There is really no way for me to tell if you have low stomach acid. But I have read on the net that you can test this: Start with one betaine (HCL) tablet at the beginning of a meal and if you don't feel anything different in your stomach area, try taking two with the next meal and so forth until you start to experience a slight burning sensation. When this happens back off the dosage with one or two tablets.
I also wanted to include that I feel my energy levels are finally on the way up. Even though I'm very health conscious and spend most of my budget on good, quality food, I always felt extremely tired and generally low. No wonder as I wasn't actually assimilating any of the nutrients. I am dealing with metal poisoning too, so an increased nutrient uptake will definitely help me detox better. Oh, and another thing I need to add is that I've noticed I don't get the blood Sugar fluctuating symptoms anymore. I used to be extremely sensitive to any refined carbohydrates/sugar where my heart would pound and I'd get brainfog after a sugary meal. I know that acids such as vinegar (malic acid) and lemon ( citric acid ) are recommended to take with meals so to lower the high blood Sugar levels. I guess the HCL is doing this now.
I have a suspected leaky gut situation and the HCL has not been a problem at all, on the contrary.
The HCL supplement I'm taking provides 325mg betaine and 59mg pepsin. I take/need two with large meals and take one with small, such as a sandwich. I also take one digestive enzyme with each meal.
PS Zinc is also known to stimulate digestive juices. HCL and zinc are dependant upon each other. Without HCL zinc will not be absorbed and HCL and protein digestive enzymes will not be made without zinc. This mineral is also paramount for the healing of a leaky gut. I thought I'd give this a mention as alcoholics (or previous such as yourself) are generally very low in zinc.