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What do alcoholism and nutrition have in common?

Did you know today is National Alcohol Screening Day? From the Screening for Mental Health website: “Held annuallyduring the first full week of April, National Alcohol Screening Day(NASD) is an outreach, education, and screening program that raises awareness about alcohol misuse and refers individuals with alcohol problems for further evaluation. The program is provided by nearly a thousand colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations world wide each year.”  You’ll find places to schedule an appointment in the website, but online screenings are available at any time.

If you’ve have ever suffered the hardship of a family member with alcoholism, you’re no doubt familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous, more commonly referred to as AA. I’ve known about AA for over thirty years as I’ve witnessed a family member struggle with with this debilitating addiction. I’ve asked myself over and over, why is it some people can maintain their sobriety and others seem forever condemned to the bottle?

Before we go further, let’s take a closer look at some statistics on alcoholism in the US:

  • approximately 14 million people are addicted to alcohol or abuse alcohol
  • alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in America
  • 6.6 million American children under the age of 18 live in homes with at least one alcoholic parent
  • It is estimated that more than 3 million teenagers in the U.S. between the ages of 14-17 are problem drinkers (think about the diets of the average teen in the US!)

In a 2006 article  in MSN Money entitled “The 5 Most Expensive Addictions,” alcholism was rated number one with an estimated annual total cost of $166 billion

Knowing what I do about nutrition, I figured there were many dietary factors that influence a persons recovery from alcoholism – just think of the candida (yeast/fungus) issues alone, of an alcoholic, not to mention hypoclycemia!   Alcohol is a sugar, afterall.  So I went on the net and started researching and what I discovered was that Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, didn’t just develop the 12-Step program of AA, he was also a believer in orthomolecular medicine and recognized that nutrition could play a key role in a person’s recovery.  He found that even though there were people who could maintain their sobriety, they often suffered from depression, anxiety, fatigue and more.  (Not exactly good news to the family of an alcoholic who thought getting them sober would make everything better!)

Bill Wilson  had discovered the work of Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, Ph.D, of Saskatchewan, and the therapeutic effects of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) in the treatment of schizophrenia, which included 10% who were alcoholic. Bill implemented a program of B3 supplementation with 30 members of Alcoholics Anynonymous in New York (they were not schizophrenic and were not drinking) and within about two months, 20 of them were relieved of all symptoms. That’s significant. What really ticked me off, however, after reading this valuable information was learning that when Bill took his study to the medical doctors on the International Advisory Board of AA, (which he started!) they essentially told him a layperson wasn’t qualified to be discussing “medical matters” like the use of vitamin B3! Wow, can you say arrogant? That was in the 1940s when doctors had virtually no training in nutrition – even now, the amount of nutritional training doctors receive is, well, pathetic.  But I digress…

Bill ended up parting ways with the International Board of AA, but his findings were eventually corraborated by the studies of Dr. David Hawkins and by Dr. Russell Smith and the results were published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.

Think about how many millions of people might have achieved more success in their recovery through AA since the 1940’s,  if  this nutritional component had been included in alcohol treatment programs.  This is tragic! Now we know so much more on nutrient deficiencies and genetic markers that can be addressed through nutrition and supplements, which is why Natural Healthy Concepts carries so many professional grade vitamins, minerals and amino-acids, that could help support someone facing an alcohol addiction. We carry many niacin products including this popular timed-released brand from Ortho Molecular. If you’d like to read a book on the orthomolecular treatment of alcoholism,  here’s one you might try: Alcoholism: The Cause & The Cure . In addition, there are well respected physicians like Doris Rapp, MD, a specialist in environmental medicine and allergies, and best selling author  and nutritionist, Gary Null, PhD, who believe alcoholism is related to allergies.

It’s worth taking advantage of the alcohol screening to  find out if you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, but be vary wary of any treatments that say giving your loved ones more drugs (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety) is the answer!

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3 Responses to What do alcoholism and nutrition have in common?

  1. Shawn April 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Great Post!

    I can say from experience that nutrition works to stop alcoholism. I struggled for years trying all sorts of “programs” including AA before I finally found out about the biochemical solution for alcoholism. For me, the physical cravings for alcohol were the problem, not the mental need to “escape” through drinking.

    I used the book “Seven Weeks to Sobriety” by Joan Matthews as a guideline for a whole new lifestyle and the cravings have completely vanished.

    I had to correct my biochemistry and change to a no-sugar diet with several types of nutrients. When the sugar is taken out of the diet, the physical cravings eventually go away because there is no “trigger” in the form of sugar or alcohol to start the vicious cycle.

    I know this does not fit what the mainstream media, doctors and pharmaceutical companies say about alcoholism (draw your own conclusions here…) But at the end of the day, nothing else worked.

    Thanks for your post!

    • james January 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      That’s a very important for recovering people.Man is in trouble without proper nutrition.I heard volcanic lava make rich nutrient soil to grow food and that can be a solution. James P. Thanks for allowing me to share.

  2. Tracey O'Leary April 16, 2011 at 10:38 am #


    Excellent article! I was aware of the nutritional deficiencies that an alcoholic suffers from, but I was not aware of Mr Wilson’s push for nutritional supplements as well. After attending many Al-Anon meetings, trying to cope with and live with an alcoholic, there was never any suggestions, of getting the person on any natural supplements, nor the mind/body connection!
    Thank you for a most informative article.

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