12 Keys to ‘unaddicting’ your brain

It is important to remember that there is no ‘1 key’ solution to addiction. If you have been using addictive substances for many years, your brain will not simply be ‘reset’ by eating a so-called well-balanced diet. Similarly, if you have experienced major stresses and traumas in life, you do not just recover by leading a balanced life. Damage needs to be undone.

addiThe bottom line is that if your brain is programmed for addiction, with all the will in the world, and the best counselling, and even some of the new addiction drugs that make you feel sick if you use the drug of your dependence, nothing is stronger than the impulse of your brain telling you that your survival depends on having this substance. Biological urges are immensely strong. We take our hats off to those who have quit when all the cells in their body are screaming for a cigarette, a drink or a drug.

The easier track is to work with your brain’s natural design, not against it, by restoring the imbalance, not with drugs but with the very nutrients that your brain has evolved to use over millions of years. This not only reprogrammes your brain and your body’s chemistry to make you feel good naturally but also reprogrammes how you react to the triggers which lead you to take an addictive substance.

As your brain, mood, concentration and energy start to come back to life, so does your capacity for learning and resolving psychological or life conflicts which might be part of you getting stuck in some level of addiction. Hence counselling is more effective in optimally nourished people.

Success Is Proven

A treatment centre in Virginia called Bridging The Gaps incorporated these 12 keys into its agenda, along with intravenous nutrient therapy – and its success rate rose to 91%. We followed 23 of its clients one year after they had started the approach to quit their drug and alcohol addictions. 21 were clean and sober; 16 of them – 70% – had not even had a brief relapse.

Identify The 12 Keys

The first six keys define what ‘optimum nutrition’ really means in terms of unaddicting your brain –  which amino acids will most rapidly reduce your abstinence symptoms, the kind of foods and supplements to give the best intake of essential fats, vitamins and minerals, and how to improve your ability to digest and absorb these nutrients.

The next three keys – getting a good night’s sleep, solving hidden food allergies, rejuvenating your liver – are more applicable to some readers than others; check if they address issues that relate to you. The last three keys help to raise your feel-good endorphins naturally, generating vital energy and emotional healing.

  1. Rebalance your brain with amino acids
  2. A healthy brain needs a healthy gut
  3. Raise your methyl IQ with vitamins and minerals
  4. Rebuild your brain with essential fats
  5. Balance your blood sugar to gain energy and reduce cravings
  6. Repair your brain with antioxidants
  7. How to get a good night’s sleep
  8. Solving food allergies that make you crave
  9. Rejuvenate your liver
  10. Find new pleasure in life by raising endorphins
  11. Generate vital energy: the chi factor
  12. Get the past out of your future

These are all explained in detail in the book How To Quit Without Feeling S**t

Identify Your Amino Acids

We have some exciting news: it is possible to get almost immediate relief from the symptoms you experience when you stop taking a substance. The answer is to supplement the amino acids that are right for you. Every cell in your body is produced in large part from them.

Any behaviour or function – concentration, memory, mood, sleep, thirst, appetite, alertness and emotions – involves the functioning of your whole nervous system. That is regulated almost entirely by amino acids and their biochemical companions: vitamins, minerals and essential fats. Everything you think, feel and do, as well as everything you eat, drink or smoke, has a direct effect on your neurotransmitter – your brain messenger – balance and brain function.

Some people will say that you get all the amino acids you need from eating protein. That is true – if you are in optimal health, are not reward-deficient and have no history of addiction or cravings. Also, different amino acids and combinations of them produce different effects, so finding the correct balance is quite complex. It is worth the effort: studies show that it is possible to reduce stress, depression and anxiety as well as increase glucose and neurotransmitter receptor sensitivity, and to restore serotonin, dopamine, enkephalins, taurine and GABA with amino-acid supplementation, to give a feeling of wellbeing.

There are essential and non-essential amino acids. There is an important third category:
conditionally essential amino acids. These become essential during illness or chronic stress including addiction. The body’s machinery is unable to generate enough, so more sources are required, from food or supplementation. Examples of conditionally essential amino acids which often become essential as a result of addiction are glutamine, tyrosine and taurine.

Supplementing Amino Acids

For a normal, healthy person, eating protein is the best way to get essential amino acids. But taking amino acid supplements is the best way to guarantee you receive optimal amounts for rebalancing neurotransmitters, vital when suffering from addiction/dependency.

One advantage of supplements is that they are more easily absorbed. Taking supplements with a carbohydrate such as fruit can be even better because carbs promote insulin release which helps deliver tryptophan, for example, to the brain.

The most effective starting dose for most amino acids is 500mg per day which can be increased gradually to 3,000mg per day; the two exceptions are 5-HTP which ranges from 50- 500mg/day, and L-glutamine which ranges from 500-15,000mg/day. It is best to start with a lower dose and increase it until you feel the benefits. Most people respond to their daily dose being divided into two or three doses a day.

Also try to boost amino acid intake through diet. Below are some examples of means which provide substantial amounts of amino acids.

Five Meals Rich In Amino Acids

  • Oat porridge, soya milk and two scrambled eggs.
  • Baked potato with cottage cheese and tuna salad.
  • Chicken breast, potatoes au gratin (potatoes with a white sauce and cheese) and green beans.
  • Wholewheat spaghetti with a bean, tofu or meat sauce.
  • Salmon, quinoa and lentil pilaf with green salad and yogurt.

Some people start with a supplement powder containing a balance of ‘free form’ amino acids. This can be taken on its own,sprinkled on cereal or added to a fruit smoothie. Or you can get it in formulated complex capsules. However, they compete with each other so they are not as effective as taking individual amino acid supplements. A good protein powder should provide these kinds of amounts in a daily serving:

  • Glutamine/glutamic acid 2,000mg
  • Tyrosine   1,000mg
  • Gaba/taurine 1,500mg
  • Tryptophan 1,000mg
  • Phenylalanine 1,000mg.

Some people find their perfect solution by having a daily amino acid complex, then adding
specific amino acids depending on their need. Trial and error will probably result in the reward you are seeking.