Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Brandon Yew on June 19, 2022

How To Help Someone Through Alcohol Abuse

Recovering from alcohol abuse takes a lot of time, patience, and helpful resources. This guide provides professional advice to help you deal with symptoms naturally so you can focus on getting better.

Alcohol abuse min scaled

Alcohol abuse was a predominant condition in the United States before the pandemic began. However, research shows that alcohol sales soared during the pandemic. Some states saw a 40% increase in trips to the liquor store.

In addition to being a drain on your wallet, alcohol abuse is linked to many health conditions. It may increase your risk of certain diseases and personal injury to yourself and others.

The tips in this guide can help you identify alcohol abuse and take steps toward helping someone (or yourself) through it.

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

People who are addicted to alcohol are unable to control their physical or emotional need for it.

Alcohol abuse is defined as the habitual misuse of alcohol. It occurs when someone is unable to control how much they drink because they are physically and emotionally dependent on it.

It’s deadly, too. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), approximately 95,000 people died from an alcohol-related cause each year. This is sad news given that it’s also the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Treatment for alcohol abuse usually involves therapy or behavioral counseling. It may also include medications that help reduce the desire to drink.

How much is too much?

According to the NHS, men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. A unit can be measured as 8 grams or 10 ml of pure alcohol.

Here are some examples:

  • A half of a pint of beer, lager, or cider (ABV 3.6%)
  • One small shot (25 ml) of spirits (ABV 40%)
  • One small glass (125 ml) or wine (ABV 12%)

Everyone has their own threshold when it comes to drinking alcohol. Some people can tolerate more than others.

However, a dependent drinker will exhibit signs of withdrawal when they have not had a drink in a while. These may include hand tremors, shaking, sweating, depression, seeing things that aren’t there, anxiety, and insomnia.

Health Complications Of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse has both short-term and long-term health complications. Short-term concerns include:

  • Headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Accidents and injuries that could lead to hospital treatment, such as a head injury
  • Violent behavior
  • Alcohol poisoning, which can lead to vomiting, seizures, or unconsciousness
  • Problems concentrating or making good decisions
  • Risky behavior such as driving drunk or having unprotected sex

Over time, long-term alcohol abuse can increase the risk of several diseases, including:

Alcohol abuse may also lead to social complications. This includes an increased risk of divorce, domestic abuse, unemployment, and homelessness.

Tips For Recovering From Alcohol Abuse

Group therapy, in conjunction with TCM, can be an effective form of treatment.

The first step to recovering from alcohol abuse is to get help as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the quicker your recovery will be. This may include reaching out to your doctor or a medical professional. He or she should be able to recommend treatment based on your condition and health background.

A registered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician can do the same. TCM physicians will provide treatment recommendations only after a proper examination. This will include both your physical and mental health status.

We asked Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew how TCM can be used to help with alcohol abuse and recovery. He stated that TCM can help through herbal medication, acupuncture, cupping, guasha (scraping), moxibustion, tuina (Chinese manual therapy) and blood-letting.

All of these treatments are formulated carefully by the TCM physician to address specifically the unique body constitution of every individual patient. Hence, it’s best to always first consult the TCM physician for proper assessment. 

Herbal remedies

Below are some herbal remedies that can help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms: 

  • Ge Hua Jie Cheng Tang: Dispels alcohol-induced Heat, Dampness and Stagnated Qi; replenishes Qi to restore and strengthen the Spleen 
  • Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang: Alleviates alcohol-induced Wind, Fire, Dampness and Phlegm toxins from the Liver and Heart to calm the mind and nerves and soothe the Stomach  
  • Long Dan Xie Gan Tang: Reduces alcohol-induced Fire and Dampness toxins from the Liver and Heart to calm the mind and nerves 
  • Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang: Dispels alcohol-induced Fire and Phlegm toxins from the Liver and Heart, replenishes Yin to nourish the Liver and Heart, calming the mind and nerves 
  • Dian Kuang Meng Xing Tang: Alleviates alcohol-induced Fire, Dampness, Phlegm, Stagnated Qi and Blood clots from the Liver and Heart to calm the mind and nerves  
  • Sheng Mai San: Regenerates Qi and Yin to nourish and boost the Heart, replenishing energy and fluids lost through diaphoresis, and calming the mind and nerves  

Some TCM physicians may also recommend Antrodia Cinnamomea (AC) Mycellium, which is an herb native to Taiwan that helps promote liver health and alleviate liver conditions. It’s commonly taken by people who smoke, drink alcohol, stay up late, or need help restoring liver health and vitality.

Acupressure

Acupressure is also another easy self-help remedy. You can perform it by placing fingers or a blunt object like a massage stick at certain acupoints and applying an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motion 20 times each. Repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint: 

To calm the mind and nerves:

  • Bai Hui DU20
  • Dan Zhong RN17
  • Zhong Wan RN12
  • Nei Guan PC6
  • He Gu LI4
  • Tai Chong LR3

To dispel alcohol-induced Fire, Dampness, Phlegm, Qi Stagnation, and Blood Clots:

  • Dan Zhong RN17
  • Zhong Wan RN12
  • Nei Guan PC6
  • He Gu LI4
  • Zu San Li ST36
  • Feng Long ST 40
  • Tai Chong LR3

To restore and strengthen the digestive functions of the Spleen and Stomach:

  • Zhong Wan RN12
  • Zu San Li ST36
  • Feng Long ST 40

Final Thoughts On Alcohol Abuse

Before using herbal remedies or acupressure to treat alcohol abuse, Physician Yew warns that you should keep a few things in mind.

“Please always bear in mind that the herbal formulas provided above are meant for different pathological states of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, corresponding to varying body constitutions. Essentially, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be complex to treat. As such, it is strongly advised to not purchase any of them to self-medicate without first undergoing a thorough consultation with a licensed TCM practitioner who will assess your unique body constitution and current medical state, and advise you accordingly. Please also seek medical attention from a medical doctor if the symptoms persist and are of greater severity,” stated Physician Yew.

“Do take note that acupressure can only provide mild symptomatic relief. Essentially, it acts merely as a supplement to acupuncture, which produces a much stronger therapeutic efficacy in tackling the root pathology behind alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Hence, it is still strongly recommended to seek a more comprehensive help from a qualified TCM practitioner, especially for those whose conditions have persisted and are of greater severity – preferably in conjunction with the medical doctor,” he concluded. 

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