1. Alcohol has been used as a special and sacred celebratory beverage over
many centuries. Most native cultures have had fermented drinks for their
rituals and ceremonies. This continues with traditions and celebrations of
all kinds – weddings, anniversaries, dates, ballgames, flying, and harvest
faires. Alcohol does help to relax the body and mind and calm the
inhibitions. However, many people feel the need to celebrate daily (now,
that would be partying or escaping). Excesses over time lead to problems,
yet occasional wildness may free the soul.
“Reduce excesses, but not excessively.” Argisle
If you are concerned about your drinking habits, consider keeping a “drink
diary” for the next month. Write down when, how much, and in what
circumstances you drink. How does it make you feel immediately and the
morning after? Honestly look at how drinking affects your life. There are
many healthy ways to celebrate life! Playing sports does this, as can
drumming and dancing with your friends. While we used to have rituals, now
people get drunk to deal with life, and then get in their “deadly” autos
risking lives on their way. And many also use painkillers and other drugs to
deal with their daily lives, which further affects their abilities. Or they
overuse their credit cards and mismanage their lives and have their families
suffer. Realize that drug problems of all kinds are diseases, and should be
dealt with as such.
2. In evaluating how alcohol affects your life, look at the following
issues: Do you drink more when you’re sad or upset about something? Do you
mainly drink in social situations with friends? Does alcohol help you
express yourself? How can you address these emotional issues without relying
on drinking? Can you say NO when the time is not right for your personal
imbibing? Healthy use would be a social drink or two with preparation before
and balance after in terms of hydration (alcohol is dehydrating) with water
and the right nutrients.
“No is On Backwards.” (Argisle)
3. Consider the negative effects alcohol might be having on your health. Is
drinking aggravating an existing condition, such as obesity, digestive
problems, joint pains, or depression? Do hangovers affect your performance
at work, or keep you from things that you want to do? Alcohol irritates the
liver and the intestinal lining. It also lowers immunity, dehydrates the
body, and impairs judgement and performance, as in operating machinery and
driving a car. It also alters healthful participation in relationships.
Alcohol is the number cause of traffic fatalities, especially of innocent
people. What is your awareness and responsibility for your own body as an
example to self, loved ones and friends?
4. Alcohol may have some positive attributes as well. Doctors may recommend
it to reduce heart disease risks, as it helps raise the good HDL
cholesterol. However, it also raises total cholesterol and has more negative
effects such that health conscious practitioners would not recommend regular
consumption. Alcohol is also addictive. Thus, it takes some work, both
physically and emotionally, to heal from this potentially destructive habit.
For example, a liver transplant, if you could get it, is quite costly and
5. In terms of reducing your alcohol consumption, if you notice that you
tend to drink at certain times of the day, plan other activities, such as
exercising, during that time period. Consider ordering water or other
natural drinks in restaurants, and during social occasions. Take a break for
a couple days; if this is very difficult, you likely have a problem and help
may be necessary. Contact your doctor, counselor, or look up the AA
(Alcoholics Anonymous) chapter in your area. Know that it is usually
difficult to give up something; it?s better to add something healthful, like
walking and breathing. It also helps to talk to others who have recovered
from their addictions and see what they did with their extra energy; helping
others often helps you as well.
6. To take a break or break your habit, there are many things you can do
nutritionally. Give your body plenty of support. In regards to diet, first
begin with drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day to help flush toxins. Avoid
sugary and fried foods. Don?t substitute other addictive substances, such as
caffeine or nicotine, for alcohol. Eat plenty of wholesome foods–fresh
fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, and fish–for the
nutrients and fiber they provide. This helps with body support and
elimination. A detoxifying diet very high in fruits, vegetables, and fresh
juices can be very helpful in changing habits and cleansing the body.
7. Supplements are helpful during alcohol use and during detoxification.
(See my book, The Detox Diet, for more specifics.) Definitely use the
antioxidant nutrients such as Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, plus zinc and
selenium. The B-vitamins are also very important to alcohol metabolism as
well as nervous system support. The amino acid L-glutamine (500-1,000 mg
three times daily) may help reduce cravings for alcohol (and sugar). Calcium
and magnesium help to calm the nervous system and reduce withdrawal.
Flaxseed oil or olive oil also helps the body tissues. Taking in a
tablespoon of oil before you drink may also slow the absorption of alcohol.
Packets of Emergen-C with a full glass or two of water are very helpful to
prevent hangovers and reduce dehydration. These supplements are also helpful
during alcohol detoxification.
8. Herbs may also be useful at supporting the body and preventing some of
the ill effects of alcohol use. Ones that cleanse the liver include milk
thistle and dandelion root. Chamomile and licorice root can help with
gastric distress. Skullcap, valerian root, and other tranquilizing herbs are
useful during alcohol withdrawal. There are many herbs that help with
alcohol detoxification. See about this also in The Detox Diet book.
9. Acupuncture and massage therapy may be quite helpful when one is going
through the stress of changing habits. Acupuncture detoxification has become
quite popular; talk to your local acupuncturist to discuss this. Exercise,
walks in Nature, saunas and steams are helpful to clear alcohol from your
system and during detoxification as well.
10. Other Alcohol Issues: The process of fermentation uses yeast with fruits
or grains, and the consumption of sugars and fermented products makes us
more susceptible to Candida yeast problems. Many current and past alcoholics
have yeast conditions, and this affects their digestion, energy, and moods.
Another issue of alcohol drinks relates to the use of chemicals in
manufacture, plus sulfites in wines, to which many folks have sensitivities.
Organic drinks are best, especially compared to chemical treated substances.
Chemicals harm Nature?s creatures, our water supply, and the air for
generations to come. (See http://www.organicwineguild.com) Alcohol control is
overseen by the Bureau of Firearms. Does this come from the long-term
association of whiskey with gunslingers? With so many choices, we can really
do harm to our world and ourselves by supporting the wrong products.
Even though there have been some studies suggesting benefits to daily
alcohol use, it isn?t contrasted to those who drink only occasionally or not
at all and who have many good health habits. Who sponsors these studies
anyway? Also, alcohol may have some calming affect on a more toxic and
stressful lifestyle. Common Sense is the rule: Do not drink and drive! We
have clearly established that, after so much loss of life and financial
destruction and high insurance rates. Now folks can?t simply smoke anywhere
they please and contaminate the rest of our lungs. We have laws now that
protect others from us, but how can we protect ourselves? The answer is
“only with wise choices.”
Why do you drink? Ask yourself and begin to know what you are really aiming
at–a bit of relief, a mind vacation, a bill-paying hiatus, a chance to
become less inhibited so you and your partner can dance the love dance
without encroachment by daily responsibilities? Yes, a bit of alcohol might
inhibit your inhibitions and can be an aphrodisiac to life. Please consume
alcohol wisely, especially during this upcoming period of celebration or
coping with worldly and personal stresses. There are many healthier ways to
relate to these situations. Be wise and live a long, healthy life.
Copyright Elson M. Haas, MD, 2002. All Rights Reserved.
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