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Is Sugar Really the Gateway Drug to Substance Abuse?

Is Sugar Really the Gateway Drug to Substance Abuse?

If you are in recovery for an addiction, the title question may seem annoying, or a bit after-the-fact, like spilt milk. However, studies, like Princeton University conducted in 2008: Evidence for Sugar Addiction: Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects of Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake, found sugar met the benchmark usually determined when labelling a drug. The authors noted if taken excessively, sugar can cause behavioral and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of substance abuse and alcoholism.

Also, researchers from the British Journal of Addiction determined that people who were addicted to opiates tended to eat more foods that were rich in sugar and poor in vitamins. This was compared to those people who did not use opiates. Opiates work on so many levels of the body, that it’s hard to really know how much you are changing until you stop using the drug and feel your old self returning.

What might be important to understand is sugar triggers the release of insulin in the body. Insulin is what moves sugar into the bloodstream, which results in a sugar rush or high. The high is actually the release of dopamine in the brain. The dopamine is what causes us, our brain, to feel good.

Whether or not sugar can or can’t be proven as the gateway to drug or alcoholism addiction, looking at your sugar intake in addiction recovery can, however, prove beneficial to your health. Many of us have heard that sugar is bad for us. This repeated claim may not alter our consumption, but please beware of the fact that sugar can put one at risk for type 2 diabetes.

In early recovery, and also as recovery continues, many people substitute candy and sweets unknowingly for alcohol or drugs. The body still seeks the high, even though it will not be as intense as with drugs and alcohol. As you heal your body, mind a spirit and move towards lasting sobriety, it might be wise to make a habit of reading food labels for added sugar. Remember how you get through each day without a drink or a drug? One day at a time.

Serenity Oaks provides an intensive 5 week program to support your sobriety and recovery from addiction. We aim to provide a space where you can find out how and why you have struggled with addiction. Our therapeutic and medical support are just one of the tools we provide to help set you up for success in recovery. Call us to find out how we can help you get started: 844-396-8526.  

Serenity Oaks Wellness Center