Fentanyl is not merely a problem in America: it is an epidemic. The supply of fentanyl has exploded, mostly because almost uncontrolled migration across our southern border is allowing not only people, but also disease and illegal material to flood into the country. Fentanyl is relatively easily made overseas in large quantities, and since it is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroine, a very small quantity becomes a lethal dose. It often is mixed into other illegal drugs, including black market versions of prescription drugs. Even in areas of the country which are not yet feeling the full impact of so many refugees from other nations pouring into their location, fentanyl has already penetrated their communities.

Since fentanyl is an opioid drug, it is addictive, but it is also often mixed with other addictive drugs, making it even more dangerous. It so slows metabolism that the person receiving it may completely stop breathing, dying quickly thereafter. Not only are those using illegal drugs at risk, but also people receiving a pill from a stranger, or even a friend, may unknowingly get fentanyl, thinking the pill is a legitimate prescription or an off-the-shelf drug. Unless the source is verifiably legitimate, the pill is unsafe.

Why would people take illegal drugs, or even unverified prescription drugs, knowing them to be risky? The answer is addiction, where they are driven to continue taking the drugs even though they know better. This is the most destructive thing about addiction: it pushes people to override their common sense and instead do what they know is dangerous or harmful. We see this even with legal substances: smokers know their habit is harmful, but they continue to smoke anyway. Alcohol drinkers know they should not drink more, but they do anyway, especially after the first drink further suppresses their critical thinking abilities.

You are likely someone who is avoiding the illegal drug market. You know better than to take anything that you do not get directly from a pharmacy. You are health-conscious, so you don’t smoke. You even know that real prescription drugs can be addictive, and congratulations if you are avoiding them completely. You are not addicted to anything, right?

Let’s see. How are you doing with food? Many of us love sugary foods — could you drop sugar from your diet? You know it’s not good for you, so why do you continue to eat it? Why do you crave it, and give in to the cravings regularly? Do you believe that fast food is unhealthy, yet continue to go to McDonald’s or something similar? Are you sure you are not addicted? “Addiction” doesn’t apply only to those taking clearly dangerous drugs.

Addiction isn’t just a matter of will. Certain changes in your brain can cause cravings and push you towards what you know is not good for you — these are environmental responses to the foods that you eat. Some foods will cause dopamine levels to rise, causing your brain’s “reward” circuitry to trigger when you ingest the food. If you attempt to counter the cravings through simple willpower, you may succeed for a time, but you will let your guard down eventually. Addicts don’t dare to casually lapse, since the addiction will reinstate itself very quickly.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been long used in restaurants as a flavor enhancer, but it is more than that: it tends to trigger an addiction reaction in the brain, causing the customer to want to consume more. This was great for restaurants, but not so for consumers, some of whom were reporting headaches, chest pains, or other symptoms. Word spread, and the FDA required that MSG must be listed on a package label. MSG caused enough problems that it became evident that it was addictive and potentially harmful. Some customers would ask to “hold the MSG.” Like smoking, society started looking at MSG in a negative way. But other addictive foods are unfortunately not cast in the same light…

They made me do it!
While illegal drugs and smoking are socially frowned upon, addictive foods are offered and even encouraged by family and friends. Commercials not only hawk prescription drugs, but shamelessly entice you with processed food options. They have financial reasons to get you into the roster of the addicted. Friends just think there is nothing wrong with the foods and that you are being odd if you think otherwise. Our modern society pushes all of us to eat highly processed, shelf-stable, sugar-laden foods everywhere we turn. Eating right is not easy, but it starts with knowledge: if you do not know what foods are addictive, you are defenseless.

One study, published in the BMJ, refers to the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), which rates the addictive potential of various foods. They found one category — ultra-processed foods — which consistently rated high on YFAS. These inevitably contained either highly refined carbohydrates or highly processed fats, and often a combination of both. As far as your body is concerned, refined carbohydrates are simply sugar: often sugar is directly added, but also the refining process often releases sugar from foods so it is easily and quickly absorbed. Processed fats, even if from a plant source, are altered to some degree from their natural state, and many are from animal sources. Processing often involves cooking or high heat treatments, which alters both sugars and fats.

Their research took data from 281 studies across 36 countries, looking at four behavioral factors of addiction: excessive intake, loss of control over consumption, intense cravings, and continued use despite negative consequences. They found that the overall prevalence of food addiction was at about the same level as that of alcohol or tobacco, likely because all evoke similar levels of extracellular dopamine in the brain. The highest levels of addiction was found with ultra-processed foods that had high levels of refined carbohydrates and high levels of processed fats: this combination had a multiplied effect on the brain reward systems. One explanation for this effect was the speed at which these foods were assimilated and reached the brain, because the processing breaks down and alters the food so that it is consumed more rapidly and breaks down more quickly in the early stages of digestion.

No sugar added
How about processed foods that advertise few or no calories? Without the sugar, wouldn’t they be less addictive? These are usually artificially sweetened, because we demand sweetness or saltiness in our foods. Artificial sweeteners bind to receptors in the gut, increasing the capacity to absorb glucose by increasing glucose transporter isoform 1 (SGLT1) and glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2) expression. Even though these foods do contain less calories, they prepare the body to absorb glucose that is available or that is created through food breakdown. Thus these foods have similar addictive effects to sugary options.

Fat, sweet fat…
One pattern that is obvious in nature: fats and high sugar don’t occur together. High fat foods are not sweet foods, whereas fruit or other sweet foods do not have high fat levels. Processing changes all that, often combining the two into one food. In a study published in Cell Metabolismresearchers compared reactions of study participants to foods high in only carbohydrates or fats, versus those high in both. They found that foods high in both, even if not particularly liked by the participant, caused responses in the brain in the caudate region (involved in part with learning, reward, motivation, and emotion) and the putamen (involved with reward, cognitive function, and addiction). Thus these foods generated addictive responses even when they were not initially desired choices.

So, once you start eating processed foods, you are likely to keep eating them and probably over-consume them. Taking just a taste is likely to result in you eating a lot more than you intended. The food business understands this well. When you enter a grocery store, you may find someone at a sampling table offering you to try a little of a processed product, then suggest that you buy a whole package. Despite your better judgement, you may find yourself wanting more. Now you can see why that strategy works!

Eat your vegetables
What parents haven’t told their kids to eat their vegetables, and how many kids gravitate to the processed goodies instead? Generations ago, the goodies were not available, and the kids ate their veggies whether they wanted them or not, or they went hungry. Today, even baby food is highly processed, and parents will buy it because the kid’s brain reward circuitry kicks in — parents appreciate kids eating without prompting, so they don’t argue with success. Through all stages of life the kids are inundated with enticing, addicting, processed foods. And childhood obesity is at records levels, catching up with obesity in older age groups.

One thing that vegetables are not: they aren’t addictive. The same is true of plants high in fat, such as avocados and seeds. There is a direct, not skewed, relationship between normal hunger and your body’s reaction to unprocessed plant foods, so you consume what you need. Processing foods fools your body and brain into consuming them abnormally.

If you pay attention to what your body is really telling you, in terms of your digestion, energy level, and weight, rather than what your addiction/reward circuitry is telling you, your health will respond. It is rather difficult to tune out the loud signals of addiction and listen instead to the quiet signals of real health, but if you work at it for a while, you can reach the point where you distain the addictive foods in favor of natural, unaltered foods. Once there, you won’t want to turn back to the addiction trap!

Dr. Nemec’s Review

What is an addiction? Is it a craving? Is it an intense desire? Is it an uncontrollable need? Yes, it is all of these, but these are the outward sign of an inward anatomy and physiology. To put it simply: an addiction is a neurological pathway that has grown strong due to stimulation.

If you don’t use it, you lose it
You remember the saying. But there is another one that goes with it: If you use it, you grow it stronger. These phrases refer to the nervous system and nerve pathways that grow or atrophy because of stimulus or lack of stimulus.

So let’s break both categories down neurologically:

Continual use produces hypertrophy and growth of nerve pathways.
The nervous system is plastic — meaning it’s moldable, changeable and adaptable to the environment it’s in. If that environment has a continual stimulus, it starts to grow neurons along that pathway in the brain. It grows more and more neurons like a denser tree with more branches. It does this to process the stimulus faster and more efficiently.

Continual disuse produces atrophy or shrinkage of nerve pathways.
Now, on the other hand, if the environment surrounding the nervous system is one that does not have stimulus, then that nerve pathway will start to prune itself and decrease the number of branches because they are no longer needed.

The tale of two trees
So now you see two images: one very dense tree with many many branches, the other tree very sparse with only a few branches. Both developed from the environment they were exposed to: either increased stimulus or decreased stimulus.

The addiction
Many times we think of an addiction as a mental-emotional issue, not a physical issue, so we try to use our willpower to break it — then if we do not break it, we feel bad about ourselves because we failed again. We need to see addiction in a whole new light; we need to see it from a physical perspective also. Once we do this, then we’ll be empowered to overcome any addiction.

The first step
So the very first fact that you must work with is that an addiction has a mental component, a brain component, an emotional component, and a physical component. You cannot have an addiction without all four components. So much for breaking your addiction in a day. You might decide to just plan one day and use all your willpower with no access to food and fast the whole day! Well, that’s a noble desire, but just like most New Year’s resolutions, it’s not practical because you have no plan — or should we say you have no complete plan to affect the mind, the brain, the emotions, and the body.

Once you know this enemy, you may think you know the strategy you’re going to use to fight it, but you must have a very specific and targeted plan to address this enemy: mentally through your thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, feelings, and behaviors; next addressing the physical areas in your brain itself that are enhanced; next finding all the specific emotions linked with the thoughts; next addressing the anatomy of the brain; and finally addressing the nerve pathways that have been developed that are connecting all the affected parts of the brain that control both brain and organ / gland functions.

Now do you understand: to break an addiction takes an all out game plan to address all four areas? Without this plan, you will fail 99% of the time.

The mind
The mind is composed of the thoughts, beliefs systems, attitudes, opinions, and perceptions that one develops in early childhood, ages 0 to 6. What happens when a child is two years old and is introduced to candy, ice cream, cookies, or cake?

This is a sensory overload stimulus for the brain to handle. It has never had this stimulus before and wasn’t even built for this kind of stimulus — an overwhelming rush of unnatural sugar that we would never have seen in early child development before the food processing revolution that enabled us to concentrate foods artificially through chemical means. Remember we said the brain is plastic — the term is “plasticity”, meaning adaptable to the environment. So what happens to this two year old when you expose that child to an overwhelming, unnatural stimulus? Adaptation: the nervous system adapts to the stimulus by simply growing more neurons to develop a more efficient pathway within the brain going into the body. So where there was no pathway, you actually grow one; where there was no tree you actually grow a tree, and the more intense and regular your stimulus, the denser the tree grows. This is pure adaptation anatomy.

How can I have success breaking my addiction?
It starts with addressing thoughts that were written on the hard drive of the brain at that early age. What type of thoughts? It begins with an entire system based on the premise of good and bad. How do we program the child? “You’re a good girl and mommy wants to give you a reward for being so good!” This simple belief of a parent is what begins the addiction. The problem is when you tell children that they are good and get a reward for being good, they’re always trying to be good and get rewards, but this leads to unnatural motivation to seek the reward. In doing this, a new neurological pathway is created and the tree grows dense because of repeated stimulus causing repeated behavior.

How can you change this?
We have been setting people free from addictions for the last 40 years at Revolution New Medicine. We address these areas in extreme detail, and that is why people are set free.

1. You must find the underlying subconscious thought that developed the addiction. It is very specific, not general — it’s linked to activation of the motivation centers in the brain which we see with our brain imaging.

2. You must know the specific areas in the brain that either become overactive or underactive and address these with follow-up regular testing.

3. You must address the specific emotions that are linked with those subconscious mind programs. There are very specific emotions that indicate what thoughts and blockages are stored in the subconscious mind.

4. You must address the entire nerve pathway throughout the brain, going to the organs, glands, and tissues of the body and make sure these are all balanced once again.

When these four are accomplished, people are totally set free from all addictions, especially the strongest one, which is food.

The person who is set free is truly free, because new neurons have grown strong and dense while old pathways have atrophied and shrunk. No more will power necessary. You don’t even want the food that you used to be addicted to. It’s not even a slight temptation anymore. This freedom from addiction is for everyone because we were all created to be free without any blockages or bondages.

What would your life be like if you were free from all your addictions?

Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:

  1. Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
  2. Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
  3. Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
  4. Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.