Of all the addictions, food addiction may be the most emotionally complex. The reason for this is that we all recognize the need to eat, but we also do not always recognize that food consumption can release dopamine in large quantities in some people. These are the people who become food addicts.
- Punishing the addict perpetuates their addiction.
- Most addicts are medicating early life traumas; their brain circuits are often shaped by abuse.
- Healthy emotional experiences can rebuild these damaged tissues in the addict, but it takes regularity and time.
An Obesity Intervention must release the food addict from the shame of needing something essential from food; this something is actually a legitimate need. They have the right to meet their legitimate needs. Successful Interventions must build a context for Recovery while also confronting the behavior of the addict with compassion.
So, how can we intervene on their behalf? It is not advisable for people to attempt an intervention without the guidance of an experienced professional.
Research shows that addicts are not born; they are crafted from childhood abuse or traumas. Shame is the fuel that must be removed from the fires of addiction. Prior to the Obesity Intervention, family members need to become capable of accepting the addict as a human being who has been attempting to meet their legitimate needs. All addicts want relief from their pain, but who doesn't?
When we educate ourselves about the physical aspects of addiction, we also release the addict from their shame -- just as over time, many societies have learned to not shame people with disabilities. If the addict's brain circuits were working correctly, they would not endure a ravenous need for large quantities of food -- they would have other ways of meeting their legitimate needs. Fortunately, these skills can be learned.
A properly held Food Addiction Intervention must address the underlying cause of the problem. We understand that Addicted to Food is a response to unmanageable feelings of pain, hurt and stress. We understand that as the person builds new skills to manage their pain, their hurt, and their stress, they are more likely to return to a state of balance.
If they can maintain this balance for long periods of time, they lose weight physically because the body always responds to positive changes in the mind. We need to help the food addict learn how to lighten the burdens of mental pain, stress and hurt. We need to accept them fully and reinforce their right to meet their needs.
Dopamine makes us curious and interested in the world around us; everyone has it. All of the drugs associated with addiction release dopamine. Food is also capable of releasing dopamine, but at reduced levels compared to romantic attraction, and much less compared to street drugs. The level of addiction is proportionate to the amount of pain the addict carries.
Interventions for Obesity
An addiction to food and other drugs does not happen because of the food or even because of the drug. In the addict, the brain kills its own receptors when they are constantly saturated with too much external dopamine, and only then do they experience the intense cravings.
- My methods have been shown to increase the stress management skills of addicts and their families.
- I experienced the Intervention when I was 36; there are no age limitations on addiction.
- As food addicts, we need an environment where we can teach each other essential life skills.
Brain scans have shown that the areas involved with natural circuits of stress hormones, love, connection and joy often do not work in the addict. If these circuits do not work, one experiences stress as pain; the need for external substance increases. This causes food cravings to become unmanageably intense. Food addicts can learn about the chemical basis of their cravings!
Food Addiction Intervention
This is where the Intervention for Obesity can help. One of the highest acts of compassion on behalf of the food addict is to help them understand that their situation can be managed without guilt. The common theme between the drug addict and the food addict is that they both share the need for relief from stress. Again, the connection and feeling of love is the reward that many addicts are, well, addicted to; there is nothing wrong with the need for connection and love.
New circuits develop any time in life under the right conditions; the older the person, and the longer the addiction, the longer it takes. New ways of perceiving the world are a side effect of positive conditions. Learning a new way of relating to food is a sign that a deep rebuilding of these circuits is happening.
As the founder of the Change Institute, I invite you to learn more about our programs and our new approaches to Food Addiction Intervention. We offer online support for people who have limited time and travel opportunities. Whatever you are able to do, we strongly recommend that you act as soon as possible. Addiction thrives in isolation, but Recovery thrives in an atmosphere of compassion and skillfully applied words and acts.
Please consider taking whatever steps you can to promote the Recovery of your loved one. Call us now.
“My auntie has always been plump since I could remember. I didn't think that you could be addicted to food.
When I went away to college, she had been gaining weight, but I didn't know that it was a problem until I came back to visit a few times.
Each time she got larger until her stomach almost touched the floor when she was sitting down. We cried a lot during the Intervention because she told us that she didn't think anybody cared about her anymore.
She couldn't believe that we were actually trying to help her. She wanted the help but didn't know if she could do it alone. Now she doesn't have to be."