THE STORIES OF ADDICTION
By Jim Jensen, LAC, LCPC
In less than a generation we have gone from a community of fellow alcoholics sitting together in church basements sharing stories, to licensed professionals sitting together in hotel conference rooms sharing studies on the neurochemistry of addiction.
One invites questions. The other stands at the door handing out answers. One engages the brain. The other engages our imagination, emotions, and spirit.
I always enjoy Susan Cheever’s articles for “The Fix” –
“At a popular center for meetings in New York City on most days of the week, an addict can get 12-step help for spending, under earning, sexual compulsiveness, cocaine, co-dependency, crystal meth addiction, debting, overeating, surviving incest and problems with addicted family members. The miracle of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is that they often work when nothing else does. Although few of the more than 50 12-step programs for other addictions are as organized or as effective as AA, they seem to have a good effect on the people who attend them.
Yet their proliferation raises a larger question: What is the difference between being an addict and being a human being? Everyone has some kind of problem. Can a 12-step program help every problem?
Although addictions vary in intensity—some addicts are more addicted than others—there is a difference between an addict—someone who cannot stop—and someone who is not addicted. It is also true that many addicts can switch substances if they need to. “High-functioning alcoholics” are often people who also have other addictions, such as money, food and pills‑all kept more or less in check by spreading the addiction thin. Recovery author Patrick Carnes, PhD, who put sex addiction on the map, calls this “bargaining with chaos.”
In many AA meetings members talk about drug addiction, eating disorders and struggles to stop smoking. Although all addictions are the same in some ways, it is deeply reassuring and comforting to sit with a group of people who have exactly the same problems as you.
In my experience this is also what I have seen –
“Weight-loss surgery fixes the outside of a person, but not the inside. While it can reduce the harm of obesity, it leaves the needs driving your addiction untouched. So if food has always been your drug, and stomach-minimizing surgery abruptly denies you your fix, you turn to other drugs. Alcohol, being legal, is the most available, but patients can take their pick among the panoply of addictive substances.”
Michael Moss is an investigative reporter for The Times. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his reporting on the meat industry.
Here are some parts that struck me …
Today, one in three adults is considered clinically obese, along with one in five kids, and 24 million Americans are afflicted by type 2 diabetes, often caused by poor diet, with another 79 million people having pre-diabetes. Even gout, a painful form of arthritis once known as “the rich man’s disease” for its associations with gluttony, now afflicts eight million Americans.
Our limbic brains love sugar, fat, salt. . . . So formulate products to deliver these. Perhaps add low-cost ingredients to boost profit margins. Then ‘supersize’ to sell more. . . . And advertise/promote to lock in ‘heavy users.’ Plenty of guilt to go around here!”
… the food industry already knew some things about making people happy — and it started with sugar.
… pioneering work on discovering what industry insiders now regularly refer to as “the bliss point” or any of the other systems that helped food companies create the greatest amount of crave.
A new phone app shows the effect of drinking alcohol on a person’s facial appearance. The “Drinking Mirror” is designed to make people aware of the physical toll of heavy alcohol consumption. The app, which is free until March, is available for Android and iPhone users. You can upload or take a photo of yourself, and enter information about your drinking habits. The app shows them how their face might age if they continue to consume alcohol at their current rate, by adding weight gain, dull skin, wrinkles and red cheeks.
The app is part of the Scottish government’s “Drop a Glass Size” campaign, launched this month.
It is also available on the web here
Read more about the Visible and Inivisible Effects here
and remember YoR teaches Ayurveda for addictions – we specialize in REJUVENATION!
and predicts that by 2020, the disorder will rival heart disease as the illness with the highest global disease burden.
The evidence is that both our genes and our early childhood experiences contribute …
governments should consider screening adolescents to try to reduce the number who go on to suffer major and recurring bouts of depression…
Thousands of young girls are using dangerous ‘pro-ana’ websites that encourage users to ‘starve for perfection’.
“Thinspiration” – where images of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Keira Knightley are used to idealise a certain look.
Food addiction seems to be linked to the types of foods we’re consuming. Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, notes that the human body is biologically adapted to deal with foods found in nature, not processed foods.
“We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges,” says Dr. Brownell, co-editor of the new book “Food and Addiction.” “But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?”
Dr. David A. Kessler, the former F.D.A. commissioner, described these products as “hyperpalatable” foods created to tantalize our taste buds by focusing on the right combination of salty, sweet and fatty ingredients along with “mouth-feel.”
Dr. Brownell says that the brain science should lead us to question how food companies are manipulating their products to get us hooked. “With these foods, personal will and good judgment get overridden. People want these foods, dream about these foods, crave them.”
Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant professor at the University of Maryland and author of “The Hunger Fix,” says that meditation and exercise can help engage the brain to overcome food addiction. As a heroin user might rely on methadone to alleviate withdrawal, food addicts, she says, should seek alternatives that still give pleasure — a fruit smoothie, for example, instead of ice cream.