THE DOPAMINE DIET IN ADDICTION TREATMENT
Most addicts have low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. This can be partly genetic, but the repeated, unnatural, stimulation of dopamine production through substance abuse leads to a disruption in the brain’s ability to produce dopamine in the usual way. Over time, this leads to lower and lower levels of dopamine in circulation thereby fueling the addict to pursue more and more stimulation and reward via drugs or alcohol consumption.
When a person enters addiction treatment and has stopped their active addiction, the brain is in a dopamine slump. This often leads to feelings of depression, low motivation, mood swings, and strong cravings for drugs. Dopamine depletion is a very high-risk factor for relapse as addicts crave the substance or behavior that was unnaturally sustaining their dopamine levels. It can also make your first days in treatment very challenging and uncomfortable, but there is a way to alleviate this discomfort and improve your ability to remain focused and motivated towards recovery through the Dopamine Diet.
Elevating dopamine levels through the Dopamine Diet will reduce cravings and the risk of relapse as natural dopamine levels are restored in the brain. A low glycemic, dopamine-boosting diet is a healthy, scientifically proven way to increase this essential neurotransmitter while helping rid the body of the toxins which accumulated during drug or alcohol abuse.
The Dopamine Diet favors high protein, vitamin-packed foods and ingredients and will typically include:
- Lean, organic meat and poultry
- Plenty of vegetables
- Most fruits
- Dairy products including cheese and yogurt
- Wild-caught fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole wheat foods such a breads and pastas
- Whole grains including spelt, quinoa, farro, buckwheat and barley
This diet keeps sugar levels consistent and avoids the sugar spikes and troughs that adversely affect energy levels and mood. As well as being beneficial to brain repair, the Dopamine Diet also improves overall health.
In early recovery, it is common for addictive behavior to be transferred towards food with addicts overeating or craving certain ‘unhealthy’ foods. The Dopamine Diet quickly regulates eating patterns and, with restored dopamine function, a recovering addict is a lot less likely to be drawn towards high sugar and high carbohydrate foods that could cause a decline in health.