Are There Any Parallels Between Food and Drug Addiction? 

Are There Any Parallels Between Food and Drug Addiction? 

Food and drug addiction are hard on the mind and body because they take away not only dignity and confidence, but also a sense of being in control. Process addictions like food, sex, and gambling get a different perspective from people than drugs or alcohol, however, the brain treats them much the same way. Find out why there are similarities between food and drug addiction and how to help a loved one who may be struggling. 

Drug Addiction

Drugs flood the brain with dopamine, which impacts self-control. Over time, the function and structure of the brain shifts so dopamine receptors are reduced. This makes drugs, food, and other substances less enjoyable. They are still desirable but less enjoyable for the person using them.

How Cravings Work

When changes in the brain occur, compulsive eaters may find themselves looking for salty or sugary foods to eat, bingeing on whatever they can find. Milkshakes and food that bring joy to a person can activate the same pleasure and reward centers of the brain as cocaine among people with addictive eating habits. Food can be considered more addictive than crack cocaine for some people. Sugar is so addictive there are children who cannot go without sugar in their diets after long periods of being used to high amounts of sugar. 


People with addiction experience denial, no matter what kind it is. They believe they can stop anytime they want. Americans routinely underestimate the number of calories eaten and how much they weigh. Sugar has a lot of loaded calories, including among other foods, carbs, pasta, and bread which make up a huge part of American diets. Denying a problem exists is not helpful to the person with addiction but is not any different for food or drug addiction. 

Finding Hope

While people with addiction will continue to do the behavior in spite of negative consequences, there are ways to find help for addiction from rehab centers. Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities offer help and support through therapeutic counseling and detox which provide space for people to be vulnerable and begin to heal from the process and other addictions. Although they are similar, process and behavioral addictions require different ways of treating them and offering support to the individual who may need mental and physical health support. Getting the help they need is key to supporting their long-term recovery goals. 

We understand there may be crossover addictions and additional support needed to deal with process addictions that kick up when a person uses substances. We are here to help you navigate the issues surrounding your addiction and help you recover for the long haul. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295