A Comparison of Biological and Psychological Therapies for Alcoholism
Contrast Biological and Psychological Therapies for Alcohol Use Problems include the study of genetic, physiological and environmental factors that promote alcoholism. Some of these factors, such as brain chemistry, are beyond our control. However, other factors, such as lifestyle choices, can be manipulated and are influences to a large extent by individual behaviors. When a person learns what these influences are, it becomes easier to change one’s behavior in order to alter a physiological or environmental abnormality associated with alcohol use.
The brain is in charge of a person’s behavior. The central nervous system (CNS) controls all voluntary actions, feelings and impulses, including the ability to regulate one’s own emotions and the urge to consume alcohol. Alcoholism is a brain disorder that develops when an excessive amount of alcohol is consumed over a period of time, without proper controls in place. The lack of self-control and impulse control often leads to abuse of alcohol or dependence. Alcohol use and abuse can occur on an occasional basis, occasionally on an ongoing basis, or as a chronic, recurrent condition.
Many individuals suffering from alcoholism wish they could stop drinking without doing anything drastic, but this is not realistic. In most cases, people will need help from professionals who can help them change their behavior and overcome their addiction. Regular meetings at a treatment facility are attended by individuals with a variety of different problems. These may include alcoholism, social phobia, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression or other mood disorders. The objective of treatment at these facilities is to help each patient gain control over his or her own life and alcohol use.
Biologically, research has shown that people do not naturally binge drink, so the presence of a loved one or friend who consume excessive amounts of alcohol is not enough to create a drinking problem. Doctors and therapists may recommend alternative treatments for alcohol use therapy for patients who exhibit alcohol use disorder. One common alternative treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This form of treatment helps the individual identify and manage emotional and psychological sources of distress that may trigger an urge to drink.
When assessing patients with alcoholism use disorders, doctors and therapists also consider factors such as genetics, cognitive behavioral factors, socioeconomic status, and environmental circumstances. They also review and evaluate possible treatment alternatives such as medication, alcohol use training, hypnotherapy, detoxification, and relapse prevention programs. While biological factors such as genetics may contribute to the initiation of alcohol use, it has been found that cognitive behavioral factors such as coping mechanisms and expectations regarding alcohol use do not have a strong influence when it comes to initiation of use.
There are genetic differences in the brains of individuals who use alcohol. The degree to which these differences exist and the extent to which they account for individual differences in alcohol use behavior and severity of alcohol use disorders is unknown. Psychological research has identified differences in how people deal with stress in the family, childhood experiences, and their relationships with others. These factors may account for why there are differences in the use of alcohol across families.
Differences in environmental circumstances include differences in home environment, parental care, home living conditions, and social network size. Differential environmental factors are believed to be a major cause of abuse and addiction. There is also some evidence that family members and caregivers exert differential influences on children’s patterns of alcohol use and abuse. The relationship between early family abuse and later alcohol use disorders is still a subject of ongoing research debate.
Although biological therapies have been effective in treating many types of mental health disorders, they have been less successful in addressing alcohol use disorders. This is likely due to the fact that most alcoholics’ use of drugs and alcohol goes beyond the self-medication associated with typical psychiatric medications. Unfortunately, biological therapies are currently only available for patients with a specific genetic abnormality that causes them to struggle with alcohol use. If you, like many people with this condition, fall within this category, it is unlikely that biological treatments will be effective. Treatment for alcoholism requires an understanding of biological and emotional factors that contribute to the use of alcohol, as well as an understanding of how these factors interact with each other and with the patient’s own psychological and emotional processes.