I read an article in The Sun today about Paul Gascoigne and how since leaving treatment he has replaced alcohol with sugar. The article was light-hearted and a tribute to how far Gazza has come now that his only active addiction is such an unimportant one. But is it? This article rang alarm bells for me. Yes, I think it is fantastic that Gazza has managed to complete treatment and is still remaining abstinent, but Gazza’s sugar addiction is still something that could cause him huge problems later down the line.
Of course I am aware that it is far less damaging for him to be eating sweets than drinking, but the fact is his behaviours around the sweets still echo those of an alcoholic. The photo of his cupboards full to the brim with confectionary sent shivers down my spine – nothing like a life of moderation. There is also the impact the sugar will be having on Gazza’s brain; as with any substance, sugar will alter the chemical balance and will trigger a release of chemicals that will make Gazza experience a sort of high – a temporary high. So what happens when this high wears off? Is an addict going to be able to cope with that? Or are they going to chase the next high? And because the chemical balance has changed, are they going to need a higher amount of sugar to achieve that same high?
The Sun’s take on the story was frightening to me because it doesn’t allow consideration of the possibility of cross-addiction. Someone with an addictive pre-disposition is likely to find something to be addicted to instead of their original substance – it is likely to be something more socially acceptable than drink or drugs; smoking, shopping, working and sugar are all common cross-addictions that demonstrate the addictive behaviours are still present. It may be that Gazza is receiving support for his sugar addiction and that he is tackling things one step at a time, but either way, sugar addiction is a real issue and one that should not be made light of.
If you or a loved one are affected by any of the issues, including general food addiction, in this blog please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help.