ALCOHOLISM AND HOMOEOPATHY Treatment for chronic alcoholism.
Physical and mental addiction to alcohol is?Alcoholism?. Prolonged use of alcohol affects both physical and mental conditions, and there are various social implications from associated behaviors. Alcoholism, also known as?alcohol dependence,? is a disease that includes four symptoms:
Craving: A strong need, an urge or compulsion to drink.
Loss of control: The inability to stop drinking or limit one?s drinking, once begun.
Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, restlessness, irritability, tremors, hallucinations, convulsions and anxiety occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to?get high.?
Alcoholics are in the grip of a powerful?craving,? or uncontrollable need, for alcohol that overrides their ability to stop drinking. This need can be as strong as the need for food or water.
Alcohol dependence is more common among males. It usually sets in during the latter part of the second decade or during the early part of the third decade of life. The term?Alcohol dependence? is usually used in reference to the mental, physical, or social damage that results from an excessive consumption of alcohol. Alcohol dependence is characterized by an increased preoccupation with the drug and reduced control over its intake.
Alcohol dependence is often a chronic, progressive disease, which, if left untreated, can prove to be fatal. Alcohol dependence may also be contributed by genetic, psychological, and social factors.
Drinking even a small quantity of alcohol after years of abstinence will lead you back to obsessive drinking. Alcoholism is a permanent condition. Only total abstinence will help in arresting the disease .
Causes of alcoholism are not fully known. Some drinkers use alcohol to try to relieve anxiety, depression, tension, loneliness, self-doubt or unhappiness.
Alcoholism is a disease with multiple causes that combine uniquely for every drinker who eventually becomes alcoholic. One or more of these causes may predominate, but in each case the risk factors are well known. In many cases alcoholism has deeper lying causes that do not disappear once the drinker is sober.
(i) Personality/traits like Emotional immaturity, overly dependent on their parents, Tension in his relationships with others, Inability to manage frustration, Competitiveness, feeling of guilt, etc.
(ii) Education/development like conflict between parents, nervous parents, sidestepping instead of addressing problems, lack of discipline, etc.
Treatment for severe alcoholism
(iv) Mental and emotional stress ? High levels of stress, anxiety or emotional pain can lead some people to drink alcohol to block out the turmoil. Certain stress hormones may be associated with alcoholism. Since alcohol blocks emotional pain, it is frequently resorted to as a?cover up? during times of temporary or ongoing stress or grief such as that experienced with the loss of a loved one or relationship, unresolved family tensions, and chronic work stress.
(v) Psychological factors ? Low self-esteem and depression makes one more vulnerable to excessive drinking and alcoholism.
(vi) Social and cultural pressures ? The glamorous way that drinking alcohol is portrayed in advertising and in the entertainment media sends many people messages that it's OK to drink excessively. The media and popular culture are filled with messages and images that legitimize or even glamorize frequent or excessive drinking. Damaged relationship too leads to alcoholism.
(vii) Environment - Alcohol is a method to escape from emotional pain, crises, boredom, distress or fatigue.
(viii) Religion - Alcohol is sometimes called God-in-the-bottle. Alcohol can have the same value to the alcoholic as religion may have for a religious person. For alcoholics alcohol removes the feeling of guilt and inferiority and replaces it with a false sense of security. Insecurity returns when becoming sober again.
(ix)Genetics ? There are indications that alcoholism can be inh erited. Certain genetic factors may cause a person to be vulnerable to alcoholism or other addiction. It is estimated that half of all cases of alcoholism are primarily caused by genetics: that is, the alcoholic possesses certain genes which predispose him or her to the disease. One study showed that the amygdala?the area of the brain thought to play a role in emotional craving?was smaller in individuals with a family history of alcoholism. Similarly, some people with alcoholism may have an inherited dysfunction in the transmission of serotonin. The sons of men with alcohol dependence are at increased risk of developing alcohol dependence.
(x) Brain chemistry imbalance? As a person engages in a regular habit of drinking, chemical changes in the brain take place. Alcohol consumption depletes gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the chemical responsible for inhibiting impulsiveness, and it increases the production of glutamate (which excites the nervous system) and norepenephrine (a stress-producing hormone). Alcohol also acts in the system to release more dopamine and serotonin , chemicals that produce euphoria and a sense of well-being. Therefore, the active drinker is prone to seek more alcohol to accomplish two things: reduce the agitation brought on by hyperactivity in the brain, and restore the pleasure response in the brain stimulated by the alcohol.
There are three distinctly noticeable phases in alcoholism. Each phase has its signs and symptoms.
(c) Preoccupation with Drinking
(d) Avoiding Any Talk About Alcohol: Despite the preoccupation, one does not want to discuss about the craving with
a) Loss of Control: Initially, there is a loss of control over the amount of alcohol consumed. Later on, over the time, place and occasion of drinking.
c) Grandiose Behavior: Talk big and spend more than one can afford.
The Chronic Phase - This phase is characterized by noticeable physical, mental and social deterioration. There is a total breakdown in relationship with the family.
c) Paranoia and Hallucinations.
d) Lack of Motor Co-Ordination.
This is the end of the road. Those who do not stop alcohol consumption even at this stage get mentally ill or die a slow, painful death.
Homoeopathic Management of Alcoholism:
An Alcoholic person is always Psoric. Psora exists before alcoholism. Psora may provoke the habit of alcohol.
Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths need to take into account a person's constitutional type and then determine the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual. Below mentioned are a few examples of homoeopathic remedies that can be considered for symptoms related to alcohol abuse or withdrawal:
Quercus: A good antidote for the bad effects of alcohol. Reduces the craving for alcohol.
Angelica: Provokes a dislike for alcohol. Atonic dyspepsia and nervous headache.
Capsicum: Provokes a dislike for alcohol. Acts well on indolent persons of sedentary habits with tendency to obesity. Perspiration and slow digestion, flatulence and intense desire for stimulants. Great thirst.
Nux vomica: Is a great anti-alcoholic remedy. It corresponds to tremor, nervous affection, headache, irritability, compulsiveness with constipation, nausea and vomiting. Desires for stimulants.
Hyoscyamus: Indicated when delirium tremens occurs. Delirium is constant and loquacious. Pulse is small, quick and compressible, skin is cold and clammy and patient is tremulous and picks constantly at objects in the air. Constant insomnia is an excellent indication, outburst of laughter alerting with weeping may also occur.
Cannabis Indica: A very reliable remedy in acute alcoholism. Some violence, talkativeness and active mind, delusions and hallucination relate to exaggerated subjects time, space, etc. Face flushed, pupils dilated and perspire easily.
Sulphuric acid: Remedy for chronic alcoholism. Stomach will not tolerate the slightest amount of food. Have a great and constant craving for brandy. The constant craving for brandy reminds one of Sulphur, Nux vomica and Arsenicum, all of which have craving for spirituous liquors.
Treatment for severe alcoholism
Opium: Remedy indicated in "old sinners" who have delirium tremens over and over again. There is a constant expression of fright or terror, they have visions of animals springing up everywhere, see ghosts, sleep is uneasy and breathing is stertorous. Especially indicated in those cases simulating apoplexy.
Lachesis: Helps to relax the female social alcoholic who often awakens with a headache, has visions of snakes and hideous objects. It has a choking sensation in throat which awakens suddenly from sleep with difficulty in swallowing. Individual can talk endlessly and doesn't like tight clothing around her waist.
Stramonium : Suitable in habitual drunkards. Prevailing mental characteristic is terror, all hallucinations and illusions are fright and terror producing. It has visions of animals coming at him from every corner and he tries to escape. The face of Stramonium is bright red, not dark red as in Opium.
Arsenic : Suffers from diseases from overuse of alcohol. Have visions of ghosts with great weakness. Patients must have their accustomed drinks, great tremulousness and nervous weakness. Suicidal tendencies. Anxiety and compulsiveness, with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Ranunculus bulbosus: Found to be most calming in attacks of delirium tremens. It is undoubtedly one of the best remedies in the treatment of acute alcoholism.
Avena sativa: A valuable remedy in alcoholism where the victim is nervous and sleepless almost to the point of delirium tremens. It is also a useful remedy in the opium and cocaine habits.
Phosphorus : Indicated in nervous or glandular degeneration of alcoholics. Good remedy for alcoholic cirrhosis.
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Dr. Varsha V. Sharma, MD (Hom), teaching in a Homoeopathic Medical College at Navi Mumbai since, last 7yrs. Doing Homoeopathic practice &, counseling at Chembur, Bandra &, Vashi. Online Editor of Medical books &, medical site. Author of Homoeopathic book on Materia Medica. Author of several articles in various journals, magazines &, sites.