Sugar addiction and obesity are the number one killer in the UK and around the world. When most individuals think of addiction, they think of alcohol, drugs or harmful behaviours such as gambling or sex addiction. The truth is the source of the world’s leading addiction is fed to us every single day. Those that are predisposed to developing an addiction can become addicted very easily to sugar. It is everywhere and in almost everything we consume. Sugar and poor diet are the biggest drain on the NHS in the UK, attributing to the most hospital related admissions, causing complex illnesses, diseases and death. Sugar has been proven to be 8 times more addictive than Cocaine. So what you see an innocent indulgence can have a very dark and stark truth behind it. Sugar leads to more deaths per year than tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs. Globally is a massive problem, especially in America; where portion sizes are bigger and contain more added sugar than any other country.
Addiction Helper understand that being addicted to sugar can result in devastating physical and psychological consequences, both to the individual sufferer and their loved ones, who literally have to watch their loved one die a slow and painful death through their addiction to sugar. Addiction Helper do not underestimate the power of, or the damage that sugar addiction can cause. This page is aimed to educate you on the facts of sugar addiction, why it is so dangerous, why certain individuals become addicted to it and others don’t, how to spot the signs and symptoms of sugar addiction, the dangers of artificial sweeteners, and more importantly how we can help you to overcome sugar addiction once and for all.
Addiction Helper successfully treat all manner of addictions, including addiction to sugar. We work with over 100 CQC regulated addiction rehabs of the highest calibre in the UK and also a select number of exemplary clinics overseas. We have helped over 10,000 individuals overcome their personal addiction problems and are passionate about helping those that suffer. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease, as recognised by Public Health England (PHE) and The National Institute of Health (NIH). Addiction to anything can kill; as a progressive disease that takes over the individual’s mind and body, they become powerless to stop whatever it is that they have become addicted to on their own. They crave more and more and the consequences get bigger and bigger as a result. Addiction kills; we are here to help you determine if you or a loved one have an addiction to sugar that is out of control and therefore requires treatment and intervention to overcome.
The above statistics, released by the University of Liverpool through the number one science magazine, The Lancet, show in comparison just how poor diet contributes to premature death on a global level.
The Sugar Addict’s Brain
Science has proven that those who suffer from addiction produce lower levels of Dopamine (the body’s naturally occurring chemical that induces feelings of happiness and emotional balance) When the addicts brain finds an activity, drug or substance that stimulates the production of Dopamine, they latch onto it and crave more and more, as demonstrated below.
As a progressive illness, the brain becomes tolerant to the initial dose of Dopamine that used to flood the brain when a particular substance or activity was used. This results in a Dopamine crash and less of a pleasure response; they therefore develop stronger and stronger cravings for more and more and so the addiction escalates. It is important to understand that addiction is a recognised disease of the brain and that without the correct treatment, over time, it will only ever get progressively worse. The longer the addiction goes on and the more the substance or activity is abused, the brain develops new neurological pathways that are critical to keep the addiction going. When it has reached this point, the individual will have lost all control over their own thinking and subsequent actions. No matter how hard they try to resist, they have become hardwired to their particular addiction. This will come at a great cost to them and their loved ones, financially, mentally, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually. The only way to treat addiction successfully is through the use of proven therapies that are designed to retrain the brain into thinking differently and provide the essential shift in thinking required to maintain abstinence. The individual must then continue to remain abstinent and continue in new healthier practices and coping mechanisms if they are to avoid the brain resorting to its old patterns of thinking, which inevitably results in relapse. In the case of a sugar addiction, the individual must abstain from sugar in order to avoid triggering the flood of dopamine response once again. Healthy living and a change in outlook, attitude and coping mechanisms can produce the required amounts of Dopamine needed to keep the individual happy, healthy and abstinent.
Below is a scan picture of four individual brains, once of a normal brain and the other three of an addict’s brain of the same age.
As you can see from the above scan pictures of the brain, those that have an addiction problem produce much lower levels of Dopamine, and therefore have difficulty feeling pleasure and joy naturally. The brain of an obese person is shown to produce even less dopamine than a cocaine addict or alcoholic. All 3 addicts produce very little dopamine. This is why an individual becomes addicted, their dopamine levels decrease more and more over time and the only time they feel pleasure and joy is through artificial stimulation through the abuse of a substance or behaviour. Sugar is shown to be more addictive than both Cocaine and Alcohol. Sugar floods the brain with Dopamine for a temporary high and period of pleasure; this only lasts a very short time and then the dopamine levels crash again; leaving the individual wanting more sugar to induce the pleasurable feelings once more.
Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?
You may have heard of this or not, but sugar has indeed been scientifically proven to be more addictive than Cocaine. Just because it is as accessible, cheap and seen as acceptable, makes it no less harmful than an illicit drug. In fact there are far more obesity related deaths each year than there are drug related or alcohol related deaths; with obesity proving to be the number one killer in most countries around the world.
The above infographic demonstrates the stark statistics relating to the USA, which are very alarming and should draw our attention to the fact that obesity resulting from sugar addiction; is very, very dangerous to the individual’s health. The statistics are based on numerous experiments and research conducted by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, The US food administration, Princeton University and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The UK does have the same problem but on a smaller scale, but the ratio of deaths related to obesity still far outweigh those related to any other legal or illegal drug.
Why a Sugar Addict Can’t ”Just Quit”
If sugar is causing you or a loved one consequences mentally and physically, you may well ask yourself: why can’t I just quit sugar? Sugar addiction is very, very common, even in children. Its long-term effects can have devastating consequences as it leads to obesity and a number of obesity-related and high blood sugar-related conditions. If left untreated, these can prove debilitating and fatal in most cases.
Sugar is present in many forms in foods and drinks that you would not necessarily be aware of. If you are a sugar addict, the only way to break the perpetual cycle of craving sugar, is to detox from sugar and remain abstinent from sugar. This will prove very challenging for a sugar addict at first, as their cravings will be through the roof. It requires a whole new dietary lifestyle, one without sugar and a also different attitude towards sugar. The individual must first of all accept that they are a sugar addict and see sugar as a drug, as opposed to something that is harmless; as for a sugar addict it is anything but harmless. It is common for alcoholics to become sugar addicts when they come into recovery; alcohol contains copious amounts of sugar; so they not only become addicted to alcohol but also to sugar as well. Having conquered their addiction to alcohol; they often find they have a new battle with an addiction to sugar. Many individuals, who have lost all control over their sugar consumption, require a period of inpatient rehab treatment, to support an abstinent based diet and to deal with the root issues that are underpinning their addiction.
All addicts will describe a void inside that needs to be filled…this is the brain’s way of translating that they are unhappy, discontent, empty, depressed and without purpose. Addicts will seek to alleviate this feeling through external means by triggering the dopamine receptors to flood the brain with the body’s naturally occurring happy chemical; whether that be through alcohol, drugs, an activity…or sugar!
Treating any addiction successfully is an inside job; with the correct support, direction and treatment from those that are qualified and experienced to help, it is possible to make a complete recovery from addiction to sugar!
If you or a loved one need help with a sugar addiction, call us now, or chat to us LIVE online for instant help and advice.
What Causes Sugar Addiction?
Obesity is on the increase and the statistics are frightening in terms of the number of individuals affected by it. Sugar addiction is usually triggered during childhood and teenage years. Teenagers will often go for a sugary fix, as they can make more of their own decisions around their diet and preferences. A high sugar diet during childhood, can lead the individual to think that it is normal and healthy. This is anything but the truth. In most families, children are given sweets as a reward, this further cements the brain’s reward system relating to sugar. It is important to offer children healthy alternatives from a young age or to find other ways of rewarding achievements. In order to become addicted to sugar they have to become used to having it in their system. Education around the dangers of sugar and information on a healthy balanced diet it important from a young age. We are not suggesting you tell young children that sugar is bad, as in moderation it is fairly harmless; more that you provide them with suitable alternatives and encourage them to make the right choices in respect to their food intake for their own health and wellbeing.
Sugar addiction develops over time and exposure to sugar; the more sugar the individual consumes, the more they will crave it. In addition, the brain develops new neural pathways that adapt to having sugar in the system, going without or eating less sugar can leave the individual feeling highly frustrated, depressed, angry and agitated until they get their usual sugar fix.
What Are the Harmful Effects of Sugar?
There are numerous harmful side effects of sugar, when consumed in low to moderate quantities it does not tend to impact on the individual’s life. With an individual that is addicted to sugar, they will constantly crave sugar and seek ways of feeding their addiction; this can lead to devastating consequences to the addicts mind, body and spirit. They will do almost anything to get their next fix of sugar and this may mean secrecy, deceit, manipulation, breaking their own moral code of conduct and binging. Subsequently, their addiction has a profound effect on their loved ones and family members. Some individuals with various eating disorders also have an addiction to sugar, those with bulimia and binge eating disorder will often binge on high calorie and sugar laden foods. Removing sugar from their diet can be a great contributing factor to their ongoing and a successful recovery.
As a nation we see sugar as relatively harmless and give it to our children freely or as a reward. Sugar addiction can manifest from a very young age as a result. It’s time to see the facts on just how harmful sugar can be, especially when consumed in excess:
Dr Ludwig of Harvard Medical School explains that sugar is highly toxic to the body, when consumed in vast amounts, „Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fibre, and low in glycaemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.”
Despite having the knowledge of the harmful effects of sugar, a sugar addict will not be able to stop on their own will power alone. Addiction Helper assist many individuals in accessing the correct treatment and support for sugar addiction; this may mean help on the NHS, or in the worst cases of sugar addiction, inpatient in a private rehab . Whatever your treatment needs are, we can help you access them and provide you with the correct treatment and support to help you or a loved one to overcome sugar addiction once and for all.
The Signs and Symptoms of Sugar Addiction
Like with any addiction, whether it be alcohol, heroin, prescription drugs or gambling, there are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for in an individual suffering from sugar addiction. If you are worried that you or someone you love may have an addiction to sugar, look out for the following red flags that could indicate that you or they have a problem that requires professional addiction help and treatment
- Does eating sugary foods considerably lift your mood?
- Does eating complex carbs (all of which have sugar in), such as bread, cereal and pasta, make you feel better and provide you with feelings of comfort.
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed around the amount of sugary foods that you consume and try to hide the extent of it from others?
- When you are feeling low, is the first thing you reach for a sugary food to make you feel better?
- Do you crave sugar all the time?
- Do you obsessively think about sugary foods?
- Once you start eating sugary foods, do you find it difficult to stop, even when feeling full or sick?
- Have you ever tried to reduce your sugar intake but find sugar impossible to resist?
- Has sugar had a negative impact on your health, such as diabetes, obesity or other health related illnesses, yet you are still unable to stop consuming sugar?
- Do you wake up craving sugar?
- Does the thought of giving up sugar fill you will fear and seem like an impossible task, even though you have good reason to do so?
- Have you had warnings from a medical professional that you are consuming too much sugar?
- After eating sugar do you have a sugar crash, and feel tired, unmotivated, empty and depressed?
- Do you regularly feel lethargic and/or get ill frequently due to your poor diet?
- Do you lie to others, by eating healthily in front of them, only to secretly binge on sugar alone?
- Do you want to give up sugar but find you cannot?
- Do you consume a lot of sugary drinks or add sugar to drinks like tea and coffee in excessive amounts?
- Do you feel depressed and hopeless around your sugar addiction, feeling like there is no way out?
- Do you suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of worthless as you are unhappy about your weight, but unable to do anything about it?
- Are you always trying low sugar diets but failing to stick to them?
- Do you always ensure you have sugary foods stocked up, or panic if you are running low?
- Have you ever shoplifted sugary items or taken from others?
- Have your family and friends expressed concern over the amount of sugar you consume and your general state of health?
There are many signs and symptoms of sugar addiction, but answering yes to three or more of these questions, does indicate that you have a problem with sugar that requires outside professional help and treatment.
Addiction Helper can help you or a loved one access the correct treatment for your particular sugar addiction; the more severe the addiction, the more intensive the required treatment will be in order to recover.
Please call us or chat to us LIVE now if you need more information or help with a sugar addiction!
The Consequences of Sugar Addiction in the UK
As previously touched on before, there are many health risks associated with sugar addiction, or consuming too much sugar for your height and weight. Sugar addiction leads to obesity, and this is the number one drain on NHS finances and resource services in the UK. Obesity is on the increase, and if trends continue as many as 70% of adults are predicted to be obese by 2034. That’s more than a two thirds of the adult population! The infographic below was released by Public Health England and clearly shows that obesity is of a great area for concern, due to its shocking statistics.
Quite simply, Sugar addiction kills; as with any addiction, the crux of the problem centres in the individual brain; in their thought processes, obsessions and subsequent compulsive actions. There is also a physical aspect, in the individual’s chemistry, their physical cravings and the way their body reacts to sugar. For a full and permanent recovery from sugar addiction, it is imperative that both the mind and body are treated comprehensively and simultaneously with a structured plan that is achievable and can be maintained for life.
Sugar and Cancer
Cancer research UK have linked obesity and sugar to a vastly increased chance of developing cancer. Their research shows that as many as 1 in 20 cancers are directly linked to obesity due to a high sugar content diet, with 10 types of Cancer developing as a direct result. Cancer is becoming more and more common, with more and more families being affected. Could this rise possibly be linked to the increased trend in obesity? We think so, as the stats match up. Yet another reason to consider going sugar free if you have an obesity problem related to your sugar intake.
Cancer cells feed on sugar; so it is important that if your have been diagnosed with Cancer to cut sugar completely out of your diet. Failing to do this could vasty increase the rate that the cancer spreads.
Many Cancer patients crave sugar. Even when the body goes into cachexia, a starvation syndrome caused by the cancerous cells in the body converting protein into sugar. This causes the body to be eaten up by the cancer cells. Many individuals die from cancer as a result of this effect.
Sugar comes in many forms and is included as an added ingredient in many foods that would consider to be healthy. If you are thinking of quitting sugar, it is wise to educate yourself and to check the ingredients of the foods you consume. Some may come as a real surprise! The following foods contain sugar and if you are a sugar addict trying to abstain from sugar, these could potentially trigger a relapse with the reintroduction of sugar to the brain:
Breakfast bars and Yoghurts
Bread – all kinds
Indian and Chinese sauces
Fruit (some have a much higher content of fructose than others; the main ones being grapes, pineapple and bananas)
Various soft drinks and sodas
The above list is by no means limited as sugar is included in the vast majority of foods that are manufactured and processed. Just because a food may be sold as a low fat product, does not mean that it does not contain sugar.
The Different Names of Sugar
Here are the most common names that are different forms of sugar and that are contained in most processed foods:
By now, if you are wanting to quit sugar, or need to quit sugar, you will be gaining an idea of why some diets may have failed miserably in the past. As with any drug that the body is addicted to; sugar must be erased (in all forms) from the individual’s diet, in order for them to attain and maintain abstinence. We understand that this is no easy task, especially for an individual that is craving sugar constantly. If your health is at risk and your life depends on you giving up sugar, we can help! We can provide you with a personalised inpatient treatment plan, that includes a sugar free diet plan and therapeutically alters the mindset associated with addictive compulsions and behaviour;, to free you from obsessive and destructive thinking patterns and from your addiction to sugar!
If I am a Sugar Addict, Will I Experience Withdrawal Symptoms?
Initially yes you will, and this is unavoidable. Sugar withdrawal symptoms do pass fairly quickly and you will begin to feel the benefits of a sugar free diet within as little as 3 to 7 days. Sugar withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense cravings for sugar
- Severe tiredness and lack of energy
- Mood swings
- Disturbed sleep
- Foggy head
- Difficulty concentrating
- Some individuals experience aching muscles and limbs
Once you are through the withdrawal symptoms, you will feel much clearer headed, your mood will be more balanced, you will sleep better, be able to concentrate better and have increased energy levels and that’s just the psychological benefits. Physically, over time your body will run far more efficiently as a result of giving up sugar; you will lose weight, your blood pressure and cholesterol will reduce and your body will repair itself better after injury or illness. You will have also have stronger immune system. You will be able to reverse some of the damage to joints and organs caused by obesity. You will be at far less risk of a premature death, heart attack, blood clots, and stroke or developing cancer. Furthermore, you will no longer crave sugar, once it is removed from your system!
If I Give up Sugar, Can I Use Artificial Sweeteners as a Replacement?
A study conducted by Harvard Medical School suggests that artificial sweeteners are not the answer to giving up sugar, they still induce cravings for sugary foods, so the individual is more prone to relapse.
Research suggests that they may prevent individuals from associating sweetness with calorific intake. This can result in the individual choosing sweet foods over nutritious foods, as they are still craving sugar and lulled into a false sense of security of saving calories in certain areas of their diet. Artificial sweeteners can actually produce hunger and sugar cravings, resulting in the individual actually gaining weight as opposed to losing it.
Participants in the San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda. This proves a point that cutting out sugar in one area of the diet can be detrimental and actually produce more hunger and sugar cravings
Animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be also be very addictive. In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine or oral saccharine, the majority of the rats chose saccharin, the artificial sweetener….this sounds very familiar! Suggesting, that like sugar, artificial sweeteners are more addictive than Cocaine.
Did You Know?
Artificial sweeteners in their varying forms and brands are made up of hundreds of different manmade chemicals and can be anything up to 600,000 times sweeter than sugar?! Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners in your diet can have the following side effects:
Research strongly concludes, that artificial sweeteners are not good for you and therefore not a suitable replacement for sugar. Typically drinks are the worst offenders and can cause the following health related issues
What Help Can I Get for My Sugar Addiction?
The NHS do provide support for those you are clinically obese, they may recommend a referral to a dietician or eating disorder specialist for more precise treatment and support; but for an individual with an addiction to food or sugar, there is little understanding or empathy; more to the point there is little available in terms of treating the individual’s mind set – the driving force behind the addiction. For someone with a sugar addiction, it is likely they have tried all kinds of diets in the past, only to fail miserably and then blame themselves…this leads to feelings of failure, guilt, shame and blame…this leads to more eating and sugar fixing!
Some individuals may think that a gastric band is the answer to their problems, our experience shows that it is not. With the same mind set, you will be compelled to find a way of still getting your sugar fix. There are some outside organisations that are free to access that exclude sugar from food plans such as Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous.
If you are suffering from a sugar addiction, you have more than just a problem with your weight, this is just an outward symptom and consequence of what is going on inside. For a full and permanent recovery to be achieved it is imperative that the root issues and uncovered, processed and resolved with specialist professional help. It is also vital that you find and practice healthier coping mechanisms and the way that you deal with your emotions. In the most severe cases of Sugar addiction, Addiction Helper recommend that you consider private rehab on an inpatient basis. There you will receive intensive treatment for the mind, body and spirit, delivered by qualified professionals who truly understand the nature of addiction and how to successfully treat it.
Sugar Addiction Rehab
Addiction Helper specialise in helping those suffering from all manner of addictions, to access the correct treatment and support for their individual treatment needs. We work with over 100 CQC regulated addiction rehabs in the UK of the highest calibre, and also a select number of outstanding addiction rehab treatment centres overseas. We can provide you or your loved one with a tailored rehabilitation treatment programme: specifically devised to treat all aspects of the individual, ensuring that no stone is left unturned. For an individual suffering from sugar addiction, we recommend a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks inpatient; this will give the individual time to adjust to a sugar free eating plan, with the support of highly skilled and trained staff and within a very safe and secure environment. Whilst detoxing from sugar, we will ensure that they are also treated comprehensively psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and socially and provide them with the foundations for an ongoing and permanent recovery. Our rehabs look at and treat the root issues underpinning each individual’s addiction, using the latest in evidence based, highly effective addiction treatments only. By admitting to one of our rehabs for Sugar addiction you or your loved one will gain the following benefits:
- Full medical and mental health assessment on admission
- Immediate admission available
- Proven addiction therapies such as CBT, DBT, individual therapy, group therapy, creative arts programme, holistic programme, fitness programme and a family recovery programme
- 24/7 care and support
- Personalised treatment plan
- Regular reviews of progress
- Full Sugar detox
- 12 months complimentary aftercare on completion of treatment
Whatever your treatment needs are, we can help you find the perfect private rehab package; from low cost affordable rehab, to luxury rehab and everything in between. We also provide short term, long term and extended care programmes. In patient care and day care programmes and help for the family; whatever your needs are we can help!
For more information on how we can help you or a loved one to overcome sugar addiction once and for all, please don’t delay and call us or chat to us LIVE online now!