Many surprising food products can contain high amounts of sugar. Cheese, salad dressings, soy milk, tomato sauce and canned soups are just a few examples. Most Americans have now heard the standard advice from nutritionists that excess sugar consumption can lead to obesity. But, what might not be clear is how to avoid sugar addiction. Sugar is a dangerously addictive substance and it is in almost everything we eat and drink.
The chemical makeup of sugar contains fructose. It’s a substance that actively interferes with our brain function and enables our addiction to sweet flavors. Sugar ingestion can activate the human brain’s “pleasure centers”. After the body digests a sugary food, these pleasure centers release large amounts of a chemical called “dopamine,” which is the same chemical responsible for sexual pleasure. However, the brain’s pleasure centers become desensitized with each use, so every time we consume sugar, the dopamine high decreases. This means that we have to consume more sugar in order achieve the same level of dopamine release and the feeling of happiness it triggers, which some refer to as a “sugar high.” This is the same neurological process that makes it difficult to quite using drugs like cocaine and heroine.
While it is true that addicts can become addicted to any number of different substances or behaviors, sugar is found throughout so many of our daily foods that it probably affects even those with borderline addictive personalities, people who have never used illegal substances but who have similar symptoms of withdrawal from a food such as ice cream that addicts have when they stop using opioids. However, sugar addiction may be even more difficult to cure because foods that contain it are cheap and readily available.
Sugar Addiction Problems
If you’ve ever craved a sugary treat because you knew it would significantly alter your mood, or if you’ve ever eaten more of a dessert than you had planned, it’s possible that you could be addicted to sugar.
Sugar addiction can cause a number of problems in the lives of its consumers. It can cause wild mood swings, for one. It can also be one of many factors that worsens chances of developing diabetes. As any dentist will also tell you, it is also particularly damaging to teeth. The idea that occasional sugary treats can be an innocent part of our diets is changing now that we understand more about how sugar consumption mimics the substance abuse of opiates.
Sugar goes by many different names. If you see the words “sucrose,” “lactose,” “glucose,” “dextrose,” “cane juice,” or various kinds of “syrups” (such as malt or brown rice), then you know that the food product contains a form of sugar. Even artificial sweeteners are not necessarily safe. Many studies now show that the use of such sugar substitutes actually increase one’s sugar addiction. There are many plans available to help people cut down on sugar consumption. The existence of so many different approaches to reducing sugar intake is a testament to its toxic and addictive nature. It’s an addiction that’s hidden in plain sight.
After nearly two decades of drinking and destroying just about every relationship in my life, I decided to get help. I didn’t know what to expect (and in some ways, I still don’t), but getting sober has been the most rewarding, fulfilling decision I’ve ever made. In the years since I entered treatment, secured an AA sponsor, and forged friendships in sobriety that rival all the others in my life, I feel like a completely different person. It’s as if I woke up in another person’s life. I’m a married father of three young children who lives in Columbus, Ohio, along with a bossy cat named Dr. No.
Most of my recovery has been spent writing about my experiences, and I’ve been fortunate to have my work picked up by The Fix, AfterParty Magazine, The Literary Review, and The Live Oak Review, among others. I want to help others find meaningful, lasting sobriety in any way that I can, which is part of the reason I’m so committed to Genius Recovery. More than that, though, I sincerely believe in the vision, aims and purpose of Genius Recovery. I’m as passionate about recovery as I am about discovering levels to my life that I didn’t know existed. After all, addiction recovery is about hope as much as it is about possibility. Through my writing, I hope to guide others to discover what’s possible for them, too.– Paul