a national problem. (Anton, R. 2010) Alcohol dependency and problem drinking has been at the forefront of policy debates at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels regarding healthcare expenses and outcomes, legal matters, and social implications for generations. Most times it is addressed in conjunction with drug abuse. (Anton, R. 2010) A general population survey conducted earlier last decade estimated that the prevalence of problem drinking at 4.65% and alcohol dependence at 3.81% respectively in the United States. (Huebner & Wolfgang-Kantor, 2011) There are numerous ways to treat alcohol related disorders. Here are three of those interventions auricular acupuncture, 12 step based recovery programs, and moderation management program. Auricular Acupuncture

Auricular acupuncture is a holistic approach that originated in the United States during the 80’s. This form of acupuncture is widely used to treat alcohol dependency in the United States and United Kingdom as an alternative holistic approach. (Alster, M. 2010) The treatment uses five auricular acupuncture points referred to as NADA protocol, the acupuncture points are located in the ear. This intervention is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. (Alster, M. 2010) The acupuncture points used during this treatment are similar from client to client. (Alster, M. 2010) The treatment modality is used in conjunction with traditional alcohol detoxification protocols, as to protect the client from physiological harm from detoxing from alcohol. One study the reported short term benefits of this intervention included feelings of relaxation, contentment, and enjoyment mixed with more long term benefits like analgesia, increases in sleep quality, and a reduction in alcohol consumption, anxiety, and cravings. (Alster, M. 2010) In addition to the positive short term benefits there were some negative side effects that were reported such as feelings of light headedness, burning sensations, and feelings of heat at needle sites. (Alster, M. 2010) Furthermore, there were some initial reports of anxiety even before treatment started which was found to be largely attributed to a client’s fear of needles, doubt of effectiveness, and fear of something foreign. (Alster, M. 2010) Many of these negative side effects dissipated as time passed. (Alster, M. 2010)

The aforementioned study of this modality paints an overall positive view of this approach however another study drew correlations that were not as positive. The later study did find similar short term results which included a reduction in alcohol consumption and an improvement in overall psychological well-being. (Ashton, Nodiyal, Green, Moore, & Heather, 2009) However, the long term results failed to indicate significant indications of the overall effectiveness of auricular acupuncture in long term reduction in consumption, anxiety, and cravings. (Ashton et al., 2009) 12-Step Based Recovery Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935, by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, as self-help 12-step abstinence based approach to spiritual and character development. (Huebner & Wolfgang-Kantor, 2011) To this day, the AA fellowship is free to join for anyone who is alcoholic and wants to be a member which makes it an appealing option for many resource strapped clients and social workers. Later in the 1950’s the (AA) model was introduced into a professional setting by a non-profit organization called Hazelden Foundation, which is still used widely by many treatment facilities today. (Huebner & Wolfgang-Kantor, 2011)

The Hazelden model calls for an individualized intervention plan, which includes family involvement, in the context of a 28 day inpatient setting combined with participation in AA...
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