A few years ago, I read a book that revolutionized the way I viewed addiction treatment. End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free, by Dr. Charles Gant, opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.
While Dr. Gant served as the Medical Director of the Tully Hill Hospital, a drug and alcohol detox and rehabilitation facility in New York, he created a unique treatment program that focused on the use of all-natural nutritional supplements. Thousands of patients were instructed to take nutrients (amino acids, minerals, vitamins, etc.) as part of their overall treatment plans.
New Standards, Inc., an independent research group which assesses addiction recovery results, performed a clinical outcome study on Dr. Gant’s nutritional supplement program. According to the study, 83% of the patients that followed the nutritional protocols were still drug and alcohol free a year later.
This success rate is staggering. Most of the traditional types of treatment, including counseling, 12-step meetings, etc., have anywhere from a 10-30% rate of success. In his book, Dr. Gant makes the following thought-provoking statement:
The recovery process is frequently described as the restoration of body, mind and spirit. The problem is that many programs have focused only on the latter two and have ignored the “body” component of recovery. Addictions are physical substances causing physical changes to a physical organ, the brain. So how do we conventionally treat them? With group therapy and spiritual counseling. Doesn’t make sense, does it?”
The Power Recovery Program
Dr. Gant has named his nutritional treatment protocol The Power Recovery Program. He believes an individual must first correct brain chemistry imbalances before psychological or spiritual treatment can be effective. This focus on putting the “body” component as the foundation in which all other parts are built upon is the core aspect of his Power Recovery Program.
Dr. Gant states that brain chemistry can become disrupted in the following ways:
- Prolonged use of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes
- Toxins in the environment
- Physical or emotional stress
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Genetic predispositions
The Power Recovery Program consists of two main stages of treatment:
- Stage 1: Quick-Start
- Stage 2: Detoxification
This first stage focuses on correcting healthy neurotransmitter functioning in the brain. The habitual use of alcohol, nicotine, opiates, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs can quickly lead to imbalances in brain chemistry.
Dr. Gant states that “imbalances are especially important in the biochemistry of neurons. These brain cells produce neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that control almost every aspect of our lives. Many of these neurotransmitters significantly affect behavior and moods.”
Below is a list of the most important neurotransmitters for mental health:
- Endorphins/enkephalins – Our natural painkillers; they promote feelings of physical relaxation, joy, and produce a natural high.
- Serotonin – Responsible for feelings of being emotionally relaxed and happy.
- Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) – Mentally relaxing, your brains natural Valium.
- Catecholamines – Dopamine is in this class of neurotransmitters; responsible for concentration and euphoria.
Note: A deficiency in these neurotransmitters can lead to you experiencing the opposite effect. For example, if you aren’t producing enough catecholamines you will tend to be tired and have a hard time concentrating. If you are deficient in GABA this can easily lead to anxiety. A lack of serotonin is associated with depression. Become deficient in endorphins and you risk becoming overly sensitive to both physical and emotional pain.
OK, so what does all of this have to do with addiction recovery? Well here’s the thing…different drugs mimic these neurotransmitters. Opiates specifically mimic endorphins, our natural painkillers. Opiates are just a chemical substitute for the natural chemical your brain already makes. Opiates are imposters!
This is the interesting part…after taking opiates for awhile your brain stops producing it’s own endorphins. It does this because you are supplying it with artificial endorphins! This sends a signal to the brain that it can go take care of other necessary functions since it is no longer needed in that department. Basically your brain short-circuits, and therein lies the problem.
Click here for a complete list of neurotransmitter/drug relationships.
In the Quick-Start stage of the Power Recovery Program, you get to take 4 different questionnaires:
- Serotonin Deficiency Questionnaire
- Endorphin/Enkephalin Deficiency Questionnaire
- GABA Deficiency Questionnaire
- Catecholamine Deficiency Questionniare
Note: The purpose of the Quick-Start questionnaires is to enable you to identify your primary neurotransmitter shortages and restore them to optimal production. After you finish these questionnaires you add up the scores, and if you score in the “probably deficient” range, Dr. Gant provides you with a specific nutritional protocol for each type of neurotransmitter deficiency.
*The next step is to purchase the nutrients and start taking them daily as outlined in the Quick-Start section of the book.
The second stage of the Power Recovery Program is called Detoxification. When most people here about drug detoxification, they think about a period of time (several days for instance) during which the majority of a drug is excreted from the body.
Dr. Gant has a different definition of detoxification, which he defines as “the removal of any toxic substances. both psychotropic and non-psychotropic, that have accumulated in the body.” According to Dr. Gant, “traces of substances of abuse and the byproducts of these substances which occur as the body metabolizes them can remain in the body for long periods of time, from several months to years.”
The goals of the Detoxification stage are as follows:
- Removal of toxins.
- Fortifying the “toxin barriers” of your digestive system.
- Strengthening your body’s detoxification pathways.
Note: This detoxification stage is meant to be started within a few days to a week after starting the Quick-Start nutrients. This stage consists of taking nine supplements which are designed to detoxify your body and allow you to achieve the three goals listed above.
Not only can supplements help you heal from addiction, but they may also be the most important part of a recovery program. Based on the 83% success rate of Dr. Gant’s Power Recovery Program, I believe that anyone can benefit from following the nutritional protocols outlined in his life-changing book: