Adrenal Function in Alcoholism and Addictions (or it’s still not in your head)

Adrenal Function in Alcoholism and Addictions

A common, but often ignored, component of alcoholism and some other addictions is fatigued adrenal glands.  Adrenal fatigue and its associated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) may often precede substance abuse, and create physiological and biochemical conditions that can be conducive to addiction – whether the addictive substance is alcohol, carbohydrates or stimulants.

For many alcoholics, and food and drug addicts, these conditions also tend to intensify their craving for the abused substance.  Conversely, the adrenal glands can become fatigued by the continual overuse of alcohol, stimulants or carbohydrates.  In either case, adrenal fatigue may be an intimate component of addiction.

Adrenal support can greatly enhance the treatment protocol for alcoholism and many other types of addiction.  Alcohol, carbohydrate and stimulant craving is often driven by the body’s desperate need for quick energy that may result partly from weak or fatigued adrenal function.  For example, alcohol is a naked carbohydrate in an extremely refined form (more refined than white sugar) that quickly finds it way into the cells, forcing them to generate energy at a rapid rate.  However, this sets off a blood sugar roller coaster and uses up nutrients that are not replaced by the alcoholic beverage.  Although the alcohol consumption may temporarily compensate for some of the effects of low adrenal function, it also requires the adrenals to respond by manufacturing and secreting hormones to regulate the energy production, help balance blood sugar and maintain homeostasis.  As a result, the extra demands placed on the adrenals may further fatigue them, exacerbating the craving for alcohol.  In a similar way, carbohydrate bingeing and use of stimulants can temporarily mask, but ultimately exacerbate low adrenal function.

We recommend that people experiencing adrenal fatigue do not consume alcohol or stimulants, and avoid refined carbohydrates as much as possible.

For more information on adrenal fatigue, what it is, how you get it and what to do about it, and other related conditions see here:

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4 Responses to Adrenal Function in Alcoholism and Addictions (or it’s still not in your head)

  1. Noel says:

    Hello there.

    That’s a really fascinating article. It’s not just the adrenal glands become fatigued due to overdoing alcohol, etc on a frequent basis, the narcissistic nature of the AA rooms can themselves leave the adrenals knackered and leave the sufferer prone to all sorts of nasty illnesses or clapped out immune systems, or even exacerbate existing conditions.

    Here’s a site that addresses narcissistic abuse. This abuse is uncannily similar to that seen in that programme. . There’s plenty of food for thought there and I hope you find it useful.

    • girlscoutuk says:


      Thanks for reading, and for commenting, sorry slow responding, I away in Greece at the mo’. Yes I agree, I think we underestimate just how much body chemistry affects us – and it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, which came first, the whacky biochemistry, or the chemical overuse – in my case, the former. And I think AA is a haven for narcissists, I will have a look at that article! Thanks

  2. Noel says:

    You’re welcome. Thanks for your reply. I have Lupus which I’m sure was brought about by stress. Overuse of alcohol, etc. prior to me going into AA accelerated the onset of the lupus. Just to clarify my earlier post, I believe the whole AA milieu is ideal for adrenal fatigue to be sustained (as well as for it to be brought about) due to the narcissism & emotional abuse that’s so prevalent, not to mention the ghastly thirteenth stepping, and also the consumption of loads of caffeine and sugar at those meetings. Therefore those with auto-immune illnesses are at great danger of seeing their conditions relapse in such a physically and emotionally stressful environment. With me, I had 3 serious relapses of lupus while I was in those rooms. I’m out a year on 7/8 and I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off me. My health has improved somewhat too. Sorry to read about your truly hideous experiences with your illness and with AA. Keep on looking after yourself.

    Have a whale of a time while you are in Greece!

    • girlscoutuk says:


      Sorry a bit slow approving this, I am now in Turkey for two weeks, after flying from the island I was on, to Athens, then Istanbul, and then Dalaman! I’m having a great time, and it’s so nice to be free from all that AA dogma and fear about ‘being away from meetings’ – I honestly don’t miss them at all. I met an American friend in London a few weeks ago (the lady who made the film the 13th step) and she wanted to see an English AA meeting and I took her to Soho Sober – we left after the chair, it was SO DEPRESSING and DREARY and the cognitive dissonance and sheer weight of repressed gunk in the room was too much to bear! Happy anniversary for tomorrow – we should make chips and celebrate our ‘time’ out of the stupid place! My health is MUCH better since I left AA too, I totally agree with you, it’s a vicious circle and just not healthy on any level. Take care, Girlscout x

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