Amino Acids and Addiction

Most substance dependent people don’t have the best nutritional habits. By the time patients make it to us their lifestyles usually haven’t supported the best holistic components. Part of our educational process not only focuses on the mental, emotional, and spiritual healing, but also the physical. While this is composed of exercise, healthy food choices, and taking care of existing physical ailments, we also provide extensive education surrounding nutritional choices.

One of the many components of nutrition in early recovery is ensuring proper amino acid intake. Amino acids are precursors to our “happy chemicals”. These chemicals are the very things that are released by substance intake. Valium works  on GABA, cocaine on dopamine and norepinephrine, Ecstasy on serotonin, etc. When clients come to AACC, they automatically have a deficiency in synthesizing these “happy” chemicals as they are reliant on exogenous or outside sources to stimulate our pleasure centers in our brains.

There are many essential and nonessential amino acids that are needed for general health but some of the ones we focus on are Tryptophan, Tyrosine, Glutamate, GABA, and Phenylalanine. Tryptophan helps with serotonin release, mood elevation, and sleep problems. Tyrosine helps synthesize dopamine, causing a reduction in drug and alcohol cravings, increased energy levels and better focus. GABA and glutamate help with stress reduction and relaxation. Phenylalanine is endorphin production, which makes us feel good in general.

While here at The Commencement Center, patients get detailed education on nutrition and how to begin to repair our bodies and brains. We teach what foods are rich in what chemicals and proteins that elevate these “happy chemicals”and encourage well rounded “early sobriety” diets. With that said, we also enjoy the occasional cupcake or donut. We feel sugar is always better than drugs or alcohol.

Research is showing us more and more how nutrition can help the body rebound much quicker than recovering people without some sort of nutritional regimen, however stringent. Some even take over the counter replacement for some of these amino acids, helping the body get there quicker. Holistic treatment is vital to patient’s success. The Commencement Center provides a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment of addiction.