Treating alcoholism

Increasing effectiveness of treatment for alcoholism
Half of alcoholics who undergo treatment relapse at least once, many repeatedly.
The US government launched in 2001 a major study to see if novel combinations of therapies will better treat patients. It tests the efficacy of standard and experimental medications, singly and jointly, and combinations of medication and different types of psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, light therapy etc. They hope to uncover combinations that particularly suit certain alcoholics' vulnerabilities better than current treatments.

The Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS) follows a model which helps alcoholics overcome their addition using rational argument instead of persuading them to submit to a higher power, the approach of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Intensive cognitive/behavioural therapy teaches patients to manage cravings and unlearn habits that promote drinking, for example how they respond to certain stresses or situations. It also includes "motivational enhancement", counseling that stresses problem-solving techniques, and encourages joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. "Light" behaviour therapy is similar to what some primary care physicians do today - it encourages AA and offers limited counselling, mostly about drinking's dangers.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (USA) has developed a herbal hangover tea using Chinese medicines which controls the intake of alcohol in specially bred alcoholic rats and monkeys. The active components were derived from two ingredients: Chinese kudzu leaves and tangerine peels. It has also developed prevention programmes for young adolescents which combine classroom and community interventions to significantly reduce the onset of alcohol use and reduce the alcohol consumption of those already drinking.

Alcoholics lie to doctors and psychologists. They'll talk about anything but drink. If someone's taking a mind-altering drug -- and that is what alcohol is -- it is difficult for the physician to work out what the real problem is.
Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies