Human beings are prone to developing unhealthy addictions to certain things. Whether it be TV binges, junk food, drugs, or alcohol, we have a hard time managing ourselves when we find something unhealthy that makes us feel good. Unfortunately, addiction can wreak havoc on our bodies, leaving us over or underweight, in poor shape, and not as happy as we could be. The best way to overcome an addiction is to find a healthy and natural way to replace that addiction with something beneficial to your body. Here are some ways that you can kick an addiction and develop healthy habits in its place.
Cut the Sugar
In a recently published research paper by cardiovascular research scientists from Saint Lukes, findings revealed that, in both animals and humans, an overwhelming amount of evidence shows “parallels and even overlap in the way the brain responds to common drugs and sugar.” The researchers looked at rat studies from around the world and found that in most instances, rats responded in nearly the same manner when it came to choosing cocaine water and sugar water.
What does this mean? Well, we know that sugar increases dopamine in the brain, much like drugs such as heroin or cocaine. So by ingesting more sugar on a regular basis, we are essentially rewiring our reward centers in the brain to become used to high levels of stimulation. Eating lots of sweet foods could thus increase your likelihood of developing an addiction. It may not be as potent as heroin or cocaine, but research has shown that overindulging in sugar can lead to numerous adverse health outcomes such as an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Cutting down on sugar can help restore the natural balance of feel-good chemicals in your brain, making you less susceptible to developing an unhealthy addiction.
A significant amount of research has shown that individuals who undertake a rigorous, regular exercise routine after leaving rehab are less likely to abuse illicit substances in the long term. Not only that, but regular exercise also increases overall cardiovascular health, improves mood, reduces anxiety, and promotes self-esteem. Exercise can help you overcome any kind of addiction because it provides both a way to use up time as well as an endorphin boost to the brain. According to Harvard scientists, exercise may even help improve your overall brain function and longevity.
Here are some exercises you can use to beat an addiction. Yoga is an excellent option because it requires the participant to harness extreme focus. It’s a great place to start any fitness journey because it is not a high-impact activity and helps to increase your flexibility. Swimming is another fun and therapeutic exercise you can use to enhance your cardiovascular health. It has even been linked to reducing depression, pain, and improving sleep. Team sports are also a great way to get up off the couch and engage in something fun, social, and healthy for the body.
To beat any type of addiction takes more than just going cold-turkey. We usually find ourselves wrapped up in addiction because we feel we lack in other areas of our life. For example, you may feel stressed and so indulge in junk food to feel better. Or perhaps you are bored, so you spend three hours watching television. No matter the reason, it’s essential to identify what leads us to indulge in specific addictions. Meditation is a method that has helped many people, not just addicts, clear their headspace and identify underlying stressors and sources of anxieties.
To get out of an addiction you need to find ways to manage your feeling and emotions, and meditation is one way to do that. Even if you can’t picture yourself sitting cross-legged on a floor for thirty minutes, you can still meditate by engaging in other activities such as gardening or listening to music. Gardening is a useful meditative practice because it allows us to take our minds off ourselves and focus on another’s well-being. According to research from John Hopkins, listening to music can be medicine for the brain. Listening to music helps stimulate the brain in positive ways, sparking creativity, improving memory recollection, and reducing anxiety, blood pressure, and pain.
Vitamins and Supplements
Addiction is more than a psychological issue. Indulging in addiction leads to physical changes that take place in brain chemistry, causing us to lean more towards specific behaviors and actions. Therefore, it only makes sense that to break out of an addiction we need to make physical changes of our own to our diet and routines. Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of overall physical health and an integral component of recovering from addiction. Here are some vitamins you can supplement into your daily diet to help kick an addiction:
Citicoline is an essential B-Vitamin that you could be deficient in if you have a typical western diet. It has anti-inflammatory properties and neuroprotective benefits as well, enhancing the synthesis of acetylcholine and dopamine in your brain. In one study on cocaine addiction, patients that supplemented citicoline during their withdrawal had greater success in maintaining sobriety than those who didn’t. If you prefer not to use a pill form, Citicoline is also present in beef liver and egg yolks.
Theanine is an amino acid also found in various teas that help produce calming effects in the brain. This vitamin is helpful for curbing an addiction because it increases your brain’s growth hormone and lowers your stress hormone. In multiple studies, Theanine was linked to decreasing a person’s dependence on nicotine and opioids.
There’s not enough praise available to give to Vitamin D. Every tissue in the human body has vitamin D receptors, and the body requires a healthy amount daily to function at peak performance. Research has linked chronic Vitamin D deficiency as an environmental factor that increases your risk for drug abuse. So make sure to get plenty of Vitamin D if you want to kick an addiction.
Is there anything more natural than talking with another human being? Don’t ever be ashamed or minimize your addiction, whether it be to food, drugs, alcohol, or sex. Over the past century, scientists and psychologists have developed strategies and methods to help people struggling with an addiction to work through their problems and emerge a stronger, healthier individual. Some common, evidence-based therapeutic practices include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT helps to teach patients to recognize and understand the triggers underlying their addiction as well as identify and deconstruct negative thoughts.
- Motivational Interviewing: This therapy technique involves structured conversations between patients and therapists with the goal of bolstering the patient’s self-image and self-belief in conquering their addiction.
- Contingency Management: With this method, therapists provide incentives to patients to abstain from their addictions. It’s simple, but with carefully structured contingency management therapy, patients can make small and meaningful steps towards recovery.