There are, of course, many ways to stop drinking. I chose outright abstinence with a little support from a therapist. Some of my best friends have gone the Alcoholics Anonymous route.
Modern medicine has recognized the need to supplement simple human will power with medications that work to aid in the prevention of alcoholism. Some medications help boost will-power and self-control, others block the alcohol from entering the system, and are close to a form of aversion therapy, making alcohol intolerable.
Prescription medications that help control the urge to binge drink are useful for mild alcoholism – if you can think of alcoholism on a sliding scale. For people who are not in a rehabilitation facility, this type of medication can help an alcoholic limit their intake to just one or two drinks. By breaking the cycle of binge drinking, it is hoped that more “normal” drinking will resume in the future.
Alcohol-blocking medications such as Antabuse reduce the liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol, and as such, the alcohol will become toxic to the body. This type of medication makes it almost impossible for an alcoholic to have a drink.
Aversion therapy is one that has been used in cessation of smoking for a long time. Everyone knows someone who has told the story about being caught smoking as a child and having their parent make them smoke the entire pack as punishment. That is aversion therapy – a combination of association of a unpleasant stimulus with the habit that is to be removed.
My favorite treatment for an alcoholic was featured in a 1988 episode of “The Twilight Zone.” Known simply as “The Hellgramite Method,” an alcoholic is offered a sure-fire way to stop drinking – a miracle pill. He is warned that if he strays and goes back on the bottle, the consequences will be dire, but he takes the miracle pill anyway. After falling off the wagon, the alcoholic is faced with incredible pains in his stomach and returns to the man who gave him this pill to find out what is going on. He is told that the pill contained a Hellgramite tapeworm, a worm that will continue to grow as it feeds on alcohol. Only total abstention from alcohol will put the tapeworm back into hibernation. The alcoholic never drinks again, and in the final scene of the episode is shown giving the miracle pill to another alcoholic.