Is Sugar Bad for Addiction Recovery?


One of the first educational components of addiction recovery is focused around addiction and how it affects the brain. Time and time again, research has shown us that substances like drugs and alcohol can cause an influx of the neurotransmitter dopamine – a “feel good” chemical in the brain that tells us something is pleasurable. Our hippocampus (responsible for storing memories) keeps this “feel good” moment in a secure, stored place, reminding us that we need to experience that euphoric feeling again. Of course, when addiction is involved, this desire to feel good goes overboard – which is why so many people experience declined health, reduced finances, lost connections, and much more.

As you navigate your journey to recovery, your mind and body may naturally find alternative options to compensate for what is now missing: substances. Sugar is a major touch point for this, as sugar activates the same reward circuit that drugs and alcohol do. Cassie Bjork, R.D. and founder of Healthy Simple Life, told Healthline“Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more.”

So if you’re not paying close attention to your diet while in recovery, you could find yourself snacking on processed, sugary foods that could ultimately lead you to another addiction – sugar addiction. The New York Times covered the story of Rodney Zimmers, who was 21 years old when he began recovery from heroin and cocaine. Once Rodney was sober, he turned to sugar, ultimately gaining a lot of weight and picking up a replacement for the substances he was once addicted to.

In order to prevent this from happening, you need to focus on eating healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and proteins that add vital nutrients and energy to your body. Soda, energy drinks, sugary juices, and more can train your brain to “want” more – not to mention, other studies have shown that consuming too much sugar can increase your chances of developing depression and anxiety, both of which can certainly dampen your recovery. Speak with your healthcare team today to ensure you’re on the right track with your diet and ultimately, your health. It’s never too late.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.