Can Carbs and Sweets Turn You Into an Addict?

Can Carbs and Sweets Turn You Into an Addict?


Sounds crazy?
Apparently so.
Information has come out lately refuting the old wisdom that food is not addictive and that fatties should just exercise self-control.  Self-responsibility was the term often used.
More recent research indicates that processed foods (sodas, cake, candy, white bread, cookies, potato chips) can addict people, cause them to crave more of those foods and make them go looking for them with some vigor.
CBS News last week quoted Dr. David Ludwig’s (Director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital) press release about his research, “Beyond reward and craving, part of the brain is linked to substance abuse and dependence, which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive.” His study, using milkshakes made the point and documented the strong cravings some time afterwards for more, or similar.
Adding to that and commenting on the study, Dr. Christoph Buettner, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, said, “Food activates similar areas in the brain as drugs do, that is already accepted.” Buettner, who was not involved in the above research, added, “The strength of this study is that it shows that the kind of diet you eat can influence this.”
WebMD and several magazines jumped on this new data as well with comment or stories of their own. It seems to be time to learn more and educate ourselves.
So what’s next? Cold turkey or a measured taper off to beat addiction?
Or will food addiction clinics pop up around the country to help sufferers beat the addiction?
I doubt that this is something that is easy to beat alone.
The new research was published June 26 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Be kind to yourself. Therapy helps.
Sharon Valentino – Valentino Therapy, LicensedMarriage and Family Therapist (51746), MA, CHT, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Masters Counseling Psychology                                                                                                            Stress, Anxiety, Addiction SpecialistRelationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain
Serving individuals, couples, groups and families in the SF Bay Area and online for CA residents                                                                                                                                       Web: 


addiction (Photo credit: Alan Cleaver)


Technology Addiction

This is a repost by 11th grader Robin Xu: The toll of technology addiction, By Robin Xu The Gainesville Sun, April 14, 2013 3:21:34 AM PDT, Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
In one study from the University of Glasgow, researchers found that half of the participants in their study check their email at least once an hour. Some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour.
Technology clearly plays a huge part in the lives of these subjects and the people they were meant to represent. It is undeniable that the symbiotic relationship between humans and technology has been, for the most part, positive and mutualistic. However, it is also important to keep in mind the very real negative effects that our dependence on technology has on our health, socially, physically and mentally.
Before we can examine the effects of technology addiction, we must first have a solid understanding of what differentiates past technologies with new ones and how these differences have made technology addiction such an extreme problem recently. The first piece of information technology that really invaded homes across the country and around the world was the radio. While the radio certainly possesses many of the hallmarks that one would associate with addictive technology, such as varying content and portability, it really wasn’t as addictive as you might expect.
For one, radios only operate in one medium: audio. While the topics of its programming may change, the fact of the matter is that radios could, for the most part, only entertain in a single way. Secondly, radios offer a limited variety of content. It is simply not possible for most individuals to create their own radio broadcasts. As a result, listeners were (and oftentimes still are) restricted to the few channels run by broadcasters in their local area.
Compared to older technologies, like the radio, modern ones offer a much wider range of content, and are more accessible. Improved production methods have made consumer electronics more affordable and attainable. Most personal computers and smartphones now also provide internet access, granting the user an almost unlimited treasure trove of information and activities to explore. Furthermore, much of the content on the Internet is user generated.
As a result, the Internet is much more fluid than past sources of entertainment; its content literally changes in real time to match the trends and interests of the moment. Interaction on a more personal level is also possible as acquaintances can directly contact each other across the Internet. These addictive features are also found in many other modern technologies, particularly in cell phones.
Cell phones not only provide Internet access, but they also allow for quick interpersonal contact in the form of text messages (it seems that no one actually makes calls anymore). As a result, it is now possible to communicate with nearly anyone at any time. Because of the lack of monotony in many current technologies, addictions have started to become a problem.
So, what are the true costs of technology addiction and what can be done to mitigate the damage? While the negative effects of an addiction to technology may not be as tangible or directly detrimental to an individual as those from other, more traditional addictions, such as alcoholism and smoking, it is undeniable that they are present.
The constant “itch” that comes with living in such a wired world has led to a host of health issues. Increased stress levels and insomnia are common among those who feel compulsively obligated to take in the non-stop stream of information that is being produced at every moment of every day.
Multitasking, which is becoming more and more common as a result of the portability of new devices, can cause the brain to “overload,” decreasing longevity, weakening the immune system and increasing the risk depression. More immediate and sudden consequences of technology addiction also exist.
Talking on a cellphone can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old and answering a text can distract a driver for up to five seconds, long enough to travel the length of a football field. Modern communications technologies may be entertaining and informative, but they are also posing a silent threat toward the health of many.
People who are addicted to technology may also exhibit decreased social abilities. For one, constantly checking for new emails or text messages can be annoying to family, friends or other acquaintances in the real world. The anxiety that can result from being separated from technologies like Internet or cell phones, even for short period of times, can make users appear distant, limiting their ability to communicate with others in person.
Studies have shown that impatience, impulsiveness, forgetfulness and even narcissism are common side effects of technology addiction. Any one of these attributes could wreak havoc on a person’s ability to create the interpersonal relationships that are necessary for success in today’s world.
It is quite clear that the tolls of technology addiction can be extremely steep. Action must be taken quickly to avoid the escalation of this insidious infection. Parents need to be more strict and less willing to dole out electronic goodies like computers and cell phones at their children’s command.
Education on the effects of technology addiction must also be integrated in school curriculums and public campaigns on the cost of addiction must be undertaken; it is impossible to address such a public and pervasive issue if the public does not even know that a problem exists.
Ultimately, technology addiction is an issue that is fully under our control. We just need to have the willingness to address it. Doing so would maintain the social, medical, and educational standards that are essential for success in the present and the future.
Robin Zhang Xu is an 11th-grade student at Buchholz High School. This essay was one of the winners of the 2013 Horance G. “Buddy” Davis Persuasive Writing Competition, sponsored annually by the Florida Free Speech Forum in cooperation with Alachua County public schools and The Gainesville Sun.

Be kind to yourself. Therapy helps.
Sharon Valentino – Valentino Therapy, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746), MA, CHT, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Masters Counseling Psychology
Stress, Anxiety, Addiction SpecialistRelationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain
Serving individuals, couples, groups and families in the SF Bay Area and online for CA residents


How Loved Ones Can Help Addicts

How to Support Someone With an Addiction or in Recovery

Self-Care Comes First

  • Take care of yourself first.
  • Take extra care of yourself at this time.
  • Set a stellar example of someone who takes care of themselves properly: eat very healthy foods & drinks, do not abuse any substances, no junk food that the addict observes, as that is a strong statement of lack of consistency.
  • Engage in some spiritual practice: meditation, prayer, yoga, nature, walking, join a church, etc.
  • Get clear that your life and your relationship with the addict will never be the same again.
  • If you do not practice unwavering self-care, don’t expect your addict to do so.
  • Get in therapy or a therapeutic support group or Al-Anon & stay there, as you will need a lot more support than you think. You will need it longer than you think.
  • Get a massage and a haircut, update your look & clothing. Be proud of your appearance. This is not the time to be sloppy in sweats. Appearance improves your mood. People will notice. Your addict will too, but may not comment.
  • Get moving. This is critical for your body & mind. Invite your loved one to join you. Go alone.
  • See your Dr. for a check-up. Stress does ugly things to your body & defense systems.
  • Find a way to get healthy, adequate sleep or you won’t have the energy to be strong & give help. Also, even you can’t “think straight” without consistent, sound sleep. Get help if you need to.
  • You will often feel like giving up, but will still worry & be in anguish.
  • Get clear: You cannot motivate anyone. You can’t even motivate yourself sometimes.

There Will Be Problems – Big Ones

  • Your addict will tell you lies – both large and small ones. The small ones will be ongoing and you will start to lie to yourself that what s/he says “might” be true.
  • Your loved one will consistently need to RUN AWAY, using the substance that provides that escape. No substance? Then s/he will run away physically and/or emotionally. You will feel they are trying to keep you away, and they are.
  • Running away is the essence of substance abuse. It’s avoidance. They have experiences, feelings and other problems that they are running away from because they have not learned to “feel the feeling” and then let it go – even if only for a few minutes. This is the main thing that distinguishes them from others. It is what causes them the most problems. It will continue to until someone teaches them how to recognize, feel and realize their discomforting feelings. It usually takes a professional.
  • The addict may not think they have a problem, or that it can’t be managed.
  • Your loved one may give lip service to never using again, but in their heart they think they can and will manage it better in the future.
  • You will come to doubt yourself and even your senses sometimes.
  • The addict is probably not afraid of dying, though they fervently wish it were not a long, painful process. Sweet, quick escape is what they sometimes even look forward to.
  • Many addicts feel that, even if it doesn’t show, they are moving in the right path and they don’t want to change anything, and you, especially, are not going to tell them what to do.
  • All addicts don’t want you to change anything and interfere with their privacy and freedoms. *
  • All addicts are very concerned that you want to control them, get too involved in their lives and their recovery. *
  • Your loved one isn’t very comfortable discussing the deep, personal issues with a professional. They particularly do not want to discuss them with you.
  • Many times your addict will use you.
  • Often, your loved will want nothing more than to get away from you. That will include getting physically away from you.

How to Help

  • There is no one way, no easy way, no fast way to help an addict.
  • Learn to set boundaries and stick to them. It may save a life, as an addict rarely sets any boundaries for themselves whatsoever.
  • Help your addict find joy. This is critical. Try to reconnect them with things they used to enjoy, while realizing their enthusiasm cannot be the same until they are well down the road to recovery and regaining health.
  • You will never persuade an addict to get sober. The decision and determination, which is the hard part, must come from within themselves.
  • Do not lecture, admonish, exaggerate your stress and ability to deal with the situations, especially do not yell, or criticize.
  • Realize that addicts are very tuned in to hypocritical behaviors in others, but not themselves.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, allow the addict to use in front of you.
  • Never buy for the addict or allow the substance to be in your presence, or your home, if you live together.
  • If you allow others to use AT ALL in front of your loved one, then you are part of the problem.
  • If you try to establish homeostasis (an organism’s natural need to go back to the familiar), you will encourage things going back to what they were like before addiction really took hold; you will put your addict in great danger. That was the very situation, interactions, tolerances, exposures to others using, the stressors, the looking the other way – the many behaviors that produced the ability for the addiction to get a firm grip.
  • If you tolerate someone’s using, or your own, do not expect your addict to respect you or listen to you about them getting well.
  • If there is a stressful situation involved in being around you (for whatever reason), the addict will want to use more or they will need to escape you. Two tough choices for all involved.
  • Do not put up with bad behavior. Name it and say it doesn’t work for you. That is enough. Saying it will likely need to be repeated. If this continues, you may need to take calm, thoughtful action. Be a model of how to deal with such situations, because your addict will copy you – either behaving quietly, yet firmly, or behaving distressfully, loudly, threatening… with little follow-through, drama, etc. They will copy you and return the favor and they will repeat those behaviors – positive or negative – with others.
  • AA’ers have said to me, “He came to treatment too soon. He was still wearing a watch”. Yes, it is true that hitting bottom is usually the catalyst. That bottom might be finally selling your watch, as there is nothing else left to sell. Sometimes, it is causing great embarrassment to oneself or losing a relationship or losing health in a serious way. Sadly, in my experience, it is rare to see someone ready to change until there has been some quite negative consequence to his or her behaviors.
  • Do not protect your addict from negative consequences due to actions that have already occurred. It may be your only hope for change.
  • Do not tell your loved one that s/he is an addict, it is a problem, bad things are happening and they need to change. They already know this. This knowledge is a great impetus to use even more.
  • If you want your addict to change, then you will have to change too. Be prepared.

How to Support Treatment

  • Encourage it and then let it go (whether an intervention is involved or not). You can’t make anyone “get it”.
  • Offer to be involved only to the extent your loved one will allow – don’t push.
  • Don’t be surprised when your loved one blames you. Some of it will be true in some way, or you wouldn’t still be involved with them. Have an open mind.
  • Expect your addict to tell hurtful lies about you in treatment, to AA, and others to justify their own behaviors. This will generally pass in time when they get honest with themselves and others. You will never forget it though.
  • Be honest, not brutal, don’t criticize or humiliate your loved one in treatment or in session.
  • You can only say what it has been like for you, without exaggeration.
  • This is something I look for in session: Are you behaving with drama, exaggeration, attack, anger, getting loud, crying much more than might be expected, threatening to leave, end the relationship or walk out of session, making the other person wrong, controlling or manipulating the session, interrupting, taking on the persona of the hurt/damaged one, are you the martyr? Look at these and see if it is getting what y
  • Change does not come quickly. Try to be patient.

* After many years providing addiction therapy, I feel comfortable with using the word “All”, as these are the things I’ve never found an exception to. * This was written for my Psychotherapy Group: Dealing With A Loved One’s Addictions

Be kind to yourself! Therapy helps.      Sharon Valentino, Valentino Therapy, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746), MA, CHT, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Masters Clinical Psychology Counseling

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Illegal Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse

Illegal Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse (Photo credit: