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Alcoholism Information

What is it?

Alcoholism can be defined as excessive consumption of alcohol and heavy dependence also known as addiction to alcohol whereby one continues with consumption of alcohol despite suffering from alcohol-related health problems.

The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine defines Alcoholism as follows: "Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, mostly denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic."

Symptoms of Alcoholism:

The symptoms of alcoholism loom large on all the three fronts: physical, psychological, and emotional changes all of which can be seen with increased addiction to alcohol.

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Alcoholism is initiated with the occasional drink and gradually progresses to a lifelong habit. The symptoms of alcoholism are most noticeable physically and can be estimated at a glance as several physical symptoms characterize alcoholism or alcohol addiction. These include slurred speech and a hoarse voice, flushed face, red eyes, trouble walking, chronic diarrhea, lowered heart beat and respiratory rate and a quickened pulse.

Headaches, anxiety, insomnia and vomiting are the known withdrawal symptoms or alcohol effects experienced when the alcoholic stops consuming alcohol

Causes of Alcoholism:

Alcohol is essentially ethyl alcohol, which is an intoxicating agent formed by the action of yeast on the grapes during fermentation. Thus alcohol numbs the brain when consumed, resulting in mood elevation, loss of balance and coordination. These are also the key reasons why a heavy dependence on alcohol is established. Alcohol helps most alcoholics an easy escape from reality.

Here are the most important factors that contribute to alcoholism: social factors like peer and societal pressure that promote consumption of alcohol and psychological factors like stress, insomnia and insufficient coping mechanisms that lead to dependence on alcohol for support in a stressful environment and thus help escape reality. Research suggests that there also exists a correlation between genetics and hereditary tendencies towards alcohol.

Effects of Alcoholism:

The effects of alcoholism are many. Here we a list few important ones for a brief understanding of the fatal impacts:

1 Constant drinking puts an excessive strain on the liver destroying it in the long run through cirrhosis of the liver.

2 Alcoholism results in vitamin and mineral depletion from the body especially vitamin B and magnesium deficiency. This deficiency causes convulsions, tremors of the hands, feet and face, impaired vision and reduced mental faculties.

3 Alcohol causes premature death through overdose; organic complications involving the brain, liver, heart, and other organs; and by contributing to suicide, homicide, motor vehicle crashes, and other traumatic events

4 Socially, Alcoholism can have far ranging consequences like being socially ostracized, physical and mental health deterioration, depression and abusive relationships that lead to a breakdown of interpersonal relationships.

5 Alcohol addiction causes lack of nutrition; liver, heart, blood and neurological problems; digestive disorders and sexual dysfunction

6 Alcoholism impacts interpersonal functioning leading to marital problems, child abuse, impaired social relationships and also affects ones occupational functioning, which could lead to job problems.

Diet for alcoholism:

1 Using calcium, methioninine and a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet to can treat not only compulsive behavior but also depression.

2 It is not widely known that Bill Wilson, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, was aware of the importance of vitamins and hypoglycemia in the treatment of alcoholism.

3 Alcoholic beverages are made of food such as grains like barley, corn, cane or grapes. Alcoholics have a food allergy to these. In advanced food allergy, the individual craves the allergenic food.

4 The alcohol serves as a catalyst to help the food be absorbed more quickly, because alcohol is absorbed rapidly throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

5 When alcoholics put the alcohol down, they continue to eat sugar, corn, etc.; when they eat these foods, it triggers cravings. The food itself cannot provide the quick fix that the alcohol can provide because of its rapid absorption.

6 Chronic drinking, just like excessive sugar, contributes to the development of hypoglycemia, just as people with hypoglycemia are potential candidates for alcoholism.

7 The rate at which one can get intoxicated is based on several factors like the amount of alcohol consumed; body mass index, amount of food consumed and the water content of the body.

8 People with a higher water content percentage get intoxicated faster as the body absorbs more alcohol.

Recovering Alcoholics

Several health experts state that the consumption of a small amount of alcohol on occasion does not have a lasting negative impact on an individual’s health. Many men and women across the globe consume moderate amounts of alcohol at home and socially, without incurring any health or social problems. However, this is definitely not the case with recovering alcoholics. In fact, studies indicate that for people who are recovering from alcoholism, it is best to stay away from any form or amount of alcohol. Therefore, it is important for all recovering alcoholics to get as much help and support from various sources, to help them overcome their addiction. Fortunately, apart from family help and support from friends and relatives, there are several groups and forums that have been set up especially, to provide assistance to recovering alcoholics. However, in order to be successful, the main efforts have to be put in from the recovering alcoholics. There may be several challenges that they will need to face on their own. At the same time, there are also quite a few guidelines that have set up for recovering alcoholic, to help them in their endeavor. One of the few options suggested for them, by experts is to follow a special recovering alcoholic diet.

Most of the health experts refer to alcoholism as a disease, which affects the entire body, including the various organs, cells, tissues and systems within it. Some of the major systems in the body that can get affected by this disease are the digestive system, the cardiovascular system and the circulatory system. The two organs that are affected the fasted and the most adversely, by alcoholism are the brain and the liver. To add to all the problems, alcohol depletes the nutrition in the body and at the same time, allows the buildup of toxins. This is why most people who suffer from alcoholism are also malnourished. Fortunately, some of the damage caused by alcohol can be undone, by following a special alcoholics diet. The attempt to overcome this disease, when combined with a healthy diet for alcoholism as well as an exercise program can help the body to at least process all the nutrients that are present in the food.

What is a diet for recovering alcoholics?

It has been seen that the consumption of certain foods can intensify alcohol cravings. Hence, diets for alcoholics who are on the path for recovery should be devoid of such foods. Instead, the suggested food for alcoholics is generally high in protein and healthy carbohydrates. Such foods are believed to alleviate the need for alcohol.

A diet for alcoholics should also completely restrict the consumption of any beverages that contain sugar or caffeine, at least in the beginning. These beverages could lead to additional cravings and mood swings. Since foods like grapes, barley, corn and canes are used in the production of different alcoholic beverages, they could trigger off intense cravings in a recovering alcoholic. Therefore, people who are trying to quit the habit can make their efforts more effective by avoiding such foods.

The best diet for alcoholics is generally high in foods that contain the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan. These foods are not just good for a person’s physical health, but can also help a person feel better mentally and emotionally. These foods can increase alertness in a person and can enable them to feel good about themselves, which in turn reduces the urgency to consume alcohol. Foods that are high in these two amino acids include poultry, seafood, meat, tofu, dairy products, sunflower seeds and bananas.

Most people underestimate the importance of Vitamins, in the recovery of alcoholism. However, it has been seen that people who consume high amounts of antioxidants and vitamins are more successful, when they are on the wagon. Antioxidants like Vitamin C, selenium and Vitamin E are great for protecting the body and healing the cells that have been damaged by alcoholism. Certain studies indicate that people who consume higher amounts of alcohol have a lower level of antioxidants in their blood, as compared to those who consume a moderate amount of alcohol. Foods that are high in antioxidants include cranberries, beans, apples, blueberries, artichokes and pecans.

Vitamin A can help the body to reproduce new cells, which fight off infections. When the lover processes alcohol in the body Vitamin A is excreted. This is why many alcoholics suffer from the deficiency of Vitamin A. Therefore, foods that are high in Vitamin A, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, oatmeal and carrots should become a regular part of a recovering alcoholics diet. However, an excess of Vitamin A can lead to liver damage and therefore, it is important for people to check with a doctor, for daily recommended doses.

Vitamin B can help in the transmission of nerve impulses. Hence, a deficiency of Vitamin B in the body can lead to brain damage and seizures. Since there are may types of Vitamin B complex which include folic acid, riboflavin and folic acid. Medical health care providers usually suggest that recovering alcoholics should consume foods which are high in Vitamin B complex. These foods include turkey, potatoes, tuna, prune juice, lentils, chicken and bananas. A Vitamin B supplement can also be added to a diet followed by recovering alcoholics. However, it is imperative to consult a doctor, for daily recommended doses.

Women who suffer from alcoholism should go through a complete recovery process, before they plan to get pregnant. The consumption of the slightest amount of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to severe defects in the baby, or it could also lead to a miscarriage.

A diet for recovering alcoholics is relatively safe and healthy, as long as it is followed properly, under the guidance and supervision of a health expert. For those people who are trying to quit the habit, even though they do not suffer from alcoholism, such a diet can also be very helpful to them. However, before switching over to a diet for alcoholics, it is best to consult a doctor, since some of the foods recommended may not be appropriate for people who are suffering from any preexisting condition. Therefore, a diet for recovering alcoholics should never be followed without receiving a go ahead from a doctor.

Submitted on January 16, 2014
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