One of my fondest memories is of going to the library and coming away with new things to learn. Today, in my practice as a Functional Nutrition, there is always something new to learn and it still is exciting to me.
Behavior Addictions - Is shopping, gaming, over-exercising, bulimia, gambling, internet-addiction, or porn a problem?
A colleague referred “Jim” to me because the couples' work he was doing with Jim and his wife was at a standstill. The therapist felt he had reached an impass with the couple because Jiim’s issues were likely chemical.
Jim had struggled with porography for decades and had spent the last three years "white-knuckling" it - avoiding porn but then later substituting it with increased alcohol use.
If you are in an addiction your #1 relationship is with the addiction - no one else can compete.
You may argue with this statement and I say, if you do not believe it then get clean and see how your relationships change. I have walked the journey with enough clients to promise you that you will agree with me.
Knowing this and saying this to Jim (or anyone locked in an addiction) doesn’t matter.
I had to help him with the underlying root cause of what his body chemistry was lacking that made him crave the porn (and then the alcohol) in the first place.
After doing an assessment with Jim I trialed the supplement DLPA (D-phenylalanine + L-phenylalanine). DLPA works on endorphins and dopamine in the brain, the same way porn does (and other behavior addictions). I used other supplements as well, and we discussed Jim’s diet and how to make a few small changes that would be helpful.
Within a couple weeks, Jim was telling me he was able to drink less and, much to his surprise, really didn’t think about porn at all.
I know it seems too simple, but it is very logical and scientific. When any of our neurotransmitters are low, our body craves a way to balance them, even if it is temporary. This includes behaviors such as porn, bulimic behavior, shopping, gambling, over-exercising, internet addiction, or gaming. The problem is that none of these behaviors give us a lasting boost of endorphins or dopamine and the behavior must be repeated the next day in order to feel ok.
And this is where addiction begins.
When behaviors force the flood of dopamine on the brain, the brain adapts by making less and becoming less responsive to its effects (tolerance) needing more time and more intensity to feel the same “high”. The neural pathways connecting the reward circuit to the prefrontal cortex actually weaken. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for taming impulses, making it even harder to stop the endorphin-flooding behaviors.
Dr. Kenneth Blum helped the scientific and medical community by discovering what he called the Reward Gene, which is a dopamine receptor gene. Since his discovery there has been over 3000 studies showing the association of the Dopamine D2 receptor gene and addiction reward dependency disorders.
Douglas Gentile began studying video gaming in 1999 because he wanted to prove that there was no such thing as an addiction to gaming. He was shocked by his own results! To read his findings go to www.drdouglas.org.
I recently participated as one of the speakersin a tele-class for the Alliance for Addiction Solutions (www.allianceforaddictionsolutions.com) on this very topic.
Of course, no one supplement stands alone. It's important to insure that all the building blocks are present so the body can make its own dopamine. It's also important to address life style changes, tweak the diet, regulate blood sugar and incorporate other ways to increase dopamine naturally. Yoga, breath exercise and any form of exercise all cause the release of dopamine naturally.
Is addiction getting in the way of your life? To learn more in a self-study method, take a look at my ecourses which explain neurotransmitters and the diet connection more in-depth.
We used to call them “moody.” Now we call them “hangry.” I have even seen T-shirts with funny hangry messages on them. Sometimes, because I’m a psychotherapist, moody, hangry people ask me if they could be bi-polar.
I have always said that Holiday time is like adding a part-time job to our already busy lives. We don’t want anyone to feel forgotten at Christmas, we all want to enjoy more intricately made meals, and we either are striving to be more in-the-moment with those we love, or we are dreading spending time with those we are mostly able to avoid at all other times of the year. Both create new stressors.
Holidays usually involve more “partying” on some level, and for those who might be prone to addictions - including sugar here for everyone who thought this wasn’t going to apply to them- it’s especially difficult as addictions can be set off by Holiday fun.
Anxiety impacts lives in a unique way—like an unseen torture. Anxiety chooses a place to land and—just like that—it becomes necessary for life’s decisions to be built around the anxiety. It takes a spontaneous, open life and builds a box around it that gets smaller and smaller if the anxiety is left untreated.
Any therapist will tell you that depression can be palpable. You can feel it in the room. The heaviness sits between you and your client, making her harder to reach, time move slower, and your eyes feel like closing from the weight of it.
If this is what it's like for the therapist, imagine how much deeper it feels for the one living it.
While living in temporary housing there is a lot to complain about. I don’t have my furniture, books, or most of my clothes. I am sitting and sleeping on rented furniture that isn’t very comfortable (and I try not to think about not knowing who else has rented it). My husband and I are sharing the smallest living space since we first got married 27 years ago
Whatever you are doing, working towards, hoping for...don't be afraid to make the first move. Sure it could open up to a brick wall but after a few attempts, you will find one that seems to catapult you further on your path or even helps you define your path.
My lovely book group recently read "Endurance," a book about the famous 1914 Antarctic exploration that became a two year ordeal of survival. This adventure in reading has made me wonder where all of the explorers have gone.