Addictions start innocently enough for the most part, as we turn to an occasional cigarette, cocktail, sleeping pill or even shopping spree to help us relax, unwind and enjoy life a little more. No one would confuse these activities for a compulsive behavior or addiction—at least not until the psychological, emotional or physical need for one of them starts to interfere and take control of our lives. Then whoa, we’ve got a problem! For many people, addiction seems like such a strong word; they prefer “dependency.” But the two aren’t the same, says Scott Sandland, C.Ht., a Southern California–based medical hypnotherapist. Dependencies are purely physical; addictions also have an emotional or psychological component, he says. If you have acute, debilitating pain, you depend on pharmaceuticals to dull it. When your pain goes away, you no longer need the drug. But dependencies can turn into full-blown addictions if you continue a behavior despite the harm that doing so inflicts. Addiction specialists Todd Ritchey and John Montgomery, Ph.D., coauthors of The Answer Model: A New Path to Healing (TAM Publishing), say that “whenever we compulsively behave in ways that are destructive to ourselves and to others, we do so out of addiction.” The following options may help get your life back on track whether you’re just concerned or you already have a problem. Of course, if you feel your situation is spiraling out of control, seek professional help; these remedies are primarily intended to enhance conventional treatments, such as 12-step programs (12step.org) or psychotherapy, not replace them.
Your problem ALCOHOL
Address nutritional deficiencies Chronic alcohol use appears to prevent the body from properly absorbing nutrients, and being deficient in vitamin B and magnesium can cause “DTs” (delirium tremens) and cardiac arrhythmias, making detoxification from alcohol more difficult, says Thom Lobe, M.D., director of the Beneveda Medical Center, an energy medicine practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. TRY: Twin Lab’s Super B-Complex ($24 for 8 ounces, vitaminshoppe .com); Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm magnesium supplement ($22 for 8 ounces, vitaminshoppe.com)
Relieve depression naturally Excessive alcohol use often masks depression; omega-3 fatty acids may help ease it.
Lay off the sugar Keeping blood-sugar levels steady by eating a diet that’s high in complex carbohydrates (such as vegetables) and low in simple carbs (such as white bread and sweets) as well as eating a little protein every few hours will help curb sugar cravings, a frequent problem for people who are giving up alcohol. The amino acid L-glutamine, which helps regulate blood sugar, has effectively been used to treat alcohol addiction.