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Help for an Alcoholic Vegan?
Cristen Posted at 2012/02/04 6:56pm reply to

Cristen
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I read over Carisa's post about her crazy doctor experience(girl - I think that's awesome that you yelled at him! He definitely needed that). And I was going to post a reply that's related to seeking out a better doctor, but a bit off topic...so figured I'd just start a new thread.

I have a friend with severe alcohol issues. He wants to get some help for this, but isn't sure where to go.

He tried AA once and for various reasons, was very turned off by it, so isn't interested in trying again. It's clear he needs something other than counseling or support groups or religion-based programs.

I read a book recently called Seven Weeks to Sobriety, which basically addresses alcoholism as a biochemical imbalance and not a character flaw. It talks about addressing alcohol cravings with tons of vitamins and a low sugar, low carb, nutrient-rich diet. In my mind, this seems like a very compelling approach to alcoholism. And it would be great if he could try this vitamin program on his own, but with the support of a knowledgeable doctor.

For starters, he just needs to see a doctor to get some blood work done. But ideally, he can find a doctor that understands alcoholism, vegan diets, and is supportive of trying to treat alcohol cravings with vitamins and nutrients.

I was thinking of contacting Linda Carney to see what her thoughts are about all this. But if anyone has other doctor recommendations, I'd love to hear about them.

Also if anyone has experience regarding alcoholism, I'd love to hear them...



weigand Posted at 2012/02/04 7:35pm reply to

weigand
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I've not had any chance to look into Seven Weeks to Sobriety, but it sounds quack-ish. So if I were you, I'd really look more deeply into that. And get an actual MD to sign off on it before anyone tries it. I'd also look into the costs of this. If it is a vitamin based program, sometimes these vitamins end up costing a small fortune in the long run.

A lot of people are turned off by Alcoholics Anonymous. I've heard some people describe it as a hotbed of religious fanaticism. If you're atheist or agnostic or if you just would rather solve things rationally rather than relying on religious faith, AA will just annoy you.

Instead, there are secular alternatives. One is called "SOS" (Save Ourselves Sobriety). There's an Austin group of SOS as well...
http://sosaustin.tripod.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Organizations_for_Sobriety
http://secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=sos&page=index

If I were your friend, I'd try SOS first before any sort of alternative medicine stuff.

Also, there are detox centers out there that keep you sober the entire time you're there and give you the tools needed to keep on the right path. The cost is probably high, but the success rate should be much higher than other routes and much quicker and safer.

- Steve
Cristen Posted at 2012/02/04 7:49pm reply to

Cristen
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Yeah, the book seemed like an interesting take on alcoholism and something that may actually make sense. But I agree with you that he would need to consult a doctor before ingesting/investing in tons of vitamins.
He's never a big fan of anything fanatical and wouldn't be into following a program 100% if it wasn't something he's researched and could believe in. I'm just hoping he can get different perspectives and ideas (taking what he likes from each), until he finds something that works for him.

I've looked into some detox centers, and they are really expensive! I wish he could afford something like that, but I know he can't.

Thanks for your suggestion about SOS. I'll definitely look into that.

-Cristen
eli2ab3th Posted at 2012/02/04 11:48pm reply to

eli2ab3th
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Send him an Earth Crisis tape?? j/k

I think alcoholism is a biochemical imbalance - or rather it creates one. Alcohol (and sugar) are definitely acid-forming in the blood/body fluids, so a diet rich in alkalizing foods (high mineral content e.g. vegetables and miso with whole grains and legumes and low in sugar and refined foods) would be good, but the person will still have cravings for alcohol and/or sweets. I've never myself had a problem with alcohol, but usually I cut it out once a year for a month or two, and when I get cravings I usually have sparkling water or sparkling juice (1 part natural/organic juice + 1 part sparkling water), and that usually satisfies me. A couple of my friends have had drinking problems and were able to quit cold turkey successfully. I think they just had a strong will (and had hit bottom - or nearly) and withdrew from a lot of social interactions (to avoid being around alcohol). And honestly, I think one of them started smoking more weed to compensate. I think picking up a new hobby/activity/exercise also helps to avoid alcohol and create new (healthy) life patterns.
carrie Posted at 2012/02/05 12:15am reply to

carrie
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For the record, AA is a great program that's helped a lot of people. They're actually not a religious organization. They take no stance on religion; they're not against it and they're not for it. That may result in a grab bag effect. You may wind up with a lot of religious people at an AA meeting - and you may not. It just depends on the demographics of where you are. There are lots of atheists and agnostics in AA. It's not a "hotbed of religious fanaticism." I'm sorry your friend had a bad experience with them, Cristen. I sincerely hope he gets better. I just wanted to put it out there that AA has helped a lot of secular people - for anyone who might stumble upon this thread. I'm sure some kind of social support would be good for your friend, in addition to diet changes. Good luck, and I wish him well.
Josh xvx Topic Posted at 2012/02/05 5:20pm reply to

Josh xvx Topic
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I think some of the suggestions are good but i would also have him try heading back to an AA meeting or two. Maybe try different ones than he went to before. He could get a totally different experience if he is ready to sober up
weigand Posted at 2012/02/05 7:48pm reply to

weigand
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weigand Posted at 2012/02/05 7:51pm reply to

weigand
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Oh, and on a totally different subject, I hate how the software interprets smiley face emoticons where there are none.

- Steve
carrie Posted at 2012/02/05 8:52pm reply to

carrie
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Steve, AA has helped a lot of agnostics and atheists. I have been witness to this. I am just trying to put that out there for people who might benefit from the reassurance. You are misrepresenting this. I am not denying that AA is controversial at times, or just not for everyone.
adrienne Posted at 2012/02/06 11:40am reply to

adrienne
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Does your friend have a Primary Care Physician?
If so, they need to get in there ASAP to get blood work done and a referral to an addiction specialist.

If they do not have a PCP, do they have insurance?
Effective addiction care is expensive with out insurance. So, if they have a carrier, they need to call the Mental Health and Substance Abuse number on the back of their card to speak with some one and get a referral for an in network physician counselor.

Your friends financial situation may effect how successful his recovery is. If he has to pay out of pocket for rehabilitative care, he may get discouraged when it starts to hit the $1000 dollar range and quit.

Likewise, he may get fed up dealing with the insurance company, their exclusions (Prior Authorizations/ Preexisting wait period), or dislike the place he's been referred to. At least with this latter option, he can always call the next person on the insurance list, or if he is unable to reach an office to schedule an appointment, he can always call and file a complaint with the insurance company to get them to schedule an appointment for him ASAP.  

His PCP may be able to offer some recommendations, but they will more than likely refer him to a counselor or a psychiatrist for evaluation and follow up care. There are a good amount of counselors and psychiatrist in the area that specialize in addiction, your friend just needs to choose which route is best for him (financially) and stick with it.
Cristen Posted at 2012/02/06 11:54am reply to

Cristen
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Hi Adrienne.

Yeah - that's a big part of the problem. He has no insurance and not a lot of money. He has not seen a doctor in ages and doesn't have a PCP, so we'll be starting from scratch.

I definitely think all of that plays a huge roll in how helpless he feels. It's definitely sad to watch and not know how to help.

-Cristen
weigand Posted at 2012/02/06 1:12pm reply to

weigand
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Carrie, I'm not saying that AA would automatically be objectionable to all atheists and agnostics, necessarily. I'm just saying it's definitely a legitimate concern for them. I was responding to your assertion that AA "is not a religious organization". That's where we disagree. In my opinion (and probably most atheists and agnostics), anything that requires someone submit to God or a higher power and rely on faith in the supernatural instead of ones own self-determination is religious in nature. You may not think so, but then again, you may not have this particular sensitivity.

It may be worth a try, of course. I wouldn't say that atheists and agnostics just not even try. If they want to go and see what the meetings are like, they should go, but just be prepared for the religious pressure. And you never know, the particular group they end up going to might have an atheist bent, depending on the types of people who happen to be there that night.

By the way, if you've ever watched The Atheist Experience on public access cable TV or the web or listened to their podcast, this comes up every now and then. I didn't even realize it was an issue until I heard some of their stories. I think most atheists steer themselves away from AA in favor of SOS and similar secular organizations, and for good reason (no pun intended).

- Steve
peter Posted at 2012/02/06 1:45pm reply to

peter
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>Your friends financial situation may effect how successful his recovery is.

Pardon me while I go apeshit over this.

sadhffhdsjlfzcmnzxcmnzxmcbnzrqoiepieuqoweiqppooiuiskdfjfkashklfj

Sorry if this hijacks the thread in any way. It's just very frustrating that that's the reality. My heart goes out to your friend and I hope he finds a way to get the help he needs.
Cristen Posted at 2012/02/06 1:55pm reply to

Cristen
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Yup. Agreed. It's so sad that money has to get in the way of anyone's recovery.

Obviously there will be expenses involved in any rehab route he takes...but finding a doctor that isn't going to charge him heaps of money is key.


>>Your friends financial situation may effect how successful his recovery is.
>
>Pardon me while I go apeshit over this.
>
>sadhffhdsjlfzcmnzxcmnzxmcbnzrqoiepieuqoweiqppooiuiskdfjfkashklfj
>
>Sorry if this hijacks the thread in any way. It's just very frustrating that that's the reality. My heart goes out to your friend and I hope he finds a way to get the help he needs.
Ross Posted at 2012/02/06 2:16pm reply to

Ross
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Really hope the best for your friend!
adrienne Posted at 2012/02/06 4:55pm reply to

adrienne
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TELL me about it Peter! It's a complete mess.
Texas allocates about $60/capita to it's MH needs. Other states allocate $130/capita!

Cristen, here are some numbers that may help:

*** Lone Star Circle of Care: (http://www.lscctx.org/services/behavioral-health/)
(512) 524-9273.
This is a clinic and not a rehab facility, (It's like a $15 copay for uninsured). He has to call to do an intake and get an initial appointment set. He has to fill out some financial info to prove he meets their financial criteria. He has to show up on time the day of, if he misses, they put him on a back list (he does NOT want that). Again, this is not a facility, it is a clinic so no detox or in patient services.

**10th Step Counseling Center- Su Folts Mohr Chemical Dependency Counselor
512-417-5775
Su has helped a lot of teens and young adults deal with chemical dependency- she is really informative and hands on. She used to work for Westwood HS. We refer to her a lot. I was unable to call and get her rates. I believe it is lower than the out patient fees for the other facilities I have listed below. Again, this is an office setting, no a facility.

* La Hacienda:
http://www.lahacienda.com/
800-749-6160
In patient and out patient treatment center/facility equipped with the material to handle a detox for 3 months. $225/ session (out patient). Full stay/in patient(90 days) about $18,000 out 0f pocket.

* Austin Recovery
http://www.austinrecovery.org/Admissions/CostFormsofPayment.aspx
512-697-8600
Same kind of facility as above with a slightly lower price: $220/session (out patient), $17,000 for a 90 day stay, $6600 for a 30 day stay.

** If the above resources do not work, let me know. Our office can see him, but we do not take insurance. I don't want to sound like I am promoting our office, but we can do the blood work and help with the under lying issues that come along with any addiction/dependency. I can forward that info to you personally if need be.

Hope some of this was helpful. These places can also give recommendations when he calls.
Cristen Posted at 2012/02/06 5:06pm reply to

Cristen
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Thanks so much Adrienne.
And thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses.

We'll definitely look into those links, hopefully find something that seems promising, and hopefully get started ASAP. I'll also msg you separately about your office just to get more options.

-Cristen
Josh xvx Topic Posted at 2012/02/08 7:20am reply to

Josh xvx Topic
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Steve,
I couldn't disagree with you more. I always get so disappointed when i hear people that haven't experienced a 12 step program talk about "things they've heard" as if they were facts. Now i have no idea if the people you have talked to were sober alcoholics that had been in the program for years or if they went to 1 meeting and bounced but what i can say is this.

I've been aheist or agnostic for over half my life and i've also been part of AA or related 12 step programs for the last 15 years. I have many friends in the program that are fervent atheists also. As someone that knows the program i can tell you that there is no requirement to believe in god and that if anyone tells you that then they weren't listening or even sadder the people talking to them are spewing false information. I have worked the steps as an atheist and have no issue with that. While the word God is used in the steps it is also a very loose word in them and at the end of the day remember how old the steps are and they haven't changed since then. So while i think it would be good get that word out to help prevent confusion for folks that haven't been to a meeting, if you've been to a meeting it's one of the first things you learn. There is even AA literature specifically for atheists and agnostics.


I apologize if i come off rude or too angsty here but 12 step programs have saved my life and many of my family members and close friends. I hate hearing things spread about it that aren't true that might prevent someone from trying it that really would benefit from it. I don't claim that it's for everyone but i've seen a lot of people benefit from it.
weigand Posted at 2012/02/08 3:57pm reply to

weigand
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That's cool, Josh. And I don't think we're actually in disagreement. I said it all depends on the individual and their particular experiences. There are many atheists who have had great success with AA. There are many who have not. And there's a reason for latter, just like there's a reason for the former.

If you Google this subject, you'll see this is a subject that has been discussed a lot. You'll read stories about atheists who have tried AA and come out both happy and upset about their treatment. I couldn't venture a guess as to what percentage of atheists are happy with AA vs. those that are not, however. I just know that opinions on the matter are common both for and against AA amongst atheists.

What I've been arguing here is that there are valid reasons why atheists and others might have a problem with AA. I haven't been arguing that atheists *should* have a problem with AA. I've not been arguing that there's no reason why atheists would do fine at AA. And I suggested everyone at least try AA first to see how it worked for them, and if it didn't, try something else like SOS.

- Steve
Georgeous Posted at 2012/02/08 5:00pm reply to

Georgeous
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Getting back to the original post, I'm very sorry to hear about the struggles your friend has been facing. I have a friend who, for awhile, I was convinced was an alcoholic in denial, as he drank daily, and whatever he could get his hands on. Thankfully, through reading variations of self-help materials and coming to the realization that he was literally drinking his life away along with many of his goals, he began very painfully weaning himself off the alcohol.
I can understand how it feels to be on the outside wanting to help but not knowing what do to. Or, even if you do know, just not being able to reach your friend in a way he needs (often because he doesn't want to hear it).

Also, as a patient of Dr Carney's, I can tell you that you (or your friend) will have to make at least one appointment to discuss options. She has disabled contact via internet due to patients abusing it and violating all kinds of HIPPA regulations. However, she is very open minded and caring- if she's unable to help your friend in the best way possible, she will point you in the right direction and likely give recommendations for specialists if she knows of any.
Amelia Posted at 2012/02/08 5:38pm reply to

Amelia
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Is your friend a musician? There is a mental health service of HAAM called SIMS that has very very affordable addiction specialists. They offer everything from therapy to sober housing for 30-90 days.

I also know a whole lot of awesome people who have been through AA for years who are atheists & they go thru the program with the philosophy of "take & use what you like, & leave the rest." If you let the god/higher power turn you off from the whole program, you may find that you are missing out on 11 more very helpful & supportive steps.
I go to Al-anon frequently, and it took me about three weeks of attending many different meetings that I gelled with. Some were super religious & would open with the Lords Prayer, some just said the Serenity Prayer. I did my research & found a group tht is further away from my house, but it helps me the most.
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