People drink alcohol for lots of reasons – to have fun, to relax or to fit in with friends. Lots of people try alcohol when they are young, and for most, it does not cause any serious problems. However drinking too much can lead to having problems at school, work or home . Alcohol is also a major cause of road trauma and other accidents .
If your body becomes too used to alcohol , it may not be easy for you to cut back or stop drinking . The best time to take action is before you have major problems .
It is not just older people who have problems with alcohol , young people aged 14 to 29 may often binge drink and young people aged 18 to 24 have more problems with alcohol than any other age group .
Some of the other problems caused by heavy drinking are :
- relationship problems with family and friends
- money and legal problems .
- feeling depressed and anxious
- unplanned and unwanted sex
- sexual problems
- problems with and thinking straight
- problems with sleeping
- for pregnant women , damage to the unborn baby
What are the signs of problem drinking ?
If you have any of the following problems , your drinking may be putting you at risk of harm !!!!
If you have been drinking heavily for a long time you may be alcohol dependent , this means that your body is now used to alcohol and you may suffer “withdrawal symptoms “ , when you try to stop or cut down your drinking withdrawal symptoms include , shaking , sweating , feeling sick or disturbed sleep .
Do any of these problems sound familiar ?
- you some times miss school or work due to a hangover .
- you drink in situations when you know it is dangerous (for ex-driving while drunk)
- you get into fights or create a scene while you are drunk
- you keep on drinking despite problems caused by or made worse by alcohol
- you need more alcohol to get drunk
- you experience withdrawal symptoms when you have a break from alcohol (shaking , sweating , feeling sick or disturbed sleep )
- you drink to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
- you drink more than you want to drink
- you are not able to stop or cut down your drinking
- you spend more and more time and effort on drinking and recovering from its effects
- you can no longer do what you enjoy because of your drinking for ex-going to the beach , surfing , shopping etc.,
What is Alcohol Withdrawal ?:
If you have been drinking heavily , for a while you may experience some withdrawal symptoms , if you stop drinking , for example , shaking , sweating , feeling sick , vomiting , and problems of sleeping . If you have such symptoms , you will need to be watched by a nurse or doctor when you start cutting out alcohol . Withdrawal is a sign that your body is recovering from alcohol . How bad the symptoms are will depend on how long you have been drinking and how much alcohol you have consumed , and whether you have tried to stop drinking before , if you use recreational or party drugs or you have any other medical problems . You may experience more severe health effects during alcohol withdrawal .
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms :
Shaking, sweating , feeling sick , vomiting , agitation , disturbed sleep .
Withdrawal Settings :
Alcohol withdrawal can be undertaken at home , as an out patient in a hospital or in a community residential facility . The most suitable setting for you will depend upon how serious your alcohol withdrawal is , whether you have any other physical or mental illnesses , your choice , your situation , and the services available in your area .
1. Home-based Withdrawal :
Management involves withdrawing from alcohol at home in a supportive setting . Your withdrawal symptoms are checked by visits and telephone calls from a health care worker . you or a trusted family member or friends can manage any medications that may be necessary .
2. Out patient withdrawal ;
Management is similar to home-based withdrawal management , however you would usually attend a clinic every day to see how you are going and to collect some medication .
3. In patient withdrawal :
Management maybe at a community residential setting or a hospital with trained medical staff available to care for you if you have alcohol withdrawal problems such as seizures
Medicated Withdrawal :
Some people are given a short course of medication to help them through the withdrawal . “Homoeopathic Medicines “ are thought to be the most helpful , medication for alcohol withdrawal problems . medications do not speak up the withdrawal process , but can make it easier for you by treating the symptoms .
Homoeopathic Medicines :
- Strophanthus hispidus – Q (mother tincture )—nausea with special disgust for alcohol and so aids in treatment of “ dipsomania “
- Angelicin tincture Q (mother tincture ) five drops . three times daily , produces disgust for liquor .
- Quercus glandium spiritus Q ( mother tincture ) antidotes effects of alcohol , vertigo , deafness , with noises in head , takes away craving for alcoholics , give dose as below for several months .
Tips For Coping With The Urge To Drink Include :
- do some physical exercise or other distracting activity
- have some thing to eat or a non alcoholic drink
- leave the situation
- use relaxation techniques
- think of the positive consequences of not drinking and the negative consequences of resuming excessive drinking
- delay having a drink for 15 minutes
Family Therapy :
Family therapy involves working with you and members of your family to support changes in drinking habits , however it is only suitable when there is agreement between you , your family and the counselor that your family’s involvement is likely to be helpful .
How Can I Avoid Returning To Heavy Drinking ?:
If you do slip up and drink too much , it’s important that you don’t see your self as a failure . Instead look at how the problem happened and see if there is a way you can manage it better in future .
The first step in preventing a return to heavy drinking or a relapse , is to help you to recognize the high risk situations that might lead you back to drinking alcohol . This will mean noticing which situations cause problems for you and working out ways to either avoid these situations or cope with them with out drinking . This might mean working out ways to see your friends that don’t involve drinking or learning how to set limits on your drinking when you are out with your friends . You can also change your life style to avoid drinking , for example-you can focus on activities and behaviours that do not go with drinking alcohol , finding new ways to reward your self , and developing new friendships .
Alcohol Abuse : Many women find the relaxing effects of an alcoholic drink a great pleasure at the end of a hard day’s work and provided it is no more than this , overindulgence is unlikely . However , it is very easy to extend the one drink to two and then several , and a pattern can develop of needing a drink to relax . Alcohol abuse has then begun , some times a well developed hang over may act as a deterrent to future excess in some women , but this does not apply to all , so some of the following homoeopathic medicines may prove useful in relieving the symptoms . If the alcohol abuse becomes serious medical attention should always be sought as soon as possible
Symptoms and medicines :
Irritable and peevish , or sad and weepy , can not bear to be touched
- A severe head ache and an upset stomach after drinking too much alcohol , especially wine —-antimonium crudum
- stomach feels as if it is on fire , which leads to anxiety , irritability and restlessness , indigestion , which is commonly with diarrhoea —arsen.album.
- a strong craving for alcoholic drinks , over sensitivity to all external stimuli feels better for washing in cold water —–asarum europium
- Nausea and vomiting following over indulgence ; the vomit is green and acidic , great despondency and apathy —cardus marianus
- irritable and peevish ,or sad and weepy , cannot bear to be touched ,a severe head ache and an upset stomach after drinking too much alcohol , especially wine .——-antimonium crudum .
- stomach feels as if it is on fire which leads to anxiety , irritability and restlessness , indigestion , which is commonly associated with diarrhoea —arsenicum album .
- a strong craving for alcoholic drinks , over sensitivity to all external stimuli , feels better for washing in cold water . —–asarum europium .
- nausea and vomiting following over indulgence ; the vomit is green and acidic , great despondency and apathy ——cardus marianus
- a liking effervescent alcoholic drinks , smell of food causes nausea , a head ache develops which is worse in the late afternoon and evening –colchicum
sedentary thin , irritable , impatient , angry and spiteful , worries about own health and over sensitive to noise , smells ,light and music , constant nausea with a feeling that a good vomit feeling better —nux vomica
HOMOEOPATHIC MANAGEMENT OF ALCOHOLISM
The menace of drug abuse has attracted concerned attention in past few years . Although greater publicity has been given to marijuana , hallucinogens and narcotics , alcohol remains the major drug of abuse in India . The problem is higher in low income group working classes . Alcohol means ethylalcohol .
Alcohol intoxication spans a wide range of blood alcohol concentration from 50mg % at which level some impairment of judgment occurs , to have 400 mg % a level which is associated with profound depression of vital physiological functions , concentrations excess of 600 mg % are usually fatal but such high concentration is not generally reached because of individuals inability to consume , such high consume such high concentration of alcohol . Although many countries regard an individual as being “legally drunk “ at level above 100 mg % , controlled studies have repeatedly demonstrated functional deficits like impaired adaptation to light even at lower levels , there is a deterioration of driving skills with higher concentration . statistics compiled over many years indicate alcohol a principal contributor to motor vehicle accidents with consequent injuries and fatalities . cause of many accidents and strifes in alcohol .
ALCOHOL DEPENDANCE :
Severe alcoholic intoxication may result in forms of amnesia characterized as “state dependant learning “ or as a “black out “ . In the former , an individual can recall what transpired under the influence of alcohol only if again subjected to an intoxicated state , generally information acquired while under effects of alcohol is poorly remembered or not retained in the non drug condition . Black out refers to a severe short term memory deficit or temporary loss of consciousness ; subjects can not recall what occurred while intoxicated even if they again become inebriated , assaultive or destructive behavior like suicide , attempted suicide or homicide associated with drinking frequently takes place during an amnesic state
Adverse clinical and behavioral manifestations , including dependence tend to become apparent in persons with an average daily consumption of more than 150 ml of absolute alcohol for prolonged periods . Studies of selected groups of heavy drinkers (12,500 cases ) showed that death rate was 2-4 times higher than the general population ..
HOW IT WORKS AND AFFECTS THE HUMAN BODY
Alcohol acts on the central nervous system . the absorption of alcohol taken orally is rapid as it is highly lipid soluble and diffusible , it occurs in the stomach and from small intestine .
The amount of time it takes in a person to become tipsy depends on a number of factors . this includes the total dose strength of drink and the time over which it is taken , the presence or absence of food and the kind of food etc.,
In medical terms alcohol is metabolized by enzyme system in the liver , first by the alcohol enzyme , dehydrogenase into acetalde-hyde and then to acitate
It is mentabolised into CO2 and H2O , it is the accumulation of acetaldehyde in the body that makes the drinker feel sick
The most important effect of alcohol is on the central nervous system which it depresses like any other anesthetic agent , estimates of the number of alcoholics in different occupation groups or caste groups though imprecise is matter of concern , there may be several millions of alcohol dependent persons in India . the cost in terms of lost productivity , accidents , crimes , self degradation , disruption of family , business and social contacts is beyond occupation
Chronic abuse leads to debilitating pathological alterations which seriously impair the alcoholics health and diminish life expectancy , alcohol induced neurological damage may result in such central nervous system disturbance as personality , deterioration of judgement and hearing , motor incordination and seizures , other alcohol related pathologies include dyspepsia , chronic gastritis and gastroenteritis , hepatitis , hepatic cirrhosis , chronic pancreatitis , polyneuritis and in some cases , cardiacs renal impairment , throbocytopenia and hemolytic anemia , in many cases
Polyneuritis and cirrhosis of the liver develops . Recent evidence suggests that liver damage may result from the direct hepatotoxic effect of alcohol and or its metabolites and that cirrhosis may occur independently of nutritional status , many such cases were reported from middle and higher income groups . while less commonly encountered then the hepatic manifestations , alcoholic cardiomyopathies are well documented , regional degeneration of the skeletal masculature has , while less commonly encountered then the hepatic manifestations , alcoholic cardiomyopathies are well documented . Regional degeneration of the skeletal musculature has also been observed in chronic heavy drinkers . peripheral blood vessels near the eyes may be chronically dilated and the alcoholic often tends toward obesity and flabbiness . The well known hang over effect as withdrwal symptom may include head ache , dizziness , fatigue and gastric pain
TOLERANCE AND WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
Chronic ingestion of alcohol results in intolerance . However the degree of tolerance is not as great as that which occurs with morphine . physical dependence , similar to that observed with barbiturates and narcotics , may also develop to alcoholics . the severity of the alcohol abstinence syndrome can by correlated with the degree of intoxication and its duration . A relatively short period of heavy drinking may be followed by head ache , nausea , vomiting and general malaise . Abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption after one or more weeks of intoxication may further be associated with anxiety , insomnia , confusion , tremors and hallucination , long period of intense intoxication may on withdrawal , result in delirium tremens , a syndrome characterized by increased autonomic activity (e.g.,fever , sweating and tachycardia ) agitation , disorientation , severe tremors or convulsive seizures and frightening hallucinations usually of visual form
Causes of alcoholism are multifactorial , psychological defect susceptible personality structure and socio cultural and economic factors are among the many facts that have been considered as interacting in the causation of alcohol addiction , because of the many conflicting theories on the etiology of alcoholism in modern system of medicine , there is no standard approach to therapy in allopathy , homoeopathy has an answer
For a successful therapy total abstinance from alcohol is a must , efforts to correct the drinking habit almost invariably fail if the patient attempts merely to reduce his consumption of alcohol indeed failure of the alcoholic to accept the realization that he is incapable of drinking in moderation is regarded as a primary obstacle to ultimate resolution of the problem , this has to be attempted along with indicated medicines as below . Therapeutic measures employed , have varying degrees of success . the long term management of the alcoholic patients supportive social support helps , psychiatric therapy and the use of passiflora and kaliphos although may result in substitution alcohol dependance but may lead to habit of taking passiflora
Despite wide spread publicity of their potential hazards , consumption of alcohol is increasing world wide , present educational approaches as well as the earlier prohibition on alcohol , have obviously failed , new political directions and decisions like closure of outlets supporting house for de-addiction , occupational therapy , psychological and social support may be necessary if the problem is to be checked substantially .
TREATMENT OF ALCOHOL RELATED WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME
The first and most important step is to have a proper physical examination performed by a doctor in all alcoholics who are considering stopping drinking , as well as in those patients who are undergoing withdrawal . It is necessary to carefully evaluate organ/system likely to be effected by heavy drinking including searching for evidence of liver failure , gastro intestinal bleeding and glucose or electrolyte imbalance
The second step is to recognize the CNS syndrome caused by the removal of the brain depressant effects of alcohol .
This stage of the treatment of the patient should be handled only by a qualified doctor
Rehabilitation can fall into two general categories . First are attempts to help the alcoholic achieve and maintain a high level of motivation towards abstinence . this includes educating the patient about alcoholism and teaching his family and / or friends to stop protecting the alcoholic m the problems caused by alcohol .
The second is to help the patient readjust to life with out alcohol and to reestablish a functional life through personal counseling , vocational , rehabilitation and family support
1] avena sativa—for sleeplessness , nervousness and general exhaustion . 20 drops of mother tincture in hot water gives wonderful results
2] nux vomica —-it antidotes the bad effects of a drinks such as gastric troubles ,giddiness , nervousness , restlessness , trembling of extremities , constipation etc., ( if tremors are not controlled then give agaricus mus .)
3] apocynum can —-very good remedy for general oedema and dropsy of the body , great thirst and gastric irritability , acute alcoholism
4] capsicum —-for persons of relaxed , lax fiber , weak , diminished vital heat , accustomed alcoholics , prostrated , feeble digestion of alcoholics
5] quercus glandium spiritus —-enlargement of the spleen , dropsy , antidotes the bad effects of alcohol supports to take away craving for alcohol supports to take away craving for alcohol
6] sulphuric acid —-for chroniv alcoholics , drunkards on their last days , pale shriveled and cold , appetite lost , it acts wonderfully even when nux vomica fails
7] strychnine nitrate —-takes away craving for alcohol
8] angilica —-creates disgust for alcohol , acts complimentary with other drugs
psychological and socio economic factors will need consideration along with the constitutional homoeopathic treatment , strict management of the cases covering the withdrawal phase will be beneficial to achieve success.
Dr.(mrs) B.S.SUVARNA ,B.A, D.I.HOM ( LOND ), M.I.H, Ph.D.(ITALY) (gold medalist)
HOMOEO PHYSICIAN . PGDPC(USA) psychotherapy&counselling
(Associate Editor-homoeopathic horizon, e-journal )
MAMATHA HOMOEO CLINIC
PUSHPAGIRI COMPLEX , OPP-SHANKAR SAW MILL
K.M.ROAD , JYOTHINAGAR-POST
KARNATAKA STATE –INDIA
PHONE: +91-8262-221062 (CLINIC) , +91-8262-221316 (RESID )
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