© August 2013, The Writers Group
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Addictions are unhealthy attachments, habits, behaviors or dependencies. One could also be positively attached, meaning devoted to God or to one’s spiritual development or health, for example. This is not really an addiction, however, because it is not an unhealthy attachment, but rather a profound understanding and appreciation or love of the real self and of life.
This article discusses principles of addiction, causes of addictions, some types of common addictions, and how to stop addictions of many kinds. Let us begin with some principles involved in addiction.
PRINCIPLES OF ADDICTIONS –
NOURISHMENT VERSUS STIMULATION
Nourishment is anything that is required for life, including simple food, water, warmth, even true love or relationship, and other items. By definition, nourishment does not cause much of a stress reaction in the body when given in the right amounts at the right times.
Stimulants are substances, behaviors, and habits that may seem to nourish, but cause a stress reaction in the body. They eventually weakens the body and/or mind. Even nourishing substances such as foods can become addictive and stimulating if taken in the wrong amounts or too often or not enough, for example.
Combinations. Any habit, behavior, or other addictive item may also be part nourishing or nurturing, and part addictive or co-dependent. For example, coffee contains nutrients, but is also stimulating and irritating. Cigarettes encourage deeper breathing, but contain cadmium, nicotine and other poisons. Alcohol can be used as a fuel in the body, but it depletes B-complex vitamins, zinc and magnesium and damages the liver.
All stimulants tend to be addicting. All nourishment tends not to be addicting. This is partly just a definition of addiction. In other words, healthy items in the right quantity at the right time are not addicting, but nourishing. Misuse of them tends to create all addictions.
Stimulants tend to cause a high followed by a low when it is withdrawn. Anything that causes a temporary 'high' or feeling of well-being followed by a 'low', tends to be addictive. As the well-being effect wears off, another dose or fix is needed to regain the temporary high.
Every addictive substance or habit weakens the body or mind. It stimulates more than it nourishes. When the 'high' wears off, one feels a little worse than before one used it or experienced it. This is why a person is attracted back to the substance, habit or even a person to feel good once again.
CELEBRATION VERSUS NEEDINESS
To some degree, how one uses behaviors, sex, foods, activities and even people can determine whether they are addictive or nourishing. For example, some people can celebrate and enjoy a little alcohol or caffeine without becoming addicted. If, however, one is looking to fill a void or some deep need inside or ‘get something’ from a food, activity or a person, addiction is inevitable. What might be slightly nourishing can turn to poison as a result.
This is a very fine line, however. The reason is that all alcohol contains poison. All caffeine is a stimulant, no matter how it is used. If the body chemistry is just perfect, maybe it can be handled, but if one is healthy, it will never tend to feel good. It will tend to feel like a poison to some degree. If one needs the nutrients it contains, perhaps it is not addictive, but it is never very healthful, and the risk of addiction is always present.
The same can be said for most “bad’ habits, whether they be lying, stealing, too much sex, co-dependent relationships or even too much sleep, though that is usually just due to fatigue.
ADDICTION HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH MALADAPTATION
By this I mean that addictions have to do with some disconnect or improper stress response that throws the body out of homeostasis. This is one way of viewing addictions from the perspective of the stress theory of disease and general systems theory and cybernetics.
RUNNING FROM REALITY
All addictions are escapes from reality to a degree. Another way to say this is that all addictions and codependency is traumatic. This is also part of chaos theory. A trauma is simply something that increases chaos in the body at deep levels.
ADDICTIONS SUBTLY INCREASE CHAOS IN THE
BODY AT DEEP LEVELS, WHILE SEEMINGLY REDUCING CHAOS AT MORE SUPERFICIAL LEVELS
This is a way to understand all addictions from the perspective of chaos theory, a rather interesting concept that we use in nutritional balancing science.
Nutritional balancing is the exact opposite, by the way. It is about reducing chaos at the deepest levels even though it may seem to cause more chaos at superficial levels for a while.
ADDICTION AND THE ADRENAL GLANDS
Another principle of addictions is that they commonly involve the adrenal glands. This may be because the adrenals are so essential for having energy, and because some adrenal hormones such as cortisol and cortisone, notably, give one a natural high. They do this by stopping pain, increasing the oxidation rate in most cases, raising the blood sugar level a little, and decreasing inflammation in the body. This combination, and perhaps other effects as well, makes the adrenal hormones very needed and perhaps “addictive”, one might say.
The principle of adrenal involvement with additions I learned from Dr. Paul Eck. Most people with addictions have weak adrenal glands. They essentially crave the euphoric feeling that goes with more active adrenals. They gravitate to substances, activities, habits, behaviors, relationships or other situations that stimulate, or perhaps nourish to a degree, the adrenal glands.
Just a few examples of this include addictions to caffeine, sugar, cocaine, depressants, stimulants, anger, fear, sex, vigorous exercise, or job or marital drama. Furthermore, these stimulants eventually weaken the adrenals, causing a deepening of the addiction. Understanding how substances, habits and even emotions affect the adrenal glands can be a key to understanding their addictive power.
SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS STIMULATION
principle of addiction related to the above is that one can stimulate the adrenal
glands directly with various chemicals including caffeine, salt,
sugar, chocolate, cocaine or amphetamines. However, another way to stimulate the adrenals is with
anything that moves the body into a state of activation of the sympathetic
nervous system. Examples are
exercise, fear, worry, anger, cold, pain, sex and perhaps some other stressors.
OTHER ORGAN AND SYSTEM STIMULANTS
principle of addiction related to the body is that some addictive substances,
habits or activities stimulate various body systems, and weaken them at the
same time. For example, smoking,
exercise, sex and wearing inadequate clothing in cold weather may temporarily
stimulate the circulatory system, but may also weaken it.
Other stimulants primarily increase the depth or rate of respiration, providing a high that can have to do with increased oxygen and/or lowered carbon dioxide in the blood. These can include exercise, cigarette smoking or inhaling certain other irritants. It can even include certain postures such as puffing up the chest.
Activities that stimulate the muscles such as weight lifting, running and other exercise can also create a lactic acid high. One can also become addicted to stimulating the palate with certain tastes, or feeling ‘stuffed’.
Other stimulants mainly act at the level of the brain rather than the body. This, of course, includes some drugs and even foods such as carbohydrates or sugars, at times. However, one could become addicted to certain attitudes and beliefs, for example, because they calm the brain or nervous system and relieve nagging anxiety, self-doubts, loneliness, fears, anger or persistent negative thoughts. Not all of these attitudes or beliefs are addictions, of course. They might be healthy attachments to the idea that God exists, for example. This can become addictive, but is not necessarily so.
TYPES OF ADDICTIONS -
SUBSTANCES THAT ALTER BODY CHEMISTRY
like alcohol and coffee are addictive because they influence body chemistry in
particular ways that produce temporary feelings of well-being in some
people. One could become addicted
to vitamins or minerals for the same reason. Substance can influence body
chemistry in thousands of ways.
Vitamins such thiamine and nicain speed up the oxidation rate and can give one a ‘high’ for this reason. While these vitamins have many beneficial effects, if used symptomatically without being part of a total program to promote health, they can easily act as stimulants that may seem to improve one’s health, but are really making health worse. This is why I do not like guessing about what a person needs and I always use the hair mineral test, when properly performed and interpreted, to guide supplement recommendations. This is crucial to understand. Muscle testing, symptomatic recommendations, use of electrical machines and other methods I do not find nearly as reliable to avoid mistakes with vitamins and minerals, for example, or other substances and foods, for that matter.
For example, adrenal glandular supplements, thyroid supplements and hormones, ginseng, maca, ephedra, guarana, yohimbe, ginger, cayenne and other stimulant herbs can also give one a temporary feeling of well being. Again, these herbs and products have many beneficial qualities. However, most contain subtle stimulants that are damaging, so they must be used carefully, if at all. Otherwise their addictive properties easily overshadow their benefits and the patient becomes worse over time.
THE CANDIDA ALBICANS CONNECTION
body chemistry, especially combined with sugar consumption, often leads to
chronic intestinal yeast infection or candidiasis. Deficiencies of zinc and other minerals weaken the normal
immune responses. Weakened
adrenals cause copper to become biounavailable. Copper is the body's natural yeast killer. Also, eating
sugar feeds the yeast, which encourages its growth. Repeated antibiotic
therapy, birth control pills and steroid therapy may be additional addiction
factors as they contribute to yeast overgrowth and weaken body chemistry.
Candida produces alcohol and acetaldehyde, both toxic substances. The alcohol can produce its own addiction, even though one has not drank a drop of alcohol! Both substances also further weaken the body, affecting will power and mental clarity.
THE PEPSI GENERATION
is an interesting addictive substance.
Not only does it contain caffeine and up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per
can, but it also contains phosphoric acid. This chemical cuts the sweetness. It also binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in the intestines
and removes them from the body.
This may temporarily increases the metabolic rate, making one feel
better for a while. Of course, it can
lead to mineral deficiencies and other imbalances.
Diet soda is little if any better. Although it contains no sugar, the other chemicals are still present, and the sweetness can mislead the body into thinking one has consumed a sugar-laden beverage. Diet soda also perpetuates the sweet craving, which may be linked to old emotional responses or trauma.
Advertisements for soda pop and other junk foods are total lies. Drinking Pepsi won't make you slim, beautiful or popular, even gallons a day.
Another principle is that emotions can be addictive. For example, millions of people are addicted to watching violent, x-rated or horror movies, listening to loud music or tuning into ghastly headlines on the nightly news. Without these stimulants, they feel bored or even somewhat dead. Similarly, arguing with a partner, hating anyone or anything, and holding grudges or resentments are other methods that many people use to get high for a while. Most of use know people seem to need to be upset or angry about something or someone in order to feel "well".
even become addicted to religions that teach hatred, anger, guilt or fear, and
that believe in stories of an angry, vengeful or jealous god.
Fear, at the emotional level, is the common denominator of most emotional addictions. Love, for example, if it is real, tends not to be addictive. It is just there. Sex, by this definition, is not love. Sex is a feeling in the body caused by hormones. Love is a presence of a gentle healing energy that is entirely different. Both can help you forget your fears and other symptoms, but they are not the same. Sex always tends to deplete the body in some ways, while love never does this.
These are beliefs that get one high and keep one high. They differ from positive, healthy beliefs because they are damaging to the mind and often to the body. For example, feeling superior to others will tend to give anyone a high. One may feel smarter, more attractive, more talented, or even wiser than others. This will help you forget your inadequacies and even your physical symptoms and problems. However, it will also interfere with healthy relationships and wise decision-making. It is sometimes called arrogance, and this is the main mental addictive quality or activity.
Another fatal type of mental addiction is believing a lie. It could be almost anything from believing in a stock that will rise, when it does not, to believing in another person, or believing in a political party or ideology, or anything else. This, too, is a form of arrogance as it is a rigidity of the mind, although it could just be a form of ignorance that you insist upon maintaining in the face of facts to the contrary.
Another type of common mental addiction is called a neurosis. This is also a type of fixation, but not necessarily a lie. It is simply an exaggeration or glitch or trap that keeps holding you down. Common neuroses are fear of germs, for example, or fascination with sex, or intellectualism – reading all the time, or something else. There are literally thousands of them. They, too, can give one a spectacular high, but slowly damage the mind and body, causing them to be addictive.
Finally, another common mental addiction can be a psychosis or delusions or hallucinations. This is a break from this reality and instead a fixation or inability to be present and instead the mind is elsewhere. For example, you might think you are Jesus Christ re-incarnated. This could just be a severe neurosis or fixation on Jesus. However, it could be something mores sinister and harmful, such as hearing voices that tell you to do something when it is harmful to yourself or to others. Yet psychoses can be very attractive and addictive, as they can help you forget your fears and your worries and problems.
A common psychosis that can be addictive, for example, is to believe everything is alright when it is not. This feels good, of course. But it causes millions of people to tune out or turn off the news, engage in risky behaviors, dress inappropriately, have sex with strangers, for example, and so on.
The opposite is also a common addiction – believing that the world is horrible and people are all bad. This is the basis for many people’s thinking and it is wrong. It feels good because one feels superior to all the slobs and crooks with whom these people compare themselves constantly. But this belief is damaging because it tends to lead to very poor decisions, lack of trust, lack of healthy interaction with others, and more. Intense negativity can also sicken the body horribly, over time.
SPIRITUAL ADDICTIVE “HIGHS”
religions and spiritual practices can function as stimulants and
addictions. That is, some
meditations and religious practices can cause a high that keeps one coming back
for more, even though the practice is really not moving a person forward or
developing the person spiritually very much. This is a problem with some charismatic church practices,
some new age practices such as reading cards, and many meditations, Eastern and
Western. Even beautiful prayers
can be abused.
This can be just a form of neurosis, but it is also possible to be so focused spiritually, that one ignores the body and the physical reality. This tends to damage the physical body because not enough attention is paid to one’s diet, rest and sleep, staying warm enough or other aspects of living as a body on earth.
Martyrs might tend to fall into this type of addiction, though not all of them. Some just believe strongly and are willing to sacrifice the body for a cause. Others, however, simply ignore the needs of the body because they are “high” on the spiritual world in some way, so they die young and often needless deaths.
ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS AND HABITS
These can impact the body, the brain, attitudes, emotions and all levels of functioning. In fact, the more levels a behavior impacts, the more addictive it can be. Here are two common examples – exercise and sex addictions.
powerfully stimulates the adrenal glands, causing a cortisone high. It also stimulates
respiration and circulation, causing euphoric feelings related to these. It
also produces lactic acid which can have a euphoric effect. On top of all this, exercise is
fashionable and one hears that ‘more is better’ for one’s health.
Exercise addition also appeals to those overly concerned with their appearance. A slim, muscular build is associated in their minds with health. Unfortunately, as with any activity, when it becomes addictive it becomes damaging. Excessive sympathetic nervous system activity shuts down the immune system, deprives the adrenals of rest, upsets thyroid activity and overworks the joints.
Many compulsive or excessive exercisers do not eat well, believing that plenty of exercise is all they need. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of those in the worst of health are exercise addicts. They destroy their adrenals, joints and immune systems by their lack of balance in regards to exercise. For more about exercise, click here.
SEX AS AN ADDICTION. This is a large topic. Please read Sexual Fluid Craving for more information about one common type of sexual addiction today, more commonly seen in women than in men.
ATTITUDES AND EMOTIONAL ADDICTION AND LOW SELF-ESTEEM
self-esteem is sometimes a cause of addiction. If one does not feel good about oneself, it is tempting to
settle for momentary highs, even if it is destructive to the body or mind. One may feel one has little to lose.
Only the ego mind compares and contrasts one person with another. This will always make one feel inferior in some way. In fact, many people with low self-esteem are the most wonderful, sensitive people. Because of their sensitivity, they are more aware and often more honest. However, parents and teachers often do not reward this, as it can be embarrassing.
So one must, in this case, realize the truth that each person is a divine creation and totally loved and worthy. If one is in the habit of comparing oneself with others, or always looking for approval in the world, these habits must stop. Each of us has gifts and talents, and time is better spent developing oneself and spending time only with those who offer support to you.
Then addictions associated with low self –confidence disappear, as they make no sense. The word confidence, by the way, means with faith, from the Latin. Faith is the quality that one often needs more of when one feels low self-confidence or low self-esteem.
SUPPORTING THE ADRENAL GLANDS
the adrenal glands is a powerful way to help end the cycle of addiction. Nourishing the adrenal glands to
enhance their activity can help provide a person with some of the same euphoric
feelings that mild addictive substances provide without the harmful effects of
stimulants. Nutrients that benefit the adrenal glands include vitamins
B-complex, C and E, manganese, chromium, zinc and eating some protein at least
Plenty of rest and sleep are also excellent for the adrenals. Letting go of fear and worry are essential. Getting rid of chronic infections is also very important. Detoxification of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, copper, and toxic levels of manganese, iron, chromium, aluminum and others is also required or at least most helfpul.
Strengthening the adrenal glands can also improve one’s resolve or willpower. The adrenals are called the fight-or-flight glands. One’s ability to secrete adrenal hormones in large part determines one’s ability to handle stress. Adrenal glands weakened by sugar consumption, excessive exercise, stress or anything else will reduce one's ability to resist the temptations of other drugs.
In other words, one’s ability to cope with reality depends, in part, upon a balanced body chemistry. The use of any item or habit that weakens or unbalances the chemistry reduces the ability to handle stress. The temptation to go into denial increases, and with it the temptation to use drugs or other habits to deny reality. It is possible to overcome a weak will through faith, concentration or a support group. However, fixing one’s body chemistry is also a great help!
NORMALIZING THE BLOOD SUGAR
blood sugar is another way nutritional correction can help overcome
addictions. Recently, a teenager
consulted me who admitted he was addicted to Coca Cola. He had spent time in a local mental
institution for severe depression.
During his stay, he was allowed all the Coca Cola he wanted. No one understood why he made poor
progress. When his nutrition was
corrected, his depression lifted.
Have you ever noticed how much coffee with sugar is consumed at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings? Weak adrenals often result in hypoglycemia since adrenal hormones raise blood sugar. This condition is very common. When the blood sugar level drops, cravings can be very strong for sugar, soda pop, a cigarette or another adrenal stimulant. Alcohol craving can also be caused by low blood sugar.
ADDICTION AND FRIENDS
powerful factor in some addictions is one’s friendships and groups. The effect can be extremely negative,
or it can be very positive. A true
friend is one who looks out for your best interests at all times, even at
parties or other social events. So
if a person you know or are involved with in any way leads you toward more
unhealthy behavior, that is not a friend.
It is just a buddy or acquaintance. Many people indulge in alcohol, for example, to be social,
to fit in, or to “have a good time”.
These are never one’s real friends, however.
False friends or unhealthy groups can have other negative influences when it comes to addictions. They might talk you out of change, emphasizing how hard it is to change, how likely one is to fail, or how others have failed. They might make you think it is silly to change and not worth the effort. They can bring you gifts that keep the addiction going, such as a bottle of wine, without even realizing at times what they are doing. They may speak badly about you to someone whom you are wanting to invite into your life. This can be a tremendous block for some people if they continue to listen to or even associate with these "friends".
Positive friends. Good friends, of course, can also be life-saving forces to help one
change and give up addictions. This is the basis for AA sponsorship and other
similar programs. The friend who reinforces that one can change, one can
succeed, and one is doing well is as a rare gem. This is a true friend, one that holds one’s highest interest
in mind at all times, no matter what happens.
Good friends are especially important when family and other influential adults are sending one negative messages. Indeed, choosing friends who support where you want to go and with whom is a great secret to overcoming any addiction.
reason, permanent reversal of addictions requires accepting reality and not
trying to run away from it. A
client who was a psychologist once uttered in my office, “reality is the pits”,
when I suggested she needed to face reality. An important block in doing so is that so many people have
come to believe that the physical life is basically rotten, or at least not
very enjoyable. They do not believe it possible to create such a wonderful life
that the very idea of escaping from it makes no sense.
I have covered this topic in more detail in an article entitled, The World Is Perfect, as well as in others on this website.
Anything that gives one hope or better, can demonstrate that life can be really terrific, will greatly assist one to let go of all addictive behavior. This is the appeal of spiritual teachings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, attending religious services or reading spiritual texts. It is also the reason group support, friendship and love are the finest things to help people end addictions.
NOURISHING, CARING FOR AND FOCUSING POSITIVELY ON THE BODY
Understanding the nutritional and glandular causes for addiction can make breaking addictions easier. Supporting the body with a scientific program of diet modification and nutritional supplements can definitely ease the pain that sometimes occurs when one lets go of addictions.