There is strong evidence that alcoholism and substance abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Alcoholics are often deficient in vitamins A, B1, B3, C, D, E, K, and in the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Nutritional therapy first seeks to identify nutritional deficiencies in an alcohol or drug dependent person and then to correct those deficiencies.

In addition to those listed above, practitioners often recommend the use of nutritional substances as:

  • carnitine
  • beta-Carotene
  • branched-chain amino acid
  • chromium 
  • copper
  • d-alpha tocopherol
  • folic acid
  • glutamine
  • glutathione
  • lecithin
  • methionine
  • phosphorus
  • selenium
  • vitamins B2, B6, B9, & B12

Because alcoholics often suffer nutritional deficiencies, it is reasonable to suggest that eliminating those deficiencies might serve as a helpful therapy. That’s why extensive medical research has focused on this important subject. However, the federal government’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has concluded that “Although various nutritional approaches have been touted as ‘cures’ for alcoholism, there is little evidence to support such claims.”

Of course everyone, including a substance abuser, benefits from adequate nutrition, which is essential for good health. But nutrition is not, itself, an effective therapy.

Some popular therapies are often little better. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) has a self-reported success rate of only about 5% at the end of a year. Thus, only one of every 20 alcoholics achieve sobriety through A.A. This is less than the natural cure rate of as much as 36%, or about one of every three people who obtain no therapy of any kind.

The good news is that there are programs that have much better success than A.A. Those seeking either to abstain from alcohol or to reduce their consumption have many choices. These include Moderation Management, HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support), LifeRing, Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training), Rational Recovery, and the Life Process Program.

For those who want a non-12-step alcohol rehab, there’s a wide choice located around the U.S. To see a list, visit Non-12-Step Rehabs. Information useful in selecting a facility can be found at Checklist for Choosing a Rehab, Rehab Accreditation is Important, and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors: Accept Nothing Less.

Disclaimer: This website is informational only. It makes no suggestions or recommendations about alcohol, drinking, rehabs, programs, or any other matter and none should be inferred. Neither this website nor your host receives any compensation, directly or indirectly, from listing or describing any program. Such listing or description does not imply endorsement. [+]

References

  • 1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol and Nutrition. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Alert No. 22 PH 346 October 1993, updated 2000, p. 1.
Readings
  • Biery, J.R., Williford, J.H. and McMullen, E.A. Alcohol craving in rehabilitation: assessment of nutrition therapy. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1991, 91, 463-466.
  • Gant, Charles, and Lewis, Greg End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program that Can Set You Free. NY: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Hoffer, Abram, and Saul, Andrew W. The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism: How to Protect Against and Fight Alcoholism Using Nutrition and Vitamin Supplementation. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health Publications, 2013.
  • Larson, Joan Mathews. Seven Weeks to Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism through Nutrition. NY: Ballantine Books, 1994.
  • Lieber, C.S. Hepatic, Metabolic, and Nutritional Disorders of Alcoholism: From Pathogenesis to Therapy. Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 2000, 37(6), 551–584.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcohol and Nutrition: Alcohol Alert From NIAAA. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1993, updated 2000.
  • Shuman, S.F. Research into the place of Nutritional Therapy and Exercise in a Program of Recovery from Substance Addiction and Process Addiction. Ph.D. dissertation. Union Institute, 1999.

Filed Under: Approaches