Nutrition – Part Two

Amino Acids

Using Amino Acids

(Check with your physician first)

Time of Day: Follow suggested directions

Dosage: Start with the lowest recommended dose (or half dose) and wait 30 minutes for any potential allergic reaction, often only a headache. If no reaction occurs, continue. Take as directed on the bottle, even though some people say they experience relief of their symptoms by raising their dosage with no negative side effects. The absorption of amino acids can be somewhat improved if you hold the powder under your tongue. There appears to be only one consistent side effect of taking too much of an amino acid: Reverse Syndrome.

Reverse Syndrome: The symptoms you are trying to eliminate can return if you take a larger amount of amino acids than your brain needs or if you take them for longer than is needed. Allergic responses are unusual and might be eliminated by powdered Vitamin C.

Response Time: The body usually responds to amino acids within 15 minutes. Some blends may take a few hours. The directions on the label may state that it can take a few days.

Best Results: Take quality vitamin and mineral supplements and higher doses of Vitamin C. Ask your physician for general nutrient testing.

Amino Repair Period: A 3 to 12 month period is usually required for amino acids to fully positively affect your brain, after which you won’t need regular supplements unless your life becomes difficult.

Duration: Take a supplement for three months then stop taking it and see how you feel. If your symptoms return, continue to use it. If you feel better, stop and see what happens.

Amino Acid IV

Amino Acid Intravenous Drip: In some cases, an amino acid IV drip is a highly effective detoxification method for all drugs, even opiates like methadone and Suboxone. It can be performed at an out-clinic, but medically difficult cases need to be inpatient. It’s not widely available in the US, but availability is increasing.

Evaluation: Most of the time, your experience is enough to know the effect of what you are taking. If you don’t get good results from amino acid supplements or if you have an allergic reaction, testing is the best approach. The only reliable test for neurotransmitters is examination of blood platelets (BP). Also consider testing for heavy metals and other substances.

Experiential Feedback: If you aren’t sure of the results you’re getting, relax and pay attention to what you’re feeling: maybe you’re feeling relaxation, stimulation, or the relief of pain, or a negative mood or anxiety.

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Nutrition – Part One

Good Nutrition for Your Recovery

NUTRITION

Everyone’s body, and especially the brain, needs the proper nutrients in the correct amount to work well. Neurotransmitters in the brain require specific nutrients to work effectively so information can be transferred from one brain cell or neuron to another. The most important food is protein, which is made up of amino acids.

If your brain doesn’t have the amino acids it needs, you may be more vulnerable to addictive substances that mimic those amino acids. Mimicking in neurotransmitter sites promotes addictive responses in your brain. Taking enough amino acids is necessary if you want your brain and body to work right and to be less susceptible to addiction and mental health issues.

Your brain also needs many other nutrients to function properly. For example, the brain is two-thirds fatty acids and cholesterol, so you need to provide those nutrients for it to work at its best. Feed your brain and you’ll have one less roadblock in recovery.

Note: Amino acid research started in the 1970s. Research in the mid 1980s showed that amino acid supplements increased the success rate of drug addicts in recovery. Yet, most recovery programs don’t know about the body’s amino acid requirements or use them in their recovery process. You may have to inform your treatment program of this essential resource for successful recovery.

Neurotransmitter

Neurotransmitters and Their Effects

Amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. The following outlines the four vital neurotransmitters and their roles, including:

  • The amino acids that affect them
  • The symptoms of deficient amino acids
  • The drugs and activities that are desired for a higher level of brain function
  1. Endorphins: The natural pain reliever
    • DPA (D-phenylalanine) or DLPA (DL-phenylalanine – L form also stimulates) are used for the symptoms:
      • Physical or emotional pain, including flooding
  1. GABA: The natural relaxer
    • GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is used for the symptoms:
      • Anxiety, sleep problems, stress, or tension
  1. Catecholamine: The natural stimulators
    • L-tyrosine is used for the symptoms:
      • Apathy, depression, low energy, poor concentration
      • Lack of focus or motivation
      • Being irritable or stressed
      • Desire for stimulating or risky sports and activities like gambling and unsafe sex
  1. Serotonin: The natural mood elevator
    • 5-HTP or tryptophan are used for the symptoms:
      • Anxiety, depression, negativity, worry, or stress

Blood sugar balance is also a vital issue in addiction recovery because imbalance causes cravings. It can be helped with the amino acid L-glutamine.

  1. L-glutamine: Natural blood sugar stabilizer
    • Hypoglycemic condition:
    • Blood sugar instability is balanced with L-glutamine
    • The symptoms are:
      • Blood sugar highs and lows
      • Processed sugars and carbohydrates, caffeine, and nicotine influence blood sugar instability
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Evaluating Addictions

Brain Activity

Addictions and addictive behaviors are often defended by the addict. When you defend, it usually means you fear there is a problem. A healthy person doesn’t need to defend an annual indulgent evening on New Year’s Eve, an occasional cosmetic procedure, or hanging on to a tacky, old chair.

All regularly repeated, nonessential behaviors need to be explored for the degree of their addictive nature. For example, feeling compelled to jog daily for an hour may be a bit excessive, but feeling bad about yourself if you don’t train every day for weekly triathlon events is clearly an addictive pattern.

Brain Chemistry’s Role

The main role of the neurotransmitter dopamine is to signal the frontal lobe that a behavior is desirable, important, or better than most, which causes heightened awareness and a craving for more.

All natural pleasures produce dopamine, including drugs and addictive behaviors. Drugs induce a very large release of dopamine, which serves to intoxicate the brain into thinking that the experience was overpoweringly wonderful. And, indeed, perhaps it was.  However, with enough use, the brain’s pleasure center becomes rewired to believe that use of mind altering chemicals is the highest form of pleasure, and when triggered, your chemical response eventually becomes, “I must use to survive.” This results in persistent using and a loss of control, even when there are significant negative or even disastrous results.

Potential positive addictions

Positive Addiction

The term positive addiction sounds good, but if something is a true addiction, it’s not positive. Some maintenance addictions, like exercising or dieting, have positive aspects, but can be unhealthy when done in excess. It creates an unclear gray area where addiction problems are compared to the added value of the addictive behavior, resulting in an almost equal balance of cons and pros. This is especially tricky when dealing with addictions related to everyday tasks like eating and working. If your behavior falls into this category, consider cutting back when possible and getting involved in another positive activity.

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RESPONSE TO ADDICTION

Abstinent and Maintenance Addictions

It’s essential you have a clear and strong response to your addiction. Depending on the type of addiction and your relationship with it, this requires either abstaining or maintaining, or abstaining after attempting to maintain.

Abstinent Addictions

Abstinence requires total avoidance from the addiction. Consider the following:

Drugs or Non-Prescription Medication

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Caffeine
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine: Smoking or chewing
  • Opiates
  • Over the Counter Medications
  • Performance Enhancing Medications: Steroids, human growth hormones, etc.
  • Synthetic or designer drugs
  • Tranquilizers

Gambling

Pica

Ingestion of non-food materials

Self Harm

  • Burning, Cutting, and Pounding
  • Suicide attempts

Sex

Pornography, Internet

Maintenance Addictions:

With some addictions aspects of the addiction are unavoidable or have some redeeming value. Your recovery approach needs a structured plan with specific limits. Some addictions may necessitate a brief period of abstinence, such as sexual abstinence when you are in recovery from a sex addiction.

Beauty

  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Tanning: Tanorexia

Codependency

Collecting

  • Cluttering and Hoarding
  • Status: Art, cars, women, an entourage

Competition

  • Sports: Watching or participating
  • War: Against self or others

Stimulation

From high risk behavior

  • Criminal activity
  • Drama
  • Extreme activities: bungy jumping, hang gliding

Extreme Exercise and Body Building

Fame

Ego-acknowledgment, achievement, money, attention

Food

  • Overeating
  • Binging/purging
  • Dieting
  • Eliminating:  suppository
  • Obesity
  • Sugar or carbohydrate abuse
  • Under-eating: Anorexia

Gambling and Gaming

  • Personal or Interactive
  • Video: Units and online

Money

  • Saving
  • Spending: For pleasure
  • Spending: For effect, status, control, ego

Power and Control

  • Accumulation: Making, keeping
  • Institutional: Organizational, religious

Prescription Medication

Relationship, Love, Romance

Sex

  • Personal, Interpersonal
  • Video, Television, Movies, Porn

Work, Personal Projects

Note: Categories are not clear-cut. Depending on the details, addictions could be in a different or more than one category.

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