Contrast between Biological and Psychological Therapies For Alcohol Use

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Contrast between Biological and Psychological Therapies For Alcohol Use

Contrast between Biological and Psychological Therapies For Alcohol Use

Alcohol use whenever used beyond recommended quantities results into alcohol abuse/alcoholism and is responsible for different disorders. Alcohol abuse is described as those drinking patterns leading to recurrent and significant adverse effects on the person’s wellbeing. This tends to affect a person’s normal way of life such as professional and family duties and responsibilities since such people cannot control their alcohol use. Regardless of the type and quantity one drinks, people with alcoholism experience difficulties in stopping this habit once they start drinking. Statistics on alcohol use is worrying globally for instance, in the United States of America, about 10% of young American adults aged between 18 and 29 years are involved in alcohol abuse (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2007). The main reasons for such high rates of alcoholism can be attributed to easily available alcohol and social and environmental factors such as peer-pressure. With this worrying health state of affair, there is need for immediate therapies for alcohol use. Although there are different therapies for alcohol use, the current essay will highlight the contrast between biological and psychological therapies for alcohol use.

The emphasis of psychological therapy to alcohol use is to provide a controlled and non-judgmental atmosphere that will enable alcohol patients to freely share various issues and problems they faces. This implies that sharing these problems and issues comprise the heart of psychological therapy to alcohol use. This therapy enables the therapist to get into the root causes of alcoholism in an individual by carefully listening the patients’ problems. For the therapy to work effectively, the root causes should be addressed prior to re-engaging the patient back to the world. To address the root causes, the therapist involves the patient in private and one-on-one interactive sessions. Through these sessions, the therapist helps the patient to understand him/herself better as well as making the patient to understand how different factors led to the current situation of alcohol use and the resultant detrimental consequences. In other words, psychological therapy aims at informing the patient on how to deal with moods, thoughts and feelings in a more positive and constructive manner without necessarily resolving to alcohol use as a management strategy to his/her feeling or thoughts. The psychological therapy further emphasizes on development of coping strategies and skills to enable the patient respond positively to day-to-day challenges and how to overcome relapse temptations. In so doing, the therapy accomplishes it purpose of making the patient more aware of their limitations and boundaries; and how they can compensate for their weakness through their personal strengths.

On the other hand, biological therapy to alcohol use serves to correct the presumed biological causes of alcohol use through a logical rationale. The rates of relapse attributed to psychological therapy are high hence the development of biological therapy to supplement psychological therapy in order to reduce relapse rates. This implies that the design of biological therapy is to reduce relapse rates through a number of mechanisms such as reducing the euphoric effects of alcohol, making alcohol use aversive and reducing craving for alcohol.

Biological approach primarily uses medications to achieve these results in an individual using alcohol. Different medications such as disulfiram have proved successful for alcohol dependence. From these two therapies for alcohol use, each strives to establish the main reason for alcohol use in a person through different approaches. For instance, psychological therapy enables the therapist to establish the root causes of alcohol use followed by empowering the patient to overcome these causes while biological therapy also works to establish and correct the suspected reasons behind alcohol use in an individual through a structured manner. Another striking difference between these approaches to alcohol use is relapse rates. Psychological therapy is associated with high relapse rates while biological therapy has limited approach as the design of the therapy uses three mechanisms of reducing the euphoric effects of alcohol, making alcohol use aversive and reducing craving for alcohol to reduce relapse rate (Wiley, 2006). As a result, there is need to supplement psychological therapy with biological therapy in order to improve its effectiveness thence reduced relapse rates.


Wiley (2006). The Abnormal Psychology, 13th Edition, Chapter 10 “Substance Use Disorders”

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, (2007). Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the general public.

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