Novel/alternative treatments for alcoholism?
October 26, 2011 7:54 AM   Subscribe

How can I help a friend with alcoholism who has tried nearly everything? My friend is 34, female, bi-polar, suffers from depression, and has had alcohol problems since college. Multiple rehabs, jail time, medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, all the standard things have been tried at length but ultimately failed. She would like nothing more than to be able to lead a normal life, but the addition is so strong that so far, this has not been possible. What are some novel alternatives? For example, I've considered acupuncture, hypnosis, osteopathy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by trogdole at 8:40 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by unixrat at 8:47 AM on October 26, 2011

I hope you'll find Dr Olivier Ameisen's work on baclofen a source of hope and perhaps a way forward. This Guardian article and this book will give you the background.
posted by pyotrstolypin at 9:05 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The novel, alternative thing would be for you to start going to Al-Anon, where you will come to learn that there is nothing -- NOTHING -- that you or anyone else can do to get your friend to stop drinking. When she is ready to quit, meaning truly ready, not just saying that, or making feeble attempts in order to please others, then she will quit.

Stop making excuses for her behavior. Stop trying to lead her into sobriety. Stop trying to coach her. Now. When she's ready, she'll quit. If she's ever ready. Some people never are.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:24 AM on October 26, 2011 [13 favorites]

Sounds like she could possibly benefit from ibogaine.
posted by watercarrier at 10:16 AM on October 26, 2011

Seconding BlahLaLa. When she truly wants to quit, she will quit. You cannot do it for her.

That being said, she probably will have difficulty quitting until her bipolar illness is adequately treated. Many individuals self-medicate their mental health problems with alcohol, much to their detriment. She needs to first see a good psychiatrist.

12-step programs and the like do work, but are difficult and require effort. There is no magic cure, or easy way out.

Best of luck to her.
posted by lawhound at 10:32 AM on October 26, 2011

Thirding. Any "help" you attempt to give her is an exercise in futility. You aren't going to get her sober. Maybe she isn't going to get herself sober, either, but I can promise you that anything you do is completely useless. And I say this as someone who has tried all the things. The exception is when she asks you for something specific that she has come up with on her own: "Can you please drive me to this rehab facility?" "Can you take me to an AA meeting?" And so on.

My dad sporadically went to AA for years and was railroaded into trying all the available pharmaceuticals at one point or another. He went to rehab three times. But he never truly wanted to stop drinking, so he didn't. None of those treatment plans were his idea - he only did them because somebody insisted that his life would be better if he would stop drinking. He knew they (we) were right, but it wasn't enough, because he preferred life with vodka to life without. Some people don't get better. I hope your friend isn't one of those, but you need to face the reality that she might be.

There is no secret cure that is going to fix your friend. Everybody hates on AA, but if there were something better, I promise you everyone in the world would know. There are a lot of people in the world like you who love alcoholics and addicts and if there was a foolproof cure, we would be shouting it from the rooftops.
posted by something something at 11:08 AM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Psychedelic medicine has been used very effectively as treatment for alcoholism and addictions where other things have failed.
posted by provoliminal at 12:14 PM on October 26, 2011

From the question, I don't get the she is trying to lead her friend into sobriety. It reads to me more like she wants to pass on previously un-thought of tools for her friend who is trying to do the work. Kind of like informing the friend that something like AA or new medications (or whatever) exist in the world. Up to her friend to make use of the tools IF that is what she really wants to do.
posted by Vaike at 12:30 PM on October 26, 2011

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