Have you ever wondered what an addict goes through or how addiction happens?
My husband and I were talking the other night about how to put it in perspective for people who have never suffered through addiction. He told me about one of his co-workers a few years ago who was getting her masters in psychology with a concentration in addiction counseling. Addiction is tough to relate to if you have never experienced it yourself so for this coworkers class, they were asked to go through a sugar challenge or sugar test. Now, this can be quite a shock to your system depending on the amount of sugar in your current diet but it really does effectively give perspective on addiction: 2 weeks. No sugar. Zip. None. ZERO.
You will be amazed by
1. all of the foods that contain sugar.
2. the similarities between sugar and alcohol to become an addiction: increased amounts over time and withdrawal symptoms.
3. the fact that alcohol and sugar act on the reward system of the human brain.
As I said before, the degree of withdrawal depends on the amount that one consumes daily. The range of withdrawal symptoms can include:
headaches, nausea, fatigue, depression, severe mood swings, or anxiety.
I remember telling me husband to “just quit drinking”. Then you hear all the withdrawal symptoms and realize how strong the chemical dependency can be. Those are just withdrawal symptoms from sugar! Can you imagine it for other hardcore drugs? Who is motivated to give it up??? That’s how addicts feel though. They know it is coming but delay it for as long as possible. Withdrawal from any substance is physically demanding and requires so much strength to get through. This is why some are beyond the point of just being able to put the pill box, the syringe or the bottle down. It is beyond them and they have to go to a monitored detox facility because they honestly want to get well but physically are unable to handle the withdrawal symptoms on their own. (It is important to have empathy for an addict on a certain level).
The first 3 days of withdrawal from sugar are the most challenging. Most people don’t make it!
I challenge those that want to know and understand addiction on a very small scale to really try this…especially if you are supporting a family member or friend who is recovering. If there is one thing that addicts feel when going through recovery, it is isolation. Family and friends do not understand what addicts face. They expect them to just recover and go on about their business but this will be with an addict for the rest of his/her life. Your family dynamic will never be the same. I can give you hope that it can get better at some point but it will never be the same…and you shouldn’t want it to be. Something very traumatic has happened to your family or friend. This is a life changing moment for them. They are coming out of a very dark place within themselves only to find that the world around them remains the same. My husband always tells me that the hardest day of the recovery is the day you are done with treatment. It is a terrifying moment for most because you have to learn HOW to function in the world as this new person. You are under a microscope. People are watching your every move. But they have to prepare for that. Like I said before in a previous post, addiction is a family issue. The family needs to learn how to be around the addict and vice versa. There are serious issues of mistrust towards the addict and the addict has serious guilt and shame about the trail of sorrow they have brought on family and friends. This is where I have to interject the importance of family counseling after treatment. It should be a part of any recovery plan and if the family is unwilling because they don’t believe the addict then the addict needs to go it alone.
If you decide to do this challenge even for a few days then I would like to hear about your experience. I have given up sugar myself (not currently since I am pregnant and taking away sugar would be a joy killer)and know what to expect but it’s always interesting to hear others perspective on an emotional, physical level. GOOD LUCK!!! (And please warn your family about what you are about to do! They might think you have gone mad.)