Certain herbs, self help techniques, and other alternative approaches are effective treatments for alcoholism. A growing body of research is supporting the use of natural methods to help curb the cravings for drinks and minimize withdrawal symptoms. However, these alternative options should be used in combination with other treatments such as counseling and group therapy.
Before starting alcoholism treatment, it is important for people to acknowledge that they have a drinking problem. According to Mayo Clinic, a person who has the disease of alcoholism may hide his drinking from others, or have problems with money, relationships, or employment due to drinking. Other signs of alcoholism include drinking alcohol in order to feel good, becoming irritable if alcohol is not available, and developing a tolerance to alcohol.
Chinese medicine has used kudzu for generations to help people overcome addictions to alcohol. Treatments consisting of extracts and flowers from this herb cause people to drink less alcohol. Evidence of this is found in a study that will appear in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Researchers found that kudzu contains isoflavones, which convert alcohol into a substance that causes a person to feel ill, making him less likely to want to drink alcohol.
St. John’s Wort is another herb that some researchers believe may help reduce alcohol consumption. Science Daily (June 29, 1998) points to a study at the University of North Carolina. Scientists involved in the study say the ingredient hypericin, found in St. John’s Wort may be responsible for the plant’s effectiveness in treating alcoholism. The researchers decided to test St. John’s Wort for alcoholism after reading reports on its effectiveness for treating depression.
Acupuncture is sometimes used for treating alcoholism. This method of treatment is discussed in The Best Alternative Medicine by Kenneth R. Pelletier. According to the author, multiple studies indicate that acupuncture is an effective treatment for hard core alcoholics because it reduces their urge to drink making them less likely to need to enter a detox center, and it helps prevent relapses.
Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It involves placing thin needles at various points on the body to stimulate healing. For the purposes of treating alcoholism, the needles are placed in the inner ear. Acupuncture should not be the only treatment a person uses to overcome an alcohol addiction. Instead, it should be used with other alcohol treatments.
Some researchers believe that techniques for relieving tension and anxiety should be included in the overall treatment for alcoholism. Self help techniques such as meditation are helping some alcoholics stay sober. Meditation as a treatment for alcoholism was the subject of a study published in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly (Vol. 11 (1-2), 1994, 187-220).
Researchers evaluated 118 alcoholics at a residential treatment center, following detoxification. They were each randomly offered one of four treatment options. Some received routine treatment (RTT) consisting of Alcoholics Anonymous and counseling. The rest received RTT combined with transcendental meditation (TM), neurotherapy (NT), or EMG biofeedback (BF). The complete abstinence rate for the TM group 18 months later was 65 percent, 55 percent for the BF group, and 25 percent for the RTT group.
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