Nutrition Therapy for Treating Alcoholism Part 3

There’s also some skepticism on the part of mainstream experts about amino acid supplements in particular. Some endocrinologists argue that, when taken orally, they never make it past the blood-brain barrier and so have no effect. “It’s called the placebo effect,” says one endocrinologist drily. Other experts are on the fence, waiting for further research. Endocrinologist Anthony Karpas of Atlanta argues that the actions of certain amino acids, such as tryptophan, are well-known and that these remedies have real potential.

When it comes to viewing alcoholism as a brain chemistry problem, though, the tide of mainstream medical opinion is clearly turning. Last year the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism announced a five-year initiative to study the brain chemistry that underlies alcoholism. The NIH has also held several workshops that included presentations on using fatty acids to treat alcoholism. Another encouraging development is the recent appointment of Nora Volkow as director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; her research has helped establish the importance of dopamine in addiction. Taken together, these changes suggest that brain chemistry may finally be achieving its rightful place at the center of addiction research.

But these changes won’t amount to much if nutrition doesn’t make it into the mainstream alcohol treatment programs where the majority of alcoholics seek help. “We need to engineer this at the establishment level,” Beasley says. “This is very good science that simply isn’t being practiced.”

Kathi Tuff is proof positive that nutritional treatment has the power to turn a life around. “I feel so much better than I’ve ever felt,” she says. “I just wanted the alcohol out of my system— and to stop wanting it. Finally, it feels like that’s happened.”

Finding Help

If you or a loved one are seeking recovery and want to incorporate nutritional therapy into the plan, your best bet is to work with a specialist or enter one of the nutrition-based recovery programs around the country. That’s because this approach is most effective when it’s customized to your individual body chemistry; it’s not recommended as a go-it-alone solution.
Some of these programs are residential; others are outpatient but provide housing for out-of-state clients. Still others offer long-distance counseling. Insurance coverage varies; check with your insurer to find out whether you’re covered. Here’s a list of the programs.

Nutritional Consulting Services
Connected Pathways
Karyn Hurley

Recovery Systems
Julia Ross
415.383.3611, ext. 1
Residential Programs

Bridging the Gaps Treatment Program
423 W. Cork St.
Winchester, Virginia 22601

Desert Canyon Treatment Center
Sedona, Arizona

Health Recovery Center
(two locations)
3255 Hennepin Ave. S.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408 612.827.7800

Health Recovery Center
50 S. Steele St., Suite 330
Denver, Colorado 80209

Lake Grove Treatment Centers of New York, Inc.
3390 Rte. 112
Medford, New York 11763
631.205.1950, ext. 222

Written by Melanie Haiken ~ Oct 23, 2008


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