Treatments of Alcoholism

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Treatments of Alcoholism

Alcoholism can destroy the life of an alcoholic and devastate the alcoholic's family. But it also has overwhelming consequences for society. Consider these statistics from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

*In 1988, alcoholism and problems related to it cost the United States an estimated $85.8 billion in mortality and reduced productivity;

*Fetal alcohol syndrome, caused by a woman's drinking during pregnancy, afflicts five thousand infants a year; it costs about $1.4 billion annually to treat the infants, children and adults afflicted with FAS;

*More than twenty thousand people die annually in alcohol related car accidents. (Institute of Medicine, 1989)

Clearly alcoholism harms society in numerous ways and it is in society's best interest to find effective treatments for alcoholics.
The primary goal of all treatments for alcoholism is to get the alcoholic to stop drinking and refrain from abusing alcohol in the future. The paths to this goal are diverse. Several factors - biological, social and psychological - influence why an individual becomes an alcoholic. So treatments vary, depending upon why the alcoholic drinks and what the physician or therapist believes is the best method for recovery. Some treatments focus on the physical addiction of alcoholism. Others emphasize the alcoholic's social or psychological cravings.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Rational Recovery are two support groups that help alcoholics recover. Other alcoholics benefit from one-on-one therapy with counselors, who may help patients understand drinking and change their behavior. Finally for some alcoholics, the most effective treatments are those that combine medical treatment with counselling. Such treatments enable the alcoholic to more easily break the physical addiction to alcohol as they evaluate their social and psychological reasons for drinking. Two of these treatments are: Nutritional Therapy and Network Therapy.

Nutritional Therapy

"Alan Dalum was 37 years old and thoroughly convinced he was soon going to die. Dalum was not dying of cancer, heart disease or any other illness from which one can leave the world with dignity. Dalum was dying of alcoholism." (Ewing, 1978) Just when he lost all hope for recovery, Dalum discovered a center that emphasized the importance of biochemical repair in alcoholism recovery using nutrients and herbs. Upon learning that Minneapolis, where he lived, had one of the only programs in the country that employed such methods, Dalum decided to give the Center's six - week, outpatient program a shot. The Health Recovery Center (HRC) in Minneapolis claims a 74 percent success rate (patients still sober one year later) and differs from conventional programsin several significant ways. First, it focuses on uncovering and treating physiological imbalances that may be causing alcohol cravings and throwing the entire body out of whack. For example: hypoglycemia is a common imbalance found in up to three quarters of alcoholics. The center's philosophy is simple "Until the body begins getting the essential nutrients it needs, recovery cannot begin." (Ewing, 1978) They believe that no amount of talk will stop the cravings, anxiety, depression, mental confusion and fatigue that result from alcohol's biochemical and neurochemical damage. "There is not time to obsess over past traumas when you're dying of a major disease. Why do people persist in believing that the damage done by excess ingestion of alcohol can be undone with psychological methods alone?" (Ewing, 1978) The Health Recovery Center is devo ted to the restoration of bodies, minds and spirits that have been ravaged by alcohol.

Such restoration begins the moment a new patient walks through the door. After the staff physician takes a thorough medical history and performs the initial physical exam, the patient is hooked up to an IV solution, out of...
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