Nearly everyone is addicted to something. Addictions aren’t always to drugs which alter the biochemical state of the body instantly and acutely. Addictions can also erupt from any activity that alters the body’s chemistry from strenuous exercise to vomiting (as in bulimia). I define addiction as being overly drawn to a substance or activity to varying degrees. Addictions emerge stealthily and without warning because the body, which is highly adjustable, alters itself to cope with the repetitive action or use of a substance. Essentially, all addictive patterns emerge because the oversecretion of certain biochemicals and hormones worsens the condition that it temporarily relieves (i.e. caffeine leading to chronic fatigue).
The more you drink alcohol, for example, the more the body readjusts and the more dependent it becomes on receiving alcohol to carry out basic functions, like producing serotonin and melatonin. Before you know it you can become entrenched in negative feeling, thinking, and depression, and thus have a tireless preoccupation with painful past events, become irritable, have insomnia, lack energy, etc. The bottle becomes like an extra organ with an essential function, and alcohol in a way becomes a “hormone” that the body depends on to achieve homeostasis.
In other words, without alcohol your body and mind do not work properly, and thus the physical/emotional need to drink continues with greater intensity at each octave, especially for those with a genuine inherited sensitivity to alcoholism. This is precisely why an addiction like this is incredibly difficult to overcome through some form of counseling or motivation alone, because the heart of the problem lies in the basic physical biochemistry of the human body as a whole. The debilitating mental states of most alcoholics is a side effect of alcoholism and not the cause as some have been led to believe.
Think about it like this. Let’s say that through counseling it’s possible to get someone who is addicted to alcohol to feel confident and motivated about overcoming their addiction. At that moment, they feel balanced and centered. This balanced emotion is like a round ball on a see-saw. You can place the ball wherever you want, but it won’t stay there until the see-saw (the basic physical biochemistry of the human body including the mind) stops violently swaying up and down.
It doesn’t really matter how much an addicted person psyches themselves up to quit, because as soon as a lull in hormones and biochemicals comes along, the ability to make choices in accordance with personal goals and aspirations is eliminated. Those addicted to powerful drugs and/or alcohol are often the result of much harsh judgment and scorn from friends, family, and society in general. And much of this comes from people who cannot break simple addictions to mild substances like Cappuccinos, chocolate, and cookies! This is a simple misunderstanding of addiction, and the result is often more negative fuel to perpetuate a person’s need for an addictive substance.
I, for example, was a sugar addict my entire life until about six months ago. For ten solid years I repeatedly set goals to eliminate, or at least significantly reduce sugar from my diet. As my knowledge of health and nutrition grew, I still lacked the ability to coach myself into avoiding sugar. I always failed and beat myself up for a lack of discipline and willpower. My failures were never from a lack of knowledge or desire. It was from being unable to overcome my own physiology.
Fortunately, I’ve found a way out of sugar, and based on my studies of caffeine and alcohol I’m extremely confident that the same principles apply to relieving addictions to these substances as well.
What has amazed me in my studies of breaking sugar, caffeine, and alcohol addictions, is that the same supplements are recommended for overcoming all of them. This is because all of these addictive substances (and many others like nicotine and artificial sweeteners) affect the entire endocrine system, the biochemical/hormone regulation system of the human body, in a similar way. The amino acids glutamine, tyrosine, and tryptophan are always recommended. Magnesium, a B vitamin supplement, and large doses of vitamin C are recommended, as well as the herb St. John’s Wort.
In a desperate situation, these supplements can probably be utilized effectively. In fact, supplement fanatic Joan Mathews Larson, author of the groundbreaking book Seven Weeks to Sobriety, has achieved a 74% long term success rate for alcoholics with her program, as opposed to less than 25% (same as the suicide rate for alcoholics who seek treatment) for programs that focus on the mental aspects of addiction without making any kind of attempt to heal the fundamental malfunctions of the mind/body.
However, and this is a huge “however,” all of these nutrients can be found in nutritious food – an irrefutably superior form. In addition, whole nutritious fats and proteins are priceless tools for healing damage, balancing hormones, and achieving the mental/emotional balance and stability required for living your life in the driver’s seat and becoming free from the downward spiral of addictions – both minor and major. By slowing digestion and the secretion of substances like sugar, alcohol, and caffeine into the bloodstream, fat and protein, consumed in ample quantity with every meal, truly keeps the body and mind fully stable.
To overcome any addiction that you might have, it is vitally important to nourish yourself with foods that give you sustained stability (fats and proteins) first and foremost. Don’t even think about cutting out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc. or even reducing your intake unless you can commit to feeding your body appropriately. For more on this I highly recommend The Schwarzbein Principle by Diana Schwarzbein, an extremely successful endocrinologist in Santa Barbara, CA.
And remember this if nothing else…
Failure to overcome addiction or escape from unhealthy habits and patterns is not purely from a lack of wanting or trying. It’s not from ignorance about “x being bad for you.” Addiction, and what comes with it, is a self-perpetuating physical/mental/emotional state that is intertwined and virtually cannot be overcome without supplying the body with the tools it needs to rebuild and rebalance itself. All addictions are the same, the only variance is the strength of the addictive substances.
How many times have you seen someone smoking and said, “Oh my gosh, that’s so bad. How can they do that to themselves? What an idiot!” Remember that you are most likely addicted to something as well, it just happens to be something that the general public mistakenly thinks isn’t as unhealthy as cigarettes. And neither you nor smokers, nor anyone with any addiction are “idiots,” just failures, up until now, to find the most fundamental yet powerful tool to eliminating temptation: truly proper nourishment.
-With every meal, eat lots (40-80 grams roughly) of fat from raw grassfed butter and other raw dairy products, extra virgin coconut oil, avocado, pastured organic lard and tallow, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, meats, and seafood.
-With every meal, eat roughly 20-50 grams protein, preferably animal protein from pastured organic meats, organ meats, eggs, and poultry (raw and cooked), raw grassfed dairy products, and wild seafood (raw and cooked).
-Obtain carbohydrates primarily through whole grains, root vegetables, and an occasional piece of fruit paired with snacks and meals consisting of ample protein and fat. –
Eat snacks anytime, but make sure fat and protein exceeds carbohydrates.
-Make sure any exercise you do is slow, steady, and does not continue beyond the point of exhaustion during your recovery period.
-Get plenty of sleep.
-Have reasonable expectations: expect occasional failures along the way so as not to label them catastrophes. Focus more on moving patiently and persistently in the direction of improvement, not perfection.
Look for more on specific addictions in future editions, and please share this link with anyone who stands to benefit from this information!