Various Aspects of Alcoholism Treatment

Management of alcoholism varies, because there are various perspectives of alcoholism. There is psychological dependence as well as physical dependence due to chronic alcoholism. Some people regard alcoholism as a disease and some regard it as a social problem. Management of alcoholism usually focuses on discontinuation of alcohol intake and in prevention of relapse. Alcoholism has multifactorial causes and all the factors must be addressed adequately to successfully treat alcoholism and prevent relapse. For example, successful treatment of alcoholism involves detoxification, followed by supportive therapy, taking help from self-help groups, and ongoing learning of coping mechanisms.

Successful management of alcoholism needs detoxification, psychological support and judicial use of medications.

Alcohol detoxification:

Alcohol detoxification involves sudden stoppage of drinking alcohol and substitution of alcohol with another drug such as a benzodiazepine, which have similar effects of alcohol and prevent withdrawal symptoms. Those with mild to moderate withdrawal risk can be managed easily as outpatient basis and those with serious risk need hospital admission, preferably a detoxification center. Detoxification should be followed by psychological counseling and support.

Psychological support:

Psychological support or psychotherapy is essential for successfully dealing with alcoholism and preventing relapse, because alcoholism involves psychological factors.

Medications for management of alcoholism:

Various medications are prescribed for management of alcoholism, such as vitamins (especially thiamine), naltrexone (it can decrease craving for alcohol), benzodiazepines (used in preventing alcohol withdrawal symptoms), ondansatron, disulfiram etc.

Disulfiram (Antabuse) in management of alcoholism:

Alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme converts ethyl alcohol to acetaldehyde and aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme converts acetaldehyde acetate and carbon dioxide. Disulfiram inhibit aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme and increase concentration of acetaldehyde, which is responsible for many symptoms of alcoholism, including many hangover symptoms. The effect of disulfiram is severe discomfort after alcohol intake and it acts immediately after alcohol intake and last long. This effect discourages the alcoholic to drink while he/she is under disulfiram. But this treatment should be given only in well equipped alcohol addiction treatment center, because ingestion of alcohol during treatment with disulfiram may result in serious side effects.

 

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