Skip to comments.Rehab plan focuses on diet
Posted on 10/28/2003 2:25:49 PM PST by Nov3
Rehab plan focuses on diet
Audrey Sunnyboy noticed a troubling trend when she entered the drug and alcohol treatment field in 1990.
"I was watching people and was realizing that most of the Alaska Native people did not recover from alcoholism," she said. "And as I was going along, I would ask, 'Did you ever go to AA?' Then they would say, 'No, because I didn't want to talk.'"
Sunnyboy said the realization that AA's 12-step program does not work for everyone, especially people who are reluctant to talk about themselves, is what led to her interest in providing an alternative form of treatment.
Last month, Sunnyboy, a 57-year-old certified traditional counselor originally from Nenana, opened the Sunny Denyaave Center, an office where she hopes to help alcoholics and drug users quit their habits by repairing their bodies through nutrient replacement and proper diet.
Her strategy is based on the work of Joan Matthews Larson, a Minnesota doctor who operates nutrition-based recovery centers and has authored books about her technique.
Sunnyboy spent a year working at Larson's Health Recovery Center in Minnesota in 1999 and has been trying to start her own center in Alaska ever since. The technique is based on the theory that drugs and alcoholism are treatable physical diseases, not moral flaws.
"The way AA looks at it and the way most people look at it is as weak-willed, psychological behavior," Sunnyboy said. "What (Larson) and the other doctors say is that that is not so. An alcoholic or person who is addicted to drugs is not nutritionally sound."
With her rented office in Regency Court Mall, Sunnyboy said she plans to coach clients through a six-week program aimed at repairing the body through introducing a host of vitamins and nutrients and improving the diet.
Curbing drug and alcohol cravings can be as simple as changing what people eat, she said.
The main culprit for promoting alcoholism is sugar, she said.
"Sugar and alcohol cause the same reaction in the body," said Sunnyboy, whose computer desk is stacked with books including a sugar-free cookbook and William Duffy's "Sugar Blues."
Sunnyboy explained that sugar and alcohol consumption both result in the pancreas increasing blood sugar and releasing insulin. Continued sugar consumption, she said, causes the pancreas to become "trigger happy," producing an imbalance that leads to feelings of irritability and cravings for alcohol and drugs.
She said that reducing a person's carbohydrate intake and adding high-protein foods to their diet will stabilize the body. Combined with the introduction of vitamins, everything from magnesium to vitamin B, the goal of the improved diet is to replenish nutrients needed to restore balance in the body and brain.
"That's what this treatment program does is to explain why the body does this," Sunnyboy said. "You control the cravings with nutrition, you learn to eat smaller, protein-packed meals, you learn how to maintain your body."
Sunnyboy, who quit drinking and doing drugs at age 40, said she first became interested in nutrition-based recovery after reading Larson's "Seven Weeks to Sobriety." In the book, Larson wrote that her son committed suicide after a short bout of alcoholism, leading to her search for a better treatment method. She hypothesized that every alcoholic fits into one of four categories based largely on their body's composition--most are hypoglecimic--and that dietary changes can improve someone's condition in almost every case.
"Alcoholism is not a character defect. It is not the sign of a weak will. It is not a bad habit that needs to be broken. It is a devastating physical disease that damages both mind and body," Larson wrote.
Larson's book and other nutrition-based recovery methods are gaining popularity throughout the drug and alcohol treatment field, said Ann Dapice, vice-president of T.K. Wolf, Inc., a Tulsa, Okla.-based recovery and research center that formed as an alternative to traditional methods.
Dapice said the main factor preventing nutrition-based recovery and other programs that treat alcoholism as a physical defect from gaining widespread acceptance is that AA is still considered to be the only treatment option.
"You've got a very old guard of alcoholism and drug treatment people," she said. "They say it's a disease, but they treat it like it's a moral issue. It's very hard to convince old 12-step people to change."
Dapice has a personal reason to be frustrated by what she said is a lack of progressiveness in the alcoholism-treatment field. She said her son survived cancer with treatment only to later die due to symptoms of alcoholism.
Sunnyboy's first test subject was her fiancee, Harry Littlefield.
A disabled Vietnam veteran, Littlefield said he started drinking and doing light drugs almost every day during the 1990s after his deteriorating physical condition ended his ability to work as an electrician.
Littlefield said he gradually built up his body through taking nutrients such as cod liver oil and calcium. Once he added an improved diet, Littlefield said he started feeling better, first physically then mentally.
"After she built me back me up from all the vitamins and everything, I could think a lot better," he said, adding that he quit drinking and drugs about two weeks after starting the program.
Sunnboy said that she put up her own money to rent her new office. She said that after spending a year working with Larson, she made it her personal goal to bring the program north. Sunnyboy acknowledged that she faces plenty of challenges in trying to operate a center based on a technique that is not widely accepted. However, she said many effective practices, such as Dr. Robert Atkins' low-carbohydrate diet, were not popular at first.
"They laughed at him until he passed away," she said.
Reporter Dan Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 459-7503
Dr. Atkins also commented on the lifted depression and it has literally cured eating disorders for many (not all) overnight. It is tragic to see a beautiful girl destroy her health and beauty and be basically powerless.
Perhaps I should re-introduce good ol' Snake Oil...
I'll have to give it a phancy doctor-lingo sounding name like: "Herpetoleoic Therapy".
People are pretty gullible.
Yuppers... Dunkin' Donuts Boston Creme filled.
Yeah, I am pretty convinced that alot of anti social behavior in modern society would disappear if we all cooled it with the sweets, sodas and starches.
Yeah, that's the best flavor. My wife thinks so too.
The microbrew rage had not hit until after I quit drinking. It bugs me sometimes to see my friends quaffing an obviously fine beer and talking about other fine beers. About the most exotic available in Memphis was Becks Dark and various Lagers. I have never drank Sam Adams!
You know I had heard that before but I had forgotten totally about it. I want to get a copy of his second communication to Alcoholics but it is no longer in print and the only ones on the internet I can find go for 30 dollars. Bill was definitely ahead of the curve on many issues. BTW Bill named niacin Vitamin B-3.
Perhaps I should re-introduce good ol' Snake Oil...
I'll have to give it a phancy doctor-lingo sounding name like: "Herpetoleoic Therapy".
People are pretty gullible.
I am sure that seemed a well thought out post after you had washed down your pain pills and prosac with a couple of cold ones
Way to go Sam!
I'm still happy at 139, down from 163. We've just passed our 4 year anniversary on low-carb.
Hmmm... we were planning on celebrating 4 years on low-carb at the local steakhouse. But there's this Krispy Kreme only 20 miles away, and we haven't been there since last Christmas...
Seven years ago my wife brought home a copy of Protein Power and announced that we were going on this diet. I said "WE" were not going on any diet but she said read the book. I did and realised that was how I ate when I was single and not out at dinner. We went on it and have been on it ever since except for 2 pregnancies with my wife Katie_Colic. It is common sense. Thank God for Atkins and his ability to persist even when he was demonized.
LARSON IS A GRADUATE OF DONSBACH MAIL-ORDER "UNIVERSITY"
Notes on Kurt Donsbach In 1979, Donsbach began operating Donsbach University, a nonaccredited correspondence school that awarded bachelor, master, and doctoral "degrees" in nutrition.
The fact that his "university" was not accredited did not deter Donsbach from stating that it was-by the National Accreditation Association (N.A.A.) of Riverdale, Maryland. An investigation by the National Council Against Health Fraud revealed that this "agency" was formed in 1980 by a California chiropractor and had "accredited" Donsbach University a few months later. In 1981,
Dr. William Jarvis, President of the National Council Against Health Fraud, visited N.A.A. in Maryland and found that its "office" was a telephone in the living room of its executive director, who said he received $100-a-month salary. Although N.A.A. correspondence had designated the man as holding a "Ph.D." from the Sussex College of Technology in England, the British Embassy informed Jarvis that it did not consider the "school" or its diplomas valid.
"Dr." Larson's partner was defrocked by the Minnesota Board of Medicine after mis-treating 18 women patients with approaches touted in her book.
See: Recovery Options: The Complete Guide. How You and Your Loved Ones Can Understand and Treat Alcohol and Other Drug Problems. Joseph Volpicelli, M.D., Ph.D., Maia Szalavitz. Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN 0-471-34575-X. Paper, $15.95
What is absent, though, from the article is her (at least in the years 1993-96) open hostility toward Alcoholics Anonymous. In my opinion, A.A. has little if any place in her view of recovery.
In my follow up to the article I addressed that. Believe me I believe in AA. It saved my life October 12, 1984. I think her views about AA suck. However the low carb part of this was addressed by Bill Wilson and he did this before the actual effects of Niacin and low insulin levels on the body's production of eicosanoids and their dramatic effect on health and well being were discovered
We are out of sync here!
See? We DO agree. The A.A. Program saved my life since 3-3-93. When I stopped going to meetings and began taking the Steps, the drink thoughts disappeared after 26 years, "precisely" as the first 100 Men and Women stated it would.
The only downside was that I had to dump all my clothes and suits in the Goodwill box and I have spent a fortune on clothes I never got to wear. That's how fast I dropped waist sizes. No sooner would I buy them then I'd shrink out of them. I did keep one pair of jeans from April just to try them on every now and then to see how much I lost. I can now fit my wife in those pants with me.
Brain Chemistry 101
Our sugar sensitivity story includes some crucial data that has not been available to the general public before.
This information is about the vital role played by the brain chemical beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin and its better-known partner, serotonin, can have dramatically positive -- or negative! -- effects on your moods, your behavior, and your energy level.
Your brain is designed to communicate information.
Billions of brain cells talk to each other moment by moment via a network of interconnecting cells. However, these cells do not actually touch one another; there is a tiny space between them. Information is passed across this space by way of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. The mood-elevating brain chemicals serotonin and beta-endorphin are both neurotransmitters.
Each neurotransmitter has a unique molecular shape and carries a unique message.
The message of serotonin, for example, is "calm down". When one brain cell wants to send a message to another, it releases the relevant neurotransmitter, which floats across the tiny space between cells and looks for the receptors in the target cell that match its molecular shape.
A serotonin, for example, can only pass its message to a serotonin receptor. The same is true with beta-endorphin. If any other kind of neurotransmitter hits the receptors, nothing happens; the message does not get delivered.
When your serotonin is at an ideal level, you feel mellow and relaxed, hopeful and optimistic.
You have a sense of being at peace with life. You are creative, thoughtful, and focused. You also have a lot of impulse control, which enables you to "just say no" more easily.
People who are sugar-sensitive have naturally low levels of serotonin. As a result, they do not have good impulse control. It is almost impossible for them to "just say no" because there is such a short time between their getting the urge to do something and their doing it. This is why no matter how many times you vow to stick with a diet, you are not able to. The insufficient serotonin level in your brain isn't giving you the time you need to make good decisions.
Besides being impulsive, people with low levels of serotonin may feel depressed and find themselves craving foods such as bread, pasta or candy. This craving is the work of your brain, not your ego, because your brain knows that getting you to eat such foods -- which are all simple carbohydrates -- will temporarily raise your serotonin level. Unfortunately, it will also have a devastating boomerang effect and cause all sorts of negative feelings. Having low serotonin can cause these feelings:
Feeling depressed Acting impulsively Feeling blocked and scattered Having a short attention span Feeling suicidal Craving sweets and simple carbohydrates
The brain chemical beta-endorphin acts likes a powerful natural painkiller.
You may have heard of the "runner's high" (also called an "endorphin rush"), when the body responds to the pain of long-distance running by flooding the brain with beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin produces a sense of well-being, reduces pain, eases emotional distress, increases self-esteem, and even creates a sense of euphoria.
Sugar-sensitive people have a naturally low level of beta-endorphin.
Their biochemical response to foods (like alcohol) that cause the release of beta-endorphin can be significantly greater than that of people with ordinary body chemistry.
Whether you are sugar-sensitive or not, sugar, like alcohol, causes a release of beta-endorphin. It can make you feel high and can reduce both physical and emotional pain. People with normal body chemistry can enjoy this without ill effects. But sugar-sensitive people respond to the beta-endorphin effect of sugar in a bigger way because their brain cells have far more beta-endorphin receptors than ordinary people.
For us sugar-sensitive people, eating sugar can make us feel and act as if we've been drinking wine!
Sugar can make us funny, relaxed, silly, inappropriate, talkative, and temporarily self-confident. You feel great -- and you long to feel this way again and again.
You have probably noticed this drug-like effect after eating sugar. Unfortunately, people don't take this response seriously. They make jokes about being a "chocoholic", but rarely speak of the real pain caused by the continuing and compulsive use of sweets, the end result of which is a drop in beta-endorphin. Having low beta-endorphin means:
Feeling tearful, isolated, depressed, and hopeless Having low self-esteem Feeling "done to" by others Having a low tolerance for pain (emotional and physical) Feeling emotionally overwhelmed Craving sweets So how does raising our beta-endorphin level with sugar result in low beta-endorphin?
The same way raising our blood sugar level or serotonin level ends up having just the opposite effect. First of all, due to a mechanism in the beta-endorphin system called "priming", ingesting a small amount of a drug (like sugar) can make a person want more. Priming is the reason it is so hard for a sugar-sensitive person to "just say no" after having a taste of something sweet. Second, the more sugar we eat, the more beta-endorphin is released, causing the brain to compensate for this "excess" by shutting down some of its beta-endorphin receptors. The result? Low beta-endorphin -- and all the pain that goes with it.
I did keep one pair of jeans from April just to try them on every now and then to see how much I lost. I can now fit my wife in those pants with me.
I bet she is happy about this diet thing.
It wouldn't of for me at least!
There are some good whole grain breads out there. I like Nature's Own 100% whole wheat bread. 2 slices 20g CHO with 6g fiber. Which makes it only 14g net carbs for the sandwich. I don't do a strict induction level but around 80-100g/day. Just read the labels and run from enriched bleached flour and high fructose corn syrup.
Hate cornsyrup. Ugh. I like bread just fine without sweeteners.
Definitely, he saved untold numbers from a life of fear and a horrible fate. He was a true genius. The first 164 pages of the Big Book are truly a God guided work of art. The same can be said of the 12 and 12.
The diet alone would not get me sober but it definitely helps me stay that way! Type in "Bill Wilson" and "Low Carb" into google.
It might keep you happy in this life especially since you are going to burn after death according to some of the freepers on the other thread! ;-]
Of course, I still like to have a cold one once in a while...
I can't say that every once in a while I wouldn't like a cold one either! Actually I would like a bunch of cold ones, but as someone wiser than me said "If I could drink normally I would do it all the time!"
Drink one for me.