July 8, 2015
Substance Abuse, Addictions
and Cravings

Substance abuse and addictions develop as a result of individuals altering their neurochemistry with chemicals and behavior that mimic or enhance the effects of neurotransmitters, temporarily satisfying a craving that is likely the result of underlying physiological imbalance. Scientific evidence has shown that even short-term chemical dependency will change levels of neurotransmitters in the body resulting in loss of executive functions and memory recall, lack of sleep, mood swings, agitation, anxiety, depression, anger and/or fear.

One in four Americans will have an alcohol or drug problem at some point in their lives. There has been no significant improvement for decades in incidence of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, with the number of alcohol abusers and addicts holding steady at about 16 to 20 million.

It was recently reported that drug abuse (illicit substances, opioids and benzodiazepines) is surging among baby boomers. In fact, for adults aged 50 to 54, the percentage of consumers of illicit substances more than doubled from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012. For those aged 55 to 59, it more than tripled from 1.9 percent to 6.6 percent.

While drugs and alcohol come to mind when thinking of addiction, the #1 substance of abuse in the United States is actually food. Dr. David Kessler, professor at UCSF and former commissioner of the FDA, states “there are more than 70 million food addicted adults in the United States alone, contributing to the obesity epidemic and rising costs of healthcare”. Studies have found that rats find Oreos as addictive as cocaine; meanwhile, the food industry is building addictiveness in the form of caffeine and MSG into our every-day snacks. Everyone must eat; therefore, food addiction can be very difficult to overcome.

Screen addiction is increasingly becoming an issue for many American families. Internet abuse is marked by excessive, non-essential time spent online, and can result in deteriorating social relationships and actual brain shrinkage similar to that seen with cocaine or alcohol addiction. A recent poll found that 1 in 8 Americans is affected by screen addiction, with 22% of smartphone users saying they’d rather go a week without seeing their significant other than to have to forfeit their phone.

Clearly cravings and addictions are a problem for many Americans. So what can be done?

It is understood that neurochemicals facilitate the good feelings associated with addictive substances or behaviors. Most abused chemicals cause an alteration in dopamine levels, as dopamine is released in response to activities associated with pleasure. Serotonin is directly associated with mood and feeling good. Glutamate is associated with driving behaviors that are associated with addictive behaviors. Identifying and correcting neurotransmitter imbalances that contribute to, as well as result from, substance abuse is becoming a common foundational approach to recovery. Nutritional and amino acid therapies that support the regeneration of neurotransmitter pathways are now utilized concomitantly with additional treatment protocols following detoxification in support of improved sleep patterns and energy levels, decreased anxiety and severity of cravings, and an improved sense of overall wellbeing.

Addressing neurotransmitter imbalance(s) is key to treating addiction. The NeuroBasic Panel is a great place to start when thinking about how to optimize neurotransmitter secretion. Easily identifiable with Labrix’s simple and noninvasive urinary testing, neurotransmitter imbalances can be identified alongside salivary cortisol, DHEA, and sex hormones for comprehensive, whole-health assessment of your patients.

Learn how this important testing can fit into your practice and help more patients on their road to healing. Register today for Core Training in Portland, OR and obtain the fundamentals of hormone, adrenal and neurotransmitter optimization, or sign up for Labrix Advanced Workshop in Las Vegas for a more intensive weekend course.

  • National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Press Releases: 2007; Califano calls for fundamental shift in attitudes and policies about substance abuse and addiction.
  • Huffington Post. Drug Addiction and Baby Boomers – an Escalating Problem. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharon-greenthal/prescription-drug-addiction_b_4054499.html. Accessibility verified: June 24, 2015.
  • Connecticut College. Oreos may be as addictive as cocaine, morphine. Oct 6 2013. Bioscience Technology . http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2013/10/oreos-may-be-addictive-cocaine-morphine#.UtWl3fRDudl Accessibility verified: June 24, 2015.
  • Tech Addiction. Facebook Addiction Statistics, Numbers and Facts. Available at: http://www.techaddiction.ca/facebook-addiction-statistics.html. Accessibility verified: June 24, 2014.
  • Zhou Y, Lin FC, Du YS, Qin LD, Zhao ZM, Xu JR, Lei H. Gray matter abnormalities in internet addiction: a voxel-based morphometry study. Eur J Radiol. 2011; 79: 92-95.
  • Lin F, Zhou Y, Du Y, Qin L, Zhao Z, Xu J, Lei H. Abnormal white matter integrity in adolescents with internet addiction disorder: a tract-based spatial statistics study. PLoS One. 2012; 7: e30253.
  • NetAddiction. http://netaddiction.com/faqs/. Accessibility verified: June 24, 2015.
  • Telenav. http://www.telenav.com/about/pr-summer-travel/report-20110803.html. Accessibility verified: June 24, 2015.

Labrix Clinical Spotlight Series:
Adrenal Health

Staff physician Krista Anderson-Ross discusses the role of the hormone cortisol and how it relates to stress, symptoms of adrenal imbalance and treatment options, as well as other topics regarding adrenal health.

Core Training
Portland, OR
August 1, 2015

Labrix staff physicians will be in Portland on August 1 to present Core Training. Registration is $150 and upon completing this one day training, you will receive a $100 credit on your testing account. Register for Labrix Core Training: Portland today.

Advanced Workshop
Las Vegas, NV
January 16-17, 2016

Join Labrix founders and staff physicians for 2 full days of training and case studies, focusing on hormone, adrenal and neurotransmitter optimization. The workshop is just $199: Register today!

Portland, OR
July 17-19, 2015

Labrix co-founder Erin Lommen ND will be presenting at the Institute of Women's Health and Integrative Medicine conference, July 17-19, 2015. Learn more about primary care for women with a focus on enhancing your skills with hypothyroid, food cravings, weight management, IBS, mental health and post-cancer management.