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Alcoholism Disease Or Allergy

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Hi friends,
at a recent aa meeting we were reading the Dr.S opinion just before chapter one of the big book.Here Dr. Silkworth "suggests" and "theorizes" that alcoholism is some form of an allergy.When I rightly informed my group that this wasn't true ,but only a theory,i was whole heartedly disagreed with.Some cited that allergies make you "crave the allergen"ie:chocolate,seafood etc.Others just seemed content to want to put their own lable on their alcoholism.My question therefore is "is alcoholism in anyway an allergy?I agree that components of alcoholic beverages can be concidered allergens,ie: barley.Sulfites in wine.Etc.
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First Helper DMacD
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replied March 30th, 2004
Experienced User
Alcoholism Or Allergy
Allergies are blamed for a lot of illnesses, but I come from a family of alcoholics. There is no way. My mother dies because of it and my brother exchanged one addiction for another. He turned to coffee. My addiction is food. My daughters is food. I don't believe everything that is written out there. And like you said it is only a theory. Wink
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replied April 19th, 2004
Alcoholisim Or Allergy
Hi ganzestadt

in answer to your question, may I suggest you get hold of the book "the sugar addict's total recovery programme" by kathleen desmaisons phd.

It is a well written, intelligent book that I believe all alcoholics/families of alcoholics should read. I had a friend who had been a sober alcoholic for years but still had a weight problem. I loaned the book to her, she followed the dietary advice, & cried.

She cried because she said she wished the book had been written years before as she felt it would have saved her a years of misery.

She also lost 4st in weight, advises she has more energy than she's had in years & feels her consentration & mental agility have improved.

I think in many years to come the author, kathleen desmaisons, will be proved right.
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replied December 28th, 2007
a Message That Is Food For Thought
Here is a study you might find interesting:

"Joseph Beasley, et. al., (1991) tested 108 alcoholics for allergies in a treatment program in Amityville, New York and found allergies in the following percentages: corn, 75.9 percent; milk, 74.1 percent; peanut 67.6 percent; cocoa, 66.7 percent; whole egg, 60.2 percent; orange, 57.4 percent; tomato, 52.8 percent; shrimp, 48.1 percent; and wheat 46.3 percent. Beasley did not test for rye allergy, but other investigators have found a high percentage of alcoholics are allergic to rye. Many beverage alcohols are fermented from corn, wheat and rye. Distillation can concentrate allergenic cogeners, present in these foods."

I am a recovering alcoholic. Is a conincidence that I also have known food allergies to milk and wheat and that I am an alcoholic? Other allergens such as yeast are suspected, but can not be confirmed because I do not have medical insurance to get tested. By the way I always favored beer (very high in yeast!) and I always loved liquor distilled from wheat.

I highly recommend people whom face this issue to explore the knowledge out there on the subject. Nutritional advice can be had, that would help an alcoholic inrecovery, as changing my diet has helped me. At the least I think that it is intriguing. Holistic options appear to be most helpful for this.

Very Happy
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replied October 24th, 2009
alcoholism as "allergy" theory
I think the term "allergy" is misleading. I am a recovering alcoholic, and firmly believe that my body does not process alcohol in the same way that a non-alcoholic's would. I don't know too many alcoholics, recovering or not, who would argue this point. I also work in the healthcare field, and am very sure that, by definition, the term "allergy" is not appropriate. I believe Dr. Silkworth used this term as a metaphor, albeit not a great one. After reading the definition(s) of the word "allergy" in Merriam-Webster, the only conclusion I can draw is that, if anything, it is the absence of an allergic reaction to alcohol which makes an alcoholic. To put it simply, if I were allergic to strawberries not only would I not want to consume them, but I would not be physically able to consume them in any great quantity. Alcoholism (and this term, too, defies any real concrete definition)is, in part, due to
a physiological reaction. It is, however, not an allergic reaction. The bottom line is this: if thinking of alcoholism as an allergy helps you to maintain your sobriety, by all means continue to do that. If it drives you a little mad to hear a medical term used improperly...get over it - I have.
physiological
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replied November 28th, 2009
"Joseph Beasley, et. al., (1991) tested 108 alcoholics for allergies in a treatment program in Amityville, New York and found allergies in the following percentages: corn, 75.9 percent; milk, 74.1 percent; peanut 67.6 percent; cocoa, 66.7 percent; whole egg, 60.2 percent; orange, 57.4 percent; tomato, 52.8 percent; shrimp, 48.1 percent; and wheat 46.3 percent. Beasley did not test for rye allergy, but other investigators have found a high percentage of alcoholics are allergic to rye. Many beverage alcohols are fermented from corn, wheat and rye. Distillation can concentrate allergenic cogeners, present in these foods."

Consistent with Dr. Beasley's 1991 study of food allergies in 108 alcoholics, Florida Detox and Wellness Institute has been finding milk, corn, wheat, and peanut allergies recently in some alcohol patients. One alcohol patient also had a soy allergy.

More thorough food sensitivity testing is being obtained for some of these alcohol patients. When a dairy allergy is identified, further testing can reveal whether whey, casein, cottage cheese and various other cheeses are involved.

Severe food allergies can stress the body severely enough to trigger a release of naturally produced opiate like endorphins, which reduce anxiety. Anxiety reduction secondary to endorphins attaching to the opiate receptor can cause people to continue consuming something they are allergic to.

Since alcohol can damage the intestinal lining there is some question concerning whether alcohol use increases food allergies, by increasing intestinal permeability.

Viewing the wide range of food allergies Beasley identified causes me to suspect some of them may result from damage to the intestinal lining.
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replied March 1st, 2010
Alcoholism and allergy
jherold630 is correct. I am a Nurse Practitioner with intensive training in mental health, including alcoholism. The disease is not an allergy by any stretch of the imagination or otherwise. It DOES, however, bother me (hearing it referred to as such). If an intelligent person wants help via AA and reads this silly theory they may turn right back around and never come back.
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replied September 23rd, 2010
gjdagis is obviously not an alcoholic working a spiritual program of action. I, for one, am. I am also an intelligent person who has received help via AA. Meaning, I am an intelligent person who has read the THEORY and did NOT turn around and never come back. Whether I agree with Dr. S or not, his opinion is his and by my turning away and never coming back I am only harming myself by not giving recovery a shot. All because I don't agree with someone's opinion?? To me, that is NOT a very intelligent choice. I, being an alcoholic myself, KNOW from MY OWN experience that Dr. Silkworth hit the nail on the head with his theory of the "Disease of Alcoholism" being an allergy of the body coupled with an obssession of the mind. It didn't take any "stretch of my imagination" to know this. I simply lived it.
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replied September 2nd, 2013
I have not had a drink in 31 years, and, yet, if I had a drink today it would not be another week before I was back where I was. The common use of the term "allergy" refers to an unusual reaction to peanuts or anything on a long list of possible allergies. My particular reaction to alcohol is obviously not the one the majority of people experience. Neither is the case for a friend of mine who has black-outs. His reaction is also highly unusual. I find the word "allergy" applicable and, at the very least, acceptable, given my condition and the condition of others.
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replied December 6th, 2013
Allergies and Alcohol Consumption
I have recently been diagnosed with an allergy to Casein the protein in dairy and dairy in general and to a lesser extent gluten, wheat & rye. Since removing these from my diet my desire to drink large quantities of wine have lessened. Wondering if in any way this is connected.
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replied October 28th, 2014
Experienced User
Alcoholism is a chemical disease because it breaks down differently in the stomach and has an entirely different effect on the brain of the alcoholic than on the non-alcoholic. It is biological in the sense that the chemical predisposition is inherited.
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