How Addictive Is Sugar?

Icing Sugar
Marching down the left-hand side of the homepage at My Addiction, there is a list of nearly 30 possible addictions. Sugar addiction is not lumped in with food addiction or eating disorders. No, sugar addiction is in a category all its own. And if there is one single substance that correlates with childhood obesity, sugar is that substance. Last time we asked, “How Evil is Sugar? The answer is: very. Now, researchers are even connecting sugar with cancer. That’s about as evil as a substance can get.

When considering the evilness of substances, “addictive” is as bad as “carcinogenic.” Or, if you’re not convinced that all the votes are in yet on the cancer thing, “addictive” is also as dangerous and undesirable as morbid obesity or diabetes (and a person doesn’t even have to be overweight to be diabetic!).

So. Sugar. Of course, “health nuts” and other weirdos have been sounding the alarm about it for decades. The way these things usually work is, first the public in Hollywood gets upset about something. Californians in general, and the film industry people in particular, have a reputation for discovering new wonders and terrors.

Or maybe it’s New York that alerts to a new idea first. And then, years later, the effects reach out into middle America. Of course, with electronic communications, everything happens much faster now. Still, it has taken an awfully long time for the pioneering sugar foes to be taken seriously.

Sugar addiction is a serious concern” was written by psychiatrist and addiction specialist Dr. Joel Rice, of La Grande, Oregon. There are only about 12,000 people in this town, but it has an addiction specialist. Maybe more than one. Of course, La Grande is known as “The Hub of Northeast Oregon,” and is the home of Eastern Oregon University. And… it used to have a sugar beet processing factory, which didn’t work out, and had closed before 10 years had gone by. This happened more than a century ago, but the regret seems to have been long-lasting.

Businesswise, the enterprise was a mistake, and you get the feeling that the collective psyche of the citizenry was somehow damaged. But now, it turns out there is plenty of reason to be proud of not manufacturing sugar. To be the non-producer of a dangerous, addictive substance is something a town can hold up its head about.

Dr. Rice provides a ton of facts and statistics, including the dismal prospect of an American adult population that is 85% overweight by the time the year 2030 rolls around. He not only confirms the reality of food addiction, but names it the most common of all addictions. He says,

One of the lessons learned by investigators of addiction treatment is that it is not an individual process. It takes a group. It also takes a high degree of honesty. It takes a willingness to deal with spiritual issues such as the struggle between gratitude and resentment. It takes daily focus and meditation. It takes compassion and a willingness to help others. It takes a relinquishing of individual ego and an embracing of a higher calling above individual ego.

And what food is so notoriously addictive that it resembles cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ketamine? Dr. Rice says,

The most commonly used white drug with the greatest cost to society is none other than ordinary sugar, available without control at grocery and convenience stores.

The photo on this page, by the way, is titled “Icing Sugar.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Sugar addiction is serious concern,” La Grande Observer, 11/10/10
Image by masochismtango (Tom Godber), used under its Creative Commons license.


  1. I hope you’re a reader of Stephan Guyenet’s Whole Health Source blog at He’s being doing a series on the food reward system and how modern processed foods override our normal appetite systems. Nicely fits in with addiction theories.

  2. I gave up sugar 12 months ago .. the first 8 weeks were terrible, but the result of sticking through it was my blood pressure dropped so that I am now only taking 2 blood pressure meds instead of 6, my cholesterol dropped from 12 to 4 and my blood sugars dropped from 9 to 6

  3. I think people who are suffering from sugar addiction ought to see a SugarAddictionSpecialist. Although they can try to do things on their own to lessen their sugar consumption; the specialist, on the other hand, may be able to give a better assessment of things.

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