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People who are truly addicted to alcohol don't find it easy to quit. Without any intent to discourage any alcoholic who wants to stop drinking altogether, here are 10 ways heavy drinkers and binge drinkers can start to drink less.

5. Most alcoholics and heavy drinkers suffer magnesium deficiencies.

Magnesium is a mineral that the body uses to make over 200 different enzymes. Magnesium deficiency is a key factor in depression, degenerative diseases of the brain, and heart disease. It's easy to get enough magnesium, however. Simply make a point of eating at least one serving of a green leafy vegetable every day, or take 400 mg of a magnesium supplement, which will only cost a few cents. Magnesium helps many heavy drinkers sleep better and also to avoid bouts of depression that increase the temptation to drink.


6. The liver makes the detoxifying enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (the enzyme that reverses a hangover) with vitamin A.

Drinking alcohol interferes with the small intestine's ability to absorb vitamin A, but making detoxifying enzymes depletes the liver's supply of vitamin A. Consuming small amounts of vitamin-rich foods every day is essential to detoxification. There's no better natural or artificial source of vitamin A than cod liver oil, but if that's not for you, a small amount of butter or whole milk every day can supply vitamin A in the form the liver uses, or eating several servings of colorful vegetables (such as carrots or squash) every week will provide beta-carotene that the body can convert into vitamin A to make the enzymes that help you get over a hangover.

7. The "munchies" (assuming you do not also smoke pot) are your brain's way of dealing with depression.

High-carbohydrate snacks raise your blood sugar levels, which in turn make it easier for your brain to absorb the amino acid tryptophan, which in turn it uses to make the feel-good chemical serotonin. If you have constant cravings for crunchy high-carb snacks, chances are that your brain is trying to stave off depression. Unfortunately, the sugar your digestive tract releases from these snacks will increase cravings for alcohol. Most problem drinkers find that they have to deal with depression before they can control their appetites either for food or for alcohol, whether or not they are overweight.

8. Cooking with wine or sherry is a no-no for problem drinkers.

Many cookbook authors tell us that the alcohol in cooking sherry or wine added to food boils off, but laboratory testing finds that 5 to 85% of the alcohol added to a food stays in the food, especially if it is cooked in a pot or pan with a closed lid. Cherries jubilee, for instance, retains 75% of the alcohol added for the flambe. Almost any time alcohol is added to a dish that is cooked for less than an hour, most of the alcohol remains with the food.

9. Instead of wine, try a verjuice.

A verjuice is the liquid pressed from unripe fruit. The original use of verjuices was to make Dijon mustard, but nowadays verjuices are used in place of wine when it is necessary to avoid alcohol. 

10. The more you smoke, the more you will want to drink.

The nicotine in tobacco smoke slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach. More alcohol is broken down in the stomach rather than absorbed in the small intestine, so smokers naturally crave more alcohol to drink. The net effect of smoking on intoxication is minimal, but smoking cigarettes leads drinkers to want to drink more, the more you drink, the more likely you are to get drunk.


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  • Jiang L, Gulanski BI, De Feyter HM, Weinzimer SA, Pittman B, Guidone E, Koretski J, Harman S, Petrakis IL, Krystal JH, Mason GF. Increased brain uptake and oxidation of acetate in heavy drinkers. J Clin Invest. 2013 Apr 1. 123(4):1605-14. doi: 10.1172/JCI65153. Epub 2013 Mar 8.
  • Photo courtesy of Stop Alcohol Deaths, Inc. by Flickr :
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