How to cut the stress of addiction

Many people prone to addiction have ‘reward deficiency syndrome’ making them more prone to stress. Recent research shows how amino acids cut stress and and may improve your chances of quitting.

Everybody wants to feel good and the feel good factor in the brain is the neurotransmitter dopamine. There’s now a substantial amount of evidence that many people who struggle with addiction have ‘reward deficiency syndrome’ a condition in which the normal feedback mechanisms that raise dopamine and make you feel good doesn’t happen so well. In many people this seems to be partly genetic resulting in less receptors for dopamine, the so-called ‘anti-stress molecule’. This leads to greater anxiety levels and a greater desire for substances such as alcohol to make you feel good and switch off stress.

In a study by Ken Blum and colleagues, who first identified reward deficiency syndrome, alcoholics and drug abusers were given either a specially designed cocktail of amino acids, the precursors of dopamine and it’s chemical cousins, and other nutrients, versus a placebo. Those receiving the nutrient mixture had a significantly reduced stress response. The nutrient formula provided contained phenylalanine (about 2 grams) and tyrosine (500mg), the precursors of dopamine, plus tryptophan and glutamine (150mg each) and vitamin B6 (30mg).

The implication is that, by cutting stress and anxiety levels providing these nutrients makes it easier to quit an addiction. if you’d like to find out more about the nutritional approach to addiction read How to Quit Without Feeling S**t. This nutrition-based approach to addiction recovery is offered at the Brain Bio Centre.