Effect of Sugar In Addiction Recovery Process
It’s long been a common practice to help those recovering from an addiction to using replacement therapy. For instance, when assisting smokers in quitting, practitioners will often prescribe low-doses of nicotine products to wean someone off of cigarettes altogether eventually. This is sometimes even a practice in alcohol use disorders (1), with the ultimate goal to be abstaining from alcohol altogether. It’s also not uncommon to use sugar in addiction recovery (2), as it’s often thought to be a harmless replacement.
But what happens when we try to replace one addiction with another substance? It may be as highly addictive, but seemingly innocuous when compared to alcohol or drug misuse and addiction. Are you, in effect, creating a new dependency when you use sugar in addiction recovery? There has been a log of research on the connection between sugar and addictive behaviors (3). If you’re looking for sobriety, sugar is most likely not the best recovery plan.
Sugar In Addiction Recovery: Rewarding Surviving
There’s a fair amount of research available about the effects of sugar on your brain. Dopamine is a ‘feel-good’ chemical that is released in your body when you experience something pleasurable. It’s released when you eat food you enjoy, engage in sexual activity, enjoy music at a favorite concert, and even when you participate in drug use. Dopamine makes you feel good, and research suggests that eating sugary foods produces dopamine in your body. Your brain uses dopamine as a reward for reinforcing behaviors that it believes are important to survival. Some of these behaviors are eating foods in high protein for nutrition, sexual activity for procreation, etc. (4) In essence, the dopamine is an encouragement chemical so that you continue engaging in the behavior.
Unfortunately, that dopamine release happens regardless of whether an activity or substance is good for us. Research has found high-levels of dopamine may lead to increased risk-taking behavior (5). When it comes to the effect of sugar in addiction recovery, it can lead to unhealthy body habits, obesity, diabetes, and more. (6)
Sugar can be as much as eight times as addictive as cocaine is (7). So, when you replace alcohol with sugar, you may just be replacing one dangerous addiction with another.
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How Sugar And Alcohol Are Connected
Lou Lebentz (8) is a specialist in addiction, trauma, eating disorders, and addictions. She says that replacing alcohol with sugar is dangerous because alcohol is sugar and hits the same part of the brain that alcohol does. Because it also causes the release of dopamine, like alcohol, sugar can cause you to crave more. This can cause you to continually try to keep up with the reward center in your brain for that ‘high’ that comes with both alcohol consumption and sugar intake.
She also says that nutritionally speaking, sugar is not beneficial in any way. It has no nutritional content, and it is thought to be toxic to your body. She believes it can be especially dangerous for someone who suffers from alcohol misuse or addiction because you already have an overworked liver. Since sugar is part fructose, your body processes it in the liver. Lebentz says that there is a global epidemic of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), and she believes that this is because of the consumption of sugar. NAFLD can cause cirrhosis of the liver, just as alcohol misuse can, so replacing alcohol with sugar can still do similar damage to your body.
Desperately Seeking Sugar
When you want to achieve sobriety, you don’t want to do so by creating a new addiction. If you meet your cravings with sugar, you may inadvertently be creating a new dependency to maintain similar ‘high’ feelings. It’s natural for your brain to crave that euphoric feeling (9), but you don’t want to replace one addiction with another to recreate it. There are other ways to achieve sobriety without using sugar in the addiction recovery process. Desert Cove Recovery can help you do so in a holistic approach that treats your physical and emotional cravings.
You can achieve long-term sobriety without replacing one addiction for a different addiction. Desert Cove Recovery’s alcohol recovery program is individualized to treat your mind, body, and spirit. Desert Cove Recovery knows that you need a customized plan to help you recover from alcohol misuse. They compassionately employ an effective 12-step program combined with individualized and group therapies to address the roots of your addiction, as well as healthy strategies for battling it.
Create New Healthy Habits, Not New Addictions
Desert Cove Recovery’s facilities are in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s an intimate setting that allows you to be serious about your sobriety and focus on getting healthy, not creating new habits and addictions that are not good for you.
Most importantly, alcohol addiction prevents you from living the life you were meant to live. Though it’s easily accessible and perhaps not as socially isolating, sugar in addiction recovery can chain you down in a different way. Desert Cove Recovery has the experience you need to help you break the bonds of addiction.
If you’re struggling with addiction, contact Desert Cove Recovery. They’re waiting to walk with you on the path to full sobriety and freedom.