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Nutritional Basis of Addiction

Thin Dotted line for Colorado Drug Rehab

Throughout this website, we have provided information on many ways to help yourself or a loved one end their addiction to alcohol and other drugs, whether that would be attending an alcohol treatment center or a drug rehab treatment center. What hasn't been specifically addressed is the lack of understanding of the nutritional basis of addiction and finding methods by which someone support their recovery through repairing the nutritional deficits that are caused by alcohol and drug addiction.

It is important to understand how nutrition plays such a vital role in addiction and in the ending of addiction or recovery.

All of life is based on the laws of chemistry. Our bodies have developed incredible chemical mechanisms to not only handle the functions required to keep us alive and to metabolize our foods, but to ward off other chemicals coming in the form of bacteria and virus or chemical pollutants, with the latter being a serious problem in modern life. The biochemical mechanisms that are in place in our bodies have been evolving from millions of years and are continually adapting to new stressors, but the wisdom of the body is always moving us to having little to no foreign chemicals in our blood stream.

The body works very hard and expends considerable energy in keeping the integrity of our blood as it should be to support optimum life functions. Our bodies have learned to confront complex chemical compounds that we ingest, getting rid of the poisons and using the nutritional components to support our energy needs. However, when we introduce compounds into our bodies that over tax its ability to keep us clean and functioning properly, the body makes choices as to what to do with these foreign substances and these choices are based on: "what is the greatest good for the body and what will be the least amount of harm."

When you introduce alcohol in large on constant quantities, street drugs, like marijuana, or opiates, or even medicines; like Vicodin or antibiotics, the body is alerted to the fact that there is something invading its delicate chemical system and it confronts this problem in several ways, always ensuring that your blood stream is kept as pure to its basic design as possible.

All chemicals are soluble in something, usually in water or if they are fat-based they are fat soluble. When someone is taking opiates, they are threatening the clean integrity of the body and the first action the body takes is to become alarmed. Being alarmed in this sense means that the metabolism is increased with the introduction of more adrenalin. As the metabolism increases, all of the processes of the organs in the body are operating at in increased level. This smart change gives the liver and kidneys a greater ability to remove these substances from the blood.

However, as these drugs are not sufficiently removed by these organs, the body is faced with another dilemma of how to get these "poisons" out of the blood stream as quickly as possible. All of the drugs that you take to get high or as pain killers are fat soluble, so through an active process, the body "pushes" the remaining drugs that haven't been dealt with by the liver and kidneys into the dormant fat tissue of your body.

When these drugs are pushed into the fat tissue, they are to be stored their indefinitely to protect the body from these poisons, or in the feeling of the drug addict, it is robbing you of all of the drug that you want to effect your brain to give you a high. Once you don't want that high, then you would be happy that they are in the fat tissue, unfortunately, this system isn't as developed as well as may of the physiological systems in our bodies and these drugs continually make their way back to the blood stream and then are pushed back to the fat tissue.

This is what causes the continual cravings for these drugs. You get a minute amount back in the blood stream and it is taken to your receptors in your brain and you get a memory of the pleasure that you used to get from this artificial stimulation of the pleasure points in your body. It is similar to the phenomena where you smell a perfume that you haven't smelt in years and you can immediately recall the time and place where you last encountered that perfume. The memory attached to that chemical that your nose receptors picks up has a picture memory attached to the chemical. When you get this minute amounts of, say opiates, back into your blood stream, they go to a similar place in your brain that recalls the pleasure "picture" of a memory that is attached to that drug. Without knowing that this is happening, a person begins to start focusing on craving this drug and throws out all of the therapy and learning that have been sustaining his ability to not use drugs again.

It is impossible to estimate the percentage of relapses that come from this procedure, but it is very high. We had an outpatient counselor tell us that they would have their patients begin to start exercising after they had three months of clean time, knowing that they needed to take care of their bodies, and from that small sample, they had many that would relapse, leaving their counselor and others dumbfounded as to why this would happen. It happens because the body is doing its best to hold onto these drugs, but when you get excited or exercise, adrenalin flows and some of these drugs are released as the body reaches to the fat tissue for energy and nutrients. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO KNOW THIS PROCESS!

Hopefully, this has gotten your attention and you are seeing the delicate relationship between taking drugs of any kind and how it sets you up for future problems...unless you take the actions necessary to restore your body to its natural nutritional basis.

It is being recognized more and more that the processed foods that we eat are causing our bodies to be challenged in ways that are not totally understood, but the end result is a population of people that are overweight and many are suffering from neurological problems, which is a symptom of environmental or drug toxins. This neurological problems can be as mild as a headache, which isn't mild if you are the one having the headache and if you have many of them, to symptoms of MS and other neurological problems. It is common to find people whose sense of taste is very impaired, in fact, it is such a generalized problem today that Chile's and other restaurants are modifying their menus by enhancing every item to be more spicy. A common complaint of someone that has detoxed from drugs and/or alcohol is the reality that they can taste sweets and salty flavors, but the subtle flavors of food are gone.

Watching the HBO documentary, GasLand, would be valuable for everyone reading this site since the reactions that many of the people interviewed from Colorado are explaining about their symptoms of chemical contamination are identical to the reactions that someone will have after alcohol and drug abuse and addiction.

At this point, the reader should be realizing that addiction to alcohol and other drugs isn't' just a psychological problem or habit, but carries with it a strong physiological component. This element must be addressed to rehabilitate someone back to where they were before they started taking these substances. It should also be understood that there are powerful character degrades that occur when someone is addicted to these drugs...

At this time it is important to understand what happen to one's character during addiction. As was mentioned above, the body spares no expense in doing what has to be done to protect life... to keep the blood stream clean of contaminants so that the organs can do their job. All of this is done so that the being can continue to live. Life's most driving force is to survive and all systems are working towards that end. This also includes one's attitudes. At first this may seem hard to understand, so we will explain.

When someone is doing anything that is contra survival or goes against one's survival they are going against life itself. The ultimate act against life is suicide, but when you are taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol (no difference) the person knows that they are hurting themselves and excessive intake will cause death. This isn't ever far from the conscientious of the addict. They are continually taking risk that leave them in harm's way, whether it be emergency room visits or just times when they are getting "out of shape", they still know that their actions are not pro-survival, but are the opposite.

If you watch what this does to an addict over time, you will see that they become more and more depressed. The reason being, of course, is because they are sabotaging their "prime directive" and that is to survive at the highest levels.

As they become more and more depressed, they get closer and closer to over dosing because they no longer are as careful about themselves and become reckless with their lives.

At the character level, this degrades a being to a point where they will do unethical actions not only to themselves, but to others and to loved ones. It is common to hear mothers say that their addicted sons are acting as though they want to die. As a person violates their own moral codes and does actions that can go against life they are also doing things that are "screaming" for others to help them and to stop their destruction.

Because of this aspect of addiction, it is many times difficult to get someone owe is on drugs to confront and address their need to better their nutritional life. Don't be discouraged by their resistance, you are always working with someone that is toxic and they are not able to think as clearly as they could before the addiction. Therefore, it is many times essential that you use whatever leverage you have to get them into a quality treatment program that will handle this toxicity.

When someone is on drugs and their bodies are toxic, as described above, their IQ, Intelligence Quotient, is suppressed as much as 30 IQ points. The average addicted that has been on drugs for over a year has about 20 IQ points less than when he was clean. Naturally, when someone has lost that much in IQ, they are not as capable of "pulling themselves up by their boot straps" and making things go right for themselves. They are also not able to understand the gravity of what they are doing to themselves at a level that their loved ones feel their destruction. Keep this in mind when you are working with anyone to help them out of their addiction. We hear many parents defend the fact that their addicted child is really bright, but this defense is always sparked by a fear that they are seeing behaviors that look as though they may have brain damage. Many doctors will tell you that is the case, but when you get someone cleaned up, in other words, get the drugs out of the tissues of their bodies, you will see the mental rehabilitation happening.

Let's summarize...Bodies need specific chemicals to survive and when there is the introduction of other chemicals, the necessary and vital chemical, like vitamins and minerals, are reduced and their organs are subjected to contaminated blood. This brings about more cravings because they are experiencing the effects of the drugs in the body and also because they feel so poorly that they just want to mask this problem and feel normal again and they know that drugs and alcohol will give them that sensation, even though it may only last for minutes.

From this understanding you now have to do two major actions: 1. stop introducing bad substances into the body and 2. start introducing good substances. In other words.. stop alcohol and drug intake and start on a regime of vitamins. If possible, one should go to a biophysical drug rehab center and do their sauna sweat=out program that removes the drugs that are lodged in the tissues of the body. While this is being done, they are also taking large amount of the proper vitamins and minerals so that they can replenish the deficit of these nutrients.

If you are can't do a biophysical detox, then stop poisoning the body and start taking the proper vitamins and minerals. From a previous page on detoxing the following recommendations are made:

VITAMINS AND MINERALS... when a person has been taking drugs, the body has been challenged in terms of its pool of vitamins and mineral reserves and over the past 30 years that we have been doing opiates withdrawals, I have yet to have a patient that didn't need nutrient support and have yet to have anyone that didn't appreciate how much easier their withdrawals were because of attention paid to this component.

The routine prescription or collection of vitamins and minerals is colloquial called the "Drug Bomb" and which is made up of the following:

1,000 milligrams of niacinamide (not nicotinic acid ).
This helps counteract any mental disturbance.
5,000 IU of vitamin A.
400 W of vitamin D.
800 W of vitamin E.
2,000 milligrams of vitamin C.
500 milligrams of magnesium carbonate (to make the vitamin C effective).

25 milligrams of B-6.
200 milligrams of B complex.
300 milligrams of B-1.
100 milligrams of pantothenic acid.

With the Drug Bomb, you should also get some CalMag with the following ratios of the two: Calcium Gluconate and Magnesium carbonate in a 2:1 ratio with citric acid added to enhance it absorbability

It can be difficult to find these vitamins and minerals in these amounts at your neighborhood health food store and it has never been something that you can find at Whole Foods Markets, but you can order the "Drug Withdrawal Formula" from Peter Gillham's Nutrients You won't find the Drug Withdrawal Formula on this website, but there are many other fine supplements, but call their order line at 800-446-7462 and ask them for this product and for CalMag.

CalMag is a combination of Calcium Gluconate and Magnesium Carbonate in a ratio of twice the Calcium as Magnesium. This product also includes some citric acid, which aids in it getting into the blood stream quickly. Don't take just any calcium/magnesium tablets..they won't work. This product is a powder that is dissolved in hot water and injected as a tea and acts on the nervous system immediately by relaxing the individual and easing the joint and leg aches that accompany bodies that are short on these substances. It is best that you call our hot line and talk to one of our counselors to get information on how best to take these supplements. 888.781.7060.

The information on this page is VITAL for recovering from alcohol and drug abuse. This isn't a treatise on the physiology of addiction, but it gives you enough information so that you can have an understanding and appreciation for the Nutritional Basis of Addiction.

Many times we are asked if it is safe to take nutritional supplements or herbs to help in ones recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.

In terms of alcohol and drug treatment and recovery, nutritional supplements are vital for the restoration from the damage that alcohol and drug abuse does to one’s body.   In this context, nutritional supplements refer to vitamins and minerals.  These supplements are naturally occurring building blocks that should be part of everyone’s diet, but many foods are grown in soils that have been over planted or for other reason lack the natural minerals and are not the rich soils that are needed to grow vegetables and fruits that give us all of the vitamins and mineral necessary for healthy metabolism. 

When your body is robbed of its basic nutritional needs, as happens with substance abuse, it is necessary to provide a larger pool of vitamins and minerals to bring one’s cells into a state of balance. 

In terms of the safety of these products, it is always smart to have a nutritional expert help in one’s choice of vitamins and minerals since some of these compounds can cause problems if taken at the wrong levels.  However, on the whole, vitamins and minerals are very safe if you purchase quality products and if they are taken as recommended by the manufacture’s label.

When it comes to herbal products, one needs to be much more cautious.  Vitamins and minerals are naturally occurring by-products of our food, whereas herbal compounds can easily been seen as medicines since their actions are to change the metabolism in some fashion or another.  St. John’s Wart is an herb that grows naturally in some parts of the world as well as being grown for herbal medicinal uses.  There is research that has documented that St. John’s Wart is taken as prescribed, can help relieve symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.  However, some people have adverse reactions to this herb and other herbs, so it can be unadvisable for people to take herbs willy-nilly without the oversight from professionals that understand your body’s chemistry and are guard your from any untoward effects.

Basically, herbs should not be taken unless you have the counsel of someone who understands the level of potency and how different herbs can react with other herbs or medicines that you might be taking.  By definition, marijuana can be considered an herb, but everyone knows that it has the effect of being a drug.  This would also be true of other plants that have hallucinogenic properties. 

In summary, it should be considered safe and advisable to take good quality vitamins and minerals, especially during or after the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, but one needs to be cautious in consuming herbs to treat any body or mental condition.