There are many treatments for alcoholism. Some are effective. Unfortunately, most are not not. And popularity is completely unrelated to which work and which don’t.
Here’s a list of treatments for alcoholism. It includes descriptions of their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness. Statements of effectiveness are based on peer-reviewed scientific publications.
Treatments are in alphabetical order. Each heading is a link.
Acupuncture has been a therapeutic technique for thousands of years in China. It’s relatively new in the West. However, it’s now popular there as well. That includes acupuncture for alcoholism treatment. For this reason, it’s often offered as a treatment option.
A substantial proportion of doctors in the U.S. believe that alcoholism is a behavioral pattern. Therefore, they suggest behavioral treatment for it.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for alcoholism is very effective. It focuses on beliefs and thinking. That’s because thoughts cause feelings and behaviors.
Herbal medicine is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of treatment for drinking problems. In fact, there are many plant origins of modern pharmaceuticals.
Holistic treatment attempts to heal the whole person (mind, body and spirit). To do so, it focuses on treating the person rather than the alcoholism itself. .
Homeopathy is based on the theory that “like cures like.” Homeopaths treat patients by first identifying their symptoms. They then give them very highly diluted doses of substances. Those substances, in large doses, create those symptoms.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medicines for treating alcoholism.
Naturopathic medicine for alcoholism is a holistic approach to health. It might include diet and nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Also hydrotherapy, exercise, spinal manipulation, and massage. In addition, its may use electric currents, ultrasound, and light.
There is strong evidence that alcoholism and alcohol abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Alcoholics are often deficient in vitamins A, B1, B3, C, D, E, and K. They also tend to be lacking in the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Therefore, using nutritional therapy for alcoholism treatment has a logical basis.
Orthomolecular treatment is often called megavitamin therapy. It’s based on the belief that insufficient vitamins, minerals and other substances cause diseases . “Ortho” is from the Greek word meaning “correct.”
The Sinclair Method of alcohol abuse or alcoholism treatment is unique. It enables most alcoholics to drink in moderation. The technique uses naltrexone or a similar substance.
Resources: Treatments for Alcoholism
Readings on Treatments for Alcoholism
Benzie, I. Herbal Medicine. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2011.
Cho, S., and Whang, W. Acupuncture for alcoholism. A systematic review. Alco Clin Exper Res, 2009, 33(8), 1305-1313.
Dasgupta, A. Prescription or Poison? The Benefits and Dangers of Herbal Remedies. Alameda, CA: Hunter, 2010.
Dell, C., et al. Resiliency and holistic inhalant abuse treatment. J Aborig Health, 2005 (March), 1-12
Galanter, M., et al. Assessment of spirituality and its relevance to addiction treatment. J Sub Abuse Treat, 2007, 33, 257–264. P. 263,
Han, J., et al. Acupuncture. In: Lowinson, J., et al. (eds). Substance Abuse. Philadelphia: 2005.
Hoffer, A. and Saul, A. The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism. North Bergen, NJ : Basic Health, 2013.
Hoffer, A. and Saul, A. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health, 2013.
NCCAM. Homeopathy: An Introduction. NCCAM Pub. # D439, 2013.
NIAAA. Alcohol and Nutrition. Rockville, MD: NIAAA Alert No. 22, p. 1
Priester, E., et al. The frequency of prayer, meditation and holistic interventions in addictions treatment. Pastoral Psych, 2009, 58(3), 315-322.
Telles, S., et al. Research on traditional medicine. Evid-Base Comp Alt Med, 2014, Supp., 25-30.