Tag Archives: heroine

Why Do Recovering Addicts Crave Sugar?

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Maybe recovering addicts, like the rest of us, reach for sugary foods and drinks because they make us feel good. Think about it: it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you’re at work and tired so you reach for a soda, candy bar, donut, or something else loaded with sugar.

Why do we crave sugar? What can we do to avoid it?

Blood sugar levels have an effect on our mood, energy level, and cravings for sugary foods. Sugar gives us energy and releases the chemical dopamine which is also called the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Recovering addicts increased dopamine with their drug of choice. But now that they no longer have the drug they are substituting sugar to get that high. If, for example, alcohol was your drug of choice, it is very high in sugar. Therefore, turning to sugar is an easy and cheap way for a recovering alcoholic to increase their blood sugar level and dopamine, and to chase that high. You will even see someone who is trying to cut down on their drinking substitute it with sugar, often starting in the morning with sugary drinks and using sugar in a similar way that they used alcohol.

The high that is produced from sugar is very short lived and usually followed by, what some people call, a “sugar crash”. The person physically feels worse, continues to crave sugar, and eat sugary foods. This is very similar to how someone craves their drug of choice.  Over time, just like with their drug of choice, the person will need more sugar to get the same “high”.

The most important part of recovery is to stay sober, but maintaining a healthy diet can also help you be more successful in your recovery as well as your work and life.  If you eat sugary foods or drink sugary drinks your blood sugar will rise and fall more rapidly than if you eat protein. Think about how you feel after you eat a couple of cookies compared to how you feel after you eat a turkey sandwich. If you eat a lot of sugar you may feel more agitated, depressed, or anxious, which can lead to relapse. When you feel good it is easier to overcome cravings, especially in early recovery.  Keeping your blood sugar level as consistent as possible by eating a healthy, balanced diet will minimize mood swings and can help you be successful in your recovery.

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Must Read: Memoirs of An Addicted Brain- A Neuroscientist Examines His For

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“This is an absolutely fabulous book that is not just about the struggle of addiction but how addiction works. I could really relate to this book because like me, Lewis traveled halfway around the world and still managed to use. His talk of the hippy scene still is in existence today and it was similar to what I fell into… Its a great read for any addict struggling with addiction, reminding you of where you came from and how you came to be trapped in the cycle of this disease. Below is a review from Scientific America.” – Love, Robyn

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Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs
by Marc Lewis. PublicAffairs, 2012

Why do we crave things and seek them compulsively, despite the consequences? As a junkie who kicked the habit and became a neuroscientist, Lewis is uniquely positioned to answer these questions.

Each chapter of Lewis’s memoirs recounts an episode of his life: as a homesick 15-year-old at a prep school in New Jersey, where he got drunk and smoked pot for the first time; then as a Berkeley undergraduate during the hippie heyday of the late 1960s, when he experimented with methamphetamines, LSD and heroin. In the jungles of Malaysia he sniffed nitrous oxide and bought heroin directly from the factory, and in Calcutta he frequented opium dens. Back in his hometown of Toronto, Lewis descended into a life of addiction, desperation and petty crime.

Lewis also weaves in how each drug acts on the brain. LSD, he explains, alters sensory information, so that “perception opens up into this massive cascade of colors, shapes and patterns,” whereas heroin produces a dramatic shift in brain physiology to put one “into a state of safety, comfort, warmth [and] pleasure.” The book effortlessly explores the experience of being under their influence. Lewis explains how cycles of anticipation and reward are fundamental to the human condition, drawing parallels between drug addiction and our cravings, such as sex, money or material goods. Drug addiction, however, is far more powerful, as it mercilessly hijacks the brain’s reward circuitry, priming us to single-mindedly seek out these chemical rewards at the expense of relationships and work. Lewis eventually climbed out of addiction and returned to school to focus on psychology and neuroscience. “Drawn by a need to understand my own dark years, I came around—full circle—to study the neuroscience of addiction,” he writes.

Even after 30 years of being clean, addicts’ brains are wired to desire narcotics, leaving them “vulnerable for the rest of their lives.” For Lewis, filling his life with a meaningful career and a loving family has helped him resist those temptations.

The Chemistry of Addiction

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This is a great informative video by one of my favourite Youtube geeks, Hank on the SciShow channel. If your looking for more answers than just the description in the big book, Hank will let you know how exactly we react chemically to drugs. This is why we are addicts, KNOW YOUR BRAIN!!

“Published on Nov 18, 2012
Hank describes how our brains respond biochemically to various addictive substances and behaviors and where those responses have come from, evolutionarily speaking.

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