Substance use disorders, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, exist when at least two to three symptoms from a list of 11 are present. In animal models, sugar produces at least three symptoms consistent with substance abuse and dependence: cravings, tolerance and withdrawal. Other druglike properties of sugar include (but are not limited to) cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects and other neurochemical changes in the brain. In animal studies, animals experience sugar like a drug and can become sugar-addicted. One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable.
That’s right, this morning they are explaining how and why sugar is considered to be an addictive substance. If you have ever tried to quit sugar for real, by not eating any processed foods, fruit or sweet or starchy vegetables, then you know that there are actually cravings and withdrawal symptoms from doing it. I documented them in my 21 Day Sugar Detox Journal, that you can find on my WordPress page top menu.
I read with interest the comparisons to class one narcotics like cocaine. Apparently lab animals that are given the choice between sugar and cocaine will select the sugar, because the neural reaction is stronger and, of course, sugar tastes good. If quitting sugar and cocaine are equally difficult, then it gives one pause as to how addictive these class one drugs really are. I did not find it difficult to quit sugar. If they are equally addictive, then I could probably use cocaine without fear that I would never be able to quit.
However, there is a difference between cocaine and sugar that they must not be able to track with brain scans. Cocaine is illegal and buying it and using it would provide an additional burst of endorphins that buying and using sugar do not. As a former gambling addict I can assure you that even making the choice to do it was a rush. I am certain that my addiction was not to the games, but to the behaviors before the games. Actually risking something of value is it’s own high. I got hooked on the risk itself.
I won’t be trying cocaine any time soon, because I know that I would enjoy making the purchase too much. I know that I would get addicted to the crime of it. Risking everything is a very potent drug, too. It is why people foolishly jump out of airplanes, climb mountains, scuba dive in pitch black caves, skateboard and ski in life or death areas, race cars at breakneck speeds, and play Russian roulette. Watch the movie “The Deer Hunter” and realize that one man never left Vietnam so that he could tempt death over and over, to keep getting the super-high of life or death. Ever wonder how someone could stand to be a policeman, fireman or mercenary soldier? They can’t help it.
So a mouse could never be as hooked on cocaine as I could be. I don’t think the mouse would ever understand the concept of crime, or punishment. They don’t worry about losing their wives, jobs, houses. The rush of sin is foreign to an animal that cannot plan for the future. My addiction would be different than his, because he would only experience the chemical crave of the drug, while I would get that, plus I would get the rush of the soul-craving for the sin. Life or death is living on the edge. When you are in life or death time stops for you, seconds are like minutes, your bowels loosen up, the shot of adrenaline is the uber-drug that cannot be reproduced in the lab on a rat. Even turning your car off of the path to home in the direction of the drugs is an adrenaline-injecting experience. Actually doing the drug is nothing compared to the crimes you committed against your state, your family, your body.
I think that being hooked on the acts is something that really takes people by surprise.
In the article they call for some state-level things that might make us make wiser choices vis-a-vis sugar. Maybe a tax to make it more expensive. They call for regulation and restriction. I feel that the fight against sugar will be won one family at a time. Once everyone knows that sugar is the enemy that they thought dietary fats were, there will be a change in the way we feed ourselves and our kids.
If we just have to do something to make the spreading of the word on sugar take place faster, let’s make TV broadcasters devote an equal number of minutes to anti-sugar ads as they do to commercials for sugary foods. If a children’s program contains ten minutes of breakfast cereal ads, make the cereal sellers buy ten minutes of ad time for anti-sugar spots. It won’t be long until they quit buying ad time, so that they aren’t funding the enemy. How about we quit spending money to subsidize the farmers of sugar crops. No subsidies for sugar cane or sugar beets. No subsidies for corn that is turned into high fructose corn sweetener. Let the price of sugar rise to it’s natural level. How about we quit demonizing saturated fats at the government level. Saturated fats are now known to not cause heart disease, so let’s quit demonizing them. Taking fat out of our diets required that something (carbs) be put in so that people would eat the newly formulated low fat foods. Let’s quit that.
Who knows what the government will do, or how long it will take for them to do anything at all? Do you want to know what you can do, right now? Quit buying processed foods. Don’t buy anything that comes in a box or bag. Purchase single ingredient foods that your great grandmother would recognize. Cook your own meals instead of eating out. Don’t drink any drink that is sweetened. Do those things and your sugar consumption will drop so drastically that your health and energy levels will spike. The change will be enough for you to know that you are changing your life for the better.