Addiction,  Support

Is sugar as addictive as cocaine?

This is a follow up of the previous post on “why you can’t just quit drug addiction ” feel free to check it out

Sugar addiction is an emotional or psychological dependence on sugary food or drinks.-

We all have a sweet tooth, well some more than others. This post is mainly going to address the issue of sugar addiction mostly among recovering addicts. As many addicts tend to substitute drugs or alcohol with sugar or sugary treats especially those recovering from heroine.

While taking the step to get rid of a drug addiction is an incredibly brave one to take most people don’t realize that for all the years they have been addicted to drugs or alcohol the brain has gotten used to that pleasure and happiness. So when you quit or are on the road to recovery the brain basically needs another source to derive that same pleasure from, and for most people it begins to ride on their SUGAR ADDICTION – now the problem is most of us are ignorant of this.

During recovery we’re focused on staying off that particular substance, drug or alcohol that we don’t pay attention to our amount of sugar intake in our foods, snacks or drinks. We talked earlier about the brains reward or pleasure centre designed to release neurotransmitters like dopamine mainly responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure and serotonin responsible for inhibiting impulses of pain and causes depression of mood and sleep.

So basically when the main object of pleasure that is the drug or alcohol is no longer available the body relies on other “feel good” substances for pleasure like sugar, your intake of sugar stimulates the brain’s reward centre to produce excess amount of dopamine which will in turn cause the repeated use of sugar. Sugar addiction also reduces the amounts of serotonin causing mood swings .

And like in the case of drugs at a point the normal intake of sugar wouldn’t be enough to produce the same effects leading to taking of higher amounts to get that same level of pleasure as before. You can trust your body to not say no to sugar especially at a time like this.

Insulin, a hormone in the body is responsible for providing sugar to the body cells and breaking down the glucose gotten from sugar for the cells, so when there’s an increased amount of sugar in the body there will be a subsequent increase in insulin production leading to a drop in blood glucose in the body also known as hypoglycemia .

Symptoms of hypoglycemia such as anxiety, fatigue, cravings and irritability etc and increased activity in the adrenal gland can lead to relapse while in recovery as the brain relies on glucose for energy. This symptoms due to sugar addiction can be mistaken for a need for drugs or alcohol.

Withdrawal symptoms of sugar addiction.

According to

Sugar addiction is most apparent when withdrawal symptoms are present. These include:

  • Headaches (These may be mild in nature, occurring on and off over a period of a couple days)
  • Low energy
  • Mood swings
  • Muscles aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Watery eyes
  • Hunger

Negative effects of sugar addiction.

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Type II Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Stress
  • Hot flashes
  • Gout
  • Infertility
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor skin quality
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Depressed immune system
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Liver failure
  • Depression

Dealing with sugar addiction while in recovery or after recovery.

The first step to overcoming this addiction is to actually come to terms and agree with the fact that you indeed have a sugar addiction. Quit the denial, swallow your pride and get help.

Culled from

  1. Eat in regular intervals, every 4 hours, to stabilize blood sugar. This is SO important. If you go too long without eating or skip meals, your body releases a cascade of stress hormones in response, causing a spike and crash in blood sugar levels that leaves you irritable, tired and wired, and craving sugar.

2. Caffeine and nicotine aggravate hypoglycemia and disrupt blood sugar balance. Do not drink coffee on an empty stomach, and do not substitute meals for coffee. If you drink coffee, always drink it with a protein-based meal, and consider swapping it for green tea a few days weekly. Do not drink coffee after 12pm.

3. Use Glutamine supplements. 500– 1,000 mg of glutamine taken as needed can help ward off sugar cravings.

4. B vitamin complex can help the body adjust to stress. H

5. Crave Arrest SupplementThis supplement can help you overcome cravings for sugar and nicotine. It helps balance serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Take it daily to help build up neurotransmitter levels.

7. Really focus on good sleep habits. Sleep is one of the most critical factors for both recovery and for hormone balance, blood sugar balance, and improved stress response. Here are my sleep hygiene tips.

8. Breakfast is key! When you wake up in the morning, you’ve been fasting for at least 8 hours, and blood sugar levels are low. Help your body by eating a great breakfast with protein and healthy fats, plus a little carbohydrate. This sets the stage for balanced mood and energy all day long.

9. Make sure you are eating enough. Eat enough calories for your activity level and physiology. Eating too little drives cravings.

10. Get some protein and healthy fat at every meal. Proteins and fats help ward off cravings and keep blood sugar levels stable. Examples: meat, fish, eggs, legumes, protein smoothie with hemp, rice, or pea protein. Healthy fats include coconut oil, olive oil, butter, avocado.

11. Get your minerals through greens. Green vegetable juices are an excellent source of minerals, as are your leafy green veggies, so eat kale and spinach!

12. Avoid refined, white sugar and sodas. Ever notice how the more you eat sugar, the more your crave it? Get off that merry-go-round! Try the above suggested supplements and nutrition tips which should help quell your sugar cravings. Swap out refined sugary foods for healthy dark chocolate. Replace soda (even diet soda can fuel cravings and weight gain) with herbal tea or sparkling water with lime. If you get the 3pm energy crash-sugar craving, try a protein-based snack or an apple with almond butter.

13. Most of all, be patient with yourself. It takes time to rebalance your brain chemistry. I often recommend neurotransmitter and hormone testing to determine exactly what deficiencies are present in order to design specific protocols for healing.

Finally avoid the triggers, it could be a particular place, situation or person who always gets you to crave sugar. And remember it is always advisable to have positive people and vibes around you, surround yourself with people who put your health as priority not those who will trigger a relapse.

Special thanks to Nikki over at

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Hey and welcome to my little corner Abbey's chronicles, a blog where I share my raw and unbiased thoughts on issues on mental health, lifestyle, wellness and self care. No topic is ever off limit as long as it affects lives and relationships, it's subject to discussion. This blog strives to provide solace for everyone going through issues they might not be able to talk about on a daily. My name is Abbey, a mental health advocate and enthusiast with a love for helping people who feel alone or are facing issues relating to life and mental health issues with the aim of raising awareness as well as providing succor. This blog was started as an avenue for me to deal with my own monsters. The aim of starting this blog was to for it to serve as some sort of therapy during my darkest times of depression and though it isn't all over yet, I hope this blog serves as a form of therapy to others going through similar issues relating to life and mental health. Finally in my free time I can be seen drowning in movies, food, sleep and books. I guess I am a blogger at night and an aspiring medical student at other times.


  • Nik

    Great post, it’s so important to understand sugar addiction especially since it is so prevalent to us all! Its in close to everything we eat=/ I once saw an article saying sugar was the alcohol of children…so messed up! It really makes me wonder if that is why so many of us are so inclined with so many OTHER addictions, like we were predisposed…an interesting thought, at any rate

      • Cherisb

        What a well-thoight, put-together post!

        I love how you explained the negative effects on sugar on the body and then gave actionable steps to help through the cleansing process!

        I’ve studied biology for 6+ years and I didn’t even think about using small, 4-hour interval eating to help stabilize the body’s needs (even though it makes total sense).

        Thanks for sharing!

  • Alpana

    Thanks a lot, Abbey for sharing this article. I have a love-hate relationship with sugar and I can’t seem to give it up even though am fully aware of its ill effects. This article is an eye opener and helps strengthen my resolution to give up sugar. The title of the blog is extremely catchy! Good job on the content and detailing part.

  • Charli Dee

    Great post Abbey! I needed it! I pretty addicted to sugar myself, and parents keep getting on my case about it! Lol. I’ve been trying use less sugar whenever I drink tea and eat cereals. I’ve also been trying to eat less candy, particularly chocolate bars. You have a lot of useful tips that can help me further, and I will be taking them into consideration. Thanks for the post Abbey!

  • Nicole

    I am a recovering addict. I got addicted to pain pills in my early 20s because of two major back surgeries I had and doctors were ruthless in prescribing. I’ve been sober for 4 years and when I first started sobriety I never craved sugar so bad in my life. After awhile I began to notice the difference between how my body felt with excessive high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) & natural sugar. I had a love-hate relationship with both types of sweetener. Your post here hit the nose on the head on so many levels. I’ve never had someone put it so well. This is a great topic to share with others, and I appreciate your work. I connected with it. Nowadays, I try not to do sugar at all, ESPECIALLY HFCS, I still crave it.

  • ThatAutisticFitChick

    This is an issue so so close to my own heart as since I quit sugar, my moods have been so much more stable, I’ve had more energy and my general wellbeing has shot through the roof.

    I have found that I need to be fairly ruthless in my approach because my body will spike from the natural sugars in fruits as well as added sugars (also from simple carbs).

    I’ve come across an infographic on pinterest that shows it is more addictive than cocaine in rats and cocaine addicted rats in withdrawal will choose sugar over cocaine!

    In addition to the physical addiction, most of us also have an emotional addiction to sugar because we remember sugary treats being a part of our best memories (ice cream on the beach) and comforting us when we were hurt (lollipop after a jab at the drs) and when you start having to sit with your emotions rather than covering them up with something sugary it’s tough.

    I used to take 6 sugars in my latte, now I drink coffee black with no sugar.

    Having also quit smoking about 6 months after sugar, I can honestly say that sugar was the harder one to give up!

    • Abbey

      True words there and I’m glad you took that big step and you certainly are better for it. Thanks for reading and I hope more people learn from this xx.

  • Justin

    Well, this is just a HUGE reminder that I need to go back on a sugar ban. I doubt I’ll totally cut it out, but I need to cut my intake. About two years ago I made a goal, stuck with it, and felt AWESOME. After the withdrawal days, haha. But it was worth it. Later, the stresses hit and I slacked. Thanks for the reminder that I WILL feel better by cutting my sugar intake!

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