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aturopathic Medicine
 
In this land of plenty, a conservative estimate calls 4 out of 10 Americans "addicts." Abused substances include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs and street drugs including pot. Addiction can serve us well once we recognize that substance abuse is a way to obscure honest, peaceful, self-discovery. Using, of any addictive substance, gives us the temporary illusion of control, excitement and perfection. In recovery we discover, often to our great relief, that we're not perfect, that we need intimacy, and that integrity is more appealing than denial. The addict is self-obsessed; living for the next "fix." The addict is crisis oriented; using panic as a way of feeling alive while avoiding meaningful contact with others. In recovery we let go of our need to control in favor of serenity and clarity.

Scientists from different schools of thought have attempted to explain addiction. Some say the culprit is a genetic lack of the feel-good, sleep-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin. Others say early brain cell damage begets lack of feedback inhibition for normal cravings, driving them out of balance. For example, non-addictive persons who eat some sugar will be satisfied (in terms of simple carbohydrates) for several hours. The addictive person, by contrast, will crave even more sugar after consuming a moderate serving. This may be due, in addicts, to a lack of endorphin stimulation when a healthy physiologic craving is satisfied. Other researchers and physicians contend that addiction is largely a response to depression. Addiction is major problem in this country, whatever the cause. Sugar addiction is perhaps the most insidious because the substance is so cheap, so available and so universally regarded as a "treat."

Addiction spells confusion. For example, street drugs are "bad" while prescription drugs are "good" despite the statistics which show that in any recent year death due to complications from prescription drug overdose is 50 times more likely than death from street drugs. Nevertheless, IV "recreational" drug addicts are the long-term reservoir for AIDS and the vast proportion of criminal activity among teenagers is due to the cocaine trade. Caffeine and alcohol and nicotine are socially condoned although they contribute to a substantial percentage of hospitalizations in the U.S.

If you ingest white sugar daily, or drink alcohol daily or have an immediate family member who is alcoholic, or feel depressed frequently you may have a problem with addiction without realizing it. Please take a good look; the crucial initiation of breaking free from addiction is recognizing the substance abuse and seeking help to maintain the commitment to quit.

Addiction results from a multifactorial network of choices; the treatment approach must address not only the physical, but the mental and emotional (spiritual) as well. One reason the 12-Step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Spenders Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics, etc.) are so successful is that they are free of charge and thus require only the commitment of the participant for attendance. Sometimes people need stronger measures to kick their habit at the beginning. But quitting per se is not so difficult; the trick is staying quit. Many addicts have incurred so many physical and mental changes that they need to get their fix merely to sustain homeostasis. In other words withdrawal can be very rough. And the better prepared we are for withdrawal, whether it be from inhaled crack or chocolate, the better we will be able to handle the rocky road back to recovery.

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About The Author
A graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, she completed both the Naturopathic and Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine programs. Her preceptor work (similar to residencies) took place in Seattle, West Virginia and China, with emphasis on gynecology, counseling, herbal medicine and naturopathic manipulation...more
 
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