Aversive pharmacotherapy for alcoholism (from Lat. aversio - disgust) was used in the past century in Western Europe. In 1946, in a workshop on the vulcanization of rubber, it was observed that the workers acquired an intolerance to beer. It turned out that the reason was tetraethylthiuram disulfide. On the basis of this substance, a drug called disulfiram was created, which became known as Antabuse, Teturam, Esperal.
Since the late 40's and early 50's, methods of creating aversion to alcohol with this drug began to develop. In the late 60's and early 70's in Yugoslavia there appeared a method of treating alcoholism without the use of disulfiram. The basis of this medical technique was the principle of creating a negative reflex to alcohol with a simulation of a state close to death after an alcohol provocation. For ethical reasons, this method was subject to disapproval and was no longer used in the Western countries, but it has stricken root and become widespread in present-day Russia under various names due to the ease of use and the belief of the majority of patients in the miraculous healing in one session. In the Soviet Union, since the 50-ies and up to the present day, the medical method of creating a negative reflex to alcohol without disulfiram has been used, known as "torpedo".
The term "suggestive treatment" was introduced into practice in the 80's by doctor A.R. Dovzhenko, who inspired his patients with a mortal fear of alcohol without using drugs. The prototype of this method was the delivering from drunkenness with the help of a vow, which was used by Orthodox priests in the 19th century. A drinker giving a vow was afraid of the Lord's anger.
Later in the society, the terms "suggestive treatment" and "radical therapy" began to be used for all methods based on the principle of "if you drink - you will die". In professional circles, these methods of alcoholism treatment are classified as emotional stress psychotherapy.
In domestic practice of alcoholism treatment, the prevailing principle is that of the theory of reflexes by physiologist Pavlov: the formation of a negative conditioned reflex to alcohol. The second principle is the struggle for the duration of remission. Unfortunately, very few people care about the quality of remission, i.e., how a person goes through the stage of disaccustoming from alcohol, what mental state he or she has in this process. "The main thing is not to drink".
The suggestive (hypnotic) treatment of patients with high level of anxiety (mostly they are people carrying a heavy load of responsibility, whose work involves constant nervous tension) should be carried out with great caution, because treatment with fear generates additional neurosis and makes the period of abstinence from alcohol especially painful. Such patients need psychotherapeutic support in the long run, because the doctor needs to understand the causes of constant stress and anxiety, teach the patients how to overcome stress and depression, help them understand themselves and difficult situations, help them generate a healthy lifestyle where alcohol would take a secondary priority in the system of values.
To make the treatment results deep and reliable, we should first of all remove the causes, not just fight with consequences, as in suggestive treatment.