Alcohol Avoidance

For alcoholics, complete abstinence is a requirement. Many alcoholics who seek treatment find success and they learn to abstain totally from alcohol. However, the majority, as many as 90%, relapse at least once during the four years following treatment. Fifty percent relapse within the first few months. Sometimes a relapse is a necessary part of finding out that they can not just enjoy an occasional drink. It is important to get help as soon as you or relatives/friends suspect there is a problem.

For the average regular drinker where addiction is not a problem, continued drinking may have some health, social and psychological benefits. However, each of these seeming benefits can be achieved by other means. So if it looks like the benefits of regular alcohol consumption is balanced or outweighed by negative consequences, it is appropriate to reduce or stop drinking entirely at least for a trial period of time. If you find it especially difficult to stop, alcohol use may be more of a problem than you had thought.

 


Alcohol Avoidance can help with the following

Addictions  


 

Current Smoker

Smoking is related to alcohol consumption, and reduction in alcohol intake may help smokers to smoke less.

Scientists for the study think that people who want to quit smoking needs to abstain from drinking in order to experience the lesser effects of a withdrawal symptom. Limiting alcohol intake to one or two drinks per occasion will reduce the intensity of craving for smoke in smokers considerably.

The study says not only moderate to heavy smokers but also light smokers who don’t smoke more than a dozen cigarettes a week may also benefit from abstinence from alcohol. The study found that alcoholic beverages increase the desire to smoke considerably. The study says that even while drinking alone, smokers find it pleasurable to smoke more when under the influence of the alcohol, giving proof to the fact that alcohol intake does increase the urge to indulge in smoking in people, irrespective of the number of cigarettes smoked by the person normally. [Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental, issue April 2005 ]



Allergy  


Circulation  

Arrhythmias/Dysrhythmias

Atrial fibrillation can be caused by alcohol.



 


 

Cardiomyopathy

Many doctors suggest that individuals with cardiomyopathy abstain from alcohol consumption. People with alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy who avoid alcohol may regain their health.



 

Varicose Veins

Alcohol intake reduction is advised.



Digestion  

Heartburn / GERD

Coffee and alcohol increase stomach acid, which may result in more irritation if reflux does occur.



 

Gastric/Peptic Ulcers

No proven relationship exists between peptic ulcer disease and the intake of alcohol. However, since alcohol can cause gastritis, moderation in alcohol consumption is often recommended.



Environment / Toxicity  

Fungus / Mycotoxin Exposure

Alcohol is the mycotoxin produced by brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces species). Other mycotoxins besides alcohol can also be introduced into these beverages through the use of mold-contaminated grains and fruits. Producers often use grains that are too contaminated with fungi and mycotoxins to be used for table foods, so the risk is higher that you are consuming more than just alcohol in your beverage. Before you drink for the health of your heart, consider the other possible risks of drinking and that there are safer ways of consuming antioxidants. [Mycotoxins: Economic and Health Risks. Task Force Report Number 116. Nov 1989]



Immunity  


Infections  

Infectious Mononucleosis

Since the virus can affect the liver, it is recommended that you abstain from alcohol for 3 months after diagnosis. Jaundice occurs in only about 5% of mono sufferers.



 

Sinusitis

Alcohol often causes a worsening of sinusitis. This may be because alcohol functions as a diuretic, leading to drying and thickening of the mucus which can cause a blockage of the opening of the sinuses. In patients who are allergic to red wine, yeast, sulfites or other components of the alcohol may cause make sinusitis worse.



Lab Values  

Low White Count

Chronic alcohol consumption may increase the susceptibility to infection by impaired immune function. In a rat

model, chronic ethanol ingestion significantly increased the susceptibility of rats to fatal pneumococcal pneumonia, by impairing the anti-pneumococcal defense mechanism of neutrophils recruited to infected lungs. It is noted that infectious diseases are the major causes of morbidity and mortality among alcoholics. [ Infectious Disease News,

December 1992:1,2]



 


Medications  

Anticoagulant Use

Alcohol consumption during heparin therapy may increase the risk of serious bleeding. It is important for people receiving heparin to avoid alcohol during the entire course of heparin therapy.



Mental  


Metabolic  

Acute, Intermittent Porphoria

Alcohol consumption is a common precipitant of AIP.



 

Hypersomnolence

Alcohol may make this condition worse.



 

Hypoglycemia

Drinking alcohol can cause blood sugar to drop in some sensitive individuals. Hypoglycemia has been well documented in chronic alcoholics and binge drinkers.



 

Male Gynecomastia

Several studies indicate a potential role for prolactin and estrogen in the pathogenesis for feminization. Male alcoholic patients frequently show evidence of feminization that is manifested by gynecomastia, spider angiomata, palmar erytherma and changes in body hair patterns. Alcoholic men show a positive association between the presence of clinically apparent gynecomastia and elevated circulating levels of prolactin. The gynecomastia found in alcoholic patients is characterized by a proliferation of the stroma and ducts that are known to be estrogen-positive.



 

Headaches, Cluster

Alcohol use may trigger attacks.



 


 

Insomnia

People who abuse alcohol and other substances are at high risk for sleep disturbances due to the direct effect of the substance or its withdrawal on their sleep architecture and their sleep-wake cycle or its effect on their behavior and daily functioning, which in turn impacts their daily need for sleep.

Little is known about how the different substances of abuse affect sleep in humans, although there are more data on alcohol’s effect. When consumed at bedtime, alcohol has an initial stimulating effect among nonalcoholics, followed by a decrease in time to fall asleep (NIAAA, 1998). Many people with insomnia consume alcohol to induce sleep, either by experience or by others’ suggestion that it is a sedating agent. Alcohol consumed six hours before bedtime was found to disrupt the second half of the sleep period (Landolt et al., 1996). One review suggested that with continued consumption until bedtime, alcohol’s disruptive effects continued or increased and its sleep-inducing effect may decrease (Vitiello, 1997).

In actively drinking alcoholics, specific sleep disturbances are reported, such as increased time required to fall asleep, frequent awakenings and a decrease in subjective sleep quality associated with daytime fatigue (Aldrich, 1998). Further, these individuals undergo a vicious cycle when they attempt to stop drinking since an abrupt reduction or end to drinking usually triggers alcohol-withdrawal syndrome accompanied by pronounced insomnia and sleep fragmentation. Decreased SWS during withdrawal may reduce the amount of restful sleep. Beyond withdrawal, sleep patterns may never return to normal in people with alcoholism (Aldrich, 1998). After years of abstinence, alcoholics tend to sleep poorly, with decreased amounts of SWS and increased nighttime wakefulness contributing to daytime fatigue. When heavy drinking recurs, it leads to increased SWS (restful sleep) and decreased wakefulness. This apparent improvement in sleep continuity may promote continued drinking by associating the return to drinking with improved sleep (NIAAA, 1998). Unfortunately, as drinking continues, sleep patterns get disrupted, closing the cycle (Aldrich, 1998).

Clinical Consequences of Insomnia on Abstinence

When compared to patients without insomnia, patients with insomnia were more likely to report frequent alcohol use for sleep (55% versus 28%), had significantly worse polysomnographic measures of sleep continuity, and had more severe alcohol dependence and depression (Brower et al., 2001). In 1994, Gillin et al. measured REM sleep during the admission of patients to a one-month alcoholism treatment program. Higher levels of REM predicted relapse within three months after hospital discharge in 80% of patients. In other studies, those who eventually relapsed exhibited a higher proportion of REM and a lower proportion of SWS at baseline, compared with those who remained abstinent. It is believed that sleep problems in alcoholics increase rates of relapse as evidenced by subjective and polysomnographic sleep predictors (Brower et al., 1998). [Psychiatric Times, February 2004, Vol. XXI, Issue 2]



 


Musculo-Skeletal  

Gout / Hyperuricemia

The evidence linking alcohol and gout is not extensive, but is persuasive, especially when allied with several hundred years’ of experience. Men with gout are probably best advised to refrain from alcohol.



 

Osteoporosis / Risk

Alcohol is toxic to the cells that form bones and inhibits the absorption of calcium.



Organ Health  


 

Cirrhosis of the Liver

In all cases, regardless of cause, following a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol are essential because the body needs all the nutrients it can get.



 


 

Hepatitis

When you drink alcohol, the liver treats it as a toxic substance and works to filter it out. In a person with Hepatitis C, alcohol significantly increases damage to the liver. All types of alcohol, including beer, wine, cocktails, and champagne, can damage your liver, and should be avoided.



 

Liver Detoxification / Support Requirement

Acetaldehyde, a metabolic breakdown product of alcohol, is said to destroy vitamins B1, B6 and C. Even though supplements of these nutrients, together with the amino acid cysteine, may help the liver detoxify acetaldehyde, it would be wiser to avoid alcohol, it’s primary source.



 

Prostatitis

See the link between Prostatits and Spicy Food Avoidance.



Respiratory  

Sleep Apnea

Alcohol is useful for relaxation but unfortunately it also relaxes the throat muscles and provokes snoring and obstructive apneas. Alcohol or sedative use near bedtime may thus further depress breathing mechanisms.



Risks  

Increased Risk of Endometrial Cancer

Postmenopausal women consuming two or more alcoholic beverages a day may double their risk of endometrial cancer, suggests a study led by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC). The study will appear in the International Journal of Cancer, and is now available online. Sept 2007.



 


 

Increased Risk of Colon Cancer

You should drink under one alcoholic drink a day because drinking alcohol increases your risk of colorectal cancer. Since it can have both positive and negative effects on your health, you may wish to talk to a health care professional about how alcohol may affect you.



Skin-Hair-Nails  


 

Psoriasis

A “moderate” diet is best in coping with psoriasis, without an excess of rich, fatty, starchy or spicy foods, or alcohol.



 


Tumors, Malignant  

Carcinoid Cancer

All carcinoid patients should avoid alcoholic beverages since these can precipitate carcinoid crisis attacks.



Uro-Genital  

Possible Pregnancy-Related Issues

Alcohol is definitely harmful for the baby, no matter how much is consumed, especially during the first three months when the baby is forming. There is also a definite correlation between the amount of alcohol drunk during pregnancy and the severity of the symptoms, and also a link with the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Evidence shows that even pregnant mothers who only drink in moderation have a greater chance of miscarriage and low birth weight babies than those who do not. Numerous studies have also shown that heavy drinking is extremely damaging for the baby and has the potential to lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Such babies have low birth weight, with a smaller head circumference and mental retardation is often present. Some affected babies have malformed faces and congenital heart defects.

The current recommendation from doctors and health experts is that pregnant women should not drink at all. If the urge is too strong, one standard drink is the absolute maximum. However, in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it is difficult to know that you are pregnant and this is a particularly crucial stage for the formation of the baby. So, if you suspect that you are pregnant, or are planning to conceive, you should stay away from alcohol. The risk of miscarriage doubles with more than two drinks per day.



 

Interstitial Cystitis

Avoiding alcoholic beverages may help reduce symptom frequency. Many have reported that there has been a direct relationship between alcohol consumption and flare ups of interstitial cystitis.



 

Premenstrual Syndrome / PMDD

See the link between PMS and Sugar Avoidance.



 

Female Infertility

Alcohol consumption can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.



 

Urinary Stress/Overactive Bladder

Alcohol can quickly fill the bladder, usually resulting in frequent urination.



 

Nocturia

Diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine may increase urine output and cause nighttime urination.



 

Male Infertility (Low Sperm Count)

Chronic alcohol abuse, but not moderate consumption, damages the intricate plumbing of the male reproductive system, reducing a man’s ability to produce normally formed sperm. Please see the 2012 link between Infertility, Male and Chemical Avoidance.



Key

May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended

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