A recent article posted by Daily Mail shares the finding of a Canadian Professor on his correlations between sugar and opioid addiction.
It all started with the question, ” Could a diet high in refined sugars make children and adults more susceptible to opioid addiction and overdose?”
Opioid abuse is also associated with poor dietary habits, including preferences for sugar-rich foods, as well as malnutrition.
These connections have led to questions of whether excessive consumption of refined sugar may affect vulnerability to opioid addiction.
To explore the possible role of a sugar-rich diet in opioid addiction, we investigated whether unlimited access to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) altered rats’ neural and behavioral responses to the semi-synthetic opioid, oxycodone.
Our findings suggest that a diet high in corn syrup may dampen the reward associated with oxycodone and may, therefore, encourage consumption of higher quantities of the drug.
Opioids, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Addiction
High fructose corn syrup is a refined sugar that typically includes more fructose than glucose. It is a commonly used food additive in North America, produced by chemically processed corn.
In a study conducted by one of the Professors’ Ph.D. student Meenu Minhas, animals had unrestricted around-the-clock access to bottles containing a water solution sweetened by HFCS.
After about a month of voluntary drinking, the bottles were removed and, after a few sugar-free days, animals’ behavioral and neural responses to oxycodone were assessed.
Similar to other opioids, oxycodone induces pharmacological effects that include analgesia, euphoria, and feelings of relaxation. Some common street names include: ‘hillbilly heroin’, ‘perc’, and ‘OC’.
Oxycodone is the active ingredient in a number of formulations which include intravenous injections, immediate release solutions/capsules (Percocet, Percodan, OXY IR, OXY FAST), and extended-release preparations (OxyContin).
Oxycodone is also highly addictive and has impacted the lives of numerous North Americans. There are estimates that its consumption increased by almost 500 percent from 1999 to 2011.
The US National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that approximately 27.9 million people aged 12 or older used oxycodone products.
Moreover, 4.3 million people aged 12 or older reported misusing oxycodone-containing products in the past year.
Dampening Drug’s Reward May Increase Use
At the neural level, HFCS exposure decreased the oxycodone-induced release of dopamine, which is a desire-promoting neurotransmitter active in the brain’s reward circuits.
Furthermore, at low doses, sedative drugs like opioids and alcohol normally interfere with inhibition and stimulate a variety of ‘psychomotor’ behaviors – such as sociability, extroversion, talkativeness, sensation seeking and interest in novelty.
Our study in rats found that exposure to the high fructose corn syrup reduced this psychomotor stimulation induced by oxycodone.
Our experiments show that chronic exposure to high fructose corn syrup had an impact on both the neural and behavioral responses to oxycodone, resulting in changes likely to affect drug-taking and drug-seeking behavior.
They suggest that a high sugar diet may dampen the reward associated with a given dose of oxycodone. And that this may cause people to consume more of the drug.
These results suggest that nutrition, and high fructose corn syrup intake, in particular, can influence responses to opioids – a finding that may be relevant both to clinical uses of opioids and to the treatment of addiction.
We can win the war on opioid addiction only if we tackle the problem from multiple angles.
Our findings, and those of other laboratories, strongly suggest that prevention of unhealthy diets may not only help reduce the obesity epidemic, but also reduce environmental factors that may predispose to opioid addiction.
My Rehab Recovery‘s View
As you see from the study above, a sweet tooth can affect more than just your teeth. It can enable you to consume more drugs that your body normally would not be able to handle. We believe that each individual deserves the right to be whole and healthy. Many of our treatment centers are equipped with 5-star chefs that will give you a balanced diet to aid you in your road to recovery. If you are looking for a new start and need help finding the right facility, please call 855.977.3422. My Rehab Recovery is here to serve you in the first step process of getting clean.