• Dr A A Mundewadi

Addiction – Modern (Allopathic) Versus Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Physical and emotional dependence on alcohol, tobacco, or drugs is labeled as addiction. Severe addictions can cause ill health, antisocial behavior, absence from work, emotional and physical trauma to the family, economic deprivation, and significantly increased morbidity and mortality. Usually, family members bring the affected individual for treatment; a few individuals come directly seeking treatment. Drug addiction is best treated in a specialized institution using a multi-disciplinary approach. However, most patients having tobacco or alcohol addiction can be safely treated on an outpatient basis.

Treatment of severe addiction usually includes bio-feedback therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, experiential therapy, holistic therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. One or more modalities may be combined to provide a tailor-made treatment protocol suited to each individual’s requirement.

Modern (allopathic) medicines used in the treatment of addiction include benzodiazepines, antidepressants, clonidine, naltrexone, acamprosate, disulfiram, methadone, and buprenorphine. The aim is to reduce craving and help with withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, tremors, depression, nausea, muscle aches, sweating, and convulsions. Group counseling and one-on-one counseling by an experienced counselor help to cope up with the treatment process as well as with rehabilitation.

The mainstay of Ayurvedic herbal treatment while handling addiction is to normalize and protect the metabolism of the body as well as the mental state of affected individuals. Herbal medicines are given to improve liver function, detoxify body tissues, protect the heart and nervous system, and improve elimination through the intestines and kidneys. Herbal medicines are also given to improve alertness, concentration and confidence, while reducing stress.

Affected individuals are advised a diet consisting predominantly of milk, ghee, honey, fruits, and vegetables. Recommendations are given to be in good company, remain busy, and get involved in interesting and fruitful work. Professional counseling may be required for serious emotional, family and work related issues.

Ayurvedic treatment has a very good effect on people affected with alcohol and tobacco addiction. Some individuals have reported giving up the use of tobacco or alcohol within just one week of starting treatment. However, it is important to not discontinue treatment due to a risk of relapse. An average of four to eight months’ treatment is usually required to completely get an individual off the addiction. It is important to monitor the patient and see that all vital organs are working well and the person is mentally stable.

Addiction, alcohol, tobacco, drug dependence, Ayurvedic treatment, herbal medicines

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