Substance abuse is a chronic condition marked by a dependence on alcohol, drugs or non-nutritive foods for self-medication that is both physiological or psychological in origin. The effects are serious: gradual and progressive damage to the brain, orga n, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. Alcohol, drugs and junk foods are toxic, and is this quality that makes them intoxicating. The high the body experiences is a complex detoxification reaction to these substances, where a vital enzymes, hormones an d nutrients are mobilized to neutralize the effects of these promoters of ill health. When substance abuse is a central feature of the lifestyle, one's supply of nutritional reserves are depleted, and a host of metabolic processes are deranged.
The origins of substance abuse often precedes birth. If the mother is an alcohol, drug, sugar, nutrasweet, caffeine, or nicotine abuser, these substances will pass through the placenta to the unborn child, and set up physiological patterns of stress, t oxicity, and malnutrition. If the child is bottle fed, the standard formula is over-concentrated with sugar, fat, protein and additives, which will greatly determine the taste, cravings and metabolism of the child as she develops.
Clearly, simple refined sugar is a primary addiction, which sets off a reactive cascade called hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which underlies virtually all substance abuse conditions. As a person's blood sugar is strongly affected by sugars, stimula nts and chemicals, the energy and mood pattern of the individual will fluctuate greatly, generating anger, frustration, confusion, irritation, and much irrational behavior. Surprisingly, this rocky road is temporarily smoothed over with the intake of the drug of choice, that tells the psyche, it feels better to be on the non-healthy substance, than to deal with stress naturally. Unconsciously, a pattern of dependency becomes addiction, with the consequence being health and irresponsible behavior.
A visit to a competent nutritionist is an essential part of treatment for substance abuse. S/he will review the history, habits and dietary patterns of the person, and recommend a diet that will correct the hypoglycemia, nerve irritation and organ and endocrine imbalances. Food high in complex carbohydrates will be offered to replace simple sugars and sugar substitutes, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, seeds, legumes and nutritious "booster foods" will take the edge off of the sugar blues and detox shakes. An individual evaluation will provide the information to design a program of proper amino acid, essential fatty acid, vitamin, mineral and enzyme support, which will minimize the withdrawal/craving reaction as addictive substances and habits are weaned from the diet and lifestyle. Then, growth on all levels can resume in a healthy way.
The road to recovery is much more effective with proper nutritional support. Treatment centers that provide nutritional programs have a greater than 70% success rate compared to only 20% or less when psychology and behavior modification are the only mo dalities. Mental, emotional and physical health always improve when nutritional needs are met. Learning to eat well is an investment in the health of the whole family, not just the substance abuser. It can repair much of the damage of both substance abuse and a dysfunctional family system. It's never too late to learn how to live well.