Physical diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure can be cured since they are physical diseases that a doctor can see. Diseases that are more psychological like alcoholism cannot be cured as the brain does not forget the large amounts of alcohol that you consumed in your body. Because alcoholism is a brain disease, new behaviors must be learned in order for it to be managed.
How does Pavlov’s canine study link to alcoholism?
Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov would ring a bell whenever he gave his dogs food. Whenever he would ring the bell with or without food, the dogs would salivate more as they associate the sound of a bell with food. This was something that the dogs taught themselves. Because this was engraved in their heads that hearing a bell means that they are getting food, they will not forget what they learned even if you try to untrain them. The same applies to alcohol where the brain does not forget things as well. If a dog can be taught to drool when they are getting food, a human brain can be taught that alcohol will provide stimulation as well.
How does conditioning play a role in alcoholism?
Conditioning is when a certain stimulus results in a reward response. Alcohol has a tendency to stimulate certain brain chemicals that make us feel good. Drinking can make you feel relaxed since it binds to GABAA receptors which is the brain’s reward center. Just like the body “rewards” us when drinking alcohol, it can also punish you for stopping when you experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will make you feel like you cannot function without it.
How do you manage alcoholism?
Because alcoholism is both a physical and psychological disease, both aspects need to be treated. Even if you do not drink for years, it does not mean that you are cured of alcoholism but that you have learned to manage it. Abstaining from alcohol is required in order to be treated for alcoholism. Medical detox will help you manage your withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants to reduce the brain’s cravings for alcohol. Inpatient therapy can require you to stay in a facility for 28-90 days to target troubling thoughts. Outpatient can also help those whose symptoms are not intense where they go to a facility and receives therapy for a few hours while still living at home.
Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.