What would it be like, to be able to control an obsession for chocolate? Take it up a notch and think about people seeking to control full-scale eating disorders, drug addiction, gambling, smoking, drinking… even compulsive shopping!
When “food becomes my comfort” and someone crushes the bathroom scales at morbidly obese levels, body image goals and eating disorders can easily morph into a full flowering of addictive compulsions. This person is psychologically armed and dangerous to themselves. The question is what can they do to regain control over these impulse disorders?
Filling an inner void typically involves the steady build-up of an obsessive compulsive drive. Self worth, body image and any number of ego-enhancing drives push a person into ritualized behavior, most of which aggravates rather than soothes the soul.
Weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery where up to 90% of the stomach is surgically tied off in order to limit food intake, would seem to be all about excess food and binge eating resulting in at-risk obesity. Yet, gastric bypass surgery is purely “mechanical” and doesn’t deal with underlying neurological dependence issues.
However, deeper down in psychological space, other factors are at play, as new research into addictive behavior suggests. Thinking that their days of body image phobia and obesity are now over following weight loss surgery, perhaps 30% or more of men and women increasingly discover that something deeper remains, namely the drive towards any-and-all addictions. What’s next? Drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling, over-the-top consumerism and compulsive shopping behavior.
Addiction Transfer – Where Eating Disorder Morphs Into Another Obsession. In the psychiatric theory spectrum with genetics (nature) on one end and behavior-reinforcement (nurture) on the other end, latest research news is that people with an “addictive” tendency keep it, re-dress it, but never entirely place it under wraps.
Weight loss surgery produces profound body shaping and body image transformations, yet “window dress” your body and the mind continues to seek other avenues for obsessive compulsive focus. In the case of bariatric surgery getting thin only creates a “re-direct” of the baseline impulse-control disorder into new areas where new urges and craving take over. Think of it. A person loses 200 pounds of built-up weight, then turns to drinking two bottles of whiskey a day!
Remedies Research – Altering Brain Neurology. Unlike shrimp and bovine cattle, humans possess nature’s state-of-art brain. 4 million miles of nerve fibers and neurological horsepower to drive over 10 billion brain cells, each with as much as 25,000 synapse-connection to other cells. And so, what about gaining control over addictions, whether eating disorders like binge eating and anorexia, or gambling, or drug abuse?
* Bio-Chemical Intervention. Some research already reveals that certain classes of obsessive behavior, like binge eating disorders, associate with depressed levels of the regulating brain hormones serotonin and neuroepinephrine and dopamine. Increasing these hormones acts on the brain’s neurological structure, effectively blocking certain receptor sites, altering bio-chemical messaging. Result? You get an immediate uptick in “feel good” sensations.
* Drug Addiction – Blocking Receptor Sites. When “addiction transfer” takes a person from body image obsessions to drug abuse, there’s a risk of falling into equally life threatening addiction as with opiates. Fortunately, these addictions are being attacked using new neural receptor-blocking drugs such as suboxane. How does it work? The neural pathways associated with ‘drug craving and pleasure’ are traced by suboxone, which occupies these neural receptor sites, thus silencing the addictive craving, and bio-chemically road-blocking the site so that heroin cannot enter, thus renders it useless.
Treating Underlying Anxiety And Depression. Other mood altering drug classes are known as benzodiazepines, and are offered under brands including Xanax or Valium. For 70% of the population, these powerful drug mediators work to slow the drive towards addiction relief.