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  1. #1
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    From the Health Recovery Center - Seven Weeks to Sobriety...

    The Dry-Drunk Syndrome = Masked Hypoglycemia

    In an attempt to explain these hypoglycemic symptoms as a psychological phenomenon, mental-health professionals have developed an elaborate concept called the dry-drunk syndrome. This has been defined by M. Wellman, Ph.D., as a composite of "late withdrawal symptoms that include irritability, depression, insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, a sense of aloneness and distractibility." This exponent of the dry-drunk theory has noted "a severe case mimics the physical signs of drunkenness." Abstinent alcoholics suffering from these symptoms have been advised to combat them by attending AA meetings, contacting AA members, and engaging in activities that keep their thoughts away from alcohol. Prayer and psychiatric help have also been recommended.

    A Hazelden Foundation publication on the subject characterizes typical dry-drunk alcoholic as grandiose, judgmental, impulsive, childish, easily distracted, and disorganized.

    Another researcher, E. M. Jellinek, Ph.D., defines the dry-drunk syndrome as a manifestation of late withdrawal symptoms, which he views as "indications of insufficient adaptation on the symbolic level to an alcohol-free life."

    These highfalutin psychological explanations ignore the fact that the symptoms are caused by a physical condition -hypoglycemia- which causes severe metabolic changes that alter moods, thought, and behavior. Take a look at the list below, compiled by Mark Worden from his 1980 article in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. It compares commonly reported dry-drunk symptoms to those known to be caused by hypoglycemia.

    Dry-Drunk Syndrome Symptoms







    Desire to drink


    Hypoglycemia symptoms








    Desire to drink


    Typically, most of these symptoms occur in newly abstinent alcoholics who try to overcome their emotional and physical discomfort by smoking cigarettes excessively and drinking enormous amounts of coffee laced with sugar. Their pockets are stuffed with candy bars and they habitually reach for colas for a quick lift. Their diets often consist of junk foods high in refined sugars and low in quality protein found in vegetables, grains, and fruits.

    Both caffeine and nicotine cured with corn, beet, and cane sugars can prompt the outpouring of adrenaline that temporarily raise blood sugar, as do candies, baked goods, and other foods containing refined sugars. The relief provided by these quick fixes is short-lived. A surge of insulin quickly pushes glucose levels back below normal causing the unpleasant symptoms and the need for a sugar fix begin all over again.

    Maintaining constant and adequate glucose levels is one of our most important biochemical needs. Continued blood-sugar fluctuations to below amounts needed by the brain for stable functioning are a more logical explanation of dry-drunk symptoms than any psychological concept can be.

    Controlling Hypoglycemia

    You cannot recover from hypoglycemia overnight, but in a few short weeks you can feel much better. You can banish symptoms and correct the underlying metabolic errors just as our HRC clients do by following a healthy new diet and taking some more nutrition supplements. You'll have to give up both caffeine and cigarettes, but the sacrifice will pay enormous dividends in renewed energy and vibrant good health.

    The Diet

    Get ready for a big change in the way you eat. You're going to have to give up foods containing refined sugar. That means virtually all sweets. Candy bars, Colas, Cookies, Ice cream. I know you love these foods. You may not want them when you're drinking, but most alcoholics begin to crave sweets as soon as they go on the wagon. Small wonder! Did you ever think about the similarities between sugar and alcohol? Both are carbohydrates with no nutritional value-all you get from them is calories. Both are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, and both can cause memory blackouts and intense cravings. I can't promise you that giving up sugar will be easy. But with the nutritional support you'll get while you're on the diet, it won't be as bad as you think.

    In addition to sugars, the diet also temporarily eliminates dairy products and wheat. Both are highly allergenic, and one or both frequently contribute to problems of alcohol allergy/addiction. You'll know within two weeks whether or not you are affected. If not, you can resume eating dairy products and foods containing wheat.

    It is important to eat all the snacks. They will provide you with a steady supply of protein, fats, and slowly available (complex) carbohydrates to prevent the drop in blood sugar that normally occurs about two hours after a meal. If your meals are delayed for any reason, you may need an extra snack.

    Key Nutrients That Block Sugar Cravings

    Your cravings for sweets could sabotage all your efforts. But you can combat them with-you guessed it-many of the nutrients you are already taking, plus two new ones. Your old friends glutamine, vitamin C, magnesium, and pantothenic acid help keep sugar cravings under control. Two others, niacin and chromium, will heighten this effect. Add two 500-mg doses of niacin, one at breakfast, one at supper; you are already getting enough chromium in your multi-vitamin formula.

    Both niacin and chromium have proved extremely helpful in the treatment of alcoholism. Let's take a look at what they can do.


    In his second communication to AA physicians, Bill Wilson reported that about 70 percent of alcoholics who took niacin (vitamin B3) found that they felt much better: "Evidence has mounted that many of this group reporting recoveries from depression, anxiety, tension, etc., are actually hypoglycemics, people in whom B3 is, to a considerable degree, preventing the abnormal drop of blood sugar which is characteristic of that malady."

    Wilson quotes several physicians who were treating alcoholics with niacin. One of these doctors, Jack Ward, M.D., a psychiatrist in Trenton, New Jersey, speculated that "the good response of the 'unhappy sobriety types' to niacin... is due at least in part to the effect of the B3 on the blood-sugar levels."

    Wilson also reported on the work of Russell Smith, M.D., nephew of AA cofounder Dr. Bob Smith. Russell Smith treated 507 hard-core alcoholics with six grams of niacin a day for six months. He found that 340 did very well indeed. They remained sober and their memories improved, as did their learning abilities, problem-solving skills, coping abilities, sleep, appetites, interpersonal relationships, and job performance. Another 98 reported improvements in well-being and energy. Their moods were also more stable. Of the 507, only 66 did not respond positively to the niacin therapy.

    Niacin is remarkably safe even when taken without medical supervision. There has never been a reported overdose death. However, bear in mind the following precautions:

    Since high doses can affect the liver, do not take niacin if your lab tests reveal any abnormalities of liver function. You can begin after you correct your liver problems.
    Niacin may cause flushing due to the sudden release of histamine it triggers. You don't have to give up taking niacin. The redness and itching is not harmful and will eventually disappear.
    A dose that is too high for you can cause nausea and vomiting after a few days. This gastric distress disappears twenty-four to forty-eight hours after discontinuing niacin.
    Niacin may elevate blood sugar in some diabetics. If so, substitute niacinamide, another form of Vitamin B3; it will have no effect on insulin requirements.


    This mineral is essential for sugar metabolism. Refined sugars force a 20 percent increase in the excretion of chromium into the blood, depleting the stores needed to control abnormal glucose fluctuations.

    Take chromium picolinate, not inorganic chromium salts. Chromium picolinate is the newest and best absorbed kind of chromium. It will help stabilize blood sugar by raising levels that are too low or lowering levels that are too high.

    Chromium levels were extremely low in ninety-one of the one hundred alcoholics participating in our HRC study. (The only client with high chromium levels had been wearing a chromium wire brace in his mouth. Alcohol eroded the metal, causing him to ingest chromium particles, which were then stored in his tissues.) Chromium picolinate will speed improvement in glucose availability and reverse your hypoglycemic symptoms.

    Incidentally, you may be interested to know that chromium can protect you against stroke and heart attack. In countries where chromium intake and tissue levels are high, the incidence of heart attack and stroke is low. What's more, tests of patients with severe heart disease have shown that they have virtually no chromium available in the aorta, the heart's major artery. There is good medical evidence that chromium deficiency contributes to the buildup of plaque, the fatty deposits that clog coronary arteries and precipitate heart attacks.

    Other Important Nutrients

    You may have learned about glutamine, vitamin C, magnesium, and pantothenic acid in the exploration of this website, but you may be interested to know how they help control hypoglycemia and stave off cravings for sugar.


    In the brain, glutamine is converted to glutamic acid, the only alternate source of glucose available to the brain. It provides a ready source of brain fuel for hypoglycemics and helps stave off sugar cravings and hypoglycemic symptoms that develop when blood-sugar levels drop too low.

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C is very effective against stress. The adrenal glands use large amounts for hormone production. Adrenal supplies of vitamin C can become severely depleted as a result of hypoglycemia and associated sugar cravings.


    Supplements help to stabilize blood-sugar levels of hypoglycemics.

    Pantothenic Acid

    Alcohol destroys the pantothenic acid needed for normal production of all the adrenal hormones, including cortisone. Under these circumstances, the adrenal glands lose their ability to protect you from stress. As you now know, hypoglycemia also weakens the adrenals. Replacing lost pantothenic acid will help repair the damage.

    Caffeine and Nicotine Have to Go

    Before you unplug your computer and say, "That's it! I can't follow this @##%% program!", let me assure you that I do not expect you to stop smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee right now. But both will have to go in the near future to be successful in your battle with hypoglycemia.

    As you know, caffeine and nicotine aggravate hypoglycemia by setting in motion that now-familiar scenario in which the adrenals release adrenaline in response to low blood sugar, prompting the liver to release glycogen. Blood sugar then rises, and the pancreas begins to pump out insulin, overshooting the mark and causing another drop in blood sugar. The result is a quick, short-lived lift followed by fatigue that can last for hours. If you continue to drink coffee and smoke, your body will pay a high price.


    There is no question that caffeine can wire you and bring on restlessness, depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, shakiness, and bone-tired fatigue. Consider the case of Brent, a young waiter admitted to our clinic last year. He was subject to sudden panic attacks, spells of heart-pounding and overpowering fearfulness that his physician had been treating with the drug Inderal, a blood-pressure medication that has a calming effect. After we convinced Brent to give up the forty cups of coffee he had been drinking daily, his panic attacks, as well as his insomnia and tremors, disappeared.

    If you are drinking five or more cups of coffee a day, you may develop severe headaches, listlessness, and nervousness if you stop cold turkey. You will do better by reducing your daily intake gradually over the course of a week. Do not substitute decaffeinated coffee. Instead, switch to caffeine-free herbal teas or sparkling water with lime or lemon.

    You will soon be rewarded for all these sacrifices with more energy, more restful sleep, and, most important, reduced cravings for sugar and alcohol.

    Nicotine Addiction

    Almost every smoker admitted wants to quit smoking but can't. That isn't surprising. Nicotine is probably the most addictive substance known. There was John, who had been in detox almost every weekend that year. Although he was only twenty-eight, he had been in four treatment programs. None had worked for him.

    In the middle of the initial interview, John stood up and announced that he had to smoke a cigarette. He told me he smoked two and a half packs a day but wished he could quit. I suggested that by detoxing his brain and body systems, his cravings for alcohol would disappear. Although he was miserably ill with alcoholism, he had a bright, inquiring mind. He agreed to follow our biochemical repair program to the letter to see if I was right.

    Giving up cigarettes was almost harder for John than giving up alcohol. With the help of Nicorette gum and the very same nutrient program I am recommending to you, he went off to the north woods of Minnesota for a weekend and came back a nonsmoker. It has been almost a year since he completed treatment. He has remained free of all drugs and continues to maintain his healthy new lifestyle.

    Millions of people have successfully quit smoking. With the proper tools and support, you will too.

    But don't worry. You need not quit smoking... yet. Instead, concentrate on staying free of alcohol, refined sugars, and caffeine. After you rid your system of these toxic substances, your body will be much more cooperative when you stop smoking. For the time being, just be aware of how many cigarettes you smoke every day and try to cut down a little.

    Now, let's take a look at the diet you will be using to bring hypoglycemic symptoms under control.

    The Hypoglycemic (Anti-allergy) Diet for Alcoholics

    This diet is extremely healthy. It is high in complex carbohydrates and temporarily eliminates dairy products and wheat. Before you begin, read the following instructions:

    One meal each day should consist largely of vegetables. Big salads will do the trick.
    When buying food, read labels carefully. Most canned soup and juice, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing, and canned vegetables contain sugar and/or starch. You can get sugar-free products at food co-ops or health-food stores.
    Do not use any food that lists sugar among the first four ingredients on the label.
    Throw out junk food containing refined sugar. You will be snacking on healthy foods frequently so you won't feel hungry.
    Substitute soy milk or fresh goat's milk or Rice Dream (Imagine Foods, Palo Alto, California) for cow's milk. Some HRC clients are afraid that goat's milk will taste terrible, but most find that it tastes just like cow's milk (but, I admit, it depends on the goat).
    Avoid aspirin compounds including Anacin; Empirin, cold tablets; Midol, Trigesic, and medications containing alcohol (read the labels). Bayer aspirin is caffeine-free and may be used.

    Shopping Tips

    Choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible: fresh vegetables and fruits; fresh meats, fish, chicken, and eggs; raw nuts and seeds; and fresh salad greens.
    Avoid canned, processed, dyed, chemically flavored, frozen, additive-laden foods.
    If you can't find millet bread or brown rice bread at your super-market, try a food cooperative. Some health-food stores also carry these whole-grain substitutes for wheat bread. Before you buy rye or oat bread, read the label. Wheat is usually the first ingredient listed.
    Don't buy roasted nuts. The process of high-heat roasting cause undesirable changes in the natural oils the nuts contain. In the body, this altered oil can promote formation of free radicals, dangerously unstable molecules capable of damaging healthy tissue and promoting the development of cancer. Choose only raw nuts and seeds.
    Pass up luncheon meats (Spam, bacon, ham, bologna). They are loaded with refined sugars and cancer-causing nitrates.
    You can find fruit-sweetened jams at a food co-op or health food store.
    Drink flavored sparkling water (read the label to confirm that it is sugar free).
    Cut your salt intake by using lite salt, which is half potassium (needed for cellular energy) and half sodium.

    Meal Preparation Tips

    Peel fruits and vegetables or remove outer layers to avoid pesticide residues.
    Steam your vegetables (if you cook them in water, you will lose much of their vitamin and mineral content). You can get a steamer that fits inside any pot in most houseware departments. Cook vegetables until they are almost tender, not soggy.
    Raw vegetables are your best choice; they also make excellent snacks.
    Use fruit juice on cereal if you don't have soy, rice, or goat's milk (The ban on cow's milk is only a temporary measure until you have had your allergy test.)
    Keep a lot of assorted nuts, sunflower seeds, apples, oranges, carrot sticks, celery, and other raw vegetables on hand for snacking.

  2. #2
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    Very helpful article.

  3. #3
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    Niacin to fix hypnoglycemia

    This is very helpful, I had the worst case of Hypoglycemia and had to go to almost a south beach style diet for a long time to fix it. I didn't know Niacin can help fix that too. That is good news.


  4. #4
    Registered User. paulywogg's Avatar

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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    this is pretty cool info

  5. #5
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    This is an extract from a book I often recommend. I started taking supplements from her company YEARS before I got the strength to quit.
    Some would say ' well that proves they don't work' BUT they kept me healthy until I found the STRENGTH to quit.
    I never looked ill after 23 years of daily half bottle vodka, never had altered liver enzymes, never missed work.

    And, more importantly, had no real withdrawals OR cravings when I quit.

    Nine months sober and I STILL take a heap of supplements. After a quarter century of abuse I do not expect these damaged biochemical pathways to be instantly fixed.

  6. #6
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    I think sometimes people see things on the internet and think, wow, that sounds just like... but I guess the problem I have with this comparison is that I suffered from hypoglycemic episodes daily for a few years and IMO if you are experiencing hypoglycemia there is no mistake about it. You suddenly experience fatique, drowsiness, weakness, inability to think (even to the point where you can't talk), you slur your words, you may not be able to understand what people are saying to you, you may break out in a sweat and your heart may start racing, and you can feel very angry and aggressive in that state, but it's a pretty dramatic event where your body is starved of sugar and stops functioning properly so it's not like you would just wander around thinking "i want a drink", you know when you are in a hypo and it takes a long time to recover from an episode because it's very taxing on your body, so I just don't see how anyone could mistake it for dry drunk syndrome realistically.

  7. #7
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    I agree with this article. Supplements and diet are key....probably hypo issues led us to addiction in the first place. As far as the diet goes.......after about a month your taste buds are all replaced. As far as my case I did relapse a few times........but what was the trigger?.......cheating on the diet. Sups and diet reduce craves by a huge percentage.....80?......90?%. Maybe. Any more info I would love to hear about. Thanks.

  8. #8
    Registered User. Zenstyle's Avatar

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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    Yep, supplements really help with cravings. Years ago I used to rant about amino acids but, honestly, it is more about a balanced intake now the way I perceive it than the individual supps. The corner stone of my supps starts with B vitamins, aminos, and fish oils still... that has not changed. And I will always take Milk Thistle... that became a no brainer years ago and it's just stuck since then. And I take at least 2000mg of Vit C a day, usually twice that. I actually take a LOT of stuff... too much to list... and I can vouch that getting the extra supplements eases the craviings.

  9. #9
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    Dry-Drunk Syndrome/Hypoglycemia

    This is very interesting, thanks for posting. The only things missing from the 'diet' section are meat and fat. A quick look at the research will tell you that these two foods are key to keeping blood sugar nice and low, and steady. All the fruits and veggies and juices recommended would be counter-productive.

    Greens and berries are very important, but most modern fruits, and veggies like corn, beets and potatoes are way too sweet.

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