Even before I got clean and was exposed to “the rooms” and the culture within, I remember hearing and repeating jokes about the coffee and the sugar. The sweet, sweet mountains of refined sugar that recovering alcoholics seemed to live for. “Hey, you want coffee with your sugar?”
Sugar Addiction in Sobriety: The Science
Well there’s a science behind it. A three-year study by Robert Meiers, M.D., in Santa Cruz, California, found that more than 95 percent of alcoholics studied suffered from low blood sugar. Some physicians have found that a vast majority of their sober alcoholic patients are hypoglycemic.
From a medical standpoint, controlling hypoglycemia is the way to go when treating the physical aspects of alcoholism. This means focusing on nutrition and diet and, specifically, the complete restriction of easily-absorbed carbohydrates. Stabilizing the severe fluctuations in blood sugar that many alcoholics experience is key; without this, alcoholics will be predisposed to cravings and even symptoms of emotional and psychiatric disorders such as depression.
Sugar Addiction in Sobriety: Sugar Cravings, Not Just for Alcoholics
In early recovery, especially, I noticed that my sweet tooth had grown back, and with a vengeance. I was not an alcoholic, though. My DOC was opiates. And I knew other ex-dope addicts like me who were also experience the strong sugar cravings and the subsequent weight gain. I chalked it up to the fact that I had not been taking care of myself in active addiction. Specifically, not eating well, I mean, well, not eating at all. I was surviving on chocolate almond milk. In fact, during my first couple of weeks in treatment, I couldn’t eat solid foods. My system couldn’t handle it. I was continuing to lose weight. The doctor at the facility prescribed an appetite stimulant and that’s what really turned things around for me. But besides eating better and eating more, I was increasing my sweets exponentially. I was astonished at just how strong my cravings for candy and chocolate were.
Sugar Addiction in Sobriety: Staying Sober
If you’re an alcoholic, either active or in recovery, you’re almost certain to be hypoglycemic, which means having low blood sugar. Managing that condition could easily make all the difference between staying sober and yet another failed attempt.
Simply put, whether you’re just getting sober or you’ve been in recovery for years, your sobriety depends upon avoiding the hypoglycemic roller-coaster. If not, you can expect to experience symptoms such as: anxiety, irritability, depression, insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, shakiness, sweating, confusion and alcohol cravings.
Sugar Addiction in Sobriety: A Serious Concern
Those who get clean and sober from alcohol and other substances are fortunate. That way of life only leads to three possible outcomes: jails, institutions, and death. Unfortunately, many like us who don’t stay clean end up dying from the disease of addiction. For those of us who do make it out, that’s not the end of it. We must nurture ourselves back to health. And this includes diet and nutrition. Many people in recovery struggle with nicotine addiction and sugar addiction in sobriety and think, well at least I’m not using anymore. But that’s not good enough. Cigarettes and sweets are killers, too. With extreme and rapid weight gain, obesity, and a myriad of other health risks sugar can pose, people are dying from the effects of sugar. And that’s the sad part of people not looking at the other addictions they might face.
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