Essay about A Comparison of Two Types of Treatment for Alcoholism

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A Comparison of Two Types of Treatment for Alcoholism

One of the largest debates in the study of alcoholism is the etiology of the disorder. The prevailing theory today seems to be that alcoholism is a disease, a biological affliction that can only be ameliorated by abstinence or medication. However, there are those who believe alcoholism has its roots in environmental influences and that the disorder is a maladaptive pattern of behavior. The two main methods currently employed for treating alcoholism reflect the foundations of the two main theories.

Perhaps the most widely known method is the "Twelve Step" program created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (1). Underlying this process is the belief that alcoholism is a
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(6).The mechanism of disulfiram's effectiveness is not related to any underlying biological process which may be responsible for the development of alcoholism; rather, it functions more in the manner of sensitization, (7).a therapeutic behavioral process that will be discussed later. It has been suggested that alcohol serves to increase the activity of the endogenous opioid system, a system which purportedly mediates euphoria. Naltrexone operates at this neuronal level, serving as an antagonist to endogenous opioid receptors and blocking the enhanced feelings of well-being that can occur with the consumption of alcohol. (6).

Other medications currently in use for the treatment of alcohol include several antidepressants; the tricyclic type (which affects both the norepinephrine system and the serotonin systems) and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have both proven to be helpful. This would indicate that alcohol affects the operations of both neurotransmitter systems.

However, research suggests that the SSRIs are more effectual in decreasing an alcoholic's desire to drink and this evidence has incited a theory that malfunctioning serotonin systems are responsible for alcoholism. Serotonin has a putative role in the regulation of mood and reinforcement and it has been reported that low serotonin activity may be responsible for depression and anxiety. This dual

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