Replacing the Brain Chemicals that Addiction has Robbed

In our last blog post we discussed a bit about why we feel it is important to address nutrition in addiction treatment. Here at Sierra by the Sea we have always known that treating addiction is much more than just removing the substance from the user.

We have taken it so far as to realize that addicts with different drugs of choice will often have unique needs with regard to types of rehab activities and specific treatment programs we recommend. Abusers of ecstasy often bring a depressive and hopeless attitude to our rehab centers, whereas marijuana addicts often need to have many activities to help manage stress and keep the mind stimulated throughout the day.

Increasing Glutamine Intake Assists with Addiction Treatment

We have found that eating foods that are rich in glutamine can assist in recovery by reducing anxiety and sleeplessness. This promotes relaxation and helps reduce the loss of GABA which is an amino acis and the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. (The molecular receptors for GABA are the target of tranquillizers such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin).

Studies have shown that increasing the consumption of these amino acids helped a test group of cocaine addicts to reduced their desire to use the drug.

Serotonin Replenishment Aids in the Addiction Recovery Process

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is often deficient in an addicted brain. Our experience in the providing our young adult clients with ecstasy treatment has brought to our attention the difficulties of recovery for serotonin inhibited clients.

The loss of serotonin is one factor that contributes to the “sober sadness” or the depressive side of withdrawal symptoms that accompany early recovery. Serotonin can be replenished by eating foods that are rich in the amino acid called tryptophan. This amino acid is found in brown rice, nuts, fish, and milk. Studies have shown that reducing tryptophan will increase depressive symptoms and increasing tryptophan will cause the person to have a more optomistic outlook.

Omega-3 and DHA Replacement

We have also found it worthwhile to increase our client’s intake of DHA which is a fatty acid belonging to the class of fatty acids called omega-3. Omega-3 nutrients have shown to have positive effects on human’s neurotransmission system and its effects are being explored on Alzheimer’s patients as well as cancer patients.

The DHA/omega-3 nutrients have a positive effect on the physical characteristics of nerve cells’ outer membranes, and thus the way they conduct nerve impulses.

People who are DHA deficient have been shown in studies to experience learning difficulties, excessive hostility, depression, and are even more likely to be suicide prone. Also, DHA deficient clients have been shown to be more likely to relapse from a program of recovery.

Contact our rehab centers for more information about the personalized program of recovery we design for each individual client.

Recovering from substance use disorders is a challenging journey that feels more doable in an environment that tends to each individual’s complex needs and strengths. Our goal is to foster a treatment experience that is built on compassion, hope, and caring, and fueled by excellence in the provision of evidence-based and trauma-informed care.

– Michelle Beaudoin, MA, MFA, NCC, CADC-II
Marks of Quality Care
These accreditations are an official recognition of our dedication to providing treatment that exceeds the standards and best practices of quality care.
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)