Obesity and Sugar Addiction

Many times people who struggle with overweight or obesity berate themselves for not having the willpower to lose weight. With some of us, it may indeed be a willpower problem. However, and this is important, many people who struggle seemingly forever with their weight have another struggle going on they are probably not even aware of…addiction to sugar! If you are addicted to sugar, it’s nearly impossible to lose weight. In fact, you crave the very thing that causes you to gain weight.

What is ‘addiction’ anyway? Addiction is a condition in which an individual has a dysfunctional relationship with a substance. For example, in the case of sugar addiction, sugar may be used to reward and/or relax a person. That is a dysfunctional relationship because reward and relaxation are not the intended purposes of a food item. With an addiction of any kind, the individual is unable to stop the behavior, regardless of consequences, and in fact seeks the target substance out on an ever-increasing basis.

So how do you know if you’re addicted to sugar? Do you crave sweets? Would you like to avoid sweets but find that you can’t? Have you made a decision to avoid foods with sugar in the past but found yourself unable to follow through? Do you ever over-indulge in a sweet item to the point of embarrassment or nausea? Do you hide evidence of your “crime”? Does your mood or energy level change if you consume sugar? Does your mood or energy level change when sugar wears off? Do you find yourself obsessing about a food item? If you answered ‘yes’ to even a few of these questions, you probably are indeed addicted to sugar.

Why should you take sugar addiction seriously? Well, you already know you have a weight problem, right? Addiction to sugar may be at the very core of your problem. Obesity alone should be enough motivation to “lose the sugar habit” but if it’s not, how about diabetes? Cardiovascular disease? Possibly cancer? Hyperactivity? Depression? Tooth decay?

We’ll talk more about sugar addiction next time. Until then, you have two assignments:

  1. Consume absolutely no sugar-containing foods for one day
  2. Keep a journal of how you feel and what you struggle with throughout that day and the next two days.

The solution to any problem begins with the identification of the problem! Let’s determine for sure that sugar addiction is a problem for you…and then, let’s deal with it!

Until next time!

Prescription Drugs Can Lead to Painkiller Addiction

Sadly, pain killer addiction has now become all too common. It’s a very serious addiction that should not be overlooked just because painkilling drugs are legal to take and are prescribed by your doctor. Nine per cent of the population admit to using painkillers illegally.

Painkillers become illegal when your doctor stops prescribing them and you obtain the drug elsewhere, such as from dealers on the streets. This sort of behaviour helps confirm that there is a problem of pain killer addiction. You may be a normal, everyday person who was unfortunate enough to get osteoarthritis and end up at your doctors, where most likely, he prescribed a painkiller to ease the pain.

Your doctor has your best interests in mind but he may not be an expert at pain management. Your doctor will mainly focus on eliminating your pain and might not give enough consideration to the dependency, which could result as a result of his painkiller prescription.

You can become addicted when painkillers are used for a long time and your body becomes tolerant to that medication. This means that higher and higher doses must be taken to obtain the same initial effect because your body has adjusted to operating normally with that particular level of painkiller.

So if your painkillers are reduced or stopped, withdrawal symptoms can occur. If you are addicted you do fall into a different category than someone addicted to opiates, such as heroin, because you became addicted to painkillers through no fault of your own. You began taking painkillers to relieve your pain, whereas a heroin addict made a conscious decision to use the drug for recreation purposes. Painkiller addiction to Oxycontin is very similar to that of heroin addiction and is now sometimes referred to as ‘prescription heroin’.

Many drug rehabilitation centres treat pain killer addiction in much the same way as any other drug addiction. There is nothing wrong with temporarily taking painkilling drugs prescribed by your doctor for your osteoarthritis pain relief, but the problem arises when you find yourself taking exceedingly higher doses…and if you take them continuously you can become dependent on them. This is where painkiller addiction can start because your body becomes used to relying on the painkillers to ease the pain and discomfort.

Then what happens is that the drugs given to help you through your period of pain become the thing that actually causes further pain, discomfort and ultimately painkiller addiction. Rather than the painkillers easing your osteoarthritis pain, as they did previously, your body now experiences heightened levels of pain. And the longer you take painkillers, the more your levels of pain increase.

In addition, the pain from your osteoarthritis is now accompanied by even more pain and discomfort from the symptoms of withdrawal caused by the painkiller addiction.

Cold Turkey

Cold turkey is a slang expression describing the actions of someone who gives up an addiction suddenly, rather than doing so gradually or by using replacement medication. It is known as ‘cold turkey’ because a major symptom is cold sweats and goose bumps on the skin.

Symptoms of drug withdrawal are very unpleasant, involving insomnia, diarrhoea, vomiting, restlessness, pain in the muscles and involuntary leg movements. The problem is that your body becomes dependent on the effects of the painkiller in the same way that it would with any other drug.

In some communities painkiller addiction has overtaken that of cocaine and marijuana. Addiction to painkillers is both a biological and psychological condition. To satisfy their craving for a painkiller an addict exhibits compulsive behaviour despite there being negative consequences associated with taking the drug.

If you develop a painkiller addiction it’s because you develop a tolerance to the drug so that higher doses are needed to have the same effects. So when the painkillers are removed, painful withdrawal symptoms occur. If you’ve become addicted to painkillers you can be treated and the key to successful detoxification is to manage the withdrawal symptoms without reverting back to the drugs.

Severe withdrawal symptoms can occur if you suddenly stop taking painkillers and to help manage that possibility there are a number of effective treatment options to treat painkiller addiction. Prolonged use of painkillers will eventually change your brain in a fundamental and long lasting way and that’s why early treatment is essential. It also explains why you cannot just quit on your own.

So you need to take action now because the longer you wait to get treatment the worse it will get. Although detoxification is not a treatment for painkiller addiction you would normally be detoxified before any treatment approach is started. This can help relieve withdrawal symptoms while you are adjusting to being drug free. Once you’ve completed detoxification you can then work with your treatment provider to determine which course of treatment best suits your needs. There are a number of effective options to treat painkiller addiction including medications, holistic techniques and behavioural counselling.