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How to Get Rid of Alcohol Addiction: Myths and Proven Ways

24.09.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I have the most common story of alcoholism. I began to drink at school, at the age of 18 I drank alone. I  started with cocktails, it was popular that time. Then I drank cognac, whisky – they are noble drinks. I have been drinking heavily only vodka for the last 5 years. I am 32, I have everything – a car, an apartment, a family, a work with a normal salary from home (the office itself is located in another city, and I work from home). And at the same time I have only 2-3 sober days in a month. I’m quiet and peaceful by the way and don’t drink until a crazy state. My norm is a bottle of vodka per day and a couple of cans of beer. But I weigh much, so I can’t be drunk with such a quantity. And recently I began to analyze what is happening and realized that it is time to give it up, it is impossible to live like this. My only interest is vodka. I have a growing child, and I am not interested in him. I don’t lose my job because they can’t see that I drink. I went to the pharmacy one day and I was offered some drops against alcoholism. I looked through the ingredients – all simple things, but the drops cost a lot. No trust. How should I be treated for sure?”

– Anton, 32

Alcoholism does not bring happiness to anyone, so both alcoholics themselves and their relatives sometimes resort to the most strange folk remedies from alcoholism. Mixing vodka with purgative, making tinctures with dried bugs, inky mushrooms, eating sour apples in kilograms, charms for a full moon and much more. Are there any working remedies among these folk ones? What methods are used in modern medicine? And can an alcoholic be cured unbeknown to him/her? Let’s talk about it in today’s article.


  1. How people were fighting alcoholism earlier
  2. Folk remedies
  3. Non-traditional treatments
  4. Food supplements
  5. Medical treatment
  6. Coding
  7. Comprehensive approach to alcohol dependence treatment
  8. Psychotherapy in the treatment of alcoholism

How people were fighting alcoholism earlier

The problem of alcoholism exists for a long time – this is evidenced sometimes by cruel ways of getting rid of this addiction. For example, a drunkard could be forced to drink boiling wine. The burns of the mucous in this case were guaranteed; probably drinking after such a method was really no longer wanted. More sparing methods included the treatment with worms and emetic plants – apparently, in the process, an aversion to alcohol was to be formed. And sometimes living creatures like fish and mice were drowned in vodka. Then this vodka was given to a patient – it was assumed that the agony of a dying creature helps drunkards stop drinking. Another unusual method of treatment was with the help of excrements of black dogs or urine of hedgehogs (it wasn’t easy to get it). Some of these methods are still used now, but besides them there are many modern ways of treating alcoholism. Let’s classify them.

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Folk remedies

Not every alcoholic can admit that he/she has problems with alcohol. In such cases, relatives seek a method against alcoholism unbeknown to a patient. You put into the drink a cure-all pill a couple of times – and the thrust to alcohol will disappear. You can find many recipes that should cure from alcoholism. There are sweet syrups, decoctions and grasses, special types of mushrooms. Most of these prescriptions are designed to cause something similar to poisoning in a patient – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cutting. An alcoholic seems to realize that he/she is ill with alcohol, and will give up drinking. In fact, such methods are simply dangerous. The reaction of the body to a particular grass or mushroom can be unpredictable. And a patient who does not know what he/she ate or drank, may not wait for help and die.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of ways of treating alcoholism with domestic or folk means works only in cases when a patient already has a strong motivation to stop drinking. In this case, apples, for example, can help to switch from drinking to chewing, vodka with bugs will be remembered as something unpleasant and so on. If there is no desire to stop drinking, the folk methods are powerless.

Non-traditional treatments

biologically active additives

Charms, break up spells and extrasensory methods also could not at least justify their effectiveness. Many extrasensory and sorcerers work on the principle “scare and pull out all the money”. One who is turned for help is frightened by spoilage, death, disease. And, of course, only urgent (and very expensive) work can help to remove it.  [1, 2] Similar cases of fraud are quite common, so please be careful.

“After first jimjams I was so afraid that I was ready for everything. I wanted to quit drinking myself, but I was very attached to vodka, it burned inside me. And then I saw an ad that the extrasensory center  will help cure from alcoholism, free diagnostics by phone. I phoned there, and they started to lie, that my whole family was cursed, that’s why I was drinking, and that we were cursed for death, that I called at the right time because it was already at a decisive stage. It was necessary to cure it, and the treatment costed 20 thousand. I was about to explain them that I didn’t have such money, and they began to scare me that if no money now, then there would be no life, and that my children would die, and so would relatives, because the curse could be transferred. They told me to take credit. I went to take it, but I wasn’t given it, and I came to senses at home only, realized that I was fooled. I called my brother, asked him to help and go to the doctor. And this way I have taken the path of recovery”.

– Nikolay, 41

Food supplements

They can act as auxiliary drugs in the treatment of alcoholism. For example, they can alleviate the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, which reduces the desire to “take a hair of the dog”. At the same time, it is worth remembering that food supplements do not belong to medicines and are close, rather, to food. [3] Registration of food supplements has a simplified scheme, not as strict as for medicines, and does not require research or verification. Most drugs sold on the Internet for the treatment of alcoholism do not have proven effectiveness, are not properly investigated for safety and the presence of side effects. All this leads to the fact that some manufacturers use poisonous or little studied components or their combination when creating dietary supplements.

If you still decide to try this, we recommend:

  • study the composition carefully, analyze whether the price for this substance is adequate from alcoholism, or there are more affordable analogues;
  • read the feedback by focusing on the negative, because the positive can be part of the advertising campaign;
  • think about the purchase, think about all pros and contras. You can see often on such sites the inscriptions, which stimulate for purchase, for example, “there are only 10 bottles left” or “there are only 26 minutes until the end of the sales promotion”. These tricks are used to make you hurry up and not have time to study the drug critically.

We do not recommend using dietary supplements without consulting your doctor.

Medical treatment

alcoholism treatment

The most common drugs from alcoholism are naltrexone, nalmefen. [4]

  1. Naltrexone blocks the feeling of euphoria from drinking alcohol, so an alcoholic no longer feels that pleasure and relief when drinking.
  2. Nalmefen (trade name in Russian Federation – Selinkro). It results in a reduction in the amount of alcohol taken, [5] can be used only if necessary, on days when there is a risk of drinking alcohol. It is recommended along with psychological and social support.

Another well-known drug is akamprosat. It isn’t registered in Russian Federation, but used for treatment in other countries.

Remember that you can only use medications on your doctor’s orders! They help reduce traction, but this is not always enough to get rid of dependence.


Coding is a method of eliminating the thrust to alcohol, in which an unbound attitude to alcohol is formed. The use of alcohol is associatively connected with the fear of death. The desire to drink should disappear, a thought about it should cause revulsion and panic.

Drug coding

The drugs, which are used most often , prevent the body from processing alcohol, as a result of which symptoms of poisoning arise: nausea, headache, tremor, tachycardia, sweating, chills. The patient feels very ill, understands that this condition is caused by taking alcohol and is afraid to drink. Because of the specific action, the attitude to these drugs is ambiguous, there can be recommendations to use them only as second-line drugs, that is, only in cases where other drugs from alcoholism are not effective. [4]

These preparations can be introduced into the body with the help of injections, tablets or sew-in capsules with the preparation (the so-called “sew-in” or “torpedo”).

Even the most “light” drugs cannot be used without consultation with a doctor and without the knowledge of a patient. All drugs have contraindications and side effects that should be taken into account by a doctor when prescribing treatment. Unauthorized treatment may result in poor health or even death.

“My first time was very cruel, it was called a “see-in with provocation”. They made an injection, then gave me to drink, and I realized that I was dying. The whole body was shaking, the head was spinning, it was dark in the eyes, I felt vomiting, the whole body was sweating, the tongue disappeared somewhere. They brought me to senses and said, “This is how you will feel if you drink, but there will be no one nearby, there will be no one to save you”. I did not drink for 5-6 months – I was scared. But my mental health was bad. I felt no relief from alcohol absence. I always wanted to drink, and there was a terrible fear. I slept badly, was very nervous and quick-tempered. But, probably, a person gets used to everything, and I again began to drink. Then I was coded again, then again began to drink. The most interesting thing is that doctors give tablets that are needed to be taken if you accidentally drink. And I started to code for a while. For example, I don’t drink for a month, like I am coded, but I already know that a month later I will have a vacation, and there I will drink – and I have tablets that will “decode” me”.

– Dmitry, 49

Coding with infusion

This includes the Dovzhenko technique and other methods aimed at persuading or intimidating a patient. At the session, a doctor tells about the harm of alcohol, about its impact on health, gives facts and examples, establishes an attitude for conducting a healthy lifestyle. Audio or video can be used. Conversations are designed to persuade an alcoholic to quit drinking and form a persistent dislike of alcohol.

In order for this method of treatment of alcoholism to be as effective as possible, the patient should really wish to get rid of alcohol dependence. Also before the first session it is necessary that an addict for some time was sober, preferably about 7-10 days.

Despite the apparent simplicity of the method, it has contraindications:

  • psychopathy, psychoses, disorders of consciousness, schizophrenia, etc.;
  • withdrawal syndrome, delirium, hallucinations;
  • degradation of the person due to the use of alcohol;
  • heart disease, including a heart attack;
  • any diseases, including ARVI;
  • cancer tumors.

Coding with hypnosis

Also, this method can be called a hypnotherapy, the Ericksonian hypnosis, etc. At the session, a doctor immerses the patient in a state of shallow trance and tries to form a negative attitude to alcohol. For example, to imagine a close one of a patient as an alcoholic and look at him/her from the side.

You cannot manage a person and put into his/her head any attitudes and ideas with the help of hypnosis contrary to common misconceptions. Hypnosis is only susceptible to very amenable people, who themselves are ready to be hypnotized. [6] The efficacy of the method is not very high, for example, when quitting smoking, it helps in 20-30% of cases. [7] It can be used as an additional method in the treatment of alcoholism.

Contraindications include:

  • some mental disorders, including schizophrenia and changes of consciousness under the influence of alcohol;
  • heart disease and respiratory problems
  • epilepsy.

Any coding is a forbidden way of getting rid of alcoholism. It is called to solve only one problem – the use of alcohol. Moreover, some of the ways that promise to get rid of addiction “in one session” are either based on frightening, according to some experts, or are rather placebo-based than actually treat. [8] And the problems that led to alcoholism remain unresolved. When alcohol disappears from a person’s life, something else should come to its place. If emptiness remains – alcohol will sooner or later return. For example, if a person is used to drinking when in a bad mood, then after coding he/she will still feel bad: sadness and distress are not gone, a person doesn’t know any other ways to fight them, so it is very likely that he/she will get back to the bottle.

If a person depending on alcohol decided to use coding, then after this procedure he/she needs rehabilitation and work with a psychologist. Only like this, with a complex approach, it is possible to learn to live without alcohol and reduce the probability of returning alcoholism.

“I have been treated for 10 years from alcoholism. I have probably gone through all the ways. And this is what I understood – until I myself realized the need for treatment, everything was useless. Well, for a short time I could quit, and then everything started again, and I started to drink harder. I saw alcoholics who told doctors, “My business is to drink, and your task is to treat me”. Of course, from this side, everything is useless. It is necessary to decide yourself, honestly and sincerely. Then, a withdrawals can occur. When I stopped drinking, I changed my job, stopped communicating with friends who drank with me, deliberately changed habits and started new hobbies. I got a very good psychologist who helped me change my behavior. The discussions were detailed. What I will drink with BBQ, what I will do in the evening of Friday, what I will do if I have problems at work. Only like this it’s possible to change. And of course, support is also needed. I had a wife and a psychologist for this, the doctor also supported, but I rarely visited him. I know that when family does not support you, you are looking for help among the groups like “Anonymous alcoholics”. It is so simple when you are understood and not condemned”.

– Andrey, 38

Comprehensive approach to alcohol dependence treatment

coding for alcoholism

It is important to understand that getting rid of dependence should not be the only goal when choosing the most effective way to give up alcoholism. The main task is to restore health, learn to live and receive joy without alcohol, to form healthy habits, to begin to manage your life. Therefore, many clinics practice an integrated approach to the treatment of alcoholism. Treatment can include:

  1. Motivation, if a patient still doubts the need for treatment. This is a key point – if a person does not want to be treated and does not consider himself/herself an addict, no methods will help.
  2. Detoxification, interruption of drinking period. It helps a person get out of drinking period without unpleasant consequences in the form of jimjams or withdrawal. It also helps reduce the harmful effects of alcohol on the body and has a positive effect on health.
  3. Rehabilitation. People are trained to live without dependence, to cope with possible temptations, are helped form new useful habits. Behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective. [9] Support does not have to be in person, which is relevant to maintaining anonymity or in small cities where it is difficult to find a good specialist – remote programs also show good results. [10]
  4. Social adaptation, if necessary. This may include job change, employment assistance. In fact, a person is re-socialized, integrated into society. Unfortunately, such programs are rare, attempts to implement them are only available in some private clinics.
  5. Support for both an addict and his/her relatives for a long time. Such support may be appropriate, for example, in the case of co-dependent relationships or when alcoholism significantly changed the life of the whole family for a long time.

In addition, occupational therapy, 12 Steps and other various programs can be used.

Getting comprehensive treatment is the easiest thing in a rehabilitation center or a drug clinic, but this is not always possible, so you can yourself add the elements that are not enough. For example, there is a good clinic in your city, but there is no psychologist who works with addictions – then you need to find a specialist on your own. Or you can help someone close get a new job and employment by yourself.

Psychotherapy in the treatment of alcoholism

hypnosis coding

One of the effective methods that helps overcome psychological dependence is the 7Spsy behavior modification technique, based on behavioral psychology and theories of I.P Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky, etc. The technique is aimed at correcting behavior in alcohol addiction. It is important not only to get rid of traction, but also to find a substitute for alcohol. What will a person enjoy? How will stress be dealt with? How will he/she communicate with friends if before any communication always was “with the bottle”?

It is important to change these habits to a healthy behavioral scenario, and then the risk of returning to alcohol will significantly decrease.

Behavioral therapy features:

  • aimed at specific unwanted behavior, and not at possible causes;
  • works here and now;
  • has well-defined treatment objectives;
  • not only it eliminates old habits, but also creates new, desirable and chosen by each individual for himself/herself.

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The program “Correction of behavior in alcohol addiction” has a remote format and is completely confidential – you will be engaged at the time when you are comfortable. You don’t need to justify or explain your behavior – you’ll work with particular manifestations. In this case, the psychologist will be on the line and can help and support you when you need it.

For up to 6 weeks you will be able to form new and useful behaviors that will replace the old habit of solving all problems with alcohol, feel free from addiction and learn to enjoy life without intoxication with alcohol.

Attention! The method can be effective without drug support at the first stage of alcoholism. At the 2nd stage, we recommend that you consult a narcologist to obtain the necessary medical support. And, at the 3rd stage, the first priority will be to seek medical care.

Sometimes you can find the opinion that alcoholism is forever. This approach often leaves a sense of hopelessness and failure. But whether alcoholism will return or not – in fact, in many respects depends on the individual. Will you be ready to cope with life problems yourself without using alcohol? Do you have a skill to resist the sometimes arising desire to drink? Will you be able to switch yourself to a healthy behavior when it is easier to follow the usual way of drinking alcohol? It is the presence of such skills that can provide a stable remission and freedom from alcoholism. You are the key to your healing, and you can manage your relationship. Believe in your strength and do not be afraid to seek help.


  1. «Ekstrasensy» vymogali den’gi strashnymi proklyatiyami. (https://www.mk.ru/moscow/2013/07/30/891739-ekstrasensyi-vyimogali-dengi-strashnyimi-proklyatiyami.html).
  2. Pytayas’ vylechit’ zyatya ot alkogolizma, pensionerka iz SHelekhova otdala «belomu magu» 3,8 milliona rublej (https://www.irk.kp.ru/daily/26965/4020537/).
  3. BAD otneseny k produktam pitaniya (https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=20131223).
  4. Farmakoterapiya alkogolizma (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28658981).
  5. Effektivnost’ nalmefena (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24671340).
  6. Pri gipnoze vazhna stepen’ vnushaemosti cheloveka (Psihoterapevticheskaya enciklopediya, Karvasarskij B. D.).
  7. Effektivnost’ gipnoza pri lechenii nikotinovoj zavisimosti (https://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/28/health/the-claim-hypnosis-can-help-you-stop-smoking.html).
  8. O somneniyah v effektivnosti kodirovaniya (https://web.archive.org/web/20140427194814/http://www.kgmu.kcn.ru/sites/default/files/u53/2010/NV-10-03-c25-27.pdf).
  9. Effektivnost’ i principy dejstviya povedencheskoj i kognitivno-povedencheskoj terapii (http://www.mif-ua.com/archive/article/26507).
  10. Distancionnye programmy lecheniya alkogolizma mogut byt’ effektivny (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26087226).