We now know that the brain transmits messages and creates emotions by means of neurotransmitters. The proper functioning of these vital natural substances depends directly on an adequate supply of amino acids that get extracted from your diet. If illness, genetic predisposition, or chronic drug use destroy or prevent the normal conversion of amino acids to neurotransmitters, the mood, emotion, behavior, and memory will immediately suffer. Toxic drug use can reek havoc on the brains natural chemistry and cause severe anxiety, depression, aggressive behavior, cognitive impairment and drug and alcohol cravings long after the substance has been removed.
Amino-acid therapy is a powerfully natural means of healing and repair. These substances are safer than drugs and often produce very similar results. Through our time studying pharmaceutical medicine and nutritional supplementation, we can say conclusively that if a drug can be found to aid healing, the likelihood is great than a nutrient could be found to do the same thing. At Reaction Recovery, we typically rely on amino acids rather than drugs to treat emotional problems. We know that amino acids are safe, and there is a great deal of evidence that they are effective. For starters if they weren't safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would not permit their sale without prescription.
These nutrients are an integral part of the reaction recovery approach to addiction recovery. We have seen them work on some of the most refractory cases that had suffered years of what seemed at the time to the clients to be irreversible damage. Let me assure you from the outset that it is safe to take amino acids. They are considered food and are non toxic. If you do not need a particular amino acid - that is to say your body already is making enough - the excess gets eliminated through the urine.
Over time, heavy drinking and drug use brings about biochemical changes that block or destroy the nutrients that are needed for neurotransmitters to form and function normally. Alcohol, in particular, can also inflame and damage the pancreas which will severely reduce the production of enzymes needed to digest protein and properly extract the amino acid. With only a fraction of the normal amount floating around in the body, neurotransmitter function will decline and all those "emotional" symptoms so familiar to anyone in recovery start to flare up. Tests that have been done on chronic drug users immediately after discontinuing the substance abuse have found low amino-acid availability in every single one of the cases. In these instances, the utility of talk therapies or cognitive behavioral treatments will be markedly reduced relative to their recorded effect after the brain chemistry has been balanced.
There are a few precautions we will mention with regard to particular amino-acid therapies, but mostly these recommendations could be safely made to everyone in recovery.
Current research into amino acid therapy is extremely promising. The challenge of the future is to try to replace (or sometimes lessen) the need for pharmaceutical mood-enhancement medications that are so readily prescribed in the early weeks and months sobriety. Amino-acid therapy does not carry with it the dependency, side effect profile, or withdrawal syndrome associated with these classes of prescription drugs.
DLPA is an essential amino acid that can be found naturally in beef, eggs, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. One of the primary functions is to produce tyrosine, a major amino acid needed to synthesize hormones.
It helps regulate mood by leading increasing endoprhin levels. Because many of these feel good hormones are so depleted in an individual recovering from drug abuse, it takes a very long time to replenish on their own.
Supplementing DLPA can quicken the process and speed up the feeling of a sharper mind, increased concentration and an overall reduced brain fog experienced by so many in recovery.
Although safe for nearly everyone, there are a few notable caveats that I will include in this section:
L-tyrosine is a key non-essential amino acid found in high protein foods like chicken, turkey, fish, cheese, almonds, avocado, bananas, etc. It is involved in the production of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
L-tyrosine supports an improved mood in a similar way to DLPA because it is directly replenshing these neurotransmitters. Drugs of abuse produce much larger spikes of dopamine than a body would naturally, unfortunately when the drug is removed, the system responds by down-regulating the environment thus diminishing any release. This diminished release leads to weeks, months, or even years of severe anhedonia (complete lack of pleasure). This state is often intolerable and leads to a relapse back into drug use simply to feel any sort of pleasure.
This is the reason supplementation with DLPA and/or L-tyrosine is particularly important to those recovering from opioid and stimulant abuse. Upon cessation of stimulant (methamphetamine, cocaine, adderall, ritalin) use, these individuals often complain of a very drawn out period of anhedonia, lack of motivation, and an underlying feeling of dullness and boredom. L-Tyrosine can help these symptoms.
Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid with many functions in the body and is often depleted in substance abusers. Glutamine plays an important role in immune and intestinal health as well as much of the activity in the brain (immediate precursor to GABA). GABA works by preventing neural signaling in over-excited neurons that could result in anxiety and irritability.
When L-glutamine levels drop, cellular energy drops and immune systems weaken. Short and long-term memory declines, and anxiety, insomnia and lack of concentration increase.
A balanced l-glutamine level promotes a feeling of balance, motivation, and energy, and during down times a calm and relaxed feeling. It is shown to reduce the craving for drugs, sugars, and alcohol.
L-glutamine is one of the most strongly recommended amino acid supplements to individuals in recovery.
GLycine is a non-essential amino acid. The primary sources in the diet are from protein-rich foods like meat, fish, dairy, and legumes.
It tends to have a calming effect on the brain and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep by lowering your core body temperature. It is well-documented that 3 gram of glycine before bedtime decreases the times it takes to fall asleep, enhances sleep quality, lessens daytime sleepiness, and improves overall cognition.
Glycine may help stabilize blood sugar and protect against muscle loss.
If you have been diagnosed as schizophrenic, if you have a genetic error in amino-acid metabolism, or if you are currently taking an MAO inhibitor, undertake amino-acid treatment only under the care and supervision of a physician.