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 which
drips high doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C, a powerful detoxifier), calcium,
magnesium, B vitamins (which help eliminate withdrawal symptoms), evening
primrose oil (a natural anticonvulsant) and a full spectrum of amino acids
including glutamine (an alternative form of glucose that significantly
diminishes cravings). While conventional programs frequently numb new patients
with drugs like Librium and Valium to help ease withdrawals (and later must wean
patients off of them), HRC\'s formula is entirely natural. "The sum total of it
all is that people go from consuming half a quart of alcohol a day to consuming
none at all - without drugs." (Ewing, 1978)
Following the IV, HRC patients are supplied with bottles of the vitamins
and minerals they have been deficient in for so long and put on a diet that is
free of sugar, salt, caffeine and most importantly, nicotine. This is because
tobacco is cured with cane, beet and corn sugars, which may not only cause
intense cravings in those with hypoglycemia (and render them incapable of
getting the