September is National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Addiction is a complicated issue and does not fit neatly into a medical answer. I’ve treated addictions for many years and have always seen the problem as larger than just the chemistry of the body. But I have also found that caring for the body helps. Addictions fill a hole in a person; that hole could be filled by many addictive behaviors: smoking, eating, gambling, work, almost anything.
So what does someone who is suffering from addiction need? I think the same thing that everyone needs, some basic respect and acceptance. The holes in their lives they are trying to fill are real; they just chose the wrong filler. And sometimes it takes some compassion to understand that.
Many of the addictions have their root in chemical imbalances, which may have genetic aspects to it. Think of a simple addiction. Did you ever wonder why we crave sugar? Alcohol, tobacco and marijuana tend to throw off sugar balances. Using substances that balance sugar cravings such as chromium and alpha lipoic acid can be helpful in reducing cravings for other addictive substances. If you are uncomfortable with one form of counseling or treatment, don’t stop seeking help. Find someone you can trust to work with you. We’re all in this together and no one is uniquely perfect. Take care of yourself.
Most addictions create an additional stress on the body’s nutritional needs. Nutrients that should be going to maintaining the body’s strength and recuperation are being used by the drugs or alcohol that are consumed. Essential vitamins and minerals that are depleted need to be replenished. Amino acids, the substances that form proteins in the body, also form the neurotransmitters that send messages to the brain. So if our bodies are depleted of the basic substances we need for our brain to function, our brains start to degenerate. Different addictive substances have different effects on the brain, but they all do their damage.