Addiction has a negative connotation in the modern world, and there is a reason for the human brain’s tendency to be prone to addiction.
Origins of Addictive Behavior
In a time of scarcity for our ancestors, hyper focus and drive to “find” and seek needed food and water for survival depended on a strong neuro pattern to reward addictive, extremely focused behavior.
Addictive Behaviour in Modern Times
Now in modern times, we don’t have scarcity; in fact, we have an over-abundance of everything from food, to shopping, to entertainment on our devices, to pornography, to gaming, to multiple types of drugs, and more. Almost anything can become an addictive “drug” and develop into what we call addictive behavior.
When you consider countries around the world, the richest countries have the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. In the US, like in other wealthier countries, we are walking around in a dopamine deficit state, experiencing the universal symptoms of addiction withdrawal.
Addiction is defined as continued compulsive use of a substance or behavior despite harm to self or others.
Why People Engage in Addictive Behavior
People usually start using a drug or engage in addictive behavior to “have fun”, solve a problem, or avoid physical or emotional pain including depression, anxiety, loneliness, or boredom. If that substance or behavior initiates a dopamine response and the act is rewarded, the drive to repeat the behavior or drug will increase to attempt to alleviate the pain initially felt by the person. The cycle of addiction then begins.
Addictions are driven by dopamine
Dopamine is our “pleasure” neurotransmitter. There is a pain-pleasure balance with dopamine, and, as it happens, our pain and pleasure neural pathways are in the same area of the brain.
As my podcast guest, Dr. Anna Lembke says, for every pleasure you experience, there is an equal pain that you will suffer; the bigger the pleasure, the bigger the pain.
“For every pleasure you experience, there is an equal pain that you will suffer; the bigger the pleasure, the bigger the pain.”
Dr. Anna Lembke
Author: Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence
The Pain-Pleasure balance is like a teeter-totter; when the balance tips to one side, we experience pleasure, and when it tips to the other, we experience pain. The balance wants to stay level and doesn’t want to stay on one side or the other for very long.
Our brains will work very hard to restore equilibrium after any deviation from the neutral position. For example, when you eat a piece of chocolate, partake in a session of gaming, or see an increase in “Likes” on social media, the brain experiences a hit of dopamine and pleasure, however, will then quickly start down-regulating the dopamine transmission and the dopamine receptors to bring the brain level again.
The “pain” response will work hard to equal the pleasure so for every pleasure, you will experience an equal pain. This is when you will experience the hangover, the depression, or the ‘let down’.
The let down is the pain that drives our brain to want “more” of the drug, a stronger potency of the drug, or more variety of our drug of choice. The pain experienced from the let down drives us to want to escape and attempt to reach that same level of pleasure again.
As a result of this repeated addictive behavior, you have changed your “hedonic” or “joy” set point; the baseline for joy and pleasure has decreased and the baseline for pain has increased. Now, you need to use your drug just to feel level and normal. Without the use of the drug, you experience anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and depression.
Once the brain has an addiction, triggers that remind you of the drug will never go away. For instance, if you were reminded of your drug by a person or a situation, you will experience a small dopamine hit from just the trigger. What then occurs if you don’t use the drug of choice, is you will experience a dip in dopamine below the baseline and that will trigger a stronger craving for the drug.
Tolerance to the Behavior or Substance
Every person has a dopamine base level before engaging in too many dopamine “hits”. As we repeat a rewarding behavior, we will continually experience a deeper and deeper dopamine deficit. As a result, to reach that same initial level of “pleasure,” more of the substance or behavior or a more potent dose of the substance or behavior is needed. Eventually, the substance or behavior leading to pleasure is needed to reach the initial base level of dopamine. This is described as “tolerance”: Needing more of a substance over time to get the same effect.
When Increased Tolerance Becomes an Addiction
As tolerance to the “drug of choice” increases, the focus narrows in on seeking that drug and paying less attention to other activities and behaviors that used to be modestly pleasurable. In fact, the focus is strictly on the drug of choice and other pleasurable activities lose their attractiveness.
How Does Dopamine Play a Role In Addiction and Recovery
Dopamine is very important to “movement” and movement forward. There is no coincidence that it is important for pleasure, reward and motivation. Dopamine is important for physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional “movement” forward. This is key when you then look at how to overcome addiction
After building a tolerance to a substance or a behavior, withdrawal symptoms will occur if you can’t engage in the chosen behavior. Those symptoms include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, and cravings.
How to Overcome an Addiction Naturally
There is hope and you can overcome addiction naturally! With any addiction, there is a psychological cause, biological cause, and social cause. So, to overcome the addiction, you need to address all three factors.
- Remove Access for 30 days. Abstinence addresses the biological aspect of addiction and allows the brain to reset its neural pathways and reset its dopamine levels.
- Group and Individual Therapy. These can help address the psychological aspect of addiction.
- Remove access to the social and contextual environments and replace them with support groups. If you remain in the social environment or around the people that you used your drug with, it will be very difficult to abstain from the drug of choice.
- Find healthy alternatives. Once the reward pathways have been established it is helpful to find healthy alternative activities, food, or drinks to focus on and use those to “crowd out” the cravings for the drug of choice. For instance, if sugar or alcohol is the drug of choice, fill the kitchen with “Mocktails”, healthy wild animal protein, vegetables, and the like so that the “empty shelves” aren’t tempting to fill with the old “drug” of choice. Other alternatives are walking, exercise, a creative activity, sober group activities and more.
- Ascent Diet Cleanse
How Sara Banta’s Ascent Diet Cleanse Helps Overcome Addiction
Sara Banta’s Ascent Diet Cleanse provides a focused, 30 day period of abstinence from the drug of choice, along with supplements that work synergistically to reset physical, mental and emotional health and lower the withdrawal symptoms. The Ascent Diet Cleanse is not just about weight loss, the cleanse helps encourage a healthy dopamine response and an alleviation of anxiety and depression.
The following supplements are included in the Ascent Diet Cleanse.
Accelerated Keto® increases mental and physical stable energy, encourages calm focus, and decreases the cravings for addictive substances and behaviors. Additionally, it turns your body into fat-burning mode within 30 minutes and it taps into its own fat stores for energy right away. Taking Accelerated Keto® is the quickest way to tap into an alternative source of clean energy, start burning the excess calories, suppress the appetite and other cravings, and increase GABA, Dopamine, and serotonin while maintaining high levels of stable energy.
Furthermore, the additional ingredients in the Accelerated Keto® break down saturated fats into unsaturated fats; this will help burn the dangerous visceral fat around the belly and the liver fat.
The more a person’s liver is defatted and unclogged, the easier it is for the liver to function in all areas including detoxing from drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances. The liver is also where the thyroid hormone converts from T4 to T3, and as the liver function becomes better, the thyroid works better as well, increasing metabolism, mitochondrial function, and energy further. And, it is known when the thyroid isn’t functioning, detoxification suffers, and withdrawal effects from addiction are worse.
Acceleradine® increases ATP (cellular energy) by 18 TIMES, which increases metabolism, caloric burn, brain function, physical performance, wound healing, fat burning, healthy apoptosis (destruction of diseased cells), and more. As Acceleradine® provides the needed iodine molecules for every one of the 100 trillion cells in the body, it also detoxes every cell of toxins including substances of addiction.
ATP is true cellular energy; when ATP increases, energy and fat oxidation increase. So, as one is experiencing withdrawals from their substance of choice, Acceleradine® is providing more cellular energy, minimizing the side effects of withdrawal, and providing clean energy at the cellular level. Acceleradine® also helps improve metabolism and physical energy by supplying the necessary iodine for thyroid hormones. As the thyroid is functioning optimally and the ATP is maximized, detox and recovery is expedited.
This organic formula not only soaks up the toxins of addictive substances, but also coats the stomach and intestinal lining, reduces inflammation, helps with bloat and regularity, and alleviates issues like Crohn’s disease and Colitis. It also soaks up all of the toxins throughout the day that can cause Leaky Gut. As inflammation is decreased and toxins are absorbed, then absorption of nutrients is improved and the gut issues are curtailed. The side effects of addiction withdrawal are minimized.
Accelerated Colloidal Silver™ is enhancing your immune system’s ability to devitalize foreign pathogens including those that contribute to Leaky Gut. By keeping the immune system strong, the body engages in anti-inflammatory processes, leading to optimal health, which encourages better detoxification of addictive toxins and substances.
It supports homeostasis, rehydration, and normal digestion while eliminating excess water retention. All of these factors lead to faster detoxification from addictive substances and minimize withdrawal symptoms. It consists of organic ocean minerals diluted with natural alpine spring water to achieve the same consistency as your blood plasma and consists of all the needed electrolytes and minerals. This 0.9 concentration can help replenish mineral and trace element levels, gently detoxify, support sleep, relaxation, and digestion.
The supplements in the Liver Flush Kit soften liver stones and prep the liver to release those stones into the toilet! As a result, detoxification from addictive substances improves, fat burning increases, and metabolic rate increases. A liver flush 3-4 times a year is needed for optimal liver function, thyroid function, metabolism, and fat burning. With hundreds of stones sitting in your liver, it isn’t able to break down fats for usable energy, to detox the body of toxins that cause withdrawal symptoms from addictive substances.
Laxa Comfort gently and naturally stimulates bowel movements. Regardless of how constipated you are, this will make having 2-3 movements a day occur consistently. Constipation can inhibit detoxification as the toxins will be reabsorbed.
Other Supplements to Help Overcome Addiction
Gold has been known for thousands of years to curb addictive tendencies, improve mood, help with anxiety and depression, increase IQ, and even improve spiritual connection. Accelerated Gold takes it one step further through its scalar technology which imprints it with bio-informational codes to further help with anxiety and depression. It is alkaline whereas most gold solutions are acidic.
This is the “bliss/mood” patch to help attain a state of happiness, joy, and euphoria. The patch lifts depression, elevates dopamine naturally, and sustains the production of beta-endorphins (the happy/feel good hormone). The Nirvana Patch also stimulates the production of collagen to help reduce lines and wrinkles. It’s a powerful anti-aging nutrient. It helps reinstate healthy dopamine levels and minimize withdrawal symptoms.
The Aeon Patch is an anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, happy patch. It raises Antineoplastons and helps balance and calm the brain while reducing cortisol and c-reactive proteins. Furthermore, it raises DHEA. As it balances the autonomic nervous system: heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and respiration, symptoms from addiction withdrawal are minimized.
Glutathione is the most prominent detoxifying tool when it comes to substance abuse and is also the master antioxidant, immune booster, and neuroprotector.
The Lifewave Glutathione Patch increases glutathione by 300% in 24 hours. When it is worn with the X39 patch, glutathione production increases to 400%. Additionally, it is antiviral and great for infections. For chronic issues, it brings glutathione levels up so suffering goes down in symptoms with issues like autoimmune issues, arthritis, autism, MS, and Parkinson’s. It is known to help with longevity. The glutathione patch signals the body to make glutathione.
The combination of calming amino acids and adaptogenic botanicals in Stress Mover helps to regulate the production, distribution, and metabolism of key hormones and neurotransmitters while supporting gut and immune system integrity for holistic renewal and everyday calm. The combination of ingredients in Stress Mover works synergistically to support the function of the HPA axis and to bring balance to metabolic functions including some major detoxification pathways and gut health. As a result, Addiction withdrawal symptoms are reduced.
In addition to the above supplements, incorporating the following into your daily lifestyle will naturally help to increase your dopamine levels without resorting to addictive behaviors.
- Walking. Dopamine is released when the sensation of “moving forward” mentally, physically, or spiritually. Walking is the most basic way to “move forward” and helps calm the brain, relieve stress, stabilize blood sugar, and increase a healthy level of dopamine.
- Exercise. Exercise increases endorphins, reduces stress, reduces blood sugar, and stabilizes a normal dopamine response. It forces you to press a bit more on the “pain” side of the balance which helps reset dopamine.
Sara Banta is a Stanford University Graduate with a Degree in Economics and Psychology, and a certified Natural Supplement Expert & Graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Sara is the Founder of Accelerated Health Products and host of the health & wellness podcast, Accelerated Health Radio.