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Dr. Hemalatha Murthy
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The physiological and psychological dependency on some agent, with a tendency to increase its use is called as Addiction. The moment we call a person who is dependent on any such agents like tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, an addict there is lot of resistance and inhibition associated with it which restrict them from seeking help and rehabilitate themselves. Due to this taboo in the society, even, the people around the dependent person feel in an odd situation and does not like to help them. Parents have a lot of concern but with lot of dejection and stress they come out of their children’s problem. These days rather than using the word “Addict” it is called as alcohol/tobacco/drug/smoking dependence syndrome.

Many people think or also advised by doctors that a small peg of alcohol is better than not taking. But I feel there may be only 2% who can restrict to a one peg or so. Most of them take in excess and there are physical damage to various organs such as brain, muscles and liver. It is high calories in and does not contain any nutrition. About 40 % of the accidents are due to alcoholism. Not only accidents occur, number of offences, crime, theft are all due to alcoholism. Alcohol during pregnancy causes various dangers like small babies, mental retardation, dysmorphic features & growth impairment. Even men who have alcohol dependence can bring certain amount of growth impairment. The physical effects of excess alcohol consumption on central nervous system– epilepsy, fear psychosis, polyneuropathy; muscles– chronic myopathy; cardiovascular system–cardio myopathy; hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias; respiratory system– chest infections; gastro–intestinal tract – gastritis, cancer, pancreatic & liver diseases; bone– osteoporosis, osteomalacia, effects bone marrow, and retards iron absorption. It creates lot of dehydration and in return there is cellular constipation and malnutrition.

It is not a disease to be inherited, so that one can blame our parents for this. Infact, it is purely a psychological and social menace. Socially, all the pride and prejudice are knitted around it to precipitate or tigger the psychological weak mind to easily succumb to the habit and then to addictions. Some of the symptoms of alcohol dependence are – 1) Unable to keep a drink limit, 2) difficulty in avoiding getting drunk, 3) missing meals, 4) memory lapses, 5) blackouts, 6) organizing day around drink, 7) trembling, 8) after drinking the day before, morning retching and vomiting, 9) with drawal fits, 10) increased tolerance 11) delirium tremens, 12) morning drinking. The psychological and social problems associated due to alcohol dependence are– depression, anxiety, phobias, memory disturbances, delirium, suicidal attempts, marital & sexual problems, child abuse, employment problem, financial, accidents, thefts, crimes, drop in efficiency etc.

Drug abuse and dependence is much more dangerous then alcoholism. The causes are to its easy availability, which makes the psychologically vulnerable personality to chose an easy way out. The negative competitions, social pressure, peer pressure is the cause. The commonly used drugs are cocaine, amphetamine derivates, morphine, heroin, codeine, pethidine, methadone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines etc. The dangerous of the drugs are breathlessness, tissue damage, aggressive and impulsive behaviour, heart and kidney damage, frequent infections, etc. All the addicts have low mortality rate.

The worldwide statistics show that the highest mortality is due to smoking. Nicotine dependency either by tobacco chewing or smoking cigarettes lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, IHD, vascular disease, bladder cancer, memory problem, abnormal spermatozoa etc. The toxic effect is due to hydrocarbon and nitrosamines. Smoking has more hazards than drugs or alcohol, even, those who are exposed to smoking become a passive smoker and incur so many health hazards like bronchitis, cancer, pneumonia and even the small children suffer from bronchitis and other memory and behavioral changes.

The main problem in dealing the addicts is their withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, muscular twitches, aches and pains, abdominal cramps, hypertension, insomnia, anorexia, weight loss etc are present in the drug addicts, where as in persons who are alcoholic and smokers have depression, tremors, muscle pains, gastritis, insomnia etc. With all the above mentioned severe symptoms they feel incompetent to handle themselves and succumb to their addictions.

Health has three pronged approach, i.e, preventive, curative, and health promotive. Any disease or disorder or dependence needs to be looked into all this areas to come out or eradicate or check these menace. As a preventive measure proper and congenial social atmosphere is needed. We know most of the dependency starts between the age of 15–25 yrs, when they have peer and social pressures, due to negative competitions, changing of family and social values, nuclear family– where emotional culturing is lacking etc. Childhood is an important period of a personal growth. Their environmental feedback, rightful habits, positive outlook, healthy competitions, work culture, emotional culture, disciplined life style not giving any scope for obsessions and fanatism helps to have good atmosphere for their growth. Our cultural values being properly understood and blending them with scientific temperament is necessary. In this regards yoga & its technique like yama, niyama, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, practices brings total comprehensive development of personality, who can successfully handle all the odds of the society and perform undeterred. In dealing with the dependency syndrome persons many social and family concerns create hindrances. The de–addiction centers though have physical and psychological approach with medication and counseling, the social taboos, inhibition, restrict the persons from seeking help. Instead, an atmosphere be created like Naturopathic and Yoga hospitals, where all other chronic diseases are treated successfully. Under one shelter, the whole entity of human being can be taken care. Naturopathy and Yoga, a non–invasive, drugless therapy consider not only the physical but psychological, social, moral and spiritual aspects of health. The panchakosha and panchamahaboota concept helps to give the needed body– mind medicine. All the withdrawal symptoms can be very well handled.

Natural way of treatment give a spontaneous healing mechanisms in body and mind, hence both the physiological and psychological factors are taken care. Naturopathic techniques like massages, acupressure, acupuncture, hydrotherapeutic application, magneto therapy, chromo and helio therapies, diet and nutritional therapy, fasting therapy etc along with different yogic techniques helps in the curative phase.

Once they come out of dependency, they need to be rehabilitated and a follow–up treatment, counseling period should be available atleast for five years so that there is health promotion and they imbibe the confidence to live and lead their life successfully. Naturopathic and yogic treatment modality helps to change their outlook towards life.

Dr. Hemalatha Murthy. M.A.ND, DYTD, (Ph.D)

National Academy of Naturopathy & Yoga
35, TMV colony, Pune 411037, Maharashtra, India
Telephone: +91 20 4269194, 4270059