Tag Archives: cocaine

Progress, Not Perfection

Standard

Many of us have a hard time realizing the progress we make in recovery. We often make the mistake of only focusing on the negative outcomes that would occur if we started using again and not the positives that come from never picking up. When we get trapped in the emotions such as fear, we end up getting caught in a black hole of pity. That is no way to live in recovery. We have to remain optimistic and push forward, always reminding ourselves that the future can only get better from here.

Wherever this moment is to you, it was not your rock bottom. Whatever your rock bottom was, even if you didn’t wind up in a jail or an institution, you don’t have to keep at it  until you do. Why go on digging when you can crawl out from this present point? No matter where your life has taken you, it can progress. That is, if you want it to.

As we recover we start to realize how important it is for us to admit complete willingness to the program. Without that drive to let go and let God, to admit our faults and honestly confined in one another, progress may never come. When we can learn to heal ourselves on the inside, we will start to notice our external worries fade away. Opportunities will arise and dreams that were once lost can come true. So long as we trust in our decisions now and know that they will lead to fulfillment in the future, we can do anything we set our mind to.

A mistake we may make is pushing towards a goal that is too big for us while we are in recovery. We have to remember to take it one step at a time and that progress is not perfection. With everyday we can work slow and steady towards our goals, never letting ourselves spin out of control with those thoughts that make us feel so worthless, when we just can’t see how much we have already achieved. Our growth is like that of a tree. We gain strength, build a  a strong and stable trunk (or mind) so we can branch out with courage when we reach out for help and to help. We will progress and we can succeed. The sky is the limit.

growth

The other day at a meeting, a young man had expressed he was struggling with temptations after 90 days of sobriety. He was scared. He was so afraid of what that would mean for him. His thoughts warped around ideas of disappointment and failure as a father and husband. I turned to him and told him what I mentioned above about the positives of sobriety. Another woman chirped in and said, “As far as I can tell, you won.” The man and I looked at her, he chuckled and smiled saying, “I guess I did.” He won because, just for today, he didn’t pick up. He was able to surf the wave of cravings and just say no. He did it, and so can you and I.

We don’t have to be idles of AA, NA or CA but we can set an example by following the steps and recognizing our achievements. Even the little things– like not picking up today, going to work or having an honest relationship with a friend or significant other–  can open our awareness, allowing us to express gratitude and pride in our recovery.

– Love and light, Robyn 

Advertisements

For the Sponsee

Standard

What is a sponsor and why do I need one?

Sponsors are people who have worked through the Twelve Steps and are available to help others in their recovery. If you want to work the steps as outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a sponsor can offer guidance based on their personal experience. However, it is important to mention that your recovery does not depend on having a sponsor. This program will take you on a personal spiritual path, and sponsors are merely messengers of the experience, strength, and hope that this program offers. Several people from this meeting filled out questionnaires regarding the challenges and benefits of being sponsored. This fact sheet is a compilation of their wisdom and suggestions.

sponsor

Why is it important to get a sponsor?

While the book Alcoholics Anonymous provides a description of how to work the Twelve Steps, a sponsor can offer specific assignments that help the process along. Moreover, a sponsor’s personal experience can assist us to confront problems, and move through them to change and growth.

“Working with a sponsor forces me to be honest, gives me insight into the disease and its manifestation in my life, opens me to new ideas, protects me from isolating, and helps me see the reality of who I am and what is going on in my life.”

“Life has taught me that together people are able to make more progress than as individuals.”

How do you chose someone to be your sponsor?

Available sponsors usually identify themselves during the introduction part of a meeting. These people are open to talking with you about working the Twelve Step program of recovery during the break or after the meeting, and are also available to call. Names and phone numbers of sponsors can be found on the “We Care” list passed around during the meeting and are identified with a symbol. In choosing a sponsor, we suggest not focusing on who you immediately like or who makes you feel comfortable. Rather, choose someone whose recovery you admire, and who you sense can really help you recover. Sometimes this is a person who makes you feel somewhat uncomfortable!

“I wanted a sponsor who knew the illness very well, and who would not be afraid to confront it whenever and however it might arise.”

“She [my sponsor] had a serenity that I wanted.”

How do you know when your ready to be sponsored?

You are ready to be sponsored when you have recognized a desperate need for help and a willingness to go to any lengths to recover. A prospective sponsor will suggest that you read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and may make other suggestions for you to follow before you both decide whether to work together.

“What they don’t mention in this article is the idea of a temporary sponsor. This is a common title that is used for those people that don’t require you to make a long-term commitment. Temporary sponsors can be used while your looking for just the right person, are moving or will be leaving rehab soon, or just to give the 12 steps a try to see if it something for you. Make sure to pay attention in the beginning of the meeting when people who are available with sponsorship (1 year or more) will raise there hand. Don’t be afraid to approach them and make sure you contact them at least once a day— even if just to tell them your alive!” -Any questions or comments? Leave it below! Love, Robyn

Film Pick: Drug Abuse, Mental Illness and Co-Occuring Disorder

Video

“This is a a great old video that offers a lot of information regarding substance abuse and mental illness. It brings up questions like, “Which came first?” This is a common topic many people struggling with co-occurring disorders ask. The speakers and stories shared in this film explore topics like those and many more. Go ahead, get educated and take an hour to learn something new!” – Robyn

Panelists:
Patricia Ordorica, MD – Associate Chief of Staff, Mental Health & Behavioral Sciences Central, James A. Haley Veterans Administration Hospital; Associate Professor Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of South Florida College of Medicine; Director Addictive Disorders Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Univ. of South Florida College of Medicine. Deirdre Forbes – Intake Coordinator for Madison East, part of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Ms. Forbes is in recovery from a co-occurring disorder.
Hosted by:
Mary E. Larson, Vice President of Communications and Membership for CADCA

Take Four

Standard

Yes. It may be two in the morning and she may be up right now. But she simply can’t sleep. She tried and succeeded for a couple of hours only to arise completely awake. She had taken more melatonin and yawned a couple times, but still no luck. She has tried watching a bit of television, having a snack and painting for a while… Nothing. Her thoughts are racing, her eyes are shifting and she cant stop rocking. What does all this mean? I’ve been taking my meds, eating, working out and sleeping for long hours. I haven’t done anything to promote this, Im done with that childish fantasy of mania as I expressed before. She did have coffee earlier but she couldn’t imagine that the caffeine from then would have lasted this long. That must have been over twelve hours ago. None of this made any sense. She reviewed her day. It was productive. Up until she took her PM meds ,which made her feel groggily and irritated, she had had a very good day. No pressures of her addiction from outside sources, just a light and easy day spent walking around town and lounging in the coffee shop. Nothing to offset any sort of manic state! She took a drag from one of her moms cigarettes. There was nothing to do now but wait for some sort of signal from her brain that told her it was time to sleep.

The time to sleep would never come. Instead she would paint until the sun would shine, then she would step outside and take a brisk walk around her favourite place in her hometown.
There was a park located two blocks from her house where a black paved path directed her to a wooden bridge over a quite creek. She would place herself directly in front the creek as it encircled a lonely island. Today was unlike any other day she had visited this place. Today there were countless geese. Maybe thirty, maybe less, maybe more. It really didn’t matter. She glares up at the sky and sees a blanket of grey clouds floating quickly to reveal a clear blue hue. She smiles. Today is going to be a great day.

20131027-224629.jpg

So far it had been a good day. After looking up the closing times to all the local coffee shops she came to the conclusion that she had to settle with Starbucks. Still not having bought anything she sits on the bare side of the room staring at her reflection on the crayon-streaked window. Only this time she doesn’t care how they got there. Instead of the usual dabbling of her mind, she is at ease. She feels drowsy having just taken her medication and slightly restless; wanting-to-roll-around-on-the-floor kind of feeling. Her eye lids dripped down her cheeks trailing the dark circles that had formed. Her eyes were dilated and her head was spinning. She wanted to take a moment to gather her thoughts. All she could think was this is crap. It’s all a load of crap. There’s no reason to be writing now, there is nothing to write about! But of course there is something to write about. But she simply was not excited about anything that happened today, even though quite a lot of exciting things did happen.
Her giddy humour brought her dancing through the Target store with one of her friends from NA. She remembers walking through the toy section and seeing a jesting display of miniature houses– she couldn’t help but touch it. The moment she did, BAM! The entire case lit up in an array of colours from pink to blue. She jumped up and laughed so loud that another man in the aisle couldn’t help but join her. OH MY GOD, it spins! She blurted out as she began to fiddle with the contraption that made each house go around to reveal the masterpiece in all of its angles. Her friend pulled her away, speaking softly to calm down. She breathed deep. The rest of the adventure was spent pointing out different items; unique or not, they all enthused her.
She then spent several hours visiting her dad, putting a smile on her face and admitting to her current state. But I feel fine. But that’s just the problem isn’t it? A normal person wouldn’t feel so fine after no sleep.

Must Read: Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg

Standard

“One of my friends from AA has read this book and often suggests it for recovering male addicts. Its a great book for newly recovering addicts that have once built themselves a productive life only to see it crashing down under the peak of their disease. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, many reviews speak of his brutal honesty and graphic descriptions… but something about that is incredibly refreshing in the world of addiction. Tell me for yourself what you thought of this book!” -Love, Robyn

Image

Successfully Surrendering It All to Crack

By Dwight Garner, June 15, 2010

There are two kinds of crack addicts, those who cook their own — a complicated business that involves cocaine, baking soda, water and a flame — and those who grab the stuff to go, in ready-made chunks called rocks. Most people go for the rocks. Even when it comes to killing yourself, slowly and gruesomely, who has time to cook anymore?

In his memoir, “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man,” Bill Clegg describes the few times he tried to prepare his own crack. “I wasted the coke, burned my hands, and ended up with a wet glob that was barely smokable,” he writes. He’s not quite Woody Allen, sneezing into the cocaine in “Annie Hall.” But he’s not far off.

Whatever black comedy there is in Mr. Clegg’s book dwindles pretty quickly. “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is a mesmerizing bummer; reading it is like letting the needle down on a Nick Drake album. He tells his story in short, atmospheric paragraphs, each separated by white space, each its own strobe-lighted snapshot of decadent poetic memory. It’s an earnest style that mostly works. This is a short book that pulls you in and spits you back out before you have time to tire of it.

Mr. Clegg is a literary agent in New York City, but don’t come to his book sniffing for publishing gossip. There are no party scenes with Sonny Mehta. Ann Godoff does not leap naked into a swimming pool. The discreet Mr. Clegg doesn’t even mention the names of the writers he represents or, frankly, many books at all. If he’s well read, that’s among the few secrets he’s keeping to himself.

What this book does have — grim scenes in a crack house and behind a 7-Eleven in Newark aside — is an elite, stylized Manhattan milieu. There are meals at La Grenouille and drinks at the Bemelmans Bar. Among the boutique hotels Mr. Clegg holes up in to get high or have sex with anonymous men are the SoHo Grand and the Hotel Gansevoort. There are trips to Paris and London. This isn’t flea-bitten Bukowski territory.

Adding to the book’s sexpot glamour is Mr. Clegg himself, who in his dust jacket photograph, and especially in two recent full-page photos in New York magazine, seems as clear-eyed and clean-cut as a J. Crew catalog model. Glancing at a faded pile of recent addiction memoirs, here’s a salient truth: No one wants to read one of these things by a grizzled or potato-shaped or even middle-aged writer. We want our addiction memoirists to nearly die young and definitely stay pretty. Maybe that’s why, in bulk, these books aren’t better.

“Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is the story of how Mr. Clegg lost it all — his clients, his apartment, his loyal boyfriend, his sanity — one crack hit at a time. It’s a story that ranges over several years but finds its dramatic center of gravity during one especially dark two-month binge, during which Mr. Clegg manages to fritter away some $70,000 on crack and Ketel One vodka and on the elegant hotel rooms he often shares with greasy characters, including male hookers. He picks up a cabdriver by asking, “Do you party?”

This story is told in the present tense, alongside flashbacks to Mr. Clegg’s childhood in Connecticut. His father was a pilot for TWA, and not a warm and fuzzy guy; his mother wasn’t much more approachable. He doesn’t really blame them for his addiction, however, nor for his dramatic inability, as a boy, to urinate without first spending hours alone in the bathroom performing a desperate kind of rain dance.

What drove Mr. Clegg to crack? Mostly, it seems, it was a common-enough big city and publishing world malady: the towering inferiority complex. This memoir is laced with lines like, “This is a place for a sleeker, smarter, better-educated, and altogether finer grade of person.” And: “I am not nearly as bright or well read or business savvy or connected as I think people imagine me to be.”

Before insecurity could fully take root, however, there were other addict-in-training milestones. Sneaking Scotch, as a teenager, from his dad’s liquor cabinet. Snorting a line of crystal meth at 15 — his first illegal drug — off a box of mozzarella sticks with a grocery store co-worker named Max. Smoking pot daily, bales of it, in college.

Mr. Clegg was introduced to crack by an older married man from his hometown, a respected lawyer who also seduced him sexually. Here is Mr. Clegg on that first taste of crack: “It is the warmest, most tender caress he has ever felt and then, as it recedes, the coldest hand.”

Among the reasons to stick with “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is the lightly narcotized sensorium of Mr. Clegg’s prose. He nails the “weary authority” of the Empire State Building, with its “shoulders of colored light.” He describes swaying in time, while high, with another addict, the pair of them “like two underwater weeds bending to the same current.” He can write.

Stick with it, too, for its second half, which is thick with jittery drug-induced paranoia. (Mr. Clegg begins to think cabs and helicopters are following him, as well as guys in — the horror — cheap off-the-rack suits.) Along the way you’ll learn some things. Who knew that crack use made your contact lenses dry out, so that they pop right off your eyes?

At one point, Mr. Clegg hops into a cab and orders it to race away from his family, who’ve gathered to stage an intervention. As he roars off, he thinks to himself, “Like so many other moments, this one feels lifted from an after-school special or ‘Bright Lights, Big City.’ ”

Actually, his memoir doesn’t read much like either one of those things. But the first sentence of “Bright Lights, Big City” certainly captures the mood Mr. Clegg works to set: “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time in the morning.”

Never Give Up by Robin Thicke

Video

This is a cheerful song, beautifully composed with all kinds of orchestral instruments paired with Robins great voice and inspiring lyrics. Check it out!

Lyrics:

Lost your job,
lost your mind
living on the street
for the second time
all you do is dream
another new tonight
I see blue skies in front of me

(Chorus:)

baby, never give up
don’t stop now,
it’s never too much
never give up
never give up
hold on babe
never give up

lost your heart
lost your will
on your hands and knees
just for a dollar bill
lost your faith
and your confidence
it never seems fair
nothing make sense

(Chorus)

feel like a joke
I feel like a fool
I should have smarten up
I should have stayed in school
what I’m gonna do?
how am I gonna get by?
I ain’t got no whistle
but I can’t stop trying

(Chorus)

Mind and Life: The Dalai Lama Talks Recovery

Standard

Image

ATTENTION!

There will be live webcasts of “Mind and Life XXVII – Craving, Desire, and Addiction” from Dharamsala, India on October 28 – November 1, 2013. The conference will focus its attention on craving, desire, and addiction, as these are among the most pressing causes of human suffering. By bringing contemplative practitioners and scholars from Buddhist and Christian traditions together with a broad array of scientific researchers in the fields of desire and addiction, hopefully new understandings will arise that may ultimately lead to improved treatment of the root causes of craving and its many manifestations. Live webcasts can be viewed at http://dalailama.com/live-english.

The sessions will be available for downloading and streaming after the event athttp://dalailama.com/

All times Indian Standard Time (IST = GMT+5.30)
There will be two session each day.
Morning session: 9:00am – 11:30am IST
Afternoon session: 1:00pm – 3:00pm IST

Day One – October 28: The Problem of Craving and Addiction
Morning Session: Introductory remarks
Afternoon sessions: The Role of Craving in the Cycle of Addictive Behavior

Day Two – October 29: Cognitive and Buddhist Theory
Morning session: Brain Generators of Intense Wanting and Liking
Afternoon session: Psychology of Desire, Craving, and Action: A Buddhist Perspective

Day Three – October 30: Biological and Cultural Views
Morning Session: The Role of Dopamine in the Addicted Human Brain
Afternoon Session: Beyond the Individual – The Role of Society and Culture in Addiction

Day Four – October 31: Contemplative Perspectives
Morning Session: From Craving to Freedom and Flourishing: Buddhist Perspectives on Desire
Afternoon Session: Contemplative Christianity, Desire, and Addiction

Day Five – November 1: Into the World
Morning Session: Application of Contemplative Practices in Treatment of Addiction
Afternoon Session: Concluding Remarks

For times in your region 9:00am IST on October 28th in Dharamsala, India is the same as 8:30pm PDT October 27th in Los Angeles, CA, USA: and 4:30pm BST on October 28th in London, England.

Photo of the Mind and Life XXIII Conference held in Dharamsala, India in October 2013. (Photo by Tenzin Choejor)

(copied from Dalai Lama Facebook page)

Take Three

Standard

At the end of every week begins the torture that builds up in her head. It keeps her feeling as though she wants to crawl out of her skin. She can’t bare it. It is; unbearable.

After the past few days of throwing up after taking her medication because she was starving herself, she decided it was time to eat again. Maybe this time she won’t feel so agitated by the end of the week again. It’s something about all this focus on her addiction that gets her nerves high. Going to meetings before wasting time doing IOP homework, then working out and spending another three hours focusing on her addiction in IOP into the wee hours of the night at nine when she feels like she already should have been asleep. She spends about ten hours sleeping and according to her new sleeping cycle app on her phone, she sucks at it. Every night she wakes up at least three times, totally disrupting the nature of a good nights rest. But she doesn’t care, not today anyways. She skipped IOP yesterday due to taking her meds too early, causing her to feel extra agitated. She tried sleeping for an hour, got up and went to workout and got some groceries for her mom. By the time she came home she was able to sleep well, waking up bright and early just past five. This morning she felt really good for some reason. Thoughts of past adventures in India came into her head but only this time they didn’t leave her feeling hopeless and sad.

20131025-151051.jpg

She could clearly remember the first meal she had out in the town of Kannur which is located in the southern state of Kerala. She had been seated with another volunteer, Petra, and the coordinator of the program, Katja. Both of them were from Germany but for some reason there accents were incredibly comforting to her in this foreign land. She had ordered a tomato utapum; and maybe it was the fact that she hadn’t had pizza in years or the fact that the thing really did taste like pizza, but she was so incredibly pleased with what she had ordered. From that moment on she dropped all her notions of a Jain diet that she had adapted to while living in the states which included–or rather excluded just about every food out there– no meat, no animal bi-product and no root vegetables (because god forbid you harm an insect and kill the entire vegetable on its way out of the ground). She remembers convincing several of the students she had met later on her trip to go to this same restaurant to order tomato utapums. Only when they got there they weren’t serving them. Apparently its a morning thing… She laughed to herself. Those girls, Tamara from Israel and Reidin from Ireland, were her favorite people she had met at the Ayurvedic and Panchakarma school (ancient Indian medicine and massage). She was big into astrology at the time and they fit their signs perfectly; Scorpio and Taurus. She always found scorpios to adore her for some reason, then again, they kind of adore everyone… And she had left behind a Taurus back at home, Alyssa, who always offered her the best advise and motherly love; Reidin did the same. She remembered bringing them to a disco-like ice cream parlor after they had lunch and she ran into her temporary lover and his friends. She tried not to think of them. She held on to the moments laughing and gossiping with the other travelers, got up out of bed and headed to the freezer. She pulled out some frozen Indian food and popped it in the microwave. As she waited she flew in and out of the kitchen, pointing her toes as she walked like a ballerina. When the timer went off she bounced over and grabbed a fork. After she finished her breakfast she noticed her legs were tapping uncontrollably and the sun was still not out. So she grabbed her coat and bundled up. She figured the food was a little over 400 calories so if she walked about an hour she could burn it all off. So that’s what she did. Cramping up on her side and briskly walking to the park, up the creek and back into town. She was pleased with the sun rising at just the perfect time. She remembered how dark it was when she first stepped outside her door. She could actually see the Gemini constellation so clearly that it brought her back to India, which at the time of her stay, clearly displayed it too. It’s like I’m chasing my sign, she thought.

When she had fallen in psychosis for two months (one month in India and another back home in the States), she had taken her astrological sign too seriously. By this time she had just been diagnosed bipolar. At first she thought bipolar had something to do with the fact that she had been in a polar opposite country that had almost directly reverse coordinates. Then after she nixed that idea and realized it had to do with her personality, she told everyone it was simply because she had been a Gemini. She even had ideas of proving this to the psychiatrist. Of course, her psychiatrist thought this was a foolish, jotting it down on her notepad as another disillusion. She had a list of disillusions being compiled by her parents, friends from India and medical authorities. She was being called crazy and she hated this idea.

She sits here now in the coffee shop again, sucking on another coffee, reminiscing on those feeling of rage. She no longer feels that way about her condition. What everyone had been saying makes perfect sense now. She had been crazy. She accepts that. In fact, the thought almost excites her. What an unique story! What an interesting past! But I should be asking for mania anymore. I know it only leads to psychosis and that state is just down right embarrassing… She wonders what else she will do today. Maybe she will post this on her blog? She has a couple blogs going; one for her poetry which she never tags and is really just for her, and another that is surrounded on holistically healing addiction and co-occurring disorders/diseases which she promotes and regularly posts on. Surely drinking coffee and writing all day is a good option but really what she wants to do is visit all her friends before she leaves. In about a week she will be taking off to live in Florida with her mother. She is a little weary about the circumstances, seeing as her mom is not a recovering alcoholic, but she has faith that it will be a good fresh start for her. I guess I’m gonna miss these people places and things, she thinks. But she needs to change them, they only lead to no good. Though of course, as everyone says, a change in scene is not a change in character defects. And as a raging drug addict, she knows she wouldn’t have a hard time sniffing out drugs anywhere she if she so chooses. After all she managed to fall on them in an entirely different country. But that was a total coincidence! Regardless, it happened.

Okay, I have to admit it was maybe not the biggest coincidence. My ears did perk up at the mention of weed and certainly cocaine. Ranjit warned me too. He certainly warned me. But I couldn’t resist, I knew the feeling and I wanted it again. I did what I could to play dumb and innocent and my schemes had worked to get me what I wanted. She regretted her actions and her lies. But this was the way of the typical addict. A past she would have to live with and a future she will strive to correct.

She felt foolish for the way she had acted a few days ago. Staying up through the night and feeding off of artificial energy just to get a kick. It didn’t bring her out of depression. It actually flung her right back in. She figured a productive day consisted of eating properly, busying her mind, working out and going to bed relatively early. She was proud of the day so far. She felt comfortable at the quite coffee shop. Having finished her coffee she felt she would do a good job in the gym like the last time she was soaring high off life. Only she didn’t want to ruin her make-up… Today was unlike the other days because she had actually taken the effort to get dressed. The sun was out and shining, reflecting off of every possible surface outside causing her eyes to give off a pretty shade of blue. She looked at herself in the reflection of her screen. How strange it is to be trapped in this body? I wonder if other people hate this too? I’d like to be someone else for a change. Tough luck. Only death will come to prove another existence, if that even exists. Of course, by all rationality it does. People die all the time. But all of us in our singular realities may live forever. It’s completely possible. Of course it is. But here she goes again thinking such thoughts that are too deep for a lonely Friday afternoon. She might be better off finishing this and moving on to some other useless project…

Russel Brand on the Committee of Addiction 2012

Video

This video is super interesting. Not only is Russel Brand a majorly hilarious British comedian but he is also a drug ban advocate. He brings up a lot of interesting points about the legalization of some drugs. Trying to instead bring the focus and funds to helping people with addiction, getting the community to view it as an illness or a disease. Check it out!

A Holistic Approach to Health in Early Recovery: Diet and Nutrition

Standard

By Maura Henninger N.D from the Huffington Post

When it comes to the health of a recovering addict/alcoholic, the approach of natural medicine can positively alter the course of treatment — and definitively increase chances of getting and staying sober. In the first part of this series, I talked about withdrawal and insomnia, two of the most crucial problems that lead to relapse. I support my patients from several perspectives, encompassing mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. Detoxification, 12-step meetings, group and individual therapy, carefully prescribed medications, and family involvement are all integral to the success of a recovering addict in putting down his drink or drug of choice. But I’ve also found that the proper diet, along with targeted vitamin supplementation, can work miracles in the lives of early recovering addicts and alcoholics.

The link between sugar and alcoholism is not to be denied. The active alcoholic often typically consumes 50 percent or more of his or her total calories in the form of alcohol. Remaining calories are often in the form of junk foods: empty calories that actually deplete the body’s stores of essential nutrients.

Alcohol affects the body’s relationship with nutrition in several ways. First, it influences the cells of the midbrain that regulate sensations of appetite by suppressing desire for food while encouraging alcohol intake. [1] Second, it provides a lot of calories without essential nutrients so energy provided is short-lived and leaves the body without proper nutritional stores to draw on. And third, after the initial rush of energy provided by alcohol, there’s a severe drop in blood glucose levels that leads to fatigue, depression, and loss of energy and the subsequent consumption of more sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as caffeine, to swing the body’s energy back up. Because of this my patients who are recovering addicts often think they need sugar and caffeine to feel good — to even feel normal.

I encourage a diet free of sugar and all its forms. This is a departure from average recovery wisdom that tells recovering addicts to eat all the candy and ice cream they want. But this kind of sugar consumption leads to prolonged cravings, fatigue, anxiety, hormonal imbalance, diabetes and simply a new form of dependence. To stabilize blood sugar, I have my patients focus on eating complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest and therefore provide longer and more stable sources of energy with fewer cravings. My prescription is frequent small meals to regulate blood sugar: three moderate meals a day with two sizeable snacks in between.

The diet I endorse is 45 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat and 25 percent protein. The best complex carbohydrates grains are: brown and wild rice, oats, amaranth, millet, spelt, beans, and lentils. People often don’t think of vegetables and fruits as sources of complex carbohydrates but they are some of the best we have available. All of this fiber helps cut alcohol cravings, as well.

Image,

For my patients, I can’t stress the importance of protein enough. Proteins helps the body repair tissue and the alcoholic/addict needs this in abundance to help restore organs affected by chronic abuse including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, and brain. Protein is also necessary for blood sugar stabilization. Eggs, lean red meats, chicken, fish, and turkey are all to be eaten in abundance. Nuts are the protein snack of choice among my patients. Proper and adequate intake of fats is essential for absorption of vitamins and nutrients and for cellular repair. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, butter, and avocado are good sources. These oils are vital, too, to provide essential fatty acids. Deficiency of these leads to a host of problems, particularly for the recovering alcoholic, most notably depression. [2]

Because it overstimulates the nervous system causing increased anxiety and insomnia, caffeine consumption is to be minimized if not completely eliminated. I ask my recovering addicts and alcoholics to try herbal coffee substitutes like Pero or Cafix to get the taste fix. If elimination is impossible, I recommend no more than two cups of caffeinated beverages per day. Decaffeinated coffee, which still contains some caffeine, is preferable.

I urge people in recovery to eat nothing artificial to ease the load on the liver, which has to struggle to break down chemicals and preservatives. Foods should be in as close to their natural state as possible. I have found great success in cutting alcohol cravings by eliminating common food allergens, most notably wheat and dairy.

B vitamins are essential during detoxification from alcohol and drugs. Supplementing with vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential, ensuring proper brain function and decreasing fatigue, brain fog and poor memory. Wernickie-Korsakoff syndrome, or alcoholic encephalopathy, is a pronounced form of thiamin deficiency. [3] Research has shown that vitamin B3, or niacin, helps alcoholics detox from alcohol. [4] Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, helps support adrenal function and also helps rid the body of alcohol. For the recovering alcoholic suffering from insomnia and anxiety, vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is crucial for the production of serotonin and melatonin. Commonly, I give my recovering addicts/alcoholics a high quality B-complex supplement, along with vitamin A and vitamin C, which they are usually deficient in.

It’s my goal, as a doctor, to facilitate a physical recovery so that the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of recovery have a better chance of succeeding. Food is a crucial medicine in restoring this balance of health. The sooner a newly-sober person feels great, I’ve found, the sooner he or she will begin to accept a life free of crippling attachments to substances — the life they are truly are meant to live.

REFERENCES:

1. Xiao, et al. “Effect of ethanol on midbrain neurons: role of opioid receptors.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Jul; 31(7): 1106-13.

2. “Deficiency of Dietary Omega-3s May Explain Depressive Behaviors.” Science Daily. Jan 30, 2011. https://www. Sciencedaily.com.

3. Martin, et al. “The Role of Thiamin Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease.: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2004. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov.

4.Cleary JP. Etiology and biological treatment of alcohol addiction. J Neuro Ortho Med Surg 1985;6:75-7.

For more by Maura Henninger, N.D., click here.

For more on natural health, click here.