Drug Addiction & Withdrawals

Some in the medical community consider drug addiction a brain disease, because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.

Image of a hooded man shooting up

It is, in any case, a dependency on the use of harmful substances, in spite of disastrous consequences to one’s health, financial success, and social relationships. Alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are considered drugs, since they are addictive and harmful to health and wellbeing, but smoking is treated differently and manifests differently, so it is excluded from this entry along with alcohol (mostly).

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Some or all symptoms may be present

  • Denial that one has a problem
  • Digestive disorders are common
  • Financial problems because supporting the habits are expensive
  • Inability to go for long periods of time without using the drug(s) of choice
  • Inability to have just a little bit of the drug(s) of choice
  • Irritability, anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of interest in appearance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Malnourishment
  • Memory problems
  • Red eyes
  • Restlessness
  • Secretive behavior
  • Trouble with work performance
  • Weight changes

PREVALENCE

Millions of Americans use illegal drugs. It is estimated that 14 million more have drinking problems while 8 million are alcoholics. The CDC reports that about 15 of every 100 US adults over 18 smoke cigarettes—over 36 million Americans. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and deaths, more than 480,000 every year. More than for illegal drug use and yet smoking is legal. Go figure.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Addiction is often treated with drugs (a paradox?) these days. So, for the use of OxyContin and heroin, you might be prescribed Suboxone. It is claimed that it can eliminate withdrawal symptoms without becoming addictive itself. It may not work for everyone and does have some side effects. Campral may help with alcoholism. There is also a vaccination that may decrease the pleasurable effect of certain drugs.

Some doctors will prescribe 12-step programs for drug abuse but the success rate, according to some statistics that are not compiled by proponents, are about 5-10 percent.

SELF TREATMENT

The suggestions here are for support during your recovery are offered for your further research

DIET

If you want balanced hormones in your body and your brain, the best way to get them is from food. If you want as much immune protection as you can get against the damaging effects of your substance abuse, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent starting point. Feeling strong and healthy can give you a high you can live with.

A nutrition plan like the Zone Diet aims to keep your blood glucose levels stable throughout the day so that you experience fewer lows. It helps you to have clear thinking and a reasonable mood.

FOODS THAT PROMOTE HEALING

  • Adequate fiber
  • Bone broth
  • Fruits and vegetables, fresh; some raw, some cooked. Get all the vitamins and antioxidants you can from the food you eat.
  • Healthy fats (monounsaturated from real food like olives, nut, avocado)
  • Low fat quality protein for amino acids (for neural health)

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol
  • All processed foods
  • All refined sugars
  • Caffeine
  • Quitting smoking has been shown to decrease substance abuse deaths (other than the abuse you’ve heaped on your body from smoking).

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Dandelion
  • Evening primrose
  • Goldenseal
  • Green juices

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Astragalus
  • Bupleurum
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Kava kava
  • Kudzu
  • Milk Thistle
  • Passionflower
  • Skullcap
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Valerian root

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, mixed with a carrier oil (i.e. coconut, almond) and used topically, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath.

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Cassia
  • Chamomile
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Marjoram
  • Orange
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need. Your deficiencies are likely to be related to your drug of choice so it’s important to find out what they are before loading up on supplements.

  • Acidophilous
  • Calcium
  • Chromium
  • DL-Phenylalanine
  • GABA
  • Ibogain
  • Iron
  • L-Tyrosine5HTP
  • MENTAT, an herbal drug with no known side effects.  It is reported to have helped patients tackle addiction, concentration impairment, aggressive behavior, speech defects, and mental stress.
  • NAD (coenzyme derivative of B3) is sometimes used in mega IV doses for rapid detox.
  • Omega 3’s
  • Potassium
  • S.O.D. (enzyme)
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B-complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

HYDRATION

Dehydration during recovery is common. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise may reduce your stress, improve your mood and positively affect your brain chemistry. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to keep mellow.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Diatomaceous earth, food grade, for detoxicification
  • Biochemical restoration and nutrition

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Connect with people who are healthy and who don’t abuse substances.
  • Connect with positive-thinking people.
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