Pastors Told Alcoholic Needs Scientific Medical Treatment
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Psychiatrist Talks at Clinic Pastors Told Alcoholic Needs Scientific Medical Treatment By BUI Lodge Of The Times Staff Acoholics should have treatment ad-ministered to them iu the same manner that treatment for other disorders is administered, according to Dr. Erie Harris Jr., a Shreveport psychiatrist in private practice. Harris, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the Louisiana State University Medical School in Shreveport, is a graduate of Centenary College and Tulane Medical School in New Orleans. As the featured speaker at a meeting of the Clinical Pastoral Training Pro-gram this week at Schumpert Hospital, he said that physicians have long treated diseases a s s o c i a t e d with alcoholism rather than the alcoholic himself. "I have known physicians who knew a great deal about treating diseases of the liver and nervous system but who knew nothing about the persons they were treating," he said. "At the same time, I have found that AA (Alcoholics A n o n y m o u s ) doesn't know anything about livers or the nervous system but does know a great deal about the people," he added. Treatment Long Neglected Harris said that the treatment of the alcoholic individual has long been a neglected area of study within the field of medicine "Alcoholism is one of the most political diseases or disorders in the U.S. today," he stated. He said it was his. opinion that alcoholics should not be isolated as sufferers of a unique or "freak" disease, but that they should be treated in the same way that other sick people are treated. Harris said that contrary to popular opinion the greatest number of alcoholics in this country are included in the middle and upper income brackets rather than the "skid row" element of society. According to his figures, only five per cent of the nation's alcoholics are members of the latter element. Approximately 70 million Americans use alcohol to some degree, according to Harris. He said that of this number about five million are alcoholics and that this number is increased by 200,000 each year. In describing the internal lifestyle of many alcoholics, he said the mean age for the onset of alcoholism is about 45 and is more common to men than women. However, he did say that many women who are alcoholics are camou-flaged from society by their families. He said that three consistent traits are fomsd i" trsost alcoholics and that th=se traits are usually e s t a b l i s h e d during childhood. A deeply felt sense of inadequacy, hyper-sensitivity and a certain degree of immaturity were listed as the three most common personality factors to alcoholics by Harris. "Many feel inadequate both socially and sexually," he said. He stated that their super-sensitive psrsonalities often prevented alcoholics from experiencing their achievements as success. As a result of this, many are constantly preparing to set goals for themselves rather than actually establ-ishing something to aim for in life. The immaturity mentioned by Harris was characterized by a low frustration level, a sense of time centered on the present, over-reaction to criticism and by the person's exaggeration of his own talents. Harris said the alcoholic Is less able to tolerate tension or work steadily toward a set goal. Instead, he satisfies himself by drinking and indulging in fantasy. Harris also said there are three phases involved in the development of an alcoholic. During the first or prodromal phase, the person begins to have memory lapses, tends to sneak drinks, is preoccupied with alcohol in general and covers up the fact that he consumes the substance. He said loss of control marks the second stage of development. The person in this phase makes extravagant ges-tures, begins to alibi for his drinking and increases the amount of aggression which he releases. There is also a noticeable increase in the degree to which he suffers from remorse. Chronic alcoholism is the final phase of the process, according to Harris. He said that persons who reach this point begin to suffer from severe tremors and are terrified by undefinable fears. "Fear is tremendously magnified with the alcoholic," he said, adding that many alcoholics are afraid to go to a doctor for treatment of any nature simply because they are afraid of the unknown. The process by which a person becomes a true alcoholic usually involves 10 to 15 years, according to Harris. "Alcoholism is a kind of synonym for alcoholic addiction," he said. "Alcohol must have some sort of pampering effect on a person for him to become addicted to it.' The physical and psychological effects of alcohol were also discussed by Harris. "Alcohol taken in ordinary amounts apparently has no effect on the body," he said. Nutritional Deficiencies He explained tnat heavy drinkers .suffer from a variety of ailments often thought to be caused by alcoholic consumption whiclx are. actually the result of nutritional deficiencies. He further stated that these deficien-cies usually occur because the person does not eat correctly when drinking for prolonged periods of time. "Cirrhosis, for example, is mainly a nutritional disease with" the alcoholic," he said. Harris noted that many people who commit crimes are heavy drinkers but ained the position that drinking and the committing of a crime is often the result of the same root problem. "Psychologically, alcohol tends to bring out abnormal b e h a v i o r , " he explained. "It releases it rather than causes it." Among the phenomena discussed by Harris in association with alcoholism were pathological intoxication, Korsak-off's psychosis, delirium tremens amd alcoholic hallucinosis. He said pathological intoxication is often found with people who have had head injuries, suffered from sun stroke or become diabetics. In such cases it has been found that one or two drinks is all that is required for the person to become thoroughly drunk. "Korsakoff's psychosis," said Harris, "is an alcoholic condition in which a person suffers an almost complete loss of memory. The loss is so total that he constantly makes up stories to fill in the voids." Harris said that delirium tremens is commonly known as the "D.T.'s" and explained that an extreme impairment of the senses is usually suffered durisg an attack. He said visual hallucinations and convulsive seizures often occur. In discussing alcoholic hallucinosis, he explained that auditory rather than visual hallucinations were usually in-volved and that impairment of the senses is not so extreme as with delirium tremens. Harris, said that while a person normally has memory lapses following an attack of the D.T.'s the opposite is usually true with alcoholic hallucinosis.
|Title||Pastors Told Alcoholic Needs Scientific Medical Treatment|
Harris, Erle, Jr.
Clinical Pastoral Education
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|Source||Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport Medical Library (http://lib.sh.lsuhsc.edu)|
|Coverage-Spatial||Shreveport (Caddo, La.)|
|Rights||Physical rights are retained by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.|
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