Addressing Alcoholism with Diet and NutritionAuthor: Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed.
Alcoholism is a very complex problem that is rampant in our society and has many variables that need to be addressed simultaneously.
The success rate with mainstream treatment options is poor at best. The nutrition and diet components are rarely addressed and most
people are unaware of their extreme significance. It is not widely known that Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA was aware of the
importance of vitamins and hypoglycemia in the treatment of alcoholism. Before his death he was trying to educate physicians about
these issues. (Null 95, Larson 92) After losing a son who had tried all the traditional approaches to alcoholism, Joan Larson researched
with the passion of a mother on a mission and wrote a detailed comprehensive book that emphasizes the importance of addressing diet
and nutrition in the treatment of alcoholism. In her treatment Center, The Health Recovery Center, they maintain a 75% success rate
with an approach that addresses issues such as making diet changes, eliminating sugar and refined foods, supplementing numerous
vitamins, amino acids and minerals which are most often depleted in alcoholics, treating hypoglycemia and treating food allergies. Her
book provides very specific guidelines necessary to take beginning with detox and continuing through recovery. She discovered it is
necessary to make biochemical repairs in order to achieve success and prevent relapse. It is a must have book for anyone involved in
the treatment of alcoholism.
Randolph (80) contends that alcoholism is not a mental sickness, but rather it is a symptom of advanced food allergy. In his practice he
has found that it is not the alcohol that one is addicted to it is the food source of which the alcoholic beverage is made of. Alcoholic
beverages are made of food such as grains like barley, corn, cane or grapes. Alcoholics have a food allergy to these. In advanced food
allergy the individual craves the allergic food. Randolph proposes that the alcoholic is craving the beverage is made from not the alcohol
itself. The alcohol serves as a catalyst to help the food be absorbed more quickly, because alcohol is absorbed rapidly throughout the
gastrointestinal tract. This is why most alcoholics struggle to stay sober and relapse is so common. Because, when alcoholics put the
alcohol down they are continuing to eat sugar, corn, etc., and when they eat these foods it triggers cravings. The food itself cannot
provide the quick fix that the alcohol can provide because of its rapid absorption.
Pfeiffer(80) has found that people with addictions have high levels of histamine which he states results in compulsive behavior. He has
had success using calcium, methioninine and a low protein high carbohydrate diet in treating not only compulsive behavior, but also
There is considerable data that supports the notion that most alcoholics are hypoglycemic. (Larson 92, Airola 77) There is a reciprocal
relationship between the two. Chronic drinking just like excessive sugar contributes to the development of hypoglycemia just as people
with hypoglycemia are potential candidates for alcoholism. Hypoglycemia can cause irritability, depression, aggressiveness, insomnia,
fatigue, restlessness, confusion, a desire to drink and nervousness, many of the same symptoms of an alcoholic. (Larson 92) When an
alcoholic gets sober the symptoms listed above continue to plaque them and if hypoglycemia is not addressed these symptoms leave the
individual at high risk of relapsing in order to temporarily relieve these symptoms.
In 1991 more than 60% of individuals admitted to traditional treatment programs had been in treatment before and more than half of
those repeating were being admitted for the third time. About half of these were drinking again within one year. (Grinspoon 1996)
Unfortunately this is a common scenario in treatment in general. Relapse is expected, common and usually the norm. Most people are
not successful in long -term recovery. In a four year study of 922 men only 28% refrained from drinking for six months after
treatment. After one year 21% remained abstinent and after four years 7% remained abstinent. (Rand Repot 1990) It is only a small
subgroup of people who are helped by 12 step programs and traditional treatment. Obviously traditional treatment is missing a very large
piece of the puzzle. Traditional treatment could be more successful if it implemented a holistic approach to addiction and address issues
such as hypoglycemia, food allergy and nutritional deficiencies.
I know from personal experience that this is true. As a chronic alcoholic I entered traditional treatment and although some of it was
extremely helpful, it could not help with the intense depression, anxiety, confusion, irritability and nervousness that I continued to have
that was putting me at high risk of relapsing. After a year of pure misery and white knuckling it, which had left me hanging by a very
fine thread, I discovered a book that changed my life. After finding a doctor who
was knowledgeable in this area, I learned that I had numerous food allergies, chemical allergies, hypoglycemia and vitamin and mineral
deficiencies. It was when I addressed these issues that my life really changed. I discovered that my eliminating sugar and wheat from
that I could eliminate my disabling anxiety and depression. By treating all my allergies and addressing my hypoglycemia and deficiencies
and changing my diet I was able to turn my mental health completely around and I was no longer white knuckling it to stay sober. I
have been sober for 13 years and dont attend any AA meetings.
Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed., writer, educator, therapist/advisor/coach and Holistic Health Consultant
Specializing in Life Management and Support for Living with Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, and Disability as well as Sexuality and Sexual Intimacy.