Recover Your Life
Alcohol Recovery Medicine
I have a passion for helping people recover from alcohol use disorder and have filled this website with information about nutrition and medications for those trapped by 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 or who need 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.
- Dr. John
If you are in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina or Virginia, for expert personalized help:
You can also phone or fill out the form below for a free five-minute phone consultation with Dr. Umhau.
We do not share your email or name with anyone. Because we can provide medication without an electronic record, your treatment will be entirely confidential. Join the thousands of patients who have found freedom from Alcohol Use Disorder. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
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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 2021
1. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink only after a meal and never on an empty stomach. Before drinking becomes a problem, switch to less concentrated alcoholic drinks like wine or beer. Try alcoholic drinks which are very low-alcohol; they may help you cut down, especially if they are always your "first drink". Keep track of how much you drink; a breathalyzer can help. Ten percent of American children have a parent with Alcohol Use Disorder; they will be at high risk if they drink.
2. Get care from a physician who understands addiction. Some medications reduce alcohol craving, promote abstinence and help you drink less. Avoid any drug that could make you it’s slave.
3. Outdoor exercise exposes you to healthy sunlight and vitamin D. Working out can decrease your interest in unhealthy habits. Join a class, play on a team, or find a hobby that you can love, especially one that keeps you active and surrounded by nature.
4. Omega-3 fat in food from the ocean can help stabilize your mood, and fish oil supplements may help you control your temper. Cod liver oil can be an inexpensive way to get lots of omega-3. Enjoy olive oil, coconut oil, and "grass fed" butter but avoid the omega-6 fat found in oil from soy, peanut, safflower, corn, or meat from animals fattened on these seeds.
5. Drinks that taste sweet may be a satisfying substitute for alcohol when you crave a drink, but avoid sweets which contain high fructose corn syrup which is especially harmful. Drink water and coffee instead.
6. Replenish essential vitamins and minerals. Alcohol drinkers often need magnesium, zinc, calcium, thiamine, B12, folate, and other nutrients to avoid health problems and promote brain recovery.
7. Understand yourself. Don’t let denial of your situation prevent you from developing self-awareness. If you make poor decisions, or drink to relieve anxiety, find a good counselor who can help you achieve your goals. Develop healthy habits and make the hard choices that are right for you.
8. Look for friends who will give you good counsel, 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 a group that will help you reach your goals. Isolation can keep you in darkness.
9. Eat the best food you can; pre-biotic foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans and oats will give you a healthy gut, but gluten and highly processed foods may cause problems. Pro-biotics or even fermented foods like yogurt may help heal a liver damaged by alcohol.
10. Seek your purpose, be grateful, and encourage those around you. Find life’s meaning so you will have strength when difficulties come. Many people find strength by seeking an authentic relationship with God. Humility can help you live free from the trap of alcohol.
© 2021 John Umhau MD MPH. All rights reserved