There is strong evidence that alcoholism and alcohol abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Alcoholics are often deficient in vitamins A, B1, B3, C, D, E, and K. They also tend to be lacking in the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Therefore, using nutritional therapy for alcoholism treatment has a logical basis.

Nutritional therapy for alcoholism identifies nutritional deficiencies in the alcoholic patient. It then works to correct those deficiencies.

In addition to those listed above, practitioners often recommend the use of nutritional substances.

  • carnitine
  • beta-Carotene
  • branched-chain amino acid
  • Nutritional Therapy for Alcoholismchromium
  • copper
  • d-alpha tocopherol
  • folic acid
  • glutamine
  • glutathione
  • lecithin
  • methionine
  • phosphorus
  • selenium
  • vitamins B2, B6, B9, & B12

It is reasonable to suggest that eliminating those deficiencies might be a good therapy. That’s why much medical research has focused on this subject. But the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism  has found that “Although various nutritional approaches have been touted as ‘cures’ for alcoholism, there is little evidence to support such claims.”

Of course everyone, including an alcoholic, benefits from adequate nutrition. This is essential for good health. But nutrition is not, itself, an effective therapy.

It’s unfortunate that nutritional therapy for alcoholism has virtually no evidence of effectiveness.

Some other popular therapies are often little better. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) has a self-reported success rate of only about 5%. Thus, only one of every 20 alcoholics achieves sobriety through A.A. This is less than the natural cure rate of as much as 36%. About one of every three people is successful with no therapy of any kind. AA seems to inhibit recovery for many people.

The good news is that there are programs that have much better success than A.A. Those seeking either to abstain from alcohol or to reduce their consumption have many choices. They include these.

Moderation Management.

HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support).


Women for Sobriety.

SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training).

Rational Recovery.

Life Process Program.

For those who want a non-12-step alcohol rehab, there’s a wide choice located around the U.S. To see a list, visit Non-12-Step Rehabs. Information useful in selecting a facility can be found at Checklist for Choosing a Rehab, Rehab Accreditation is Important, and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors: Accept Nothing Less.

Further Reading

Readings on Nutritional Therapy for Alcoholism

  • Biery, J.R., et al. Alcohol craving in rehabilitation: assessment of nutrition therapy. J Am Dietetic Assn, 1991, 91, 463-466.
  • Gant, C. and Lewis, G. End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program that Can Set You Free. NY: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Hoffer, A, and Saul, A.W. The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health, 2013.
  • Larson, J.M. Seven Weeks to Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism through Nutrition. NY: Ballantine Books, 1994.
  • Lieber, C.S. Hepatic, metabolic, and nutritional disorders of alcoholism: from pathogenesis to therapy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci, 2000, 37(6), 551–584.
  • NIAAA. Alcohol and Nutrition: Alcohol Alert From NIAAA. Bethesda, MD: NIAAA, 2000.
  • Shuman, S.F. Research into the place of Nutritional Therapy and Exercise in a Program of Recovery from Substance Addiction and Process Addiction. Ph.D. diss. Union Institute, 1999.


1. NIAAA. Alcohol and Nutrition. Rockville, MD: NIAAA Alcohol Alert No. 22 PH 346 October 1993, updated 2000, p. 1.

Disclaimer: This website is informational only. It makes no suggestions or recommendations about alcohol, drinking, rehabs, programs, or any other matter and none should be inferred. Neither this website nor your host receives any compensation, directly or indirectly, from listing or describing any program. Such listing or description does not imply endorsement. [+]

Filed Under: Treating Alcoholism: General Approaches