4

votes

Paleo and chemical addictions

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcoholism/DS00340

Are alcoholism and drug dependencies actual diseases in the context that they possess specific signs/symptoms, are progressive, have a predictable course if not aressted and do not appear to have a cure?

There appears to be a genetic link between with chemical addictions, but science has to to identify any specific genes related to the etiology of addictions...caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, carbohydrate, etc.

What role does the environment or nutritional status play in the role of development of these conditions or "diseases." For example, has anyone attempted to reintoduce alcohol or other mood altering substances after maintaining paleo/improved gut flora without experiencing loss of control?

I am certainly not advocating for anyone with an established diagnosis of chemical dependency return to active chemical use, just curious what everyones thoughts or experiences have been. Thanks

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on December 11, 2012
at 04:22 PM

Thanks for your answer, I love Dr. Mate's "In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts."

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on December 11, 2012
at 03:01 AM

if a man becomes addicted to a drug, its likely because his life is miserable, not some bullshit explanation like a "chemical imbalance". nobody is willing to think rapid changes in society could be the cause. now shut up and take your prozac

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on December 11, 2012
at 02:57 AM

if a man becomes addicted to a drug, its likely because his life is miserble. nobody thinks the rapid changes in modern society could be the cause. just shut up and take your pills.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on December 11, 2012
at 02:49 AM

everyone can become addicted to something. if a person cant stop taking oxycodone, that is not a "chemical imbalance". the guys life is miserable and everybody just wants him to take pills

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on May 16, 2012
at 12:00 PM

There is a zen saing something like this, "Once a pickle, one can never become a cucumber again." That's me. I'm a fine pickle though and don't get more pickled and wouldn't try. Feel too good on paleo to want to tempt fate.

Ec39179d4c06199471827a706adb2896

(242)

on May 15, 2012
at 12:06 AM

Awesome answer! I absolutely agree, there just is not enough focus on the environmental impact on depression and other psychological concerns!

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on May 14, 2012
at 10:38 PM

Thank you for a very well reasoned and thoughtful answer. Plus 1

59d367d77f4082717bade07508624db8

(1198)

on May 14, 2012
at 06:12 PM

For me, chemical addiction overrides EVERYTHING. It's like asking what rivets hold up best to a nuclear bomb.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 14, 2012
at 05:00 PM

Great question.

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11 Answers

best answer

9
78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

on May 14, 2012
at 10:04 PM

I often am disappointed in how environmental circumstances are downplayed here. I love everyone here, I really do...but it makes me sad when someone with depression or an eating disorder is told to just take some vitamin D or to eat more fat. If the poster mentions that they are already taking vitamin D and that they are eating ample amounts of fat, answers suggest different supplements, tweaking nutrition...and focus on physical "input" to fix the issue. It's like we're just robots that operate on a special blend of optimal oil or something. In order to recover long-term, nutrition cannot be the sole focus for the vast majority of people.

At some point, how are supplements different than a prescription drug? It sure seems like flooding the body with various pills (even if natural) can do little to fix the problem, if it is the mindset or environmental circumstance that is the core of the problem.

Now, the answer to your question. Reward pathways (which drive addiction) do have a genetic component. These genes load the gun. Environmental influences pull the trigger. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine play a role in helping the addict "learn" that certain substances like alcohol lead to pleasure. From a biological standpoint, pleasure is great! Pleasure is good! Pleasure is good for survival! Your brain likes it...and drives you to do more. But the more you do, the less dopamine (which gives you pleasure) it produces, so you need more frequent and higher does to give you the satisfaction it used to. And as you can see, this is a problem...an important part of recovery is trying to form new memories and to develop new coping mechanisms to override old learned behavior.

Addiction can CHANGE the way your brain works. Physically change your brain! I find this fascinating (from a medical standpoint) and sad at the same time. This change can be difficult, if nearly impossible to reverse.

has anyone attempted to reintroduce alcohol or other mood altering substances after maintaining paleo/improved gut flora without experiencing loss of control?

For a recovering alcoholic, I think this would be a dangerous idea. Remember, emotional associations with drugs are also a trigger. Your brain is a like little recorder that associates circumstances, objects, places, etc. with memories. Cool, dude. But this can be dangerous for addicts. For example, an addict that simply SEES a needle can be in danger of relapse. There's that popular example of drug addicts that inject the same amount of say, heroin in their arm each time...but if they do it in the same place (let's use the example of a bathroom) everyday, but then decide to try it in a car one day, they are at-risk for an overdose. This is because the brain associates the bathroom with a drug...and the body prepares for the heroin by slowing down. The car is a new environment and the body has not connected it with heroin usage. The rush can be too much, causing death. Conditioned learning is a good and bad thing.

I don't think a physical healthy body means that it is no longer susceptible to relapse. The brain "damage" may still be there. And it is an emotional addiction as well. My boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic. He associates alcohol with blacking out, tearing off his clothes at his grandpa's birthday (and having no recollection)...using alcohol to numb out his anxiety. They aren't pleasant memories. I don't see why he would want to try alcohol again if he remembers it as a substance to numb anxiety.

Eating healthy can help you have mental clarity and motivation to be healthy, but I don't think going back on alcohol after paleo is a good idea for someone with a history of chemical dependence.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on May 14, 2012
at 10:38 PM

Thank you for a very well reasoned and thoughtful answer. Plus 1

Ec39179d4c06199471827a706adb2896

(242)

on May 15, 2012
at 12:06 AM

Awesome answer! I absolutely agree, there just is not enough focus on the environmental impact on depression and other psychological concerns!

8
4ec0fe4b4aab327f7efa2dfb06b032ff

(5145)

on May 14, 2012
at 04:18 PM

If you're asking whether paleo living can make you stand up to addiction better, then my experience is NO.

59d367d77f4082717bade07508624db8

(1198)

on May 14, 2012
at 06:12 PM

For me, chemical addiction overrides EVERYTHING. It's like asking what rivets hold up best to a nuclear bomb.

6
Medium avatar

on May 14, 2012
at 05:58 PM

I am a board certified addiction counselor, with an addiction to chemicals, in full sustained remission. Haven't used for years. No alcohol too. Paleo low carb for a while, added the carbs back in and couldn't control them. Let alone I could control my use of chemicals...

Chemical dependency is an incurable, progressive disease. No WOE has the ability to change this.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on May 16, 2012
at 12:00 PM

There is a zen saing something like this, "Once a pickle, one can never become a cucumber again." That's me. I'm a fine pickle though and don't get more pickled and wouldn't try. Feel too good on paleo to want to tempt fate.

4
A1a7413b99e03bc77f02d95c4170ea43

on May 14, 2012
at 09:04 PM

As a bartender with access to unlimited and free alcohol (specifically wine), I can speak for myself in saying that I drink far less and seem to have more control over it since I've been eating paleo. I was never a wreck as far as alcohol is concerned, but I definitely could drink 6-7 glasses a night without batting an eye.

Now, I don't know the specific mechanism for it, it could be any number of things. It could be that I'm feeling more confident in my training and lifting, so I don't want to ruin training sessions because of a hangover. I could just be able to control my impulses better because I've become more aware of what's actually happening in my body. Either way, I can actually sit down and have just one drink if I so choose, which is something that I could/would rarely do before.

So is it the diet? Or have I just matured as a person? Who knows. But I am happy with the current situation, regardless of how I got here.

2
17a1b062fb77a9465b19f7cb98d80487

on May 14, 2012
at 07:54 PM

a number of receptor sites are identified which attenuate drug withdrawal and craving. it's quite fascinating. a genetic link may not be as important, you're talking about the body's combined reward system. look up drugs like MTEP and GRN-529

2
B1c65edef6f7f9379c7a9272e30586da

(314)

on May 14, 2012
at 06:12 PM

eating better means feeling better means less likely to use

2
0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 14, 2012
at 05:00 PM

My ongoing caffeine problem seemed to escalate more rapidly than it usually does, after a period of quitting and then returning - the hyper-stimulus was so incongruent from the solid, calm feeling I usually have when eating well. I was off of it for about four months, and it was like picking up the needle again when I had that first double-shot of espresso.

I also still drink more (alcohol) than I'm comfortable with, and if I'm not careful with sugar, I return to binge eating pretty quickly as well.

So: no. I don't feel that proper diet has helped me at all in these areas. Once I stray into the realm of hyper-stimulus of any sort, I'm taking some big risks. I don't think this will ever change for me. If anything I'd say I may have gotten more sensitive (as in the caffeine example), simply because I'm now used to sensations being more subtle.

I know that alcoholism has been in my family, so I would agree that there probably is some genetic predisposition; although it could also be argued that regularly being exposed to hyper-stimulus while growing up causes permanent changes in dopamine reward centers, predisposing one towards [the feeling of] needing more (of anything.) I'd say it is likely a combination of the two.

1
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on May 14, 2012
at 06:10 PM

I am still addicted to sugar. I have tried eating fruit the other day, which made me crave for sugar like crazy! No more fruit for me for a while :(

0
C851d3e5b0bfb9127ed1acc913e779ed

on August 15, 2013
at 05:00 PM

The genes that cause the addictive tendency are not some mysterious thing. It is quite simply that those with the addictive tendency tend to have over active adrenals. I cannot control my adrenal glands unless I am eating low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. When I consume sugars and/or carbs I cannot control my adrenal glands unless I am constantly active. Due to my job of sitting at a desk carbs/sugars and the desk are a recipe for disaster. I have done numerous tests of my blood sugar to understand the direct link between my addictions and blood sugar control. The reason paleo works for those with poor blood sugar control is because fats are a much more stable source of energy for the old blood O blood types. Our genes were adapted to a hunting and gathering lifestyle. Slower moving, eating less but more concentrated ie fats, meats and veggies. Every single time I turn back to the carb/sugar rollercoaster I feel good for a while but if I am not constantly moving I turn into a nervous wreck and my IQ drops 100 points. I cannot focus or do any work. I am not a PHD but I feel like I know more than some who prescribe ADHD meds for people that simply need to change their diet and lifestyle. As another note I have found the too much intense exercise induces the same spike affect on blood sugar that eating carbs does. Short burst exercise does not do this. Anything the activates the fight or flight response will trigger the pancreas to release blood sugar which will cause the same affect as eating sugar. So it is definitely about blood sugar control but more than just diet control. Stress control is imperative!

0
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on December 10, 2012
at 05:11 PM

Addiction genetics is not a very solid theory, in my opinion.

Investigate Dr. Gabor Mate... he's done extensive work in the fields of addiction and psychological development.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on December 11, 2012
at 04:22 PM

Thanks for your answer, I love Dr. Mate's "In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts."

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on December 11, 2012
at 02:57 AM

if a man becomes addicted to a drug, its likely because his life is miserble. nobody thinks the rapid changes in modern society could be the cause. just shut up and take your pills.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on December 11, 2012
at 03:01 AM

if a man becomes addicted to a drug, its likely because his life is miserable, not some bullshit explanation like a "chemical imbalance". nobody is willing to think rapid changes in society could be the cause. now shut up and take your prozac

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on December 11, 2012
at 02:49 AM

everyone can become addicted to something. if a person cant stop taking oxycodone, that is not a "chemical imbalance". the guys life is miserable and everybody just wants him to take pills

0
D9448fd9d71d0de73a3f6464264db433

on December 10, 2012
at 04:47 PM

I dont think you can change the brain permanently. The brain has it's base but other from that it changes your whole life for the good or the bad. Sure a younger brain can be effected much easier. But im sure that some people get easier addicted to some things while not to other where all different. But all addictions can be solved and thats by stop taking the drug that greates the addiction in the first place.

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