Dark chocolate is one of my favorite superfoods for opiate addiction recovery. Whether you’re tapering off Suboxone, Subutex, Methadone, or other opioids, or going through acute or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, dark chocolate can give you a much-needed mood and energy boost. Why?
Dark chocolate is loaded with mental, emotional, and physical health benefits.
The following five compounds in dark chocolate offer the most significant benefits for opiate addiction recovery.
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One of the main compounds in dark chocolate is phenethylamine (PEA). This chemical stimulates the nervous system and triggers the release of pleasurable opium-like compounds known as endorphins.
Endorphins are our natural painkillers (natural morphine). Our bodies release endorphins when we exercise. Perhaps you’ve heard of “runners high”, which describes a euphoric feeling produced by the massive production of endorphins after running long distances.
Endorphins promote joy, euphoria, and contentment; and that leads us to why opiates make you feel so good.
Different drugs mimic different neurotransmitters. Heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, Suboxone, methadone, and other opioids specifically mimic endorphins. That’s why opioids are so beneficial at relieving pain and producing euphoria.
When opioids are taken, the body produces massive amounts of endorphins in quantities our bodies weren’t designed to handle. If you use opioids consistently over a period of time, the body starts making more opioid receptors, and that’s how tolerance is developed.
Now the brain has become dependent on opioids to produce endorphins, and it stops making them naturally.
The problem arises when someone on opioids lowers their dosage considerably or comes off completely. You are now supplying your body with less endorphins from the drugs, but your brain doesn’t supply you with the rest. Your brain short circuits, and therein lies the problem.
What results is a massive endorphin deficiency leading to increased sensitivity to physical and emotional pain, among other problems.
PEA also potentiates the activity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is generally low in individuals coming off opioids. Dopamine is our main focus neurotransmitter. Dopamine is also responsible for our drive or desire to get things done…our motivation.
Dopamine lifts the dark clouds of depression, is responsible for feelings of pleasure, and plays a role in the “reward system” in the brain.
Dark chocolate increases the brain’s level of serotonin, another feel-good neurotransmitter. Serotonin plays a major role in positive mood, emotional health, proper sleep, and balanced appetite, contributing to numerous behavioral and physiological functions. Decreased serotonin is a well known factor in cases of depression.
Marijuana contains a group of compounds called cannabinoids, which can lead to the feeling of getting “high”. Cannabinoids are found in only two other places.
- The human brain – Here a mind-altering cannabinoid known as anandamide is made.
- Dark chocolate – The anandamide in dark chocolate may be why some people become blissed out after consuming it.
Anandamide produces a feeling of euphoria. Anandamide’s name derives from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means “joy, bliss, delight”.
4. Theobromine and Caffeine
Theobromine, caffeine’s chemical cousin, is a central nervous system stimulant (though it’s milder in it’s effects). This compound can enhance mood and improve concentration. Dark chocolate also contains small quantities of caffeine.
The caffeine in dark chocolate can:
- Increase alertness
- Decrease fatigue
- Improve mood
- Enhance cardiovascular function
- Improve respiration
Dark chocolate is a potent magnesium-booster. One square of the sweet stuff provides 24 percent of the daily value of magnesium for only 145 calories. This mineral is one of the most important nutrients for the human body, as it’s involved in at least 300 essential biochemical actions. An estimated 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, and I believe that individuals recovering from opiate addiction can use a healthy dose of this “anti-stress mineral”.
Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system.
If you are deficient your heart rate and sympathetic nervous system will be sent into overdrive. Researchers suggest that adding magnesium to your diet can decrease sympathetic nervous activity, thus leading to a reduction of stress and allowing you to relax. In addition, magnesium plays a major role in neurotransmitter release, which affects the discharge of brain chemicals such as serotonin which help you feel emotionally relaxed.
How To Use Dark Chocolate For Opiate Addiction Recovery
If it agrees with your body, I highly recommend consuming dark chocolate with at least 85% cacoa to supercharge your opiate recovery. You can use it while tapering off medication, during acute and post-acute withdrawal syndrome, and anytime for the rest of your life where you need a mood-boost.
I’ve tried over a dozen different types of dark chocolate, and right now my favorite is Alter Eco – Dark Blackout Organic Chocolate. It contains 85% cocoa, the taste is superb, and it can really help decrease cravings, boost mood, and increase energy while getting off opiates.
I go through periods where I will eat about a third of a bar, three times per week. However, for coming off opiates, you could certainly benefit from consuming larger amounts more frequently.
Jeanne Calment was a French woman that is known for having the longest human lifespan on record, living to the age of 122 years. She ate approximately one kilo (2.2 pounds) of chocolate every week!
Perhaps she lived so long because chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants, such as:
Note: One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.
Eat dark chocolate!!! This wonderful superfood should be an important part of your opiate addiction recovery. It’s not too expensive, it tastes delicious, and it can significantly decrease cravings, improve mood, and boost energy levels, among other benefits. Furthermore, the rich abundance of antioxidants can help detoxify your body while healing from addiction.