Alcoholism: Achieving a Lasting Solution.
For additional psychological discussions please visit Dr. Mahon’s website Psych With Mike at https://psychwithmike.com/
Dr. Mike Mahon joins us again today to discuss Alcoholism and how to help loved ones achieve a lasting solution, and live normal lives as an alcoholic.
Situation: over the Covid Quarantine many of my patients became addicted to alcohol. I found that my training was wanting in terms of making my patient aware that I knew they had a problem and that to be healthy and productive they must deal with this problem, addiction to alcohol.
Dr Mahon is the Creator of Psych with Mike on You Tube weekly where he explains the many mysteries of the psyche of humans. We all seem to get ourselves in a myriad of problems over our lifetimes. Dr. Mike is an expert in how to negotiate those psychological and social problems.
Today our subject is Alcoholism: how to deal with ourselves or loved ones who have this addiction. Mike has counselled many patients and families through this process, and I had many questions for him.
Question: Mike, I would like you to share your experience in treating alcoholics and some important dos and don’ts when it comes to talking to an alcoholic who is in denial about their addiction.
Answer: Mike has a basic approach of talking to a yet undiagnosed alcoholic about how they feel when they are drinking and not drinking. How has drinking alcohol affected your life? He tells us that it is always up to the alcoholic to make their own decision about whether they want to stop drinking or not. No one can make another person do anything, especially stop drinking if they are dependent on alcohol.
Question: Let’s say an alcoholic is convinced that they have a problem and get into counselling with you, where do you start to untangle this problem to help them to sobriety.
Answer: Mike (paraphrased): There are always many other basic issues that have caused a person to depend on alcohol. Everyone has situational anxiety in certain circumstances, and we all handle it in different ways. This problem is often the basis of why people drink and become alcoholics. This personality issue can be handled other ways and that should be the starting point, so people can learn a different way to handle their anxiety without alcohol.
Question: One of the things I learned during the quarantine was that it is never good medical advice to stop drinking alcohol cold turkey without constant medical treatment and oversight (like they offer in rehab). Most people are afraid of rehab because they don’t know what will happen to them….the fear of the unknown actually prevents them from getting help. Can you give us a thumbnail description of what happens during medical withdrawal?
Answer: You should never go cold turkey after a long history of dependence on drinking every day. Abruptly stopping the intake of alcohol can be fatal so it is not recommended. Decreasing intake over a period is very rarely successful because alcoholics always drink the same or more, not less. Medical treatment involves Iv fluids, IV medications and vitamins. This process can take a few days of rehab.
Question: Many of my patients become addicted to sugar in the place of alcohol. Can you tell me why that occurs? What can we do about it other than feed them a whole foods diet with low carb?
Answer: Alcoholics use alcohol instead of food as their source of energy which is ultimately fatal. When they are rehabbed off of alcohol, the physiologic craving that takes over is for sugar, but that causes weight gain and a different type of physiologic problem. The best way to clean up the body is a high protein and low carb diet with fresh food.
Question: Are there certain supplements that can be used to treat the side effects of alcoholism, and to replace the vitamins that are used up by drinking alcohol chronically?
Answer: Vitamins that are consumed while someone is drinking alcohol every day are primarily B vitamins, especially Thiamin and B12, as well as many minerals and co-enzymes that become deficient while drinking.
Question: What happens in Rehab currently?
In the past, Rehab involved a month to 2 months of residential living with counselling, group therapy and supplements to diet, plus exercise. Now Treatment is medically managed in- patient only for a few days. Then patients are sent home to go to outpatient psychologists visits and psychiatrists for medication management. It is not a multi-month commitment which can be very expensive and causes trouble with keeping a job.
It might help to explain the treatment for withdrawal in a medical setting if someone hasn’t stopped drinking by weaning down on the amount of alcohol, they take in. The current medical treatment for withdrawal from alcohol that is recommended by the American College of Family Physicians. I have added some supplements to replenish the body after alcohol addiction and to help clear the liver. In general, Acute and Subacute withdrawal should be monitored and treated in a medical setting with physicians available. It is only necessary for a short period of time.
This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author.
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