Addicted to Sugar? There’s a Rehab for That

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Most people associate a comedown from sugar with lethargy, but some believe they need inpatient rehab from what they see as an addiction to the sweet stuff.

Sugar as a Drug

Recent research suggests that up to eight percent of women between the ages 45 and 64 could be considered food addicts. Scientists have even argued that sugar produces the same physical highs and lows as illegal drugs. Some rehabs, including Malibu Vista, have even created treatment programs specifically for people who are hooked on sugar.

“Little Debbie was my best friend,” said Sandie Leonard, who attended the program at Malibu Vista after finding herself eating a box of cupcakes or Swiss rolls. “This is going to be a lifelong choice that I have to make. And I have to do it for my health. I have to do it for myself. I have to do it for my family.”

This is going to be a lifelong choice that I have to make. And I have to do it for my health. I have to do it for myself. I have to do it for my family.-Sandie Leonard

The Sugar Crash

Dr. Pam Peeke, author of “The Hunger Fix,” said it’s processed and boxed foods which are “laced” with sugar that lead to food addiction.

“The word “addiction” is thrown around everywhere….but this isn’t a copout with food,” she argues. “So many of these products are laced with sugar. I don’t see anybody going in the corner and doing apples or trying to score an apple. Instead what I see is it’s the manufactured, refined, processed foods in the big boxes and bags that are causing the big problems.”

But once a person “comes down” from their sugar and food addiction, a major part of their recovery involves addressing the emotional issues associated with their eating. The patient then goes on what Peeke calls a “recovery diet” that replaces their old vices with exercising or nutritious snacks.

“It’s not a diet. It’s just a recovery nutritional approach,” she explained. “We look for all those foods that were going to make you absolutely satisfied, cut your carb cravings — give you pleasure so that you don’t care about that sugar anymore because you have countless alternatives.”

Sugar addiction is not currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, but some medical experts believe that it should be classified as a legitimate addiction.

Kids are at Risk

The sugar issue isn’t limited to adults. New findings from Australia researchers at the University of Wollongong and University of Sydney found that more than half of Australian children are consuming too much sugar. Boys between the ages of 14 and 16 are consuming up to 22 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Additional Reading: Will Rehabs Ignore ‘Food Addiction’ Science?

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