Alcoholism, or Alcohol Dependence is the excessive use and abuse of alcoholic drinks which becomes addictive. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause tremor, sweating, hallucination, depression, anxiety and insomnia, and lead to a number of diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease, liver and bowel cancer, pancreatitis, and many other serious medical conditions.

Conventional Medical Treatment for Alcoholism

The conventional medical treatment of alcoholism, "depends on the extent of your drinking and whether you're trying to drink less (moderation) or give up drinking completely (abstinence)".

Brief intervention

Conventional treatment begins with a short counselling session (5-10 minutes) which seeks to ascertain the drinking habits, the impact drinking has on the patient, and the wishes of the patient known as a brief intervention. It may involve the keeping of a drinking diary to monitor alcohol consumption. A sensible start!

Detox and Withdrawal symptoms

Patients who have become dependent on alcohol to function are recommended to seek medical advice to manage withdrawal symptoms, and may be prescribed drugs and asked to attend self-help groups, receive counselling, or use a talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The problems of detoxing, and withdrawal symptoms are discussed, with patients receiving regular visits from health staff, or within a hospital setting.

Therapy for Alcohol Dependency

Non-medical treatment includes attendance at self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and Family therapy.

Drugs for alcohol dependency

The drugs used in detox and withdrawal are then outlined, and it is at this stage when conventional treatment begins to look potentially harmful to the patient.

Acamprosate: Acamprosate, or Campral, is used to help prevent a relapse in people who have successfully achieved abstinence from alcohol, and that it is usually used in combination with counselling to reduce alcohol craving. It reduces levels of a chemical in the brain called gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), which is thought to be partly responsible for inducing a craving for alcohol. Unfortunately, this drug is also known to cause a large number of side-effects, including extreme sadness or emptiness, fear, severe depression, and many more.

Disulfiram: Disulfiram, or Antabuse, is used for patients trying to achieve abstinence but are concerned about relapsing. It works by causing unpleasant physical reactions after drinking alcohol, including nausea, chest pain, vomiting and dizziness. These side effects are intentional, and can apparently last for some time after taking the drug. Moreover, the other side-effects include eye pain or tenderness, changes in vision, mood or mental changes, numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in hands or feet, darkening of urine, light gray-coloured stools, severe stomach pain, yellow eyes or skin, drowsiness, decreased sexual ability in males, headache, skin rash and unusual tiredness.

Naltrexone: This drug is used to prevent a relapse or limit the amount of alcohol consumed, and works by blocking opioid receptors in the body, stopping the effects of alcohol, and is usually used in combination with other drugs or counselling. The serious side-effects include streptococcal pharyngitis, syncope, anxiety, arthralgia, arthritis, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, frequent headaches, headache, joint stiffness, nasopharyngitis, nausea, nervousness, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attack, pharyngitis, posttraumatic stress disorder, sedation, sinus headache, vomiting, induration at injection site, malaise, pain and tenderness at the injection site, muscle cramps, muscle rigidity, muscle spasm, stiffness,

depression, and twitching.

Nalmefene: Nalmefene, or Selincro is used to prevent a relapse or limit the amount of alcohol someone drinks by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, seeking to reduce cravings for alcohol. Again, the serious side effects include nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, and hypertension.

Homeopathic Treatment of Alcoholism

Homeopathy is a medical therapy that will avoid some of the side-effects and adverse reactions of conventional medical treatment. Homeopathy is based on remedies made from a variety of different substances, all of which are known to cause symptoms of illness if taken in their normal form.

Homeopathy is a medical therapy that will avoid some of the side-effects and adverse reactions of conventional medical treatment. Homeopathy is based on remedies made from a variety of different substances, all of which are known to cause symptoms of illness if taken in their normal form.

The selection of a homeopathic remedy is based on the individual’s symptoms of illness, not on any broad conventionally-defined illness. It is important to stress this. Homeopathy does not treat illness or diseases. Instead it treats an individual who has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease.

As far as Alcoholism is concerned, homeopathy has a number of remedies that have been found to be useful in its treatment. I have outlined some simple remedy pictures for a number of these remedies. All the remedies mentioned are safe, and any remedy that matches the patient’s symptoms will be effective. These simple remedy pictures give some indication of the types of symptoms they will treat.

Nux vomica: Nux is the great anti-alcoholic remedy. It corresponds to the tremor, to the nervous affection, to the headache, to the bad taste. The tremor is marked with ugliness and irritability and gastric disturbance. It is the remedy for the acute results of a spree; the morning big head is often large enough for the Nux cap, and the “rich brown” taste corresponds beautifully. It is a remedy to be given while the patient is still under the influence of liquor or any of the stages of alcoholism. Agaricus will sometimes control the characteristic tremor when Nux fails.

Hyoscyamus: When delirium tremens occurs this is usually one of the first remedies indicated. The delirium is constant and loquacious, rarely inflammatory enough for Belladonna or maniacal enough for Stramonium; the pulse is small and quick and compressible, the skin is cold and clammy, the patient is tremulous and picks constantly at objects in the air. Marked sexual excitement, desire to expose person and fear of poison. The vision are those of persecution, are terrifying, and the patient makes efforts to escape. Constant insomnia is an excellent indication; outburst of laughter alerting with weeping may also occur. For the production of sleep, no remedy compares with Hyoscyamus in the tincture, five or ten drops in a half glass of water, and teaspoonful doses given half-hourly.

Cannabis Indica: A very reliable remedy in acute alcoholism. Some violence, talkativeness and active mind; subjects crowd upon it, delusions and hallucination relate to exaggerated subjects of time, space, etc. Surprise is constantly expressed on the countenance.

Opium: This is a remedy indicated in “old sinners” who have had the delirium tremens over and over again. There is a constant expression of fright or terror, they have visions of animals springing up everywhere, they see ghosts, the sleep is uneasy. It is especially indicated in those cases simulating brain stroke.

Lachesis: It has visions of snakes and hideous objects. It has a choking sensation in the throat which awakens suddenly from sleep.

Stramonium: It is suitable in habitual drunkards. The 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.

Arsenicum album: It has visions of ghosts, with great weakness; diseases from overuse of alcohol; patients must have their accustomed drinks, great tremulousness and nervous weakness. Suicidal tendency, constantly annoyed by bugs and vermin that he sees upon his person and unceasingly tries to brush them off.

Belladonna, too has delirium with visions of rats, mice, etc., and so has Calcarea carbonica. Belladonna is easily distinguished from Opium, and Calcarea comes in as a last resort after Belladonna and Stramonium have ceased to do good.

Aconite also has worked well in the acute mania of delirium tremens where the prevailing attitude is fear. Fears darkness, ghosts, with the same desire to escape found under Belladonna.

Ranunculus bulbosus given in the tincture has been found to be most calming in attacks of delirium tremens. It is undoubtedly one of our best remedies in the treatment of acute alcoholism. I have prescribed this remedy with good results.

Cimicifuga is useful in cases that are mentally depressed and tremor is a prominent symptom. The delirium is mild and the hallucinations of sight relate to small objects; there is persistent sleeplessness and physical restlessness.

Avena sativa is 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.