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Vol. LXI, No. 30
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
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In Fighting Addiction, a Borough Resident Looks No Further Than the Dinner Table

Matthew Hersh

A drink with dinner might be commonplace for those who drink casually, but for a Borough woman piloting a new organization geared to tackle alcoholism, the dinner table could help eradicate what is often regarded as a lifelong disease.

And while programs can approach alcoholism from a detoxification standpoint, Borough resident Dorothy Mullen is making the case that some forms of addiction can be traced to dietary deficiencies. "Wherever we see people cranky and craving, depressed or anxious, scattered and sleep deprived, we know that care for their bodies has been left out of the recovery equation," she said in a June interview over salad and, what else, sparkling water. Ms. Mullen, a holistic health care practitioner, along with her business partner Cindy, whose full identity has been withheld for this report, has launched Suppers for Sobriety, a roundtable-based organization that looks at the detoxification model of challenging addiction, but also focuses on what Ms. Mullen refers to as "addiction in its biological roots," or dietary solutions to addiction. "Our rationale for creating a group based on 'suppers' centers on nourishing cells that have been starved by alcoholism or other addictions and poor nutrition," Ms. Mullen said.

"There hasn't really been a grassroots movement for this," she said, adding that Suppers has been in the works for the past six years.

Traditional 12-step programs, Ms. Mullen said, cover the "mind and the spirit, but treatment and recovery groups don't have anything for the biological aspects of alcoholism.

"Over time though, anything that provides some comfort for some people, like sugar and coffee, is going to keep the craving for alcohol alive," she said.

Another difference is that 12-step programs are typically "wedded to their own literature, but this program encourages a forum where people can speak about other ways of dealing with addiction," as would be the case, Ms. Mullen added, at the family table.

In addition to creating a dietary regimen that may be more in line with individuals with addictive tendencies, Ms. Mullen said the preparation around eating a meal is also imperative. "Part of the education is that you learn how to cook. Instead of someone putting out coffee and cookies, they come early and chop vegetables or make a pot of stew that provides the building blocks of good brain function and stabilizes blood sugar."

A non-religious prayer follows, and then there is exposure to Suppers literature, and a "Suppers Forum" where participants share various methods outside of the program that have worked for them.

A major component of the dietary standards composed by Ms. Mullen and Cindy is a reduction of carbohydrates, not in the high-fat-only sense, but, in Ms. Mullen's assertion, in the ability of carbohydrates to quickly raise blood sugar and their addictive tendencies. "White flower, candy, soda, and alcohol don't have the same impact as chicken, brussel sprouts and peaches." Foods with concentrated carbohydrates can give people the symptoms of low blood sugar, which can include anxiety, panic attacks, depression, fainting, confusion, and fatigue, Ms. Mullen said.

Some bodies are able to combat that reaction, but often, Ms. Mullen added, those symptoms result in cravings. "It makes you want to eat something or drink something."

"Adequate" protein, high-quality fats, and lots of high-fiber carbohydrates, like fruits and vegetables, are all consequently abundant in Suppers for Sobriety dinners.

Ms. Mullen, who describes herself as a "magnet" for alcoholics on the organization's Web site,, said that she herself has fought addition — to food, alcohol, and cigarettes — in the past. Suppers for Sobriety costs a participant the price of ingredients for a meal, Ms. Mullen said. To register for one of the pilot groups, call (609) 921-0441, or e-mail Ms. Mullen at

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