& Other Solutions
By Emily Kane, N.D.
JOURNAL November/December 2008
IN THIS LAND OF PLENTY, a conservative estimate calls four out of ten
Americans "addicts." Abused substances include sugar, caffeine,
alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs and street drugs, including pot.
Addiction can serve us well once we recognize that substance abuse is
a way to obscure honest, peaceful self-discovery. Using any addictive
substance gives us the temporary illusion of control, excitement and perfection.
In recovery we discover, often to our great relief, that we're not perfect,
that we need intimacy, and that integrity is more appealing than denial.
The addict is self-obsessed, living for the next "fix." The
addict is crisis oriented, using panic as a way of feeling alive while
avoiding meaningful contact with others. In recovery we let go of our
need to control, in favor of serenity and clarity.
SUGAR, DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
Scientists from different
schools of thought have attempted to explain addiction. Some say the culprit
is a genetic lack of the feel-good, sleep-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin.
Others say early brain cell damage begets lack of feedback inhibition
for normal cravings, driving them out of balance. For example, non-addictive
persons who eat some sugar will be satisfied (in terms of simple carbohydrates)
for several hours. The addictive person, by contrast, will crave even
more sugar after consuming a moderate serving. This may be due, in addicts,
to a lack of endorphin stimulation when a healthy physiologic craving
is satisfied. Other researchers and physicians contend that addiction
is largely a response to depres- . sion. Addiction is major problem in
this country, whatever the cause. Sugar addiction is perhaps the most
insidious because the substance is so cheap, so available and so universally
regarded as a "treat."
Addiction spells confusion.
For example, street drugs are "bad" while prescription drugs
are "good," despite the statistics which show that in any recent
year, death due
to complications from prescription
drug overdose is 50 times more likely than death from street drugs. Nevertheless,
IV "recreational" drug addicts are the long-term reservoir for
AIDS, and the vast proportion of criminal activity among teenagers is
due to the cocaine trade. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are socially
condoned although they contribute to a substantial percentage of hospitalizations
in the U.S.
If you ingest white sugar
daily, drink alcohol daily or have an immediate family member who is alcoholic,
or feel depressed frequently, you may have a problem with addiction without
realizing it. Please take a good look; the crucial initiation of breaking
free from addiction is recognizing the substance abuse and seeking help
to maintain the commitment ill quit.
Addiction results from
a multifactorial network of choices; the treatment
approach must address not
only the physical, but the mental and emotional (spiritual) as well. One
reason the 12-step programs (Alcoholics Anonymou~. Narcotics Anonymous,
Overeaters Anonymous, Spenders Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics,
etc.) are so successful is that they are free of charge and thus require
only the commitment of the participant for attendance. Sometimes people
need stronger measures to kick their habit at the beginning. But quitting
per se is not so difficult; the trick is staying substance or behavior
free. Many addicts have incurred so many physical and mental changes that
they need to get their fix merely to sustain homeostasis. In other words,
withdrawal can be very rough. And the better prepared we aare for withdrawal,
whether it be from inhaled crack or chocolate, the better we will be able
to handle the rocky road back to recovery.
The basic parameters for
recovery are the same as for any rehabilitation: good high fiber; fresh
veggies; plenty of pure water; regular adequate sleep; daily exercise;
heartfelt participation in group activities. It's good to engage instead
of isolate. The more people know you're trying to quit, the more help
will be spontaneously offered, and the more comfortable you'll be with
asking for help and taking baby steps towards your new reality.
The cornerstone of my own
recovery was aa desire to hear that small and enormously personal inner
voice that would usually get drowne~ in the substances night after night.
Breaking free of addictive ha.bits is a blessed opportunity to engage
in the ultimate purpose oflife - to know yourself. Mean- wwhile, there
are a few natural support mechanisms that may help.
SUPPLEMENTARY AND NUTRITIONAL
1. Good old vitamin C,
preferably the powdered form (1/4 tsp. = 1 gram). Take up to 12 grams
daily. Vitamin C is the single mqst potent free radical scavenga and will
help cleanse and oxygenate the tissues. It will also help to keep the
bowels moving; a very important component of getting clean and sober.
2. The amino acid glutamine
is a so-called amino radical, useful in detox, as well as acting as an
excitatory neurotransmitter. Glutamine; 1 gram 4-6 time daily on an empty
stomach, will stimulate the body's natural opiates, the endo: phins and
eukephalins, to help us through the cravings.
3. Essential fatty acids
(preferably flax oil, cold, raw, 1 tablespoon daily) in combination with
the sulfur proteins (foods with cysteine or methionine, suc~ yogurt, eggs,
codfish, sesame paste, garlic and onions) will render fat-soluble toxins
water soluble, allowing the toxic wastes, which are preferentially stora:
in the body's fat cells, to be flushed out via the kidneys and sweat glands.