recovering alcoholics

8 Medications, Foods, and Drinks a Recovering Alcoholic Should Avoid

Throughout the world, 107 million individuals have an alcohol consumption disorder. That is an estimated 1.4% of the total population. These numbers are quite disturbing but there is hope at the end of the day.

More and more people are taking the step to give up alcohol and the world is filled with recovering alcoholics on their way to full recovery, thanks to rehabilitation centers and supportive families.

Being a recovering alcoholic is tricky outside of treatment, and many face temptations and challenges on the road to full recovery. Most of the temptations exist in the form of food, drinks, and even medication.

8 Things a Recovering Alcoholic Should Avoid at All Costs

Not knowing what exactly to avoid during the recovery process can lead to relapse.
Are you a recovering alcoholic or know someone who is and are looking into what things to avoid?

Here are 8 things (foods, drinks, and medication) to avoid.

1. Sugary Foods

Many individuals on the road to recovery struggle with taking too much sugar, another bad habit that can cause harm to the human body. Alcoholics often experience a spike in their sugar levels after consuming alcohol because the human body usually converts alcohol to sugar.

When recovering alcoholics quit alcohol, their blood sugar levels drop and they begin craving sugary foods and drinks to fill that void. Recovering alcoholics need to stay away from too much sugar.

Sugar has a way of giving individuals a deep crash that often leads to depression.

So if a recovering alcoholic takes too much sugar, they might end up feeling depressed, which is quite dangerous during the recovery process. A depressed recovering alcoholic might end up craving alcohol to get rid of the feelings and that might cause a relapse.

2. Too Much Coffee

Recovering alcoholics should reduce the number of coffee cups they have per day. Work on only taking one cup of coffee per day, and mostly during morning hours. Coffee is also known to spike the body’s sugar levels.

Because of this, recovering alcoholics who take too much coffee do so because they feel like the coffee stands in the gap of the alcohol, to give them the same spike without getting drunk. Too much coffee is not safe for people trying to keep off alcohol because of the blood sugar crash on the other side of caffeine.

If a recovering alcoholic crashes, then relapse happens.

3. Foods Cooked with Alcohol

At one point in time, you may have heard people claim that when you cook food with alcohol, it cooks off and does not have any effect on a person when they eat the food. Well, that is not entirely true. The entire amount of alcohol used in cooking meals does not cook-off and the retained amount is a threat to a recovering alcoholic.

The amount of alcohol that will cook off is determined by the amount of alcohol used in the specific recipe.

Even when the alcohol cooks off and the traces of the alcohol are minimal, the alcoholic-cooked food can act as a trigger to a recovering alcoholic. Therefore, it is better to avoid any foods cooked with alcohol, as a recovering alcoholic, because you do not need any reminders of alcohol.

Why would you risk interfering with the recovery process based on claims that could be inaccurate? Prevention is much better.

4. Preservatives and Additives

This category of things to avoid as a recovering alcoholic is not really food. However, many foods contain preservatives and additives. These interfere with digestion and cause changes in the intestines, which in turn cause molecules to become oversized.

This effect tends to overwork a person’s liver and considering that a recovering alcoholic’s liver might already be damaged, this is not a good thing. When the liver becomes weaker, the immune system will also become weak and the body will not be able to fight germs easily.

5. Unhealthy Amounts of Calories

Some alcoholics look malnourished due to their poor eating habits. Many alcohol users take many calories from alcoholic drinks. Therefore, since as an alcoholic, you already took a large number of calories into your body, you need to avoid the calories during your recovery period.

Eat a healthy diet, balanced with enough vegetables and mostly the green leafy ones. Eat lots of fish, lean meat, and poultry and have avocados. You need enough of the minerals and vitamins you were not getting during your drinking times.

6. Alcoholic Mouthwashes

Recovering alcoholics should avoid all mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Go for a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol by choosing from the many available options.

Make sure you always read the labels on such products to know the ingredients contained in it.

7. OTC Meds That Contain Alcohol

Many of the medication we buy over the counter is safe, but some of them contain alcohol. Avoid such if you are a recovering alcoholic. Make sure you read all the labels on all the liquid cough medicines you buy.

Many cough syrups are known to contain alcohol, but there are several which do not contain alcohol. You need to take those that do not contain alcohol.

8. Strong Pain Medication

Strong pain meds like narcotics, needed after surgery can be tricky for recovering alcoholics. The medications cause anxiety and if a person takes them without the help of someone else, they might relapse due to the anxiety.

In cases where a recovering alcoholic is in dire need of strong pain medications, a person close to the individual needs to handle the medication and ensure that the patient takes the medication as directed.

This caregiver needs to monitor the individual until the last day and put away all leftover drugs. While you may not expect a recovering alcoholic to suffer in pain, we do encourage you to be cautious about the use of pain medications.

What to Avoid as a Recovering Alcoholic

A lack of knowledge is very dangerous. You should ensure you consider this list of things recovering alcoholic needs to avoid during the recovery journey. Keep off all medication containing alcohol, and any food cooked with alcohol.

Also, reduce caffeine and calorie intake. Follow the advice and the journey to achieving sobriety will become easier.

Contact us if you need help with your recovery process, or if you are ready to start the recovery journey.

References

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.

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