Nutrition: Bulwark against Alcohol Dependency

Nutrition Health Review, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Nutrition: Bulwark against Alcohol Dependency


Let's ignore, for the moment, all of the theories that attempt to explain what 'drives strong men to drink ..." and concentrate upon a reality. Until recently, no one has been able to identify accurately the reason's for mankind's peculiar susceptibility to alcohol or how to reduce the terrible toll that excessive drinking costs.

For some people, the physical effects of prolonged drinking are devastating, physically and mentally. Others seem to be able to handle moderate usage with no apparent damage.

Are some people destined to be drunkards, when exposed to alcohol, while others seem to have a built-in defense system that limits their damage by producing nausea, satiation, after a few drinks?

If such an individual protective device does exist, can we assume that those who are most vulnerable are also suffering from a deficiency in metabolic processes that could be fortified by use of vital nutrients?

The question has partially been answered. Research in the field of nutrition therapy has unearthed enough evidence to encourage professionals dealing with the problem to venture further with weapons of nutrition.

Unfortunately, the uses of psychiatry and drugs continue to maintain dominating appeal among those who are in positions of authority. Try selling the concept of mega-nutrition to treatment centers that are deeply committed to their entrenched practices!

Nutrition: Key to Prevention and Cure

Dr. Roger Williams, biochemist and researcher in alcohol therapy, proposes the nutritional approach He sees it as a solution to the wide range of conditions that can be categorized as alcohol dependency. The compulsion to drink is a physical disease, he maintains, and should be dealt with as a nutritional deficiency.

Dr. Williams acknowledges that psychiatry, medicine, and religion may play a part in the rehabilitation of alcoholics. But his emphasis on nutrition implicates physical disorders and metabolic insufficiencies rather than psychological trauma as instigators of the problem.

Using nutritional theory as the basis of an individual's "vulnerability" to alcohol also provides a method with which to apply prevention before problems become unmanageable.

In our society, alcohol is used to celebrate, to mourn, to relieve depression, to alleviate pain, to provide courage, and to foster good fellowship. It is a genie in the bottle that, when released, is quite capable of turning on its master to enslave and to torture.

Because our daily lives are constantly awash in alcohol, we are threatened from many directions. Liquor is easy to obtain. Society does not condemn drinking, overdrinking, or even intoxication. The culture practically endorses the use of alcohol.

Now, more than ever, people should be alert to the dangers. This is not a call for prohibition, because human conduct cannot be legislated. It is a plea for prevention: the need to make ourselves less vulnerable.

Dr. Williams believes that drinking leeches out valuable nutrients from the body. Many practitioners in the field of alcohol-abuse treatment are getting around to recognizing that at least one vitamin deficiency can be attributed to the overuse of alcohol: vitamin [B.sub.1] (thiamine).

The use of alcohol depletes the body of many vitamins and minerals, Dr. Williams insists; it also deranges cellular metabolism. Appetite-controlling mechanisms are also seriously altered in their functions. Not only does the thirst for alcohol continue, but too often a loss of desire for food ensues, impoverishing every cell in the body of its vital nutrients.

Glucose metabolism is necessary for supplying the brain with a rich and proper blood supply. Alcohol's effect upon the pancreas and an oversupply of insulin can diminish that flow. Brain functions are inevitably affected.

But alcoholism, according to Williams, is not only a brain disease.

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