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I feel like I need sugary drinks. Am I addicted to sugar? I am 17.

answered 08:16 PM EST, Wed April 17, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
I feel like I need sugary drinks. If I can’t get one I feel like I am dying for it. I am not overweight but I am worried about my weight and I am gaining weight. I try to cut down but I can’t. Am I addicted to sugar? I am 17. How do I get unaddicted to sugar? My mom and aunt have diabetes too. So this is not a good thing for me at all.

William Anderson Says...

Food addiction is real and sugar is the worst. With your experience and your familial predisposition to diabetes, it would be good for you to start looking at refined sugar as a poison. Refined sugars do not exist in nature and food companies have found they can get us hooked on sugary products and make lots of money, just like drug dealers. In fact, it would be good to start looking at all the sugary things they sell as drugs that are killing us, because that is the truth. 

If you could start thinking this way and eliminate sugar from your diet, it would not be long before the need for sugar dies off, like a detoxification process from any drug. Set a date to get off sugar, "white knuckle" it for a while, and it will get better. 

Tell yourself, your family and your friends that sugar is a poison to you, like an allergy, and maybe your influence will help them. Campaign to have all sugary things removed from the house.

While I have expertise with other mental health issues and all addictions, food addiction and weight control are my specialties, and here below is something that I have written before to teach about food addiction:

Food addicts have been telling people about food addiction for years and have been largely rejected by everyone, even addiction "experts". However, the evidence is in and it is overwhelming. People get addicted to food. Brain imaging scans show that the brain activity that occurs with sugar is the same activity that occurs with cocaine and heroin. The activity that occurs with sugar thoughts and cravings is the same that occurs with cocaine thoughts and cravings. It isn't your imagination. It is real.

However, even though some people needed pictures of brain activity to be convinced, anyone paying attention to clinical diagnostics and the experience of compulsive overeaters and binge eaters should have seen the obvious ages ago: some people have the same addiction experience with food as you see with addictive drugs.

Here's the list of criteria that's used to diagnose substance dependence in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the official publication of the American Psychological Association. Substance Dependence is the clinical term for addiction:

  1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: (a) A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect or (b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
  2. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: (a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance or (b) The same (or closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  3. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
  4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.
  5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.
  6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.
  7. The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (for example, current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).

One must have three of these things occur in a one-year period to make the diagnosis. Many "foodies" have had more than three of these things for years, continuously. Food addiction is real and it is common. The foods that are most often cited are sugar, salt, and fatty foods. We are prone to get addicted to anything highly pleasurable or palatable.

Successful therapy for food addiction targets management, not total abstinence. You can abstain from sugar and sugary food, but not food altogether. My successful therapy for permanent weight loss is based on the addiction model, but our goal is not abstaining form food. It can't be. Our goal is a managed behavior, and we are successful with a highly structured program of eclectic therapy, more than we can describe here. You can learn more about it at my website, http://www.TheAndersonMethod.com .

Please let me know what you decide to do and how it goes.

 

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Page last updated Apr 17, 2013

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