When someone quits using drugs and/or alcohol, the cravings may seem unbearable in the beginning. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital for restoring health and improving the chance of long-term recovery. There is evidence that alcohol and drug cravings can be lessened with the right diet and nutrients. It has been shown that people who suffer with alcohol abuse crave alcohol when their blood sugar drops. Eating a sugary snack will give a quick fix, but eating complex carbohydrates, such as a piece of fruit or some cheese and crackers, will keep the blood sugar at a more even level. Essential amino acids are negatively affected by substance abuse. Replenishing the body with these is of utmost importance to feel better and beat cravings.
The chart below shows which amino acids in the body are affected by substance abuse.
|Supplemental Ingredient||Restored Brain Chemical||Addictive Substance Abuse||Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms||Expected Behavior Change|
|D-Phenylalanine or DL-Phenylalanine||Enkephalins
|Heroin, Alcohol, Marijuana, Sweets, Starches, Chocolate, Tobacco||Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions sensitive to physical or emotional pain. Crave comfort and pleasure. Desire certain food or drugs.||Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Mild anti-depression. Mild improved energy and focus. D-Phenylalanine promotes pain relief, increases pleasure.|
|L-Phenylalanine or L-Tyrosine||Norepinephrine
|Caffeine, Speed, Cocaine, Marijuana, Aspartame, Chocolate, Alcohol, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches||Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions. Depression, low energy. Lack of focus and concentration. Attention-deficit disorder.||Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Increased energy. Improved mental focus.|
|L-Tryptophan or 5 hydroxytryptophan (5HTP)||Serotonin||Sweets, Alcohol, Starch, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Chocolate, Tobacco||Low self-esteem. Obsessive/compulsive behaviors. Irritability or rage. Sleep problems. Afternoon or evening cravings. Negativity. Heat intolerance. Fibromyalgia, SAD (winter blues).||Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Anti-insomnia. Improved appetite control. Improvement in all mood and other serotonin deficiency symptoms.|
|GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid)||GABA||Valium, Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches||Feeling of being stressed-out. Nervous. Tense muscles. Trouble relaxing.||Promotes calmness. Promotes relaxation.|
|L-Glutamine||GABA (mild enhancement)
Fuel source for entire brain
|Sweets, Starches, Alcohol||Stress. Mood swings. Hypoglycemia.||Anti-craving, anti-stress. Levels blood sugar and mood. GABA (mild enhancement). Fuel source for entire brain.|
In summary, D-phenylalanine is useful for chronic pain management and is readily available in health food stores and pharmacies. L-phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that boosts neurotransmitter function in the brain. It is found in foods such as eggs, dairy products, meats, fish, and soybeans.
Tryptophan, another essential amino acid that boost brain function, is found mostly in milk, meats, eggs, yogurt, poultry, fish, peanuts, and bananas. L-tryptophan can be found as a drug/supplement in health food stores. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is also an essential amino acid helpful for its calming and anti-epileptic properties. GABA increases the alpha waves in our brain that are linked to clear thinking and good focus. Having a deficiency of GABA is linked to feeling anxious, depressed, tense, and nervous. GABA is not found in foods, but fruits and vegetables can influence how GABA works.
In addiction to replacing the above amino acids to bring the body back to a healthy balance, there are also other natural remedies to help curb cravings. B vitamins, as well as ashwaganda, kudzu, and milk thistle can all be used to reduce cravings and calm the nervous system.
Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to learn about other natural ways to reduce cravings and get the body back in balance. Drug cravings may be intensified when the body is tired and in need of an “uplift,” so keeping your body properly fed, rested, and hydrated will go a long way in your new life in recovery!
For more information about Twin Lakes Recovery Center, rehab Atlanta, please contact us anytime at (877) 958-0778. We’re here to help.