How Is Amino Acid Therapy Used To Treat Addiction?
In an effort to combat the ongoing drug epidemic in this country, innovative treatment methods have been developed to help people reach their goal of sobriety. Psychotherapy and 12-step models are no longer the only means to battle drug addiction. Scientists are working to develop anti-addiction vaccines and holistic treatments continue to gain wider acceptance. One treatment showing favorable results is amino acid replacement therapy. Take a moment to learn what it is and how it may help those recovering from drug and alcohol use.
Understanding Amino Acid Therapy
The first step to understanding amino acid therapy is to consider what’s happening in the brain during substance use. When someone is using, drugs or alcohol act as substitutes for powerful chemicals called neurotransmitters which carry vital signals or messages in the brain. Neurotransmitters are involved in everything from basic functions like breathing to the signaling of pleasure. Over time, the production of the neurotransmitters is decreased, causing a chemical imbalance. Powerful cravings and withdrawal may result, compelling people to continue using drugs to avoid these negative effects.
What Happens To Your Brain When Someone Stops Using Drugs?
Unfortunately, when a person stops using drugs, the brain does not instantaneously start producing the necessary amount of neurotransmitters. It will take time to adapt to the change and resume production. This can be difficult for someone in the early phases of recovery as depression and other ailments occur. This may trigger a relapse as those suffering from addiction seek to activate those pleasure centers in the brain.
What Role Do Amino Acids Play?
Amino acids are the building blocks for neurotransmitters, including the ones closely tied to addiction behavior like serotonin and dopamine. Adding the appropriate amounts of amino acids will promote the process of restoring neurotransmitters. As a result, amino acid replacement therapy can help someone adjust to the sudden change in the brain when drugs or alcohol are no longer present.
Amino Acids Used To Treat Addiction
There are 22 known amino acids, five of which are used in Amino Acid Replacement Therapy for addiction. Here is a brief list and description:
L-Tryptophan: Aids in the production of serotonin and serves as a form of anti-depressant. May help those suffering with self-esteem and mood disorders early in recovery.
GABA: A lack of GABA may result in elevated stress and anxiety, leading to relapse. Restoration of this neurotransmitter promotes calmness and relaxation.
DLPA D-Phenylalanine: This amino acid is known to increase the longevity of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers. It may help reduce cravings and physical pain present during recovery from opiates.
L-Tyrosine: Used in the production of noradrenaline and dopamine, this amino acid is known to improve energy, clarity of thought, and motivation, while reducing depression and anxiety. It can be a useful tool for individuals undergoing the strenuous task of recovery.
L-Glutamine: Considered a fuel source for the entire brain, this amino acid helps protect the immune system and balance out the mind. It may be used in regulating blood sugar and is known to bolster energy. The overall boost it provides can help stave off relapse.