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Trading Drug Addiction for Food Addiction


Marissa kicked heroin, but picked up another addiction in the process: food.

“Basically, my story is one addiction to another,” said Marissa, 25, who chose not to use her real name for this story.

“I was an opiate and heroin addict and when I finally got clean, food was the next addiction to come into my life. I probably always had food addiction and binge-eating habits but the drugs kept me skinny,” she said.

Marissa’s story is tragically common. The similarity between food and drug addiction is the very reason why the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse announced it is expanding its focus beyond drugs, and into “behavioral addictions”—mainly, the murky waters of food addiction, which until recently had yet to gain momentum in the scientific community.

“The food addiction model, like that of substance addiction, describes the ways in which certain food properties or ingredients can produce addiction in individuals who are susceptible to their effects and who consume them in a manner that induces the addictive process (i.e., eating certain types of highly palatable, calorie-dense, and nutrient-poor food),” NCASA wrote in its report, Addressing Food Addiction: A Science-Based Approach to Policy, Practice and Research.

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