Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reasons for Recovering Alcoholics to Avoid Sugar

Alcoholic / Addict or not, sugar is not healthy for any of us based on the many health reasons to avoid sugar. “Living Sober” and some of the other AA literature actually encourages the newly recovering alcoholic to utilize sugar (candy, cookies) in times of physical cravings for alcohol. This alternative - sugar - is obviously a better choice than picking up a drink! However, many of us recovering alcoholics and addicts develop a habit of continuous sugar use and abuse well beyond those early days in sobriety, when the physical cravings have long since passed.

More follow up articles will cover the crucial sugar / alcoholism connection and what we can do to address issues related to it. In the meantime, take two minutes to read the list below about how sugar affects our health and wellbeing. When we educate ourselves to understand WHY something is unhealthy for us, we are much more likely to avoid the unhealthy substance!

The following list of reasons to avoid sugar is from Dr. Victor Frank, founder/creator of Total Body Modification. Read the 78 reasons to avoid sugar:

1. Sugar can suppress the immune system.
2. Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.
3. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
4. Sugar can drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
5. Sugar can adversely affect children's school grades.
6. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
7. Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
8. Sugar can cause kidney damage.
9. Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol.
10. Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol.
11. Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
12. Sugar may cause copper deficiency.
13. Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
14. Sugar may lead to cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and rectum.
15. Sugar can cause colon cancer with an increased risk in women.
16. Sugar can be a risk factor in gall bladder cancer.
17. Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
18. Sugar can weaken eyesight.
19. Sugar raises the level of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which can narrow blood vessels.
20. Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
21. Sugar can produce acidic stomach.
22. Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
23. Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
24. Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair.
25. Sugar can lead to alcoholism.
26. Sugar can produce tooth decay.
27. Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
28. High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
29. Sugar can case a raw, inflamed intestinal tract in person with gastric or duodenal ulcers.
30. Sugar can cause arthritis.
31. Sugar can cause asthma.
32. Sugar can cause candidiasis (yeast infection).
33. Sugar can lead to the formation of gallstones.
34. Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
35. Sugar can cause ischemic heart disease.
36. Sugar can cause appendicitis.
37. Sugar can exacerbate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
38. Sugar can indirectly cause hemorrhoids.
39. Sugar can cause varicose veins.
40. Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraception users.
41. Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
42. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
43. Sugar contributes to saliva acidity.
44. Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
45. Sugar leads to a decreased glucose tolerance.
46. Sugar can decrease growth hormone.
47. Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
48. Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
49. Sugar can change the structure of protein causing interference with protein absorption.
50. Sugar causes food allergies.
51. Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
52. Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
53. Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
54. Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
55. Sugar can impair the structure of DNA.
56. Sugar can cause cataracts.
57. Sugar can cause emphysema.
58. Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
59. Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
60. Sugar lowers the enzymes' abilities to function.
61. Sugar can cause the loss of tissue elasticity and function.
62. Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
63. Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
64. Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
65. Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
66. Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.
67. Sugar can cause constipation.
68. Sugar can cause myopia (nearsightedness).
69. Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
70. Sugar can cause hypertension.
71. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
72. Sugar can cause an increase in certain brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.
73. Sugar can cause depression.
74. Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low-sugar diets.
75. Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.
76. Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
77. Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness, which increases risk of blood clots.
78. Sugar can increase the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

Clearly, sugar has a wide array of adverse effects on our health. Recovering alcoholics and addicts in particular need to be educated on the influence of this substance so commonly consumed inside and outside the rooms of 12 step meetings and rehabs. Look for follow up articles coming soon on the topic of sugar and its role in alcoholism / addiction, and how and why to avoid sugar in recovery.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tools For Codependency

Many recovering alcoholics and addicts discover in recovery that they also have struggles associated with codependency. Historically, the problem known as codependency arose from Alcoholics Anonymous and the realization that the family members of alcoholics had their own unique set of character traits and relationship difficulties, and so the program known as Alanon was born. However, we know today that dealing with codependency isn’t solely an issue for those in Alanon; it is pervasive among members of A.A. and N.A. as well. Many alcoholics and addicts come from families with some history of alcoholism or other addictions. Typically adult children of alcoholics (ACOA), or adults that grew up in some other similar dysfunctional family situation, tend to have these codependent traits that cause difficulty in their relationships.

There are 12 step programs that specifically address the issue of codependency such as Alanon, ACOA, and CODA (codependents anonymous). Some treatment centers also offer programs specifically designed to help people address these issues. For example, one renowned rehab center - Caron Foundation in Pennsylvania – not only treats addiction but also offers a “Breakthrough” personal growth workshop that involves a 5-day program that focuses in depth on the root of codependency issues. If you have the ability to attend this popular workshop, it is a great place to start if you are just beginning to recognize codependency issues, at any stage in your sobriety / recovery.

A primary objective of Health In Recovery is to help connect people in recovery to additional resources to augment whatever 12step program of recovery they hopefully already utilize. After all, Bill W. encouraged us to seek “outside help” in addition to A.A. With that in mind, a fantastic simple tool known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) could be the most important “outside” self-help method to have in your toolkit. The following is a review I wrote after reading the e-book called “EFT For Codependency Recovery” by J.P. Bailey that teaches how to use EFT directly on codependency issues:

Upon learning of J.P. Bailey’s work, I was immediately struck by the crucial need that it addresses by brilliantly blending her experience and research on codependency with the growing research on energy psychology and EFT. What a natural fit and effective solution to share with the world to empower the millions struggling with recovery. Her book is a refreshing straight forward explanation of the many codependency traits common to adult children of dysfunction, followed by a comprehensive step-by-step manual to immediately incorporate the tool of EFT to accelerate codependency recovery. I am constantly reminded of the pervasiveness of codependency amidst the recovery community, and EFT is a phenomenal simple tool to help address this otherwise complex and extremely challenging issue.
J.P. Bailey has shared an important contribution to the recovery field with her book and manual, EFT For Codependency Recovery. I confidently recommend it to all my readers, colleagues, and clients.
If you would like to work one-on-one with a certified advanced EFT practitioner who specializes in recovery, you can schedule in person or by phone/webcam through Center For Energy.
There is an abundance of literature on the subject of codependency. Explore the help that is available, via 12step programs, specialists, specialized programs such as Breakthrough at Caron Foundation, and other great tools such as EFT for codependency recovery, to overcome the effects of this pervasive condition among alcoholics and addicts and enjoy healthier relationships, emotional health, and freedom from codependency in sobriety and recovery.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

AA Success Rate

With Charlie Sheen’s latest rant claiming that AA is a cult and dismissing it as an effective solution supposedly having only a 5% success rate, this controversial topic seems blog-worthy. The “cult” part is not even worth addressing as it is so preposterous, and if Sheen was really an AA member “for 22 years” he should certainly know that is a classic ridiculous myth. The success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous, however, is a more interesting topic…

Dr. Drew Pinsky, celebrity addiction specialist, was approached by TMZ about Charlie Sheen’s comments and noted that Sheen had a point about the success rate not being great, yet in the same breathe Dr. Drew clarifies, “but [A.A.] DOES work when people do it!”

A.A. Success Rate Impossible to Measure

From the time spent in Research Methods classes long ago, I can confidently say that it is impossible to accurately measure the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are simply so many factors that make it impossible, and countless variables that can’t be controlled for a valid study. I won’t waste our time detailing all of them here, so you’ll just have to trust me on that if you have no background in scientific research. Besides the obvious (how does one study and track an anonymous population?), I will just address a couple key points that come to mind.

How do you define success in AA? And how do you define AA membership? The problem is that most people who attempt to estimate the AA success rate base it on the number of AA members with a certain length of sobriety reported (which again, is impossible to measure anyway) compared to an overall number of “AA members” (also impossible to accurately measure!). This leads to the question of who is considered “members”.

In the 12 traditions of AA, all that is required for membership is “a desire to stop drinking”. Even by that loose definition, you still couldn’t include every single person who has attended an AA meeting because there are plenty of people who are court ordered to attend (apparently our judicial system thinks the success rate is high enough to warrant AA attendance mandatory for offenders suspected to have a drinking problem).

A.A. Meeting Attendance Today

There was a better chance at more accurately estimating the success rate of AA in the early days, when there were few groups, and members tended to have just one local meeting they attended… in contrast to today, where in some areas you could attend several different meetings in the same day in the same town… and the meetings may have 50+ in attendance which also makes it difficult to keep track of who is who, much less who has been sober for how long and who is actually attempting to work the 12 steps.

Every day, countless individuals wander into an AA meeting just to check it out. Thousands more go to numerous meetings but never attempt to start and/or complete working on all 12 steps which are the basis of AA’s method of recovery. For example, the AA literature states that those who do not complete the 5th step are very likely to relapse…. They also wrote of their own attempts at recovery: “half measures availed us nothing”. So certainly the founders expected that members must work the 12 steps if the individuals truly wished to acquire long term sobriety, as the founders did.

“Dry” or “Sober”

30 million Big Books sold
AA is a 12 step program, not a “just go to meetings” program. It is a spiritual program of recovery based on actively working a process of 12 steps and integrating them into one’s life. You can’t measure that – it’s subjective by nature. You can measure if someone is “clean” or “dry” from drugs and alcohol for a period of time, but is difficult to measure true sobriety. AA founding member, Bill Wilson advocated emotional sobriety, and the happier life that results from being emotionally sober (aka alcohol-free AND living spiritually). …which is why when Charlie Sheen publicly spews negative angry rants, and in the same moment claims he is “clean and sober”, sober AA members must shake their heads as while he might be clean of drugs and alcohol but he does not sound the least bit emotionally sober.

Success Rate of the Early A.A. Members

In the early days of AA, when it was much easier to get somewhat of an accurate estimate of membership and length of sobriety, the founders did attempt to estimate the success rate. In the foreword to the 2nd edition of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (the main text of AA), printed in 1955 just 16 years after the original edition, they wrote:
“Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement. Other thousands came to a few A.A. meetings and at first decided they didn't want the program. But great numbers of these-about two out of three-began to return as time passed.”

Wow, so essentially they reported at least a 75% sobriety success rate of those who kept showing up and working at it. That was before the days of our modern rehabs, outpatient services, alternative 12 step programs, countless self-help books, etc. It was straight AA; the spiritual 12 step program where people were encouraged to work all 12 steps right away as Bill did, and they only focused on the main text of Alcoholics Anonymous as the instructions for sober living.

If there were a way to measure the amount of people who actively participate in AA meetings and work the 12 steps as recommended by the founders of AA, then that would be the population to survey for length of sobriety to determine the success rate of AA as a program! I wish there were a way, as I am confident the success rate would be high for those whom are honestly, willingly, and consistently working through the suggested 12 steps of recovery outlined by the founders of A.A. in the original text of Alcoholics Anonymous. …and with an accurate report of A.A.’s actual effectiveness, Charlie Sheen couldn’t blame AA’s success rate for his chronic relapses.

Charlie Sheen didn’t learn the 12 Traditions apparently…

One of the reasons Alcoholics Anonymous established the 12 Traditions was to address this type of issue- when a celebrity announces their participation in AA and then proceeds to comment about AA in the media, they are representing A.A. which is exactly what the Tradition says not to do (regardless of positive or negative comments about the program, AA does not wish to be represented by any individual on the level of press). It is good that Sheen does not claim to be a member of AA currently while his behavior seems manic, full of anger and grandiosity. As another Tradition states, AA is a program of attraction, not promotion.

Hopefully the countless hopeless alcoholics who could indeed benefit from Alcoholics Anonymous were not influenced by the ranting of one sick misguided celebrity who may be “dry” of his own accord but it not “sober” by AA standards. Thankfully, AA as a whole is too strong to be affected by Charlie Sheen’s public inaccurate defamation.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nutrition in Alcoholic Myopathy Treatment

Upon reviewing the research on the treatments and the causes of alcoholic myopathy, there is an obvious relationship between malnutrition and alcoholic myopathy yet little can be found regarding specific nutritional recommendations in the treatment of chronic alcoholic myopathy for those interested in addressing this important factor.

As there is a need for more studies on this sparsely researched topic, it is difficult to predict what specific effects on alcoholic myopathy may be expected from nutritional interventions. However, to get this dysfunction in the first place, one must drink alcohol excessively; and since heavy or chronic drinking leads to malnutrition, it is wise to consider nutritional therapy regardless of whether it will have a definite effect on the myopathy itself. Nonetheless, in determining a nutritional approach it makes sense to first consider the known deficiencies associated with myopathy…

Protein, Amino Acids in Alcoholic Myopathy Treatment

Since protein deficiency has been directly linked to myopathy, it is a good place to start. A nutritionist or health coach may be able to guide you in evaluating your protein intake to ensure you are getting the proper support of that key macronutrient involved in muscle health. While protein deficiency might have been a contributing factor to the myopathy, adequate protein intake is certainly necessary in the recovery from muscle atrophy.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is synthesized to build muscle. Some suggest that supplementing with amino acids may help accelerate the repair of muscle damage in myopathy.

Alcohol use disrupts the production of growth hormone, which also plays a major role in muscle development. Research suggests that decreased levels of growth hormone may also contribute to the myopathy of skeletal muscles, as with alcoholic myopathy. Certain amino acids stimulate the pituitary gland to produce and release growth hormone.

Prime™ Ultra Secretagogue is an excellent amino acids supplement recommended by many doctors to naturally and safely stimulate the body’s natural production of human growth hormone. It helps build protein to build lean muscle, in addition to offering a multitude of other health benefits. Click here to learn all about it.

Antioxidants in Alcoholic Myopathy Treatment


There is evidence that suggests free radical damage in the pathogenesis of alcoholic myopathy. Free radicals are unpaired electrons, aka reactive oxygen species, which cause a chain reaction of damage of cells as they attempt to steal their missing electron from any nearby source. Antioxidants are able to replenish the unpaired electrons thus ending the cycle of damage. However, without sufficient antioxidants to combat the abundance of free radicals, the damaging process continues - and can affect any area of the body, including muscle tissue. Free radicals are caused by many factors including environmental toxins, alcohol, smoking, and physical and emotional stress to name a few.

Active and recovering alcoholics arguably have even more oxidative stress (free radicals) than the average person, and thus would benefit from antioxidant supplementation regardless of the potential benefit in the treatment of myopathy. Specific antioxidants called OPCs are awesome free radical fighters that also are known to help maintain normal muscle and nerve function – OPCs are potentially beneficial not only for myopathies but neuropathies as well; and some research suggests peripheral neuropathy may co-occur with alcoholic myopathy in 72% of cases!).

We also know that alcohol promotes inflammation in the body. Regardless of the type of myopathy, an effective antioxidant can address any inflammatory issues likely present in the recovering alcoholic (and definitely present in the active alcoholic!). Certain OPCs can act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and are also known for a multitude of other health benefits.  Read more about the amazing benefits and science behind a highly absorbable and powerful OPC supplement.

Calcium and Alcoholic Myopathy Treatment

Research suggests chronic hypocalcemia (deficiency in calcium) may contribute to the increase in muscle damage in alcoholic myopathy. Everyone knows calcium is important in bone health, but it is also crucial in muscle function. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, crucial to many health functions. All muscle fibers use calcium. Alcohol impairs the absorption of calcium!

Some other factors affecting your calcium levels…
Myth: “I drink milk, so I get plenty of calcium”. Fact: the calcium in most dairy products we consume is not bioavailable (we don’t absorb it!). You are better off skipping the dairy and increasing your green vegetables; they have calcium that you will actually absorb.

Smokers – studies have shown that smoking interferes with efficient calcium absorbtion. Soda drinking (regardless if caffeinated or not, diet or regular) depletes calcium. Coffee and caffeine deplete calcium.
Also, those deficient in vitamin D are at risk for calcium deficiency as well because vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium… and many myopathy sufferers have been found to be deficient in vitamin D!

There are a lot of garbage calcium supplements on the shelves. Many have the wrong form, wrong amounts, and/or not the correct additional ingredient necessary for calcium absorption (ie vitamin D3 and magnesium) in the proper amounts. Individuals with alcoholism in particular have done damage to their digestive systems, so it is imperative to take the most absorbable form of a high quality calcium supplement.  Get more information on the best calcium supplement we have found (see label).

Vitamin D in Alcoholic Myopathy Treatment

Research has concluded that low vitamin D levels are related to muscle fiber atrophy, and vitamin D deficiency itself may induce myopathy. Low vitamin D levels are frequent in alcoholics. Studies show that vitamin D stimulates growth of muscle fibers. Regardless of whether the vitamin D deficiency caused the myopathy, vitamin D is helpful in recovery from the muscle atrophy. Experts estimate that most of the population is deficient in vitamin D. If in doubt, ask your physician for a blood test to evaluate your 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels; levels should be above 50 ng/ml (125 nmol/L) year-round. Read more about the research, benefits, and FAQ on a high quality vitamin D supplement here.

In conclusion, hopefully more will be revealed in the future on this topic of nutritional supplementation in the treatment of alcoholic myopathy sufferers. In the meantime, as individuals seek to integrate a nutritional approach to treatment of alcoholic myopathy, a few important supplements to consider include: Prime™ Ultra Secretagogue, OPC-3, Calcium Complete, and Vitamin D.