Alcohol Abuse and Nutrition
Alcohol Abuse and other Conditions:
interesting phenomenon was reported by Rosenbluh (1999) that: "It has
been noted that many chemically dependent persons will, after
detoxification from their specific dependency, develop new
dependencies, either on new substances (caffeine, nicotine, sugar,
white flour, etc.) or people (significant others--spouse, friend,
parents, siblings, treatment groups)" (p. 166). Likewise, Beck,
Wright, Newman & Liese (1993) have also noted: "Individuals abusing
one psychoactive substance are likely to be simultaneously abusing
another substance. In fact, between 20 % and 30% of alcoholics in the
general public and approximately 80% in treatment programs are
dependent on at least one other drug" (p. 9). Rosenbluh (1999) has
commented: "a large percentage (60 % or more) of sufferers of
emotional and mental problems will produce a hypoglycemic curve on a
five or six hour glucose tolerance With alcoholics and other substance
abusers, the percentage may be closer to 90 %. This is probably a
major factor in the lack of success of most treatment programs" (p.
Alcohol Abuse and Heredity:
It has been well researched (Avis, 1990; Rosenbluh, 1999) that alcoholism has a significant physiological component. Rosenbluh (1999) noted: "As in all physiological problems, biological programming and heredity also take part in alcoholism" (p. 166). Avis
(1990) considered that many problem drinkers have parents who are also alcoholics. Although the exact percentage was still a matter of debate, he proposed that it was probably not too unreasonable to believe that at least 40 % of those with drinking problems are likely to have offspring who also
drink to excess. Of course this begs the question: Is the influence one of modeling or genetics? Twin studies have indicated significant correlations between physiological components and stress illnesses. "It appears that the closer the body chemistries are aligned, as with identical twins (as
opposed to fraternal or non-twins siblings), the greater the likelihood that relatives will develop similar stress illnesses, such as chemical dependencies" (Rosenbluh, a 1999, p. 166).
Alcohol Abuse and Nutrition:
Rosenbluh (1999) referred to the work of Beasley and Knightly in 1994 and a study by Guenther in the early 1980s which indicated that "most alcoholics were malnourished and that the majority of them returned to drinking even after they had been treated" (p.
167). Werbach (1999) also considered the lack of a well-balanced, nutritionally adequate diet among alcoholics. "In addition to impaired absorption of nutrients from acute exposure to alcohol, chronic alcohol ingestion causes small intestinal dysfunction. It increases mucosal permeability while
reducing nutrient absorption by inhibiting active transport mechanisms and reducing activity of several enzymes. However, since, even with continued moderate alcohol consumption, absorption improves after a nutritious diet is given, malnutrition alone may cause disturbances in small-intestinal
function" (p. 31).
In referring to the work of Williams and Shive in 1981 with nutrition and L-Glutamine, Rosenbluh (1999) pointed out that providing the necessary brain cell energy to make the cells in the cerebral cortex work more efficiently seems to do away with any desire to drink.
"Will power is a balanced blood sugar. When the alcoholics reactive hypoglycemia is controlled through proper nutrition, the ability to drink disappears" (Rosenbluh, 1999, p. 167).
Obviously, nutritional concerns going way beyond the supplementation of vitamin B12, need to be considered in more effectively and comprehensibly meeting the treatment needs of the alcoholic. From my experience, nutritional considerations are rarely explored to any
significant degree, possibly being an additional factor in the high-level of relapse of patients with alcoholism.
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