Author: Justin Mckibben
Plenty of attention has been paid to the true dependence most Americans have on sugar. In recent years there have been documentaries and activists making bold statements about how so much of the food we consume in this country is saturated with sugar. Many of us have no clue just how much sugar we actually consume. Others actively try to eliminate it from their diets. So what then does sugar addiction mean?
There is really a wealth of research supporting the idea that certain foods, especially those that are high in levels of fat or sugar, can have a powerful addictive effect on people. Some would write this off as disordered eating or just a bad habit, but others believe it is truly an addiction. Apparently the U.S. isn’t the only country who thinks this might be a thing.
The Dutch are right there with us. A new temporary sugar “rehab clinic” has now opened in Amsterdam. Well… sort of.
Dutch Sugar Rehab
The “rehab facility” opened on Monday, but it isn’t really much of a rehab. It is more like an information center about sugar, according to the NL Times. Dutch Diabetic Foundation is the source behind the sugar rehab. The primary purpose of the so-called sugar rehab itself serves to educate visitors on hidden and added sugars in the foods they eat. So many people do not realize the added sugar in some of the most unexpected products. The sugar rehab also works to help visitors explore healthier alternatives to keep life sweet without sugar.
According to the Dutch Diabetic Foundation, about 80% of Dutch people consume too much sugar. The group plans to keep their sugar rehab on Leidsestraat in Amsterdam open until November 13.
Researching Sugar Addiction
Sugar is notoriously difficult to resist. A lot of that is due to sugar making us crave more instead of satisfying the hunger. Another reason, again, is because there as so many foods people aren’t even aware contain sugar.
A research neuroscientist named Nicole Avena, PhD, of the New York Obesity Research Center was quoted in 2014 describing how when we eat too much sugar, we can cause the release of chemicals associated with pleasure and reward. If this is a habitual behavior, it eventually develops into an addiction. The body craves the release of these pleasure chemicals, and it seeks out the familiar sugary source.
In a recent interview with The Fix Lou Lebentz, an expert on sugar and addiction, explained the toxic effect that sugar can have on the liver. Given the nature of alcohol abuse and it’s impact on the liver, this risk is especially relevant for recovering alcoholics. Lebentz stated:
“If you’re an alcoholic and already have an overworked liver trying to process alcohol, the last thing you want to do is to put a further strain on the liver trying to process sugar,”
She added that despite sugar being pumped into everything we eat, it actually has no health benefits and is toxic to the body.
A Sweeter Recovery
For many recovering addicts, sugar is a comforting substitute for whatever substance they put down. In one 12 Step fellowship their literature (written in 1934) even suggests that alcoholics keep chocolate nearby. Coffee is part of the recovery culture, and now energy drinks are a big part of the problem.
Sugar can fill the void of drugs or alcohol without as much guilt, perhaps, but according to recovered food addict Mary Foushi, co-founder of ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services, the consequences of sugar addiction are not as safe as easily overcome as them seem. Foushi said,
“People we work with say that putting down the alcohol is nothing compared to putting down the food, and the dangers of sugar addiction can be just as bad if not far worse: obesity, diabetes, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure, degeneration of bones and joints,”
In truth, quitting booze means radically decreasing one’s intake of carbs and sugar. So it is natural that even subconsciously the body seeks out new outlets to get its sugar fix. But sugar is deadly. Considering extreme and rapid weight gain, obesity and countless other health risks sugar can pose, people are dying from it.
While the concept of a sugar rehab may seem abstract to some, to others it is a very real threat. Nutrition and healthier habits overall are a vital component to comprehensive recovery.
For anyone who is seeking recovery, it is important to try and recover holistically. Treating the mind, the body and the spirit all at once can help to empower anyone who may need help escaping their addiction. Being aware of the importance and dangers of your diet is just another important part of restoring your life. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
By Cheryl Steinberg
We already know that campaigns like “Just Say ‘No’” and D.A.R.E. don’t work. Neither has the war on drugs. But there’s a new school of thought that seeks to empower teenagers when it comes to their drug use, with an emphasis on the decision-making part of the process.
Telling kids ‘no’ and *trying* to enforce an abstinence-based belief system doesn’t work. And, in fact, it may have the opposite of the desired effect – to keep your kids off drugs.
This different approach – I won’t say “new” as it was started back in 1990 – is called The Seven Challenges program and it aims to help adolescents and young adults make their own decisions about not only drugs but, about how they want the rest of their lives to look.
For decades, Dr. Robert Schwebel has been spreading the word about this novel approach and the evidence base that backs it. For him, the approach involves working with teens to support them in considering the choices they make about substance use.
And what they have found is that, ironically, this is the most powerful way to influence the behavior of young people and it’s way more effective than pushing an agenda that will only result in resistance from young people.
The Seven Challenges approach operates on the belief that recovery begins when people are willing to take that first look at their drug use behavior and then consider the possibility that it could be problematic. The Seven Challenges program also recognizes the incidence of co-occurring disorders and so it also has the teens begin by addressing co-occurring psychological and situational issues.
The participants meet with a counselor in a group setting where they talk about drugs, drug use, and consequences. These are the tenets of the program:
The Seven Challenges: Challenging Ourselves to Make Wise Decisions About Alcohol and Other Drugs
#1. We decided to open up and talk honestly about ourselves and about alcohol and other drugs.
#2. We looked at what we liked about alcohol and other drugs, and why we were using them.
#3. We looked at our use of alcohol and other drugs to see if it had caused harm, or could cause harm.
#4. We looked at our responsibility and the responsibility of others for our problems.
#5. We thought about where we seemed to be headed, where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to accomplish.
#6. We made thoughtful decisions about our lives and about our use of alcohol and other drugs
#7. We followed through on our decisions about our lives and our drug use. If we saw problems, we went back to earlier challenges and mastered them.
Empowering Teens When it Comes to Drug Use
It can be difficult for well-meaning counselors to resist the urge of hammering into their clients the harms of drug use and, ultimately, pushing their agendas. But the Seven Challenges program encourages teens and young people to first understand that they have options and then to weigh the costs and benefits of their options in deciding to make changes. The counselors also support their clients in succeeding in the goals they set for themselves.
Other (read: traditional) approaches take on “harm-based counseling” and are also referred to as the “mad rush for abstinence,” which have saturated the field for so long that it’s very hard for counselors trained to understand that people need to make their own decisions about drugs. And this includes understanding even the potential benefits they get from using drugs, and that they’d have to give up if they were to choose to quit or cut back. Basically, it’s all part of helping them to develop an informed decision.
Substance Use Disorder can require more intensive interventions in order to physically remove the person who struggles from situations that involve drugs and drug use. Alcohol and drug treatment programs that offer medical detox and inpatient rehab might be best suited for the teen in your life that is struggling to stop the cycle of their substance abuse. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.
By Cheryl Steinberg
If you are recovering from an addiction to opiates, the bad news is that you will most likely experience cravings and you’ll find it difficult to experience pleasure in the little things – an ability that people who don’t suffer from addiction possess.
Now for the good news. You can absolutely reduce your cravings and the method by which you can accomplish this just so happens to knock out the second drawback listed above. In a nutshell: by learning to enjoy other aspects of their lives, you can avoid cravings and find your joy.
Sounds like it’s easier said than done, right? However, the truth is that you have all the tools within you to accomplish boosting your ability to experience pleasure after being in active addiction to opiates. And, it’s something that will serve you in all aspects of your life. And – yes, another “and” – for many in recovery, it’s already a part of – or goal of – their recovery program.
Recovering from Opiate Addiction: Learning to Boost Pleasure
The key finding in a new study that was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine by Eric L. Garland, associate professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work, revealed this very solution. Garland and colleagues studied how an intervention program called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) could positively impact chronic pain patients who were prescribed opiate painkillers by decreasing their desire for those drugs.
The MORE intervention focuses on helping people to rediscover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in everyday their everyday lives by embracing pleasures – and even pain – without turning to substance use as a coping mechanism. MORE integrates the latest research on addiction, cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and mindfulness. The participants in Garland’s study were instructed on applying mindfulness-oriented techniques over the course of eight weeks in order to alleviate pain and craving while at the same time strengthening positive emotions and the sense of reward and meaning in life.
Here’s an example from the study to give you a better idea of what the instruction taught: in order to enhance their sense of reward in life, the study’s participants were taught a “mindful savoring practice,” in which they focused their attention on pleasant experiences such as a beautiful scene in nature, like a sunset, or else a feeling of connection with a loved one. Then, in a meditation session, the participants were taught to focus their awareness on the colors, textures, and scents of a bouquet of fresh flowers and to appreciate the sense of joy arising from the experience.
The participants also had daily homework, which involved practicing the same meditation technique as a way to enjoy other pleasant life experiences.
The new research shows that, after a sample of chronic pain patients misusing opioids completed MORE, their EEGs exhibited an increase in brain activation to natural, healthy pleasures. Furthermore, the more their brains became active in response to natural healthy pleasures, the less the patients craved opioids.
“These findings are scientifically important because one of the major theories about how and why addiction occurs asserts that over time drug abusers become dulled to the experience of joy in everyday life, and this pushes them to use higher and higher doses of drugs to feel happiness,” said Garland.
“This study suggests that this process can be reversed. We can teach people to use mindfulness to appreciate and enjoy life more, and by doing that, they may feel less of a need for addictive drugs. It’s a powerful finding.”
Garland, who developed MORE intervention, said that his method is also being tested for application with people who want to lose weight or quit smoking.
Have you tried to quit using opiates or other substances but found that the cravings were too powerful and seemingly impossible to overcome? Palm Partners offers a safe and comfortable medical detox as well as cutting edge therapies, including meditation and mindfulness, it helping clients to overcome this very difficult situation. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
In Connecticut, they’re using a unique approach to substance abuse recovery – and it’s showing some positive results.
A new approach to rehabilitation in Madison, Conn. allows alcoholics and addicts to work on their recovery from their own homes. Although the sample size is relatively small-scale, it has yielded some promising results.
Home Based Therapy: A New Treatment Approach
Aware Recovery Care is offering a recovery program that is similar home visits from doctors and other health care professionals. The program’s patients receive support in their homes and communities while counselors, or “recovery advisers,” make regular visits for face-to-face interaction two or more times a week for the first four months.
The clients are also assigned a psychiatrist, nurse, and therapist. Furthermore, they might be required to attend 12 step meetings as a part of their personal recovery program. As part of the enrollment in the program, clients also voluntarily download a GPS app for their phone.
Home Based Therapy: Outcomes
So far, four of the program’s first five patients have maintained continuous abstinence for over a year. Dr. Ellen Edens, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine who authored a feasibility study of the home based therapy approach, noted “when you think about addiction as a relapsing remedying disease, to see that patients could put together up to 12 months of sobriety is really promising.”
Home Based Therapy: Cost, Pros and Cons
The length of the program is one year and it costs $37,500, which is equivalent to most 28-day impatient treatment programs. A portion of that cost, such as the psychotherapy aspects and some medical, may even be covered by the client’s insurance plan.
Because the program is longer and its price similar to more traditional programs – ones that are only 28 days in length, and considering that its treatment allows for the creature comforts if being in one’s own home, home based therapy may prove attractive for patients, especially those with fixed incomes.
A potential – and serious – drawback to home based treatment is of course the pitfalls of being around the same people, places, and things. Those in recovery from substance abuse and addiction know all too well that they must change these if they are to give themselves a chance for success.
Dr. Edens is currently seeking funding in order to conduct a controlled study, which will provide more detailed data on the impact of home based treatment.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, there are many treatment options available. Pal Partners offers detox, inpatient, and outpatient programs as well as offers a yearlong program of Recovery Coaching. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today. We are available around the clock to take your call.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
By Cheryl Steinberg
You hear it every year at New Year’s: “Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.” You might be struggling financially but the good news is that there are things you can do to tip the scales in your favor. Here are 11 New Year’s financial resolutions you should be making this year.
#1. Have an emergency fund
The idea of an emergency fund is to save enough money to get you through three- to six months of unemployment. That’s the average amount of time it takes to get a new job. Think of an emergency fund like a buffer – it protects you from unforeseen financial circumstances, such as an emergency vet bill or having to pay for a tow truck and new tire if you get a flat on the highway.
#2. Realize that you’re emotional about money
When it comes to money, everyone their own “story.” For some, growing up poor means that they are always worried about having enough money and feeling unstable, even if they are doing pretty well in their adulthood. For many, being able to spend money brings with it a lot of meaning. Being able to provide for themselves or feeling like the newest gadget will bring them some new level of happiness is a powerful driving force behind their spending habits.
Try to practice being emotionally unattached from money and seeing it as another thing you get to balance, such as career, relationships, and family.
#3. Negotiate everything
Try negotiating on ALL of your monthly bills. You probably don’t know this but, many states, allow you to choose who provides your electricity, and therefore you can cut your bill dramatically – you know, the whole idea behind market competition and capitalism.
#4. Set up a savings account – and use it!
It’s not savings until it goes into a savings account that is separate from your checking account.
#5. Make a budget
Make an itemized list of all the things you spend your money on and how much you spend. Be sure to include everything – necessities like bills as well as leisure and recreation costs. Go line-by-line, ranking items from most important (i.e. rent, utilities) to least important (i.e. movies, eating out).
#6. Trim the fat
Now, take a look at your budget. That daily trip to Starbucks will really add up but, if you absolutely love buying your custom-made latte, then keep doing it. The catch: look for other places where you can cut back on your spending. Maybe you can eat in another night or two instead of going out to a restaurant. “Figure out the stuff you bought that doesn’t serve you or that you’re not taking full advantage of: Do you really need to spend $9.99 a month on Spotify? Are you using that gym membership? Can you save a few bucks on your wireless bill?
#7. Sell your stuff online
It’s not just about saving money; it’s about generating it. You can earn more than your regular paycheck each month by selling the stuff you don’t need or use on sites like Craigslist and eBay.
#8. Buy second-hand
You can make some really cool thrift store finds, if you’re willing to put a little effort in searching through the merchandise. If your taste is a little more discerning than Goodwill, consider more upscale second-hand stores like Plato’s Closet. Good deals can also be found on eBay and Craigslist.
#9. Google “coupon” along with whatever you’re planning to buy
This is especially a good idea if you’re in the market for a big-ticket item, like a TV – there are a billion coupon sites.
#10. Google anything you plan to spend money on
With all the price-matching that retail shops offer these days, and with all of it at your fingertips, it doesn’t take much time or effort to research what you need and find the best offers.
#11. Set realistic goals
People often make the mistake of setting massive, unrealistic goals when they first set out making financial resolutions. Most of the things worth saving for are the expensive, big ticket items. When our New Year’s financial resolution excitement wears off by February and we’re not seeing drastic enough progress, our motivation levels plummet. Be realistic. And patient.
Looking to make the ultimate New Year’s Resolution and start living the life you were destined to live? Well, it’s totally possible and now’s a better time than any to start! Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions.