Recover Your Life
Alcohol Recovery Medicine
Are you worried that you or someone you love drinks too much? This website is for you. I have filled this website with information about nutrition and medications for those seeking freedom from alcohol addiction. This website gives Ten Good Rules I developed during my twenty years with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
This site also links to my private practice, where I offer confidential expertise for those seeking empathetic evidence-based treatment for those who want to drink less, or who want help with naltrexone and the Sinclair Method. If you are in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas or Virginia, I invite you to make an appointment on line. If you have questions, please call (240) 801-3636. To learn more about the Best Life Reset Weekend, click here.
- Dr. John
Do you sometimes lose control over how much you drink?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a complex condition affecting different people in different ways. The most effective treatment adapts scientific evidence to the individual, often using targeted medications while recognizing the importance of psychological, social, dietary, and spiritual aspects of recovery. I have written about this here, here, and here. Explore how medicine and diet can help restore a life threatened by alcohol.
My research and that of others suggest that drinking can be driven by an inflammatory process in the brain, a process made worse by the disruptive effect of excessive alcohol on gut bacteria. Therefore, what we eat, and other lifestyle factors make a big impact on recovery. Full recovery often requires that our heart and mind are at peace; the latest neuroscience explains why this is so. Past trauma, subconscious stress, and undiagnosed illness can sometimes promote drinking, which is why a specialist in addiction medicine can be essential.
Naltrexone and other medications have helped thousands of people safely reduce their drinking. You can read about how The Sinclair Method changed my mind about naltrexone here. Although the effect of medical treatment varies, some people experience dramatic benefits from medication.
One 40-year-old professional, for example, came to my telemedicine practice to try naltrexone after losing control of her drinking. She could avoid drinking during the week, but on weekends, one glass of wine led to a binge ending only when she passed out. On Mondays she was hung over, unable to work, and terrified that one day she would hurt someone while driving drunk.
She tried abstinence, but after a time, the craving for alcohol became overwhelming and she would start drinking again.
When she took a drink following her first dose of naltrexone, she felt like something had been “switched off” in her head; she no longer felt the “manic feeling” that compelled her to drink more and more. Eventually, the medication took away her daily craving for alcohol and with it, the guilt and shame which accompanied her failure to abstain completely.
Medications often, but not always, help people drink at less dangerous levels, and many find freedom to quit alcohol altogether.
Ten Good Rules for 2023
1. Anyone who drinks can develop a problem with alcohol, so be careful! Always drink with a meal; never drink alone or on an empty stomach. Before drinking becomes a problem, switch from strong drinks to wine or even non-alcoholic beer. Ten percent of American children have a parent with alcohol use disorder and are at high risk.
2. Get care from a physician who understands that medications can help you drink less even if you don't want to quit alcohol altogether. Avoid any medication that can make you want to drink more.
3. Outdoor exercise exposes you to healthy sunlight and vitamin D. Exercising with others can decrease your interest in unhealthy habits and reduce your alcohol consumption. Get a dog, make music with others, or do the random acts of kindness that bring joy to your life.
4. Omega-3 fat is critical for a healthy brain and a clear mind. Fish oil is a good way to get the high doses many people find helpful. Avoid omega-6 fat, found in oil from soy, peanut, corn, or meat from animals fattened on these seeds. Olive and coconut oil are healthy fats to enjoy
5. Drinks that taste sweet may help to overcome craving for alcohol, but avoid sweets which contain high fructose corn syrup which is especially harmful for your liver. Drink water and coffee instead.
6. Replenish vitamins and minerals that are depleted by heavy drinking. The healthy brain needs magnesium, zinc, calcium, lithium, thiamine, B12, folate, and other nutrients to promote nerve growth and clear thinking.
7. Understand your relationship with alcohol. Keep track of how much you drink or use a breathalyzer. If you make drink to relieve anxiety, find a counselor to help you develop healthy habits. Don’t let denial prevent you from living your best life. Make choices that are right for you.
8. Look for friends with whom you feel safe and can be completely honest. You will become like the people you are with so choose your friends wisely. Be active in an group that inspires you - don't let isolation keep you in darkness.
9. Eat the best food you can; pre-biotic foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans and oats promote gut health; processed foods or wheat gluten may cause problems. Pro-biotics or fermented foods like yogurt sometimes help heal a liver damaged by alcohol.
10. Seek your purpose, be grateful, and help those around you. Find life’s meaning so you will have strength when difficulties come. Many people find their best life when they seek an authentic relationship with God. Humility can help you live free from the trap of alcohol.
© 2023 John Umhau MD MPH. All rights reserved