Addressing Alcoholism with Diet and Nutrition

Armen Hareyan's picture

While alcoholism is a very complex problem the success rate with mainstream treatment options is poor at best. Most people are unaware of the extreme importants of nutrition and dietary components.


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 ("7 Weeks to Sobriety") 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 deter 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 depression. 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 ("The Missing Diagnosis" by Dr. Orion Truss). 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 by eliminating sugar and wheat from my diet that I could eliminate my disabling anxiety and depression. By treating all my allergies, 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 16 years and don't attend any AA meetings and don't have cravings.


Cynthia Perkins