The Exhaustion Epidemic
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We can also learn addictive behavior from our families as we're growing up. Joan's parents, for example, would give her chocolate as a treat or reward on special occasions. Since it reminds her of the simple pleasures of childhood, Joan still comforts herself with hot chocolate or a candy bar binge when times get rough. Many children are raised on sugared cereals and soft drinks full of caffeine and sugar, leaving them hooked. Jerry's experience is another case in point: his teenage friends smoked cigarettes, so he joined them to fit in and look cool. Now, at age forty, he is an addicted smoker.
We are living unnatural lifestyles that lead to excessive stress and use of stimulants. The neurotransmitter dopamine, from which we make adrenaline and noradrenaline, is released when we are stressed or use stimulants. Motivating and pleasurable, stimulants generate energy by mobilizing glucose. As a result, stimulants make us more alert, energized, cheerful, or even high. These include sugar, chocolate, tea, coffee, cigarettes, caffeinated drinks, amphetamines, and cocaine. Downregulation quickly steps in to stop the fun. As a result, we need more and more of the stimulant to feel good and to maintain our energy levels. This leads to a vicious cycle of stimulant dependence and fatigue. Fatigue (and resultant stimulant cravings) can have many sources, including poor sleep and diet, chronic infection, and hormone imbalances. Since the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol lead to release of dopamine, we can become addicted to our own feel-good hormones, so we create more stress to keep the cycle going.
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From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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