Can Sugar In The Diet Increase The Risk of Opioid Addiction?

Can Sugar In The Diet Increase The Risk of Opioid Addiction?

We all know that too much sugar can be an unhealthy vice for people looking to watch their weight. But can it also potentially contribute to a person’s opioid addiction? Believe or not, many scientists are Saying Yes and have offered some telling data to prove it.


The website MedicalXpress.com recently published a very alarming article tying heavy sugar intake to prescription painkiller dependencies. Using research from the laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph, they outlined several case studies linking bad diets with addiction.


For one thing, their data showed a correlation between opioid abuse and unhealthy eating altogether. Using rats as test subjects, the researchers found that when a diet contained a high amount of corn syrup it actually dampened the reward sensations associated with oxycodone. Thus, it would require a larger consumption of that drug to achieve the “normal high.”


Frankly put, the opioid euphoria comes at a much lesser rate for those who consume a lot of sugar. And the corn syrup component is important too, as it is an active sugary ingredient in most sweets across North America (particularly soft drinks).


It is interesting to note that the Guelph study showed drastic differences in addiction behavior from the test rats as well. Normally sedative drugs like opioids and alcohol interfere with inhibition, stimulating “psychomotor” exhibition – such as sociability, talkativeness and sensation seeking. High sugar diets, on the other hand, led to the opposite effect for the opioid addicted rats. In this equation. their psychomotor stimulation was greatly reduced (making them more high-functioning addicts).


Delving deeper into the research, you begin to see a little bit of the chicken and the egg scenario. It appears as though increased opioid consumption can also lead to an increase in sugary cravings. According to a study conducted by Dr. David J. Mysels and Dr. Maria Sullivan, weight gain is a common trait among painkiller abusers. There are plenty of other symptoms these subjects had relating to sugar diets as well, including tooth decay and diabetes.


In their conclusion, Dr’s Mysels and Sullivan wrote, “Sweet-tasting substances are associated with activation of the endogenous opiate system, leading to clinically significant analgesia that may augment opiate treatment, or hinder it through tolerance. Given the rapidly rising rates of prescription opiate abuse and dependence, future research should be continued to determine whether such opioid maintenance carries similar public health risks of obesity, tooth decay, and metabolic pathology.”



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