Modern Homoeopathy

Monthly E-Newsletter January 2008


The Highs and Lows of Alcohol


 Source Taken from :

A Pleasant Drink

People start drinking alcohol for reasons such as:

Out of the ten people who start drinking for such harmless reasons, two become physically dependent on and mentally addicted to alcohol.

Their body becomes so much accustomed to the use of alcohol over a period of time, that when they stop drinking, “withdrawal symptoms”, such as sleeplessness, anxiety, nervousness, tremors, convulsions, hallucinations etc. occur. This state is called Physical Dependence.

Alcohol becomes so central to their thoughts, emotions and activities that they cannot control the craving for drink. This state is called Psychological Dependence.

Physical damage caused by alcohol

Repeated excessive drinking over a period of time affects the following organs and tissues.

Organ Affected



Unstable blood pressure, irregular pulse rate


Painful inflammation


Severe swelling, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis


Weakness, loss of muscle tissue


Gastritis, peptic ulcers, cancer

Nervous System

Tingling and loss of sensation in hands and feet


Cell damage resulting in loss of memory, confusion, and hallucination


Greater chance of infections including TB


Temporary impotence


Flushing, sweating




Alcoholism: a Disease, but Treatable

Earlier, people believed that alcoholism was the symptom of some other mental disorder. After extensive research, it has now been established that alcoholism is a disease in itself - a Disease that can be controlled by medical and psychological treatment.

Alternatives such as change of job, marriage, etc will not help you to recover, if you are an alcoholic. Unless treated so that you totally stop drinking, your condition will get worse day by day.

·  It is a primary disease.

·  It is a progressive disease.

If you are alcohol dependent, your condition goes from bad to worse. Sometimes there may be periods when you may feel there is improvement. But drinking over a length of time will only lead to deterioration. Drinking excessively leads to cirrhosis and pancreatitis, and even to death.

·  It is a treatable disease.

This is the good news. You can get help and kick the habit. Treatment that will aid the alcoholic to stop drinking without experiencing severe withdrawal problems is available in India. But you have to get one thing straight: If you have a problem with alcohol, stay away from it. Drinking even a small quantity of alcohol after years of abstinence will lead you back to obsessive drinking. Alcoholism is a permanent condition. Only total abstinence will help in arresting the disease.

The Phases of the Disease

There are three distinctly noticeable phases in alcoholism. Each phase has its signs and symptoms.

The Early Phase

The Middle Phase

The Chronic Phase

This phase is characterised by noticeable physical, mental and social deterioration. There is a total breakdown in relationship with the family.

This is the end of the road. Those who do not stop alcohol consumption even at this stage get mentally ill or die a slow, painful death.

Dry Drunk: Unhappy Abstinence

You’ve had enough problems with drink. You decide to pull yourself out of the mess. That’s easier said than done. In the initial stages there are several problems.

The disease of alcoholism has two sharp edges. The first edge attacks you when you drink excessively. You face problems in several areas of your life. These are obvious and are easily noticed by others. The other edge is that part of the disease that attacks you when you are struggling to recover. These problems are felt by you alone. Others are not even aware of these problems. Abstinence-based edge is as painful as the alcohol-based edge.

You can’t remember things. Life is very stressful. Mentally you start craving for alcohol. Your irritable and demanding behaviour makes others feel that you are more tolerable when you are drinking!

You are in the dry drunk phase. Dry refers to the fact that you are not drinking now. Drunk refers to the fact that you display the same deviations in behaviour and attitudes that you exhibited when you were drinking.

Recognise the dry drunk symptoms. You can then deal with the problem. If you do not recognise the pattern and acknowledge it as a problem, you’ll almost certainly slip back.

Warning Signs


Abstinence and Physical Problems

The Doctor Speaks

In alcoholism, problems experienced during recovery differ from patient to patient. These depend on the physical condition of each patient and the amount of alcohol he had taken during the course of time. Some of the most common problems are loss of appetite, sleeplessness and depression. Sexual problems like decreased sexual urge during the first six months, premature ejaculation or impotence are also not uncommon during recovery. These need not be frightening. These are a result of the long-term use of alcohol and its impact on the cells of the body. With continued abstinence and proper medical and psychological help, these problems can be definitely overcome.

To give you a clearer idea, I have listed out the most common physical problems experienced by patients during recovery. Guidelines are also given as to the diet, and other simple things that may help you to maintain reasonable health. These are given in a tabular column below. However, if any of the listed symptoms occur, consultation with a medical doctor is a must.

Let me repeat, it is absolutely essential to consult the doctor immediately.

Problems Felt

Diet to be taken and other simple things to be followed

Name of the disease

General sense of discomfort or distension in the abdomen

Bring down intake of coffee or tea. Reduce smoking


Dull, gnawing pain in the chest

Avoid hot and spicy foods.


Nausea and vomiting

Bland food to be taken at regular intervals


Acidic or sour taste in the mouth

Antacids to be taken under the doctor’s guidance


Burning, gnawing pain usually diffused through the upper part of the abdomen (occasionally)

Bed rest coupled with eating small meals. No coffee or tea; no smoking. You may probably be required to take antacid tablets and ulcer healing drugs under medical advice


Bouts of pain, alternating with short pain-free periods


Peptic Ulcer

Loss of appetite leading to loss of weight



Vomiting of acidic fluid which almost always relieves the pain (blood in the vomit – a serious condition)



Passing of black motion



Nausea or vomiting

Low fat, high carbohydrate, moderate protein diet

Fatty Liver

Vomiting blood (a serious condition)

Low salt

Alcoholic Hepatitis

General weakness

Dietary and vitamin supplements prescribed by the doctor


Abdominal distension (Fluid retention in the abdomen and ankles)

Closely monitored medical help required


Tendency to bruise and bleed easily (nose bleeds or bleeding piles)






Agonising pain in upper abdomen that travels through to the back and the chest. over several hours rises to the peak accompanied by high fever, vomiting and retching

Immediate medical helps to be sought

Acute Pancreatitis

Dull Cramping pain aggravated by intake of food, and relieved by sitting down or leaning forward

Low fat diet. May be required to take enzyme tablets with each meal

Chronic Pancreatitis




Tingling sensation that begins in the hands and feet and spreads slowly along all the four limbs to the trunk

  • Burning feet
  • Numbness may develop
  • Tremors
  • Weakness of muscle power throughout the body

Diet to be followed under the doctor’s advice

Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Giddiness
  • Headache
  • Weakness

Low salt, low fat diet. Frequent check-up by the doctor

High Blood Pressure

  • Overriding melancholy, coupled with loss of energy and appetite, tiredness
  • Loss of sexual urge
  • Sleeplessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Losing touch with reality

See a doctor and disclose all your problems and fears.Threat of suicide should be considered an emergency and immediately reported to the doctor


  • Acute anxiety
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • May become totally withdrawn



  • Losing touch with reality
  • Imagining voices speaking, seeing non-existant things and feeling as though something is moving on the skin

To be reported to the doctor immediately

Psychiatric Problems

  • Decreased sexual urge
  • Premature ejaculation takes place even before full penetration

See the doctor or counsellor and disclose all your problems openly

Sexual Disorder

Inability to maintain erection and this will prevent normal penetration and ejaculation taking place.



What Exactly is a Relapse?

It is a process.

Relapse is not an event, but a process. An ‘event’ is something that has already happened and therefore cannot be changed. On the other hand, ‘process’ refers to any ongoing situation that takes place stage by stage, and therefore can be interrupted and stopped at any stage. You can interrupt and stop a relapse, only if you are aware of the negative thinking patterns, which indicate the onset of a ‘slip’.

Relapse occurs within your mind

‘Relapse patterns’ are formed by your attitude and thought process. You begin to ‘slip’ at the thought level. The following are some examples of “relapse indicators”. They are similar to “dry drunk’ problems.


  1. Changes in attitude
  2. Changes in thought
  3. Changes in feeling
  4. Changes in behaviour

Coping Problems

There are several problems associated with abstinence. Here are the five major problems you may experience during the initial stages.

Inability to think clearly

The first problem you may experience is thought process impairment. It will appear as if your brain sometimes works right and sometimes does not. You will not be able to concentrate for more than a few minutes. You may not be able to understand abstract reasoning. You will not be able to take decisions or solve problems. Everything around – even minor problems will look threatening. You feel incompetent and embarrassed. Low self-esteem and fear of failure become evident.

Another common problem is rigid and repetitive thought pattern. The same thought may go round and round in your head and you will be unable to break through this circular thinking in order to put thoughts in an orderly way.

Memory problems

You may not be able to remember things. You may hear everything and understand them thoroughly, but within 20 minutes, you will forget parts of it.

You keep misplacing things. You keep forgetting new telephone numbers. Such incidents result in stress, and this stress aggravates short-term memory impairment. Because of such memory problems, it becomes difficult for you to learn new skills.

Emotional over reaction or numbness

Some tend to overreact during abstinence. When things happen that requires two units of emotional reaction, you react with ten. That is, you feel much more anxious or tensed up than what you have reason to be. This is sometimes followed by emotional numbness. You are unable to express any feeling when there is a really stressful situation. You swing from one extreme to another without knowing why.

Over–reaction on the one hand, and total passivity on the other, cause a lot of confusion and concern for you and for the others close to you.

Physical co-ordination problems

The common problems experienced are trouble with balance, problems with co-ordination between hand and eye and slow reflexes. These result in clumsiness. This often makes you feel humiliated and extremely low.

Stress build–up

You fail to take action at the appropriate time and later on when stress builds up, do things that are completely inappropriate.

To complicate things further, all the above mentioned problems become worse during times of high stress. There is a direct relationship between elevated stress and the severity of these problems. Each intensifies the other. The intensity of these problems creates stress, and stress makes the problems more severe. At times of low stress, the symptoms get better or may even go away.

Conditions that put a person in high risk of experiencing these problems are usually lack of care or attention to the recovery programme. Also certain life situations such as marriage, taking up a new job, starting on a new business venture, or moving to a new city, are stress-producing events. These have to be consciously avoided during the first few months of abstinence. However, there may be other unanticipated events like the death of a family member, termination of one’s job, etc. Since one cannot remove oneself from all stressful situations, you have to be prepared to handle them when they occur. It is often not the situation that bothers a person, as much as his reaction to the situation. Managing stress can be achieved through open sharing with someone you trust. Relaxation exercises also help in stress reduction.

You should realise that these problems are a normal part of recovery and are reversible with continued abstinence and a recovery programme. With proper guidance and support, you will be able to manage the problems and get out of them in course of time. Relapse is preventable.

A Toast for Teens

When is the next beer party coming up? Someone’s birthday? After exams? Do you think guys who drink are real cool?

Here are some facts and answers to questions your peers frequently ask. Check this page before you reach for your next mug of beer. Because, before you can decide whether to drink or not to drink, you need to know the facts about alcohol use. This page is certainly not going to tell you what to do, but it will help you to make smart and sensible decisions.

The High?: the seemingly attractive aspects of alcohol

I am able to talk freely when I drink, it is real fun. Is this because alcohol is a stimulant?

No. Alcohol is a depressant drug. The chemical present in all alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol. It is a powerful drug, which depresses the central nervous system. Alcohol in small quantities slows down that part of the brain, which controls inhibitions. So you feel relaxed, talkative and carefree. Thus alcohol reduces the brain’s functioning and does not add to your ability to think, or communicate well. It certainly does not make you more intelligent or more informed.

Inhibitions are the moral restraints, which make us behave in a civilised manner and distinguish them from animals. Lowering of inhibitions means we are doing things out of control. Losing control of oneself is not fun. It is embarrassing.

“Come on, I say! Be a man…. Have one drink” – These are the words we commonly hear. Is drinking associated with masculinity?

No absolutely not. It is no more masculine to drink a lot than it is to eat a lot or to sleep a lot. Besides, a real man does not have to drink to prove he is a man.

Stages of Intoxication

One drink – Euphoria, Relaxation

Two drinks – Talkative

Three drinks – Impairment of judgement, reaction time lowered

Four drinks – Lack of motor co-ordination

Five drinks – Drunkenness, evident deterioration in physical and social control

Seven drinks – Staggering and double vision, vomiting

Fifteen drinks – Loss of consciousness, dilated pupils

Extremely large doses – Breathing stops, can result in death

The Hangover: the after effects of drinking

Effects of alcohol on the body

·         Alcohol does not need digestion. It is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and the small intestines into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream, alcohol travels to all parts of the body including the stomach, heart, kidneys, liver and the brain. Once alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream and distributed throughout the body, the process of oxidation begins.

·         The liver plays a major role in the breakdown or oxidation of alcohol. As a result of the process of oxidation, alcohol is changed into carbon-di-oxide, water and energy. The calories thus produced have absolutely no nutritional value. They are only empty calories, which may result in a ‘pot belly’.

·         The liver can burn alcohol only at a certain pace. It takes approximately one hour for one unit of alcohol (8- 10gms) to get out of the body.

·         Exercise, cold shower, hot bath, black coffee – none of these will help in making one sober. All that one can do is to wait and let the liver do its work.

·         Alcohol’s effects vary according to the amount of food eaten, body weight, experience in drinking and setting. For example, a person who is thin feels the effect of alcohol more quickly than a person who weighs more.Alcohol affects everybody, some more quickly than others.

Long – term effects

·         Regular excessive drinking over a period of time proves disastrous, impairing both the length and the quality of life. It damages both body and mind.

·         Physical damage leads to diseases like gastritis, ulcers, cardiomyopathy, polyneruritis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, etc. This is because the important organs of the body like the heart, liver and brain are affected.

·         As one continues to drink excessively, one’s tolerance for alcohol increases, that is, one is required to take more and more to experience the same effect.

·         One may gradually become physically addicted to and psychologically dependent on alcohol. Roughly two out of every ten people who drink end up as alcoholics. And nobody is immune – it can happen to anybody – you, him, her or me. One thing is certain – the more often you drink, the greater are your risks.

Many people don’t realise it is a powerful drug. They simply drink before they think and end up getting hooked on to it.

No Quick Fixes Can Make You Sober

Booze Buddies: drinking as a peer group activity

My uncle drinks…. My neighbour drinks … They all hold high positions, and are successful… so, why shouldn’t I?

Drinking often has a stronger effect on teenagers than it does on older people. Alcohol produces certain special kinds of problems for the adolescent. Here are a few:


Just when teenagers are reaching physical maturity, alcohol can lower resistance to infections and stunt physical development.


Alcohol impairs memory, reflexes and concentration – three vital prerequisites for good academic performance. It also reduces the ability to judge one’s own abilities. As a result, one may not even be aware of one’s poor performance.


Young people need to meet challenges and make decisions that may leave lasting impressions in their lives. This means handling strong feelings that may be exciting and at the same time, frightening. Alcohol can really mess this up. It may block emotional growth, drive friends away and lead to a feeling of failure.


A fundamental part of teenage development involves adjusting to a new identity as a man or a woman and learning how to make adult choices about sex. In too many cases, alcohol hampers judgement and discrimination. Hurt feelings, unhealthy relationships and HIV infection may result.

My parents tell me not to drink, as if it is so easy! How can I stay away from booze when all my friends drink?

It is, as you say, not really easy. Peer pressure is something everybody faces, no matter what their age is. It is hard to resist, but it is not impossible.

So, next time when you have to face the decision of whether to do what you feel is right, or go along with your friends and be accepted, remember that pleasing yourself is necessary before you can please others.

How much can one drink and still drive safely?

To put it plainly, none at all. Any drinking interferes with judgement, muscle control, vision, and reaction time – all very important for driving. So, even small amounts of alcohol can interfere enough with driving ability to create a highly dangerous situation.

In what ways can alcohol mean trouble?

·         Alcohol interferes with thinking ability and many young people have lost their career opportunities and future prospects due to irresponsible drinking.

·         People who are into sports know that drinking messes up timing and co-ordination. And in most cases, athletes who drink are not athletes who win.

·         “Why did I do or say that? ” – is the common cry of drinkers. They find out pretty quickly that losing control of oneself is humiliating.

·         Drinking even small amounts can affect driving ability. Drinking and driving can lead to injury, and even death, for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Saying “No”

How do I say “No” if someone offers me a drink?

You are different and have an identity of your own. So do preserve it. If you are feeling good about yourself and strongly believe that it is a mature decision, saying “No” will not be as hard. Say it casually, but firmly. You don’t have to give excuses or explanations. Remember that you have a right to say “Yes” to your bright future and wellbeing.

So it is upto you

Handle your choice smartly and sensibly

It is your life and your future


Think before you drink


Avoiding Relapse

Recovery starts with staying away from alcohol. Abstinence is the starting point. It should be followed by improvements in the quality of life. Otherwise relapse is certain.

See if you can take charge of every aspect of your life. Here are a few tips:






Staying away from the first drink

This is the toughest part. It may be just a peg. But it leads to the second and soon the old, excessive drinking pattern starts again. Here are some ways of getting rid of the temptation:

So watch yourself each day. Just tell yourself that you will not drink today.

Abstinence requires enormous effort. But believe us, you will feel much better for it.


Controlling Anger

Why do alcoholics get so angry?

·         Alcoholics have many unsatisfactory experiences in life. During the initial stages of abstinence, you may come across situations that make you frustrated and resentful. You have accumulated so much anger that it only requires the slightest provocation to set you off.

·         The second reason is that you have found that anger works and that you are conditioned to continue its use. Thus, for you anger becomes a pattern of behaviour.

Anger is expressed by acts of violence - verbal or physical. Or it keeps simmering below the surface. It burns as a silent resentment. Sarcasm and abrasive humour are also expressions of this bitterness. It corrodes you until nothing is left but a raw-edged hole. Sometimes, suicide might seem as the only way out.

The Attitudes Anger Helps Create




“I’m heart broken.” “It’s all so upsetting…”


“I feel like killing myself.” “Wish I were dead.”

Silent Resentment

No obvious reactions


“How smart of you” (meaning quite the opposite)

Self Pity

“Why me?” “Only I suffer so much…”

Unfortunately anger not only affects people around you, but also manifests physically in you.

Physical Signs

Behavioural Signs


Verbal Abuse



Lack of Appetite

Unnecessary Arguments

Sleep Disorder

Isolation from Society

Always Tense

Brooding, Relapse

What can you do about anger?

There are no simple solutions to the problem of anger, no set formula that deals with this complex issue. However, there are a few steps which, when followed, may lead to a reasonable solution. They are as follows:

·         Recognise that you are angry. The anger, of which we are aware, is much less harmful than unrecognised anger. Try to find out what exactly has made you angry. Are you angry about something or are you afraid of something. Your anger may not be reasonable but that does not mean it does not exist.

·         Identify the source of your anger. You may be upset with your boss at work. But since you are unable to express your feelings to him, you may show that frustration on your family. Misplaced anger isolates you from meaningful relationships.

·         Determine whether your anger is realistic or not. Is the cause for your anger justified? Will your anger solve the problem?.

·         Cope with anger. If you keep accumulating anger, you are building up pressure within yourself like a pressure cooker. You need safety valves, else the situation is going to get out of control. Try these to cope with anger.

o        Use relaxation techniques to cool off. Anger produces a lot of energy. Physical activity is a healthy outlet for getting rid of anger. A brisk walk in the open could help.

o        Improve communication with the family. It helps better understanding of the problem. When anger interferes with communication, the focus shifts from the real problem.

o        Talk directly to the person concerned. Direct eye contact is a must. Talk when the person is alone.

o        Make your complaint as early as possible.

o        Don’t exaggerate or understate the problem. Be descriptive, not judgmental.

o        Don’t compare your situation with others.

o        Avoid using words like ‘always’ and ‘never’. Your chance of being taken seriously will be reduced.

o        Do not repeat the point once the person has understood it.

o        Don’t sound apologetic. Do not use a preface to justify your stand.

o        Complement the person for what he has done creditably. This will enable you to remain open about your criticism. Appreciation and criticism should be in the proportion 2:1.

o        Make eye contact when you are being criticised.

o        Listen carefully without interrupting. Listen. Listen and Listen, before you start speaking.

o        Do not find fault with the person criticising you.

o        Do not rationalise or use clever arguments to cover up your mistake.

o        Communicate to the other person that you have got his point.

Anger is a strong impediment to recovery. Proper recognition, understanding and channelising of this emotion can change the entire way of life, making it more productive, comfortable and balanced.

Relaxation Procedures

Alcoholics drink to cope with life. Therefore, during abstinence, you may find it difficult to handle stress. There are effective methods of handling stress and tension.

“Relaxation” is a behaviour therapy technique wherein you are taught to keep your body and mind calm, as a result of which you will be able to handle situations more effectively. “Relaxation” teaches you methods to eliminate tension from your body and feel light and comfortable.

The Jacobson Procedure

Jacobson was a renowned behaviour therapist who evolved this procedure. He followed this technique and found it effective. Given below is the procedure.

  1. Lie down on your back with palms facing upwards, as comfortably as possible.
  2. Close your eyes gently.
  3. Chase away all thoughts coming into your mind. Try to concentrate completely on what you are going to do, so that you can feel the difference between tension and relaxation and thus enjoy the comfort of being relaxed.


  1. Lie down on the floor. Tightly clench your right fist. Feel the tension. Feel how uncomfortable it is when you are tensed.
  2. Now slowly relax your fingers. Relax them completely and feel the difference. Feel how comfortable it is when you are relaxed. Enjoy the feeling of being relaxed.
  3. Repeat the same procedure with the left fist.
  4. Do the same with both fists.
  5. Clench both fists. Touch your shoulder with your fist without raising your arms from the floor, and then relax.
  6. Press the sides of your body with your open palms (fingers open).
  7. Touch the sides of your body with your open palms and push your shoulders downwards and then relax.
  8. Touch the sides of your body with your open palms and push your shoulders upwards (towards your ears) and then relax.
  9. Raise your eyebrows with your eyes closed gently and then relax.
  10. Knit your eyebrows and then relax.
  11. Press your eyelids harder (do not contract them) and then relax.
  12. Press the upper part (roof) of the mouth with your tongue (the whole tongue and not just the tip of the tongue) and then relax.
  13. Clench your teeth as hard as possible (press your upper teeth to your lower teeth) and then relax.
  14. Press your upper lip to your lower lip and then relax.
  15. Raise your head off the ground and touch your chest with your chin. In the same raised posture, slowly turn your head to the right (as much as possible) then to the left, then slowly to the centre and then slowly relax.
  16. Raise your chin upwards as much as possible. In the raised posture slowly turn to your right, then slowly to the left and then bring it to the centre and then slowly relax.
  17. Try to bring your shoulders as close as possible, by keeping your arms on the ground (you can feel the tension at the nape of your neck) and then relax.
  18. Press your shoulders to the ground, so that your chest expands and then relax.
  19. Push your stomach as far inward as possible and then relax.
  20. Push your stomach as far outward as possible and then relax.
  21. Keep your head, arms, waist, legs and feet on the ground and raise just your back off the ground and then relax.
  22. Tighten your thigh muscles and then relax.
  23. Bring your feet closer and push them as far inward as possible (towards your face without raising your legs) and then relax.
  24. Bring your feet closer and push them as far outward as possible and then relax.
  25. Now slowly take a deep breath and hold it (for a few seconds) then slowly breathe out.
  26. Start breathing normally.

Now right from head to toe, each part of your body is relaxed and is as light as feather. Likewise your mind is also calm and comfortable. Enjoy the comfort of being relaxed.

Relax… Relax…

Be in that relaxed state for about five minutes, each minute enjoying the feeling of being relaxed.

Now slowly count from 5 to 1 and then slowly open your eyes. Slowly turn to your right and lie down and then slowly get up and sit down feeling light and relaxed, both in mind and body.

Rebuilding Relationships

“ No man is an island, everybody is a part of the whole” - John Donne

We feel the need to relate to other human beings and to express and receive affection. Alcoholism isolates you from sources of affection. Sooner or later your world is going to get dreary.

The pattern of behaviour in an alcoholic’s family

How your alcoholism may affect your child

Your child:

How your child may deal with the situation:

The home atmosphere obviously has a major part to play in the development of a child’s personality. When there is a lot of disturbance in the household, the child tries to cope with it in one of the following ways:

Alcoholism is a family problem and recovery is a family struggle.

In your period of abstinence, you have to recognise the cause of the behaviour of your family members. Before branding your spouse as incompatible or the child as ill-behaved you have to accept responsibility for your role in the souring of the relationship. Rebuilding normalcy in the family requires a lot of effort on your part. It is, without doubt, worth it.

Getting Help

Treatment for substance abuse is available. The TT Ranganathan Clinic is one of the premier treatment centres in India. Another source of help that is available in all cities and big towns is Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a group formed by people who have or had a problem with drinking.

What the AA does:

  1. The group meets regularly. Members sit in a circle.
  2. Meetings begin with the serenity prayer:

God grant us the serenity
To accept things we cannot change
Courage to change the things we can
And wisdom to know the difference

  1. The twelve steps and twelve traditions of AA are read out.
  2. One member, who is conducting the meeting, requests a couple of members to speak.
  3. The members introduce themselves by first name only. They talk about their experience with alcohol. Or they may talk about some other problem that is worrying them.
  4. While someone is speaking no one interrupts. Whatever is said is absolutely confidential.
  5. No one gives advice. But if a fellow member has had a similar problem, he speaks of his experience and how he coped with it. This automatically serves as a guideline.
  6. At the end of the meeting a bag is passed around and everyone puts in a few rupees that goes towards refreshments and the rent of the space. Contributions are voluntary.
  7. The meeting closes with the serenity prayer.

The Benefits of AA Meetings

You are among people who have or had problems and experiences similar to yours. The fact that many have won the battle over the bottle, shows you that life without liquor is possible. And perhaps even enjoyable.

Sharing: When we speak aloud about our own experiences or problems, we begin to look facts in the face. Speaking aloud also has a therapeutic effect in that it helps us get a better understanding of the problem.

Listening: This is as important as sharing. You hear about a problem just like yours from another source, with detachment. This helps you judge the problem without bias. This provides you with an insight into a common predicament.


Alcoholics Anonymous,
Bombay Inter group,
P O 6220 Mazgaon,
Mumbai-400 010

Alcoholics Anonymous,
Madras Inter group,
P O 369,
Madras-600 004


Substance De-addiction – Treatment Modalities

The theme for International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2004 : Treatment Works


Early/brief interventions
Outreach, harm reduction and low-threshold interventions
Counselling and psychotherapy
Self help
Continuing care/aftercare
Treatment Setting
Residential treatment
Institutional treatment

Drug abuse and dependence can be treated with levels of success comparable to those for other chronic conditions. Similarly to chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, the use of a combination of approaches (medications, behavioural changes, and health care for physical and psychological symptoms) during appropriate periods of time is needed to suit each individual’s needs and the severity of the problem at different stages of recovery.

There are many types of services for drug users that may be linked to provide a “continuum of care”. If there is integration between different interventions, clients are more likely to progress and move smoothly from one programme to another to become, and remain, drug-free.

Types of interventions

Early/brief interventions

Early/brief interventions are designed to prevent the progression to problematic drug use by detecting persons who are using drugs in a potentially hazardous manner and helping them to stop or decrease use. This is best carried out within the primary care system by general practitioners, nurses and community workers.

Outreach, harm reduction and low-threshold interventions

Outreach, harm reduction and low-threshold interventions aim to reach drug users, build trust, provide basic living support, prevent or reduce negative health consequences associated with certain behaviours, and initiate a therapeutic process whenever the person is ready for it, without setting abstinence as an initial condition. In relation to drug injecting, ‘harm reduction’ components of comprehensive interventions aim to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections that occur through the sharing of non-sterile injection equipment and drug preparations.


Detoxification programmes help a person who is dependent on a psychoactive substance to cease use in a way that minimizes the symptoms of withdrawal and the risk of complications, sometimes using a prescribed medication. Detoxification alone has limited effectiveness and should be considered the starting point for other treatment interventions aimed at abstinence.

Counselling and psychotherapy

Counselling and psychotherapy form integral parts of most forms of treatment. They aim at initiating and maintaining behavioural and lifestyle changes, and help to control urges to use illicit substances.

Counselling is an intensive interpersonal process concerned with assisting people in

achieving their goals or functioning more effectively. It uses a variety of methodologies and techniques, including motivational interventions, cognitive-behavioural approaches (social skills training, stress management, anger management),

relapse prevention, provision of incentives, community reinforcement therapies

and family interventions. Psychotherapy is generally a longer-term process concerned with reconstruction of the person and larger changes in more fundamental psychological attributes, such as personality structure.


Pharmacotherapy involves the use of prescribed medications to support the patient in stabilizing his/her life and reducing or eliminating the use of a particular illicit substance. Two main types of pharmacological agents are administered for these purposes: substitution drugs, which are pharmacologically related to the drug producing dependence; and blocking agents, which do not have any psychotropic effects and block the effects of the substance(s) producing dependence.

Pharmacotherapies are often accompanied by psychological and other treatment.

Self help

Self help approaches aim at abstinence from alcohol and other drugs and are mostly organized around the 12-step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or adaptations of that programme.

These programmes involve admitting one is powerless over one’s drinking/drug taking and over one’s life because of drinking/ drug taking, turning one’s life over to a ‘higher power’, making a moral inventory and amends for past wrongs, and offering to help other people with addiction problems.

Ancillary health and social services. Many patients also require other services, such as medical and mental health services, vocational training, employment and housing support, and legal advice.

Continuing care/aftercare

As the patient progresses, the intensity of treatment decreases and the final part of treatment entails continuing individual and group support in order to prevent a return to substance use. Full rehabilitation and reintegration requires efforts at all levels of society.

Treatment Setting

Depending on the individual needs and problem severity, treatment interventions will take place in one of the following settings:

Community-based treatment is in a non-residential setting. Outpatient treatments (day attendance based services provided from a hospital) are often bracketed by community-based treatments. Examples of community-based treatments are opioid substitution programmes, counselling programmes and aftercare services.

Residential treatment

Residential treatment programmes provide residential services on the same site as treatment services. The programmes generally strive to provide an environment free of substance abuse, with an expectation for compliance in a number of activities such as detoxification, assessment, information/education, counselling, group work, vocational training, and the development or recovery of social and lifeskills. Two main types of residential treatment are available: shorter term residential therapy (less than six months, including detoxification) and residential therapeutic community treatment (typically six to 12 months post-detoxification). Therapeutic communities are highly structured programmes focusing on the resocialization of the patient to a drug-free lifestyle, using the programme’s community as an active ingredient of treatment.

Institutional treatment

Institutional treatment, meaning drug treatment programmes in correctional institutions, can provide similar services to those available in the community with the aims ranging from a reduction of the health consequences, including HIV/ AIDS transmission, to the elimination of drug abuse and a reduction of criminal behaviours. The most successful programmes link to community-based programmes that continue treatment when the client returns to the community.






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