Obesity and Drug Use

Substance Addiction and Obesity: What Do They Have In Common?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Has it happened to you too? Some few months or years into drugs and you’re noticing a sudden increase in weight—and you’re wondering how it all happened? Yes, there are links between substance abuse and obesity- some are true, some are not. Research is still underway regarding the correlation between the two.

For people addicted to drugs, obesity can derail their recovery. It could even cause serious health complications.

Of course, you want to recuperate quickly. You want to get back to work in full health. But what happens if you’re already an addict and obese?

Understanding how substance abuse and obesity are related is critical for individuals considering quick recovery. Below we will outline how the two disorders correlate.

The Brain and Obesity—Where It All Begins

Part of what makes substance addiction and obesity similar is how both disorders increase the dopamine levels in the brain.

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that signals reward. Whenever an individual uses drugs or eats yummy food, dopamine levels shoot.

Worse still, foods rich in salt, fat, and sugar can trigger compulsive eating in almost any individual and overly compromise with the brain’s dopamine levels. This surge in dopamine affects the ability to contain strong urges to eat delicious foods or abuse alcohol and drugs.

Here’s the takeaway: individuals with a strong urge to abuse drugs might also have a strong urge to overeat. It is prudent to enroll in addiction treatment to limit your chances of suffering from obesity.

Dealing With Stigma

Both addiction and obesity are downplayed and stigmatized as disorders of low self-control. People deem these conditions as self-inflicted poor choices. The truth is, individuals who suffer from addiction don’t want to be addicted to alcohol or drugs. The same goes for obese individuals.

No one wishes to suffer from either (or both) of these life-threatening conditions. Most want to come out of it and feel whole again. Feel wanted and loved by those close to them. The last thing you want is to feel stigmatized by your very own family and friends.

The stigma surrounding addiction and obesity ignores one key fact: to display self-control, certain brain areas must be functioning correctly to control our behavior. Both of these disorders are like driving a vehicle without brakes. You can’t stop, no matter how hard you try. Preparing for rehab might be your best bet to avoid stigma.

The Coexistence of Drug Addiction and Obesity

Of course, the coexistence of substance abuse and obesity is unclear and needs more research.

Some research shows it’s unlikely for stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine, to co-occur with overeating. But other substances of overuse, like alcohol, are more likely to escalate into addiction in obese individuals.

Alcohol Abuse and Obesity

Alcohol causes a person to put more weight on simply because it has lots of calories. And it’s not just the calories from the ethanol contained in the drink. There are more calories in the ingredients added to alcohol drinks like sugar and additives.

The truth is, alcohol calories are ’empty calories.’ That means they can facilitate obesity, although they lack nutritional value.

If you take more than four alcoholic drinks per day, your liver will likely convert the excess alcohol into fat. The organ then sends the fat into your bloodstream- in other terms, weight gain.

What Can You Do?

Do you feel like you’re gaining weight now that you’re deep into drugs? The reality of drug addiction and obesity is that both are very difficult to control. But even more so when they co-occur.

The key to regulating how much weight you put on as a result of substance abuse is to consider addiction treatment. We highly recommend therapies explicitly created to combat addictions at every level. The good thing is that the mental recovery done during rehab can help you deal with your urge to overeat.

Are you looking for a recovery center in Fresno, California, that actually cares? At First Steps Recovery, we care about you and are determined to see you healthy again. Our exceptional addiction treatment program is results-based. If you choose us, we will give you every reason to smile again.

Get in touch or contact us at 844-489-0836, and we promise to hold your hand every step of the way.

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