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This is not an article about will-power or positive affirmations you can say to yourself while you’re jonesin’ for your next hit of meth or cocaine. This is an article about how addiction works in the brain and how you can hijack your brain to cure addiction. Though I’ve never personally been addicted to a substance like meth, cocaine, heroin, or even alcohol I have helped addicted members of my family, friends, and neighbors work through their substance abuse to a cure.
In the United States and other developed countries, there is a myth that meth addiction and drug addiction in general represents a lack of will or that it is the result of trauma that has to be addressed (through years of therapy) in order for the addict to find relief. People are taught to believe that drug addiction is “incurable” and that people must struggle and endure a lot of pain to overcome it. But another body of research has suggested that certain people are nutritionally predisposed to developing an addiction. There isn’t a lot of funding for this kind of research because finding a cure for addiction would destroy a huge underground industry. According to this alternate view of addiction, drug abuse actually represents the need to self-medicate an underlying nutritional deficiency. Of course, there are certainly people who have experienced trauma and who also have nutritional deficiencies. And certainly there are situations where trauma might be an important underlying factor. But what if correcting nutritional deficiencies lessens the severity of trauma? That’s a game-changing thought.
What if you could get through withdrawals and detox without experiencing an excruciating transition period? I mean, realistically, when you quit an addiction, you’ll inevitably feel different and you’ll probably feel bad sometimes. That’s to be expected. After all, most people feel bad sometimes, with or without an addiction to methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids, or alcohol. But if the pain and discomfort of withdrawal and detox can be lessened…how many addicts would go ahead and choose to quit today?
Not everyone everywhere in the world can get hold of the substances, foods, and supplies that I’ve listed below so in some cases, I include a discussion of alternatives. I ascribe to the idea that if you’re ready to quit and you’re willing to experiment with safe alternatives, the safe alternatives will be there (though it may take some research to find them). Most of the substances listed below will work on addiction to alcohol, opioids, meth, cocaine, and more.
I also ascribe to the thought that the family members of drug addicts often need to use some of the medicinals and therapeutic strategies listed below to chill. When someone in your family is addicted to meth or some other drug, you spend a lot of time worrying and that stress creates a lot of the same syndromes as addiction. In order for the people you love to change, as a family member, it’s often necessary to make changes yourself so that we can calm down and find peace and the ability to forgive and forget the craziness.
So, if you’re struggling with addiction to any drug including prescription meds like Desoxyn or Adderall, Valium, or alcohol or you have a loved one who is ready to make changes, start reading and consider your options. Most of the items listed below will take you beyond square one to where your brain will start to heal even if you have a relapse. But be sure to read about each entry and choose a treatment for addiction that will fit with your behaviors and lifestyle. I’ve organized this guide to keep it simple and allow people to get started right away without having to overwhelm themselves with information while they’re in the throes of detox and withdrawal. Follow the links to continue learning as you’re ready to add another layer to your recovery.
Amino Acid Therapy for Meth Addiction and Cocaine Addiction
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 21 amino acids that are common to all life forms. Of these, there are 9 amino acids that human beings can’t make inside their bodies. These amino acids are called Essential Amino Acids. Everyone needs to somehow consume these 9 Essential Amino Acids as part of their diet in order to be healthy and survive.
Foods like milk, chicken, and eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids, but if you’re addicted to meth or cocaine or any other drug, you may not be getting enough of them to manufacture the various neurotransmitters that make it possible for you to feel calm, at peace with the world, and generally okay with things like your work and your relationships. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are most affected by taking meth. These neurotransmitters are used up quickly when a person takes a dose of a stimulant like meth or cocaine because the drug causes their rapid release in the brain. As a result, the neurotransmitters are, in a sense “used up” and the meth addict then crashes. Taking supplementary doses of amino acids not only helps the brain restore its baseline levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, it also helps repair the brain structures that are hurt by chronic meth use. Be aware though, that in order for the necessary amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier, you need to take supplements at the proper time of day, away from high-protein meals or protein shakes.
The 9 Essential Amino Acids include: Phenylalanine, Valine, Threonine, Methionine, Tryptophan, Leucine, Lysine, Isoleucine, and Histidine. I’ll talk about each of these amino acids in greater detail later in the guide, but for now, on this page, the primary amino acids we’ll focus on are phenylalanine and tryptophan.
A variety of meth addiction treatment centers provide amino acid therapy to lessen the effects of withdrawals and detoxification. Click here for more information about addiction treatment centers throughout the world that alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal and detox using amino acid therapy.
Drug Addiction Alternative Treatment #1: Phenylalanine / Tyrosine to Increase Dopamine and Norepinephrine Levels
In the 1980’s, amino acid supplements were first used in addiction treatment when scientists realized that cocaine addiction and meth addiction were both related to deficiencies in neurotransmitters. Cocaine, for example, had a strong impact on dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter that increases energy levels and also promotes strong feelings of reward and motivation. Phenylalanine (an essential amino acid – a precursor to tyrosine) or tyrosine (a non-essential amino acid – a precursor to L-DOPA) can be taken as supplements (by people who don’t have the rare disorder Phenylketonuria or PKU). When taken between meals, L-Phenylalaline is converted first to tyrosine, then to L-DOPA, and then to dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in the brain. Dopamine affects the meth addicts energy levels and their feelings of motivation.
If you’ve been addicted to meth or cocaine for quite some time and you stop taking these drugs, you’re likely to feel low on energy and motivation, so it might be tempting to take high doses of L-Phenylalanine (or tyrosine), but avoid doing this because it can cause an imbalance in the levels of other neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter). If you have a dopamine-serotonin imbalance, you might feel motivated, but also apathetic or even generally depressed which could lead you to do compulsive reward-seeking behaviors because you have plenty of dopamine (reward-seeking motivation), but you lack a sense of contentment that comes from having adequate levels of serotonin. The serotonin helps you make good decisions about your reward-seeking behaviors. Dopamine motivates you to achieve things though, like finishing your homework, taking out the trash, or just doing your job really well.
You could take one of three different supplements to spur the production of dopamine in the brain during withdrawals from cocaine or methamphetamine:
L-Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that can be made into a variety of things in the body, including the neurotransmitter dopamine and norepinephrine. So, when you take phenylalanine, it may or may not be converted into dopamine depending on the body’s needs. The body will use it to make whatever is most needed, so the results will likely be balanced, but less noticeable (mood-wise) than if you take tyrosine or L-DOPA (Mucuna Pruriens).
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that’s made from phenylalanine. It is chemically closer to dopamine and norepinephrine so the body doesn’t have to work as hard to produce these neurotransmitters from tyrosine. L-DOPA, in contrast, which can be taken as Mucuna Pruriens or velvet bean supplements, is chemically the closest to the neurotransmitter dopamine so it is likely to produce the strongest, most noticeable effects on mood, but it can also cause imbalances between serotonin and dopamine. So it’s best not to take L-DOPA every day and it’s good to work on supplementing for serotonin alongside amino acid supplements for dopamine.
L-tyrosine also plays a role in the production of certain thyroid hormones, so it can affect metabolism as well as mood. Studies have shown that increased ingestion of tyrosine at 100 mg per kg of body weight made subjects more resistant to stress.
In the 1980’s when L-Phenylalanine and Tyrosine were first used to combat cocaine addiction by experts like Dr. Mark Gold and Kenneth Blum PhD, the cocaine treatment center drop-out rates dropped from 40% to 4%! Dr. Joan Mathews Larson, PhD and author or Seven Weeks to Sobriety, tried to educate the public about the incredible benefits of amino acid supplementation for addicts by speaking at conferences about it.
Studies have shown that during the earliest phase of abstinence from methamphetamine, users have low levels of dopamine. Scientists have also noted that in some meth users, dopamine is restored very quickly and drugs like levodopa (a synthetic version of L-DOPA that can actually have a negative effect on the brain rather than healing it) aren’t appropriate or helpful. Indeed, if you’re recovering from a meth addiction or a cocaine addiction, taking L-DOPA that’s been extracted from Mucuna Pruriens (velvet bean) seeds may not be as beneficial as supplementing with phenylalanine. On the other hand, if you’ve taken a drug like Adderall or Desoyxn or crystal meth and you’re really struggling to quit, a dose of Mucuna Pruriens might really take the edge off the withdrawal and detox process. Taken in combination with other amino acids that can help balance overall brain chemistry is ideal though to prevent negative reward-seeking behaviors or even depression during withdrawals and detox from meth or cocaine.
Scientists have proven that phenylalanine and tyrosine have a real, measurable impact on mood by studying infants who were fed a breakfast of over 800 mg of either phenylalanine or tyrosine. The infants who were fed a breakfast that was high in phenylalanine or tyrosine rated much higher on mental health scales than infants who ingested less than 800 mg of these two amino acids. With cocaine and crack addicts, there are many many stories of people who had relapsed over and over again, only to start taking up to 2000 mg of tyrosine 3 to 4 times a day and suddenly lose their cravings! The response in meth addicts is similarly striking. So, if you’re struggling with a cocaine addiction or a meth addiction and you want to take control of your moods, start by taking L-phenylalanine or tyrosine (or both supplements) along with other amino acids, in particular amino acids that stimulate the production of serotonin (see below), a good multi-vitamin and a healthy whole foods diet that includes plenty of proteins as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
–ALWAYS TAKE PHENYLALANINE OR TYROSINE WITH A CARBOHYDRATE SNACK. NEVER TAKE IT WITH A HIGH-PROTEIN MEAL OR A PROTEIN SHAKE BECAUSE OTHER AMINO ACIDS MAY COMPETE FOR ACCESS TO THE BRAIN, WHICH CAN LEAD TO LOWER, RATHER THAN HIGHER LEVELS OF SEROTONIN.
NOTE on Mucuna Pruriens / L-DOPA for Addiction
Though it might be valuable to have Mucuna Pruriens on hand for emergencies, this plant-based addiction treatment might create neurotransmitter imbalances if you aren’t careful. Indeed, it can also be addictive according to some research. On the other hand, there are places in Central America where villagers eat the velvet bean for food on a daily basis. It’s possible that some of the research out there right now is actually designed to keep drug addicts from accessing the natural substances that are both affordable and effective in order to fuel the rehab industry. I hate to go into conspiracy theories in regard to drug addiction but having researched cancer cures in depth to discover that they exist and they’ve been covered up, I tend to consider the political reasons why people don’t have access to information as plausible whenever I run across something as elegantly simple as Mucuna Pruriens treatment for drug addiction.
I would recommend that anyone who decides to use Mucuna Pruriens do so perhaps with someone of sound mind to oversee the experience and modulate the consumption of it. I recommend the use of the Vitanica Dopamine Assist supplement because it contains other substances to help balance the effects of Mucuna Pruriens on the brain.
Drug Addiction Alternative Treatment #2: 5-HTP (5-HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN) and L-Tryptophan to Increase Serotonin Levels
5- HTP or 5-Hydroxytryptophan is a precursor in the biosynthesis of 5-HT or serotonin. Though the blood-brain barrier works to exclude a lot of molecules that might be helpful in the treatment of addiction, 5-HTP passes readily through this barrier to be converted to serotonin. A number of studies have shown that 5-HTP has anti-depressant effects that are better than a lot of the prescription medications that are currently available. 5-HTP is also a pain-killer and it has been used to get rid of not only headaches, but also the generalized pain of fibromyalgia.
Both 5-HTP and L-tryptophan are precursors to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for feelings of happiness. For people who are struggling to overcome methamphetamine addiction though, 5-HTP is a better choice than L-tryptophan because it is easier for 5-HTP to cross the blood-brain barrier. But nonetheless, L-tryptophan is a natural relaxant that can help alleviate insomnia while reducing both anxiety and depression. If you don’t have access to 5-HTP, L-tryptophan is an excellent 2nd choice, but take it with a carbohydrate snack in between high-protein meals.
NOTE on Vitamin C and B Vitamins:
In addition to increasing feelings of general contentment, L-tryptophan can help combat migraine headaches while enhancing the immune system and cardiovascular health. But be aware that there are certain vitamins that you’ll need to take to activate either 5-HTP or L-tryptophan in the body. Indeed, vitamin C is a required co-factor to convert 5-HTP into serotonin and to convert phenylalanine and tyrosine into dopamine and norepinephrine. In other words, if you take amino acid supplements like tyrosine and 5-HTP, but your body is really low on vitamin C or the B vitamins, your body may not be able to use those amino acids properly to make neurotransmitters.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxyl 5’Phosphate) and Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) are both needed in the production line that begins with amino acids and ends with the production of serotonin or dopamine. Vitamin B12 is also recommended because of its effect on overall brain functioning.
Quick Review / Summary:
What to Buy for At-Home Addiction Treatment:
Tyrosine will help your body produce dopamine and norepinephrine to enhance feelings of motivation and the ability to care about yourself, the world, and the people around you.
5-HTP will spur the production of serotonin which will lead to a sense of general well-being and okay-ness with the world.
- Mucuna Pruriens (for emergencies only)
Mucuna Pruriens or velvet bean contains L-DOPA and it can have a faster, stronger impact on dopamine levels. It can also be addictive and so you shouldn’t take it more than 3 times per week in the lowest dose possible.
A vitamin B complex supplement will ensure that your body can convert amino acids into neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin C Supplement
You need vitamin C to convert amino acids into neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin B12 Supplement
Without vitamin B12, your brain simply won’t work properly. If you’re working through an addiction, a nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12 can wreak havoc not only on your moods, but also on your stomach and intestines. Studies have shown that some methamphetamine addicts may have a deficiency of vitamin B12 and that low levels of this vitamin may actually play a role in sustaining the addiction.
- Vitamin B6 Supplement
You specifically need extra vitamin B6 during recovery from a drug addiction in order to convert amino acids to the needed neurotransmitters that you’re lacking during withdrawal and detox. Take the recommended dose of vitamin B6 along with a multi-vitamin to ensure you have the nutrients you need to build serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
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Alliance for Addiction Solutions (2017). Retrieved May 23, 2020 from https://www.allianceforaddictionsolutions.com/single-post/2017/09/12/Stimulant-Addiction
Boileau, I., McClusky, T., Tong, J. Furukawa, Y., Houle, S., Kish, S. J. (2016). Rapid Recovery of Vesicular Dopamine Levels in Methamphetamine Users in Early Abstinence. Retrieved May 23, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4748442/
Ashok, A. H., Mizuno, Y., Volkow, N. D., Howes, O. D. (2017). Association of Stimulant Use With Dopaminergic Alterations in Users of Cocaine, Amphetamine, or Methamphetamine: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Retrieved May 23, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28297025/
Akimitsu, O., Wada, K., Noji, T., Nozomi, T., Krejci, M., Nakade, M., Takeuchi, H., Harada, T., (2013). The relationship between consumption of tyrosine and phenylalanine as precursors of catecholamine at breakfast and the circadian typology and mental health of Japanese infants aged 2 to 5 years. Retrieved May 23, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3850927/
Integrative Psychiatry (2002-2020). Amino Acids Depression. Retrieved May 23, 2020 from https://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/amino_acids_depression.html
Lake, J. (2017). L-Tryptophan and 5-Hydroxytryptophan in Mental Health Care: Both amino acids have beneficial effects on many mental health problems. Retrieved May 23,2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201709/l-tryptophan-and-5-hydroxytryptophan-in-mental-health