ALCOHOLISM IN THE HINDU COMMUNITY
Alternatives and Treatment
Alcoholism has been with humanity for as long as we have fermented fruits for drinking purposes. In college I had a very dear friend who was a recovering alcoholic. She binged on alcohol from the time she was 14 until 18, when she started attending AA. My ex-brother-in-law was an alcoholic. My sister used to call my mother from time to time about his addiction problems. Finally my sister divorced him because of his addiction.
The Hindu Community does have its share of people addicted to alcohol and in need of treatment. Many are familiar with AA, but other treatments can be effective depending upon the individual.
Some priests and teachers do speak about alcohol use in the community, but it's not enough to tell someone, "Do not drink." Encouraging individuals who abuse alcohol to seek treatment is more helpful to the addicted person and their family.
There has been concern over the use of alcohol at Hindu weddings when people drink in the parking lots of mandirs or in houses where weddings are being performed. The United Federation for Arts and Culture passed a resolution with this wording, "We, the undersigned, protest the establishment of liquor bars at weddings and/or religious functions, and urge officials to take action against the contravening laws against said operations and illicit sale of liquor to minors." Marriage is considered a sacred ceremony by many, so many oppose its use in weddings.
In order to achieve help and constructive activities for alcoholics, treatment alternatives need to be offered by those in the helping professions--social work, psychology, counseling and spiritual/religious counseling. There are also alternative ways of feeling good, which we need to educate addicts and the general public about.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a well known form of treatment for alcoholics. Many cities, villages and towns have AA groups in churches, hospitals, schools and mandirs. AA has 12 steps, a support sponsor who helps each alcoholic when tempted to drink alcohol and meetings of support where members talk of their lives and challenges with alcohol. The basic philosophy of AA is that the individual is powerless over alcohol and asks their Higher Power for help in over coming the addiction. The Higher Power is based upon their own understanding. For some people that is God or Goddess. For others it may be the AA group or an ancestor. Thirty to forty percent of people find this model to be effective enough by itself to overcome their addiction. My friend found it pretty effective in helping her achieve sobriety.
Some individuals, however, need other alternatives and treatment. Every person is unique in what treatments work for him or her. Sometimes a combination of treatment modalities work best rather than just one modality.
Some Hindus incorporate the Atharva Veda with AA. The scripture encourages "honesty, penance, sacrifices and amends, learning from the past, changing your associates, making a pilgrimage, fasting, silence and reciting mantras."
Ayurvedic Medicine can be used as treatment for some individuals. Deepak Chopra, MD at one time was an allopathic doctor, but he eventually became a wholistic/Ayurvedic MD in response to his own addiction to cigarettes. He started helping many addicts overcome their addictions using Ayurvedic Principles.
He explains that an addict has an imbalance of the Vatta dosha that must come more into balance. According to Dr. Chopra, "The cornerstone of our addiction program is that the addict will give up their habit automatically when offered a greater source of satisfaction. We hold that the source of addiction is a search for satfisfaction." What he advocates is leading the addicted person into more satisfying alternatives. He has his patients meditate. Studies on meditation are quite interesting in that those who meditate have much lower addiction rates compared with the general population. Addicts who started meditating decreased their drug and alcohol use dramatically. Seventy-seven percent gave up the addictive substance entirely.
He also uses detoxification, body-type diet, exercise, massage, music therapy, aromatherapy and natural supplements based upon Ayurvedic Medicine. Chanting mantras and singing bhajans on a regular basis can also be used in this kind of program. AA can also be incorporated with it, too.
Dr. Theron G. Randolph, MD and Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. wrote Alternative Approach to Allergies in 1980. Dr. Randolph was a pioneer in environmental medicine who lived near Chicago. He studied food allergies in AA groups in the Chicago area. He found a high percent of alcoholics with food allergies to the various ingredients found in alcohol, such as corn, wheat, yeast, sugar, grapes, barley malt, potatoe and other grains. The reason many could not recover from alcoholism was that people continued to consume foods which they were allergic and addicted to in various forms. A person with a corn allergy had to stop consuming all forms of corn, not just alcohol. Corn is very pervasive and found in many types of processed foods. An alcoholic is better off consuming non-processed, organic foods because then he or she can be assured of their purity. He successfully treated many alcoholics with this method.
Another new program is based upon wholistic medicine. It is an unique program found in Minneapolis. It was founded in 1980 by Joan Matthews Larson, Pd.D., whose son committed suicide and was not helped by the standard treatment methods. Her program is based on balancing the brain chemicals through wholistic means. The name of the treatment center is the Health Recovery Center. Some methods used are natural detoxification, using labs to verify vitamin/mineral imbalances, using genetic histories, biochemical repair of the brain, food allergy testing, Cognitive Therapy, Logo Therapy, Yoga, exercise and other wholistic methods based upon individual needs. For information on the program go to www.healthrecovery.com.
Alcoholism is a terrible disease, but treatment is available. In every mandir you will find those in the helping professions who can provide the name of practioners and programs which can be helpful. Priests and teachers are often familiar with Ayurvedic Medicine doctors and practioners in your city, village or town. You do not have to be addicted forever. By using some of Dr. Chopra's alternatives incorporated from Ayurvedic, you could even prevent addiction in the first place. Meditation, music, chanting and using mantras are great ways of relaxing from stress which make you feel good. May all of you be free from addiction!
JAI SHRI TREATMENT! JAI SHRI BE THE CHANGE!