Alcohol Use Disorder affects more than one out of every ten Americans; Many will benefit from FDA approved medications proven to reduce harmful alcohol drinking. With twenty years of clinical experience at the National Institutes of Health conducting alcohol research, and Board Certification in both Addiction Medicine and Preventive Medicine, I want to share how diet and medications can help people with Alcohol Use Disorder - Dr. John Umhau
My Perspective on Alcohol Recovery
Alcohol use disorder, (AUD), known as alcoholism when its effect is obvious, is a complicated problem, without a universally effective solution. However, there are some principles which apply to everyone, as I learned through 20 years of research at the National Institutes on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Humans are designed a certain way and the closer we follow that pattern, the better we can overcome the power of addiction. That’s why I’m convinced that the most effective treatment will recognize the importance of psychological, social, dietary, spiritual, medical, and lifestyle aspects of recovery.
As a physician, I look for the latest scientific knowledge about how to treat alcohol use disorder and will adapt this knowledge to each individual’s situation. My approach will often include non-addictive medications, counseling, social support, as well as the proper diet to help your body recover from the damaging effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
My research and that of others shows that alcoholism may be driven by an inflammatory process in the brain, a neuroinflammatory state which is made worse by lifestyle choices. Drinking too much alcohol promotes neuroinflammation, and eating the wrong foods will make this process worse. I’m passionate about the particular kind of fats and sweets that we eat, and the importance of outdoor exercise for our health. And of course, we can’t be healthy unless our heart and mind is at peace; the latest neuroscience explains why this is so. Surrounding ourselves with good people is critical; Many people find that knowing someone cares about their well-being will help them recover for the long run. Skilled counselors can help reduce the subconscious stress which promotes drinking, and give you the support and encouragement needed to stay sober. We can help you find the connections you need and suggest help for your family and loved ones.
You may have found my website because you have heard of the Sinclair method. This method is a way to help actively drinking people through the use of naltrexone. Naltrexone, an FDA approved prescription medication, is taken an hour before drinking alcohol. Naltrexone can also be taken every day in other situations.
The two other FDA approved medications for alcohol abuse include acamprosate, which can reduce craving, or disulfiram which can give an extra incentive to avoid alcohol by making someone very sick if they do drink. Other medications have been proven in clinical trials to help people with Alcohol Use Disorder, but are not recognized by the FDA for that purpose. Such medicines include topiramate, ondansetron, prazosin and omega-3 fatty acids. Some medications will require blood tests to make sure that the medicine is safe for you.
Alcohol Use Disorder is a chronic, relapsing disease, meaning it doesn’t ever completely go away. People try to drink normally when their problems fade into the past all too often they find themselves in trouble again. Therefore, if a medication is found which does work in your case, many people take it indefinitely, and stay involved with others who will encourage their recovery.
Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs from which to withdraw. In some cases, a heavy drinker who stops drinking suddenly will experience confusion and other withdrawal symptoms including shaking, shivering, seating, seizures, and hallucinations, a potentially fatal condition known as delirium tremens. This is a true medical emergency; Therefore heavy drinkers, particularly those at risk for a seizure, are typically advised to detox from alcohol in a hospital setting. The telemedicine service we offer through addictionrecoverymedicine.org is not designed to help alcoholics in withdrawal, but can help after withdrawal is over.
Ten Rules for Recovery
Caution: Heavy drinkers who stop drinking may experience seizures and delirium tremens, a medical emergency requiring hospitalization - call 911
Surround yourself with positive people for encouragement, good advice, counseling, and support
If you are currently drinking alcohol, drink only with meals - never drink on an empty stomach; Enjoy your meals with others and don’t eat on the run
Eat high omega-3 foods like seafood at least once a day; (fish raised in tanks like tilapia and cat fish don’t count). Fish oil can help too.
Enjoy food with oil from olive, coconut, and canola but avoid oil from soy, peanut, safflower, and corn; Avoid products from animals fed these commodities - they are high in omega-6 fat
Enjoy high fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and oats. These and other pre-biotic foods like milk should completely replace processed foods. Organic foods and vitamin supplements, although expensive, may be beneficial
Drink coffee but avoid beverages which contain corn sweetener; Some scientists believe that classic soft drinks sweetened with sugar are safer than those with high fructose corn syrup
Eat pro-biotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, brine cured olives, soft aged cheese and sour cream.
Exercise outdoors to get plenty of sunlight exposure and vitamin D.
If needed, work with your physician to find the right medicine to reduce alcohol craving and help you recover.
Find your purpose: “An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates