How2Quit : Alcohol

Use the following guidelines alongside our How to Quit Action Plan in Part 4 of the How to Quit book.

Please note all page and chapter references in this article are from How to Quit.

  1. If you are addicted to alcohol, you should not quit drinking on your own. Withdrawal from alcohol can be serious and even life-threatening. The detoxification process should be medically supervised so seek help from your doctor in the first instance and then you can follow our programme. The usual method of detoxing from alcohol is to use a longer acting sedative drug in decreasing doses to reduce discomfort and the risk of seizures and/or death.
  2. After medical detox, intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy to relieve alcoholic abstinence symptoms is very effective (see Chapter 30). In fact, we have found it more successful when used with alcohol addiction than with any other addiction. At present it is not widely available in the UK (though this situation should soon improve) but if you can access this therapy, we highly recommend it.
  3. We recommend you attend an addiction treatment centre, inpatient or outpatient, whichever is appropriate for you. In addiction treatment you will receive education about alcoholism and recovery, and addiction-specific counselling.
  4. Become part of an Alcoholics Anonymous group where you can meet other recovering alcoholics, who will give you support and encouragement.
  5. In addition to these recommendations you should also follow all those that apply to alcohol abusers.

The most important keys for you to follow are:

  • Rebalance Your Brain with Amino Acids (Chapter 7) – fundamentally, excessive alcohol intake creates GABA, endorphin and dopamine deficiencies. This chapter is therefore very important to help you work out which amino acids you need to heal your brain.
  • Balance Your Blood Sugar to Gain Energy and Reduce Cravings (Chapter 11) – most heavy drinkers have blood sugar problems. This chapter will give you guidance in keeping your blood sugar level.
  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep (Chapter 13) – alcohol disturbs sleep therefore you are very likely to be sleep deprived and REM-sleep deprived. This chapter will give you guidelines for getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Rejuvenate Your Liver (Chapter 15) – by improving your liver’s ability to detoxify and regenerate, you can heal your liver of the damage caused by alcohol.
  • Get the Past Out of Your Future (Chapter 18) – alcohol is often used as a means of avoiding life issues (particularly in alcoholics) and many people gain enormous benefit from help in unravelling these.
  • Find New Pleasure in Life by Raising Endorphins (Chapter 16) – by exercising regularly, your energy level will go up, thereby reducing your ‘need’ for alcohol.

How to quit – recommendations for alcohol abusers

Use the following guidelines alongside our How to Quit Action Plan in Part 4 of the How to Quit book.

  1. One week before starting to quit, take the Basic Supplements and the Alcohol Prescription (see p.406), which includes tryptophan or 5-HTP, GABA or glutamine and taurine: the nutrients needed to calm your hyperactive nervous system.
  2. Most people who abuse alcohol are sleep-deprived. Use the Sleep Prescription (see p.397) to increase serotonin and melatonin levels and induce deep, regenerative sleep.
  3. Follow our low-GL diet, being sure to include unfried oily fish three times a week, olive oil, garlic, nuts, beans and lentils, and whole grains.
  4. Many of those with a high alcohol intake are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Supplement 2g fish oil daily with meals.
  5. To help eliminate cravings and improve your mood take 500mg D-phenylalanine twice daily on an empty stomach.
  6. In the case of alcohol liver damage take liver regenerative nutrients as described in Appendix 3. If you have liver damage, regardless of the cause, take the liver regenerative nutrients.
  7. Test for hidden (IgG) food allergies and eliminate allergic foods for three months (dairy and wheat products are the most common allergens found in alcoholics, so it’s also probably worth checking if you are an alcohol abuser).

How you might feel when you quit

When an alcoholic chooses to abstain, withdrawal symptoms can become severe and can last up to ten days. Symptoms include tremors, loss of appetite, sweating, nausea and vomiting, agitation, low stress tolerance, hyperactivity of the nervous system, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, disorientation and seizures.

Once the symptoms of acute withdrawal subside, other abstinence symptoms begin to emerge and persist into long-term recovery. The most pronounced abstinence symptoms for alcoholism are hypersensitivity, confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, sleep problems, depression and anxiety.

What to expect 30 days later

It takes, on average, about 30 days to recover and normalise your brain’s chemistry. Of course, this depends greatly on whether alcohol is your only addiction – whether you are an abuser or alcohol dependent – as well as the severity of your addiction if you are dependent. If you’ve been using a variety of addictive substances for years, our advice would be to stick to this kind of recovery programme for at least 90 days.

Otherwise, provided your Scale of Abstinence Symptoms Severity score has dropped by two-thirds (see Chart Your Progress on page 26), stop the Alcohol and Sleep Prescriptions but continue taking the Basic Supplements.

The advice given here is not a substitute for the advice of your doctor or other suitably qualified person. For any serious addiction it is vital that you do have professional support. The recommendations given here help to ensure you are optimally nourished after stopping an addictive substance which may have had a negative influence on your nutritional status.