What is Alcoholism ?
Alcoholism refers to addiction to alcohol. It is a chronic disorder, in which a person is unable to refrain from frequent and excessive consumption of alcohol for physical or psychological reasons. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed alcoholism as one of the three most deadly killer diseases of the 20th century.
Alcoholism is also one of the most serious social problems. It often brings poverty and certain amount of crime and results in marital unhappiness and broken homes. It also leads to numerous traffic accidents.
Alcohol is not a product found in nature. It results from decomposition and as such belongs to a family of poisons. Ethyl alcohol, the main intoxicating ingredient in wine, beer and distilled liquor is a toxic drug which depresses the brain and nervous system. Alcohol cannot be called a food for it enters the alimentary canal and is not changed or digested in any way. It is quickly absorbed in the bloodstream and then travels to every part of the body, adversely affecting vital organs like brain and liver.
Alcoholism results from intemperate drinking. Sometimes it sneaks upon a person comparatively rapidly; other times, years may pass before a person becomes a full-fledged alcoholic. A weak-minded person consoles himself by taking to drugs or alcohol. In doing so he simply tries to escape the situation rather than face it boldly.
A person generally takes to drinking as a means to enliven social life, to overcome anxiety or to induce sleep. He becomes an alcoholic if he gets dependent on alcohol physically’ and psychologically. He resorts to heavy drinking because of his maladaptive way of dealing with life’s stresses.
Sign and Symptoms of Alcoholism
According to the WHO, “Alcoholics are those excessive drinkers whose dependence on alcohol has attained such a degree that it shows a noticeable mental disturbance or interference with their bodily or mental health, their interpersonal relations and their smooth social and economic functions, or who show the prodromal signs of such development.”
Alcoholics have a puffy face with bloodshot eyes, a hoarse voice and a rapid pulse. They are suspicious, irritable and overemotional. Vomiting, delirium, impaired judgement and disturbed sleep are some of the other symptoms.
The chronic alcoholic, who would rather drink than eat, fails to get enough vitamins. The few vitamins acquired by him are drained out of his system in the process of burning the alcohol in his body Vitamin deficiency can lead to delirium tremors, convulsions, neuritis, disorders of the eyes and impaired, memory. Excessive drinking often causes premature greying of hair due to vitamin deficiency. Chronic alcoholism results in a depletion of minerals in the body, particularly magnesium. Its lack produces symptoms like tremor of the hands, feet and tongue, convulsions, mental clouding and perspiration.
Excessive drinking imposes a strain on the liver. It gradually destroys its functions and often causes cirrhosis of the liver. It leads to disorders of the stomach and bowels. It can cause brain damage as brain cells are often affected by it. Alcohol also affects the heart which becomes weak and flabby.
Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is a disease that includes four symptoms :-
- Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
- Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
- Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
- Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to “get high.”
The chronic alcoholic first of all must make a firm resolve to stop drinking. He should abstain from alcohol all at once for the habit cannot be got rid of in gradual stages. The most effective way to treat alcoholism is to build the body’s nutritional integrity so as to prevent craving for stimulants like drinks. The patients should be put on a cleansing juice fast for at least 10 days in the beginning. During this period, he should have juice of an orange every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The juice may be diluted with warm water, if desired. If orange juice does’ not agree, vegetable juices may be taken. Each day while fasting, bowels should be cleansed of effete and poisonous matter thrown off by the self-cleansing process set up by the body. This can be achieved by warm water enema.
Alcoholism Home Remedies
The most important home remedy for alcoholism is an exclusive diet, for a month or so, of grapes. Since this fruit contains the purest form of alcohol, it is an ideal yet healthy substitute for alcohol. Alcoholics should take three meals a day of fresh grapes at five-hourly intervals. The success of this treatment depends on the determination of the alcoholic to stop drinking.
Apples are another effective remedy for alcoholism. A generous intake of apples helps remove intoxication and reduces the craving for wines and other intoxicating liquors.
Dates are considered beneficial in the treatment of alcoholism. The patient should drink half a glass of water in which four or five dates have been rubbed together. This remedy should be taken twice daily for a month. It will bring definite relief.
4. Bitter Gourd
The juice of the leaves of bitter gourd is an antidote for alcohol intoxication. It is also useful for a liver damaged due to alcoholism. Three teaspoons of this juice, mixed with a glass of butter milk, should be taken every morning for a month.
The juice of raw celery has also been found useful in alcoholism. It exercises a sobering effect on the patient and is an antidote to alcohol. Half a glass of celery juice mixed with an equal quantity of water should be taken once daily for a month.