A reader recently asked whether I knew of a recovery program for those who are in the clutches of an addiction to alcohol. Because every person is unique, it’s not possible to set out a complete program that will address everyone’s situation completely.
I don’t want to over-simplify the treatment programs of alcohol or drug abuse, but during both the detoxification and the recovery stages there are some general principles that will help anyone who is working to regain control over their addiction. I’ll discuss alcohol addiction here, but the same guidelines apply to addiction to drugs, whether prescription or illegal.
Step One to Recovery: Nutrition
In my experience, cravings and addictions are intimately connected to nutritional deficiencies. The first step toward recovery should be to address that problem.
In alcohol abusers, you will routinely find deficiencies in most of the water-soluble vitamins (C and the Bs) and minerals, due in part to the diuretic effects of alcohol. A high-dose vitamin B-complex is an essential base nutrient. I would recommend additional niacin in the range of 2 to 3 grams daily. Buffered vitamin C can be spread out through the day as well, at daily doses of 3 to 5 grams. It’s best to spread all vitamins out over the day to avoid diarrhea—which would only worsen nutrient loss.
Many alcohol abusers complain of a racing or pounding heart. This can result from a mineral deficiency. Magnesium, manganese, calcium, and various trace minerals will help almost immediately. There are several mineral complexes on the market. I would also suggest a complete multi-vitamin/mineral complex to fill in the gaps. I’ve found that meat and bone broths are another excellent way to replenish both protein and minerals in the system. How to make your own both broth.
Step Two to Recovery: Digestion
Second, it’s important to remember that alcohol abusers typically derive much of their energy from carbohydrates (alcohol).
Many have difficulty digesting proteins and, particularly, fats—both of which just so happen to provide longer, more sustained energy and can reduce the craving for alcohol. I would always suggest using a good digestive enzyme that contains bile salts to aid in fat digestion. This is particularly true if the individual no longer has their gallbladder. Obviously, they then need to begin adding more beneficial fats and oils to their diet from sources such as olives, flax, fish, and nuts.
Step Three to Recovery: Blood Sugar
In almost every individual with a history of alcohol abuse, you will find underlying blood sugar problems—particularly hypoglycemia.
Alcohol is used as a quick fix or “crutch” to compensate for the drop in blood sugar. Methods needed to treat hypoglycemia include nutritionally strengthening the adrenal, thyroid, and sometimes the pituitary glands; cutting carbohydrates, nicotine, and, of course, alcohol from the diet; and eating smaller high-protein and healthy fat–laden snacks and meals throughout the day. This is one area where I have found the beneficial effects of glandular supplements, which I’ve covered in detail before, to be almost miraculous.
Step Four to Recovery: Detox
The detoxification process can generate large amounts of free radicals. During the initial phases of the detox program, 200–300 mg daily of alpha lipoic acid (also known as thioctic acid or vitamin N) will help neutralize that increase in free radicals.
Amino acids are needed to help neutralize toxins and improve liver function in both alcohol and drug abuse. Two that stand out are glutathione and glutamine. One of the most economical and effective methods of raising the levels of these and other beneficial amino acids is through the use of protein powder. I recommend, and drink, a protein “shake” each morning with 30 to 35 grams of whey protein mixed with water or skim milk. I add cinnamon powder, creatine (5 grams), ribose powder, a tablespoon or two of sunflower lecithin granules, ice, and sometimes half a banana to complete the drink. I often add two tablespoons of either chia or ground flaxseed as well. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to increase glutathione levels and has dozens of other health benefits.
I’d also mention the use of saunas. When used properly, saunas can have a profound effect in the detoxification process. I highly recommend far-infrared saunas. The far-infrared technology heats you “from the inside out,” which means that the heat penetrates deeper into tissues—especially important when you’re trying to cleanse your body of toxins like those that accumulate in substance abusers. I like the ones available from Sunlighten (formerly known as Sunlight Saunas). If you decide to investigate Sunlighten saunas, contact them at www.sunlighten.com or 877-292-0020.
While following the four steps I just outlined will bring most individuals a long way toward recovery, remember that everyone’s situation is different. It’s essential to make a careful evaluation of their blood work, a hair analysis, a kinesiological exam, a symptom survey, and even acupuncture evaluation. This will help you home in on specific deficiencies and problems that need to be addressed. At that point you can work to fill in any gaps in nutrition and other body needs.
Overall, there is really no substitute for a “clean” diet and nutritional regimen like I recommend constantly in this newsletter. The initial hurdles for each individual may be somewhat different, but a clean low-carbohydrate diet, a good overall supplement regimen, exercise, plenty of clean water, adequate rest, and using a good probiotic for re-establishing proper bowel bacterial flora should all be part of the plan.