The Importance of the Amino Acids in Substance Abuse Recovery and Relapse Prevention

By

Sober Recovery Expert Author

I've been in active recovery from alcohol dependency for many years. I have watched thousands and thousands of people come into recovery, and just as quickly, they disappear, only to come back again and again, claiming a desire to get better. What causes them to go through that revolving door for so long, and why are they in so much emotional pain?

I have studied alternative medicine for 15 years or more, and have learned about the importance of diet and nutrition in the treatment and prevention of many "dis-eases." I have personally corrected many chronic ailments within my own body, from Lupus to arthritis, to Fibromyalgia. I fully believe that if we give our bodies what they need, they will heal themselves. This belief is based in my own personal experience.

I've been in active recovery from alcohol dependency for many years. I have watched thousands and thousands of people come into recovery, and just as quickly, they disappear, only to come back again and again, claiming a desire to get better. What causes them to go through that revolving door for so

But what about addictions to harmful substances? There are addictions to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and a myriad of other "recreational" drugs. But equally as devastating to ones health and well-being are addictions to other, legal substances, such as alcohol, prescription drugs (anti-depressants and pain-killers), tobacco, caffeine, sugar, chocolate and refined, fatty foods. What is causing us to need or crave these substances? Well, our brains. Not our thinking, but our brain chemistry itself.

Our brains consist of tiny chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include epinephrine and nor-epinephrine, GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), serotonin and dopamine. They are closely tied to addictive behavior and addictions to many of the above mentioned substances. When in ample supply, these chemical neurotransmitters cause us to feel good�that wonderful feeling of well-being we all desire and strive to maintain. But when our neurotransmitters are depleted and/or are being re-absorbed by our brain's receptor sites too quickly, we reach automatically for something that will make us feel better by increasing these chemicals. This can be achieved through many substances, and is especially true alcohol, which is why alcoholism is so rampant in our society. It is a legal "fix" to our continuing feelings of restlessness, irritability and discontentment. But it is like putting a band-aid on an infected wound. Whether we get our temporary fix through alcohol or prescription anti-depressants or that giant Hershey's chocolate bar, the cause of the problem remains unaddressed.

So, what causes our brains to loose the ability to naturally take care of ourselves via neurotransmission? Deficiency, plain and simple. A deficiency in possibly many nutrients, trace elements and essential fatty acids, but primarily in this case, amino acids. What are amino acids? The organic molecules that are the building blocks of proteins in our body. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids in living things. Proteins are composed of different combinations of amino acids assembled in chain-like molecules. Amino acids are primarily composed of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Each protein consists of a different sequence of amino acids linked together according to the genetic information encoded in DNA.

Many are manufactured by the body, but there are also many "essential" amino acids that are not manufactured by the body and must come from our diet. An example is L-Tyrosine. This essential amino acid restores the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. Deficiencies of this amino acid can cause cravings for caffeine, speed, cocaine, marijuana, aspartame (artificial sweetener), chocolate, alcohol, tobacco, sugars and starches, which also increase nor-epinephrine and dopamine, temporarily. Symptoms of deficiency of L-Tyrosine are depression, low energy, lack of focus and concentration and ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorder and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder).

So of course we are going to reach for substances that will allow us to feel better, if only for a short time. And many of us end up on "anti-depressants," which does nothing more than slow down the re-absorption of certain neurotransmitters, also causing us to feel better, but it never takes care of the underlying problem, and can be harmful to our physical health if taken for long periods of time.

So, the solution is to receive adequate amounts of amino acids into our bodies. This can be achieved through eating a healthy diet and supplementing our diets with high quality amino acids each day. Proper dosing is very important as there are certain contraindications associated with amino acids. One example of a contraindication (reasons one should not take them) is that certain amino acids adversely affect people who are on MAO inhibitors. There are others that can cause herpes outbreaks and can adversely affect those with schizophrenia. So, although amino acids are essential to one's overall health and well-being, they should be respected, just as everything we put into our bodies should. Although amino acid supplements can be purchased at your local health food store, it is important to consult with your health care provider before beginning any new health regimen.

Bottom line: we must give our bodies what they need to function properly. The use of addictive chemicals and pharmaceuticals are temporary solutions to a potentially devastating underlying problem, which can only be resolved through a healthy diet and nutritional supplementation. Addictions and addictive behaviors are not a symptom of a weak moral character, but a matter of delicate chemistry that takes place in our brains. It is the continued use of addictive substances that may cause us to become weakened characters, but that is just a side-effect of our attempting to simply feel better.

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