In this health video you will learn how you can become addicted to mood altering drugs.
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Lyle Hurd: Dr. Cass, in your practice, you see a great number of individuals who have been, for one reason or another, become addicted to mood altering drugs. Can you tell us what you do to help that individual get stabilized and then on long term to take care of the kinds of things that created the need? Hyla Cass: Sure. That’s an excellent question. What happens is people are put on a mood altering drug; they’re put on an antidepressant, such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, whatever, and what happens is when they try to go off these drugs and it’s appropriate to go off them, you really don’t want to be on them your whole life. When they start to go off the drug, they’ll find they have what’s called discontinuation syndrome, which is, basically, like withdrawing from any drug. You know when you see heroin addicts going through all the terrible, the sweating, the stomach aches, and really nasty things they go through or cocaine addicts or any kind of addict. When they’re getting off a drug, what happens is the brain has already become accustomed to being a certain way, you take away the substance—and it can be also a prescription drug, when it’s written by a doctor; it could be a stimulant drug, Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, all of these things will alter your brain receptivity. And in order for your brain to get used to being off of the drug, you have to withdraw fairly slowly and what’s unfortunate is many physicians won’t do that. You know, they’ll tell someone, “Oh, you can just go off the drug” or take them off too quickly. And, of course, what happens is they begin to have symptoms and then the doctor will say, “See, told you, you shouldn’t go off that drug, you know, you really need it. You’re going to need it the rest of your life.” And I’ve heard this so many times from patients and it’s simply because it’s physiology. You know? If you take a mood altering substance for any length of time, changes your brain chemistry, changes how your receptors are working, and so you have to withdraw very, very slowly. Then, what I put it and this is the difference where the doctors who practice nutritional medicine are different is that I will put in some vitamins and amino acids and herbs that help bridge so that rather than depending on that drug, you begin to replace what’s missing and to reactivate the receptors using nutrients. And so what happens is the whole process becomes quicker. You know, it doesn’t take you as long to go off of the drug. Then, the other thing that happens is, for example, if somebody’s coming off of an SSRI, or serotonin reuptake inhibitor as I mentioned, Zoloft, Lexapro when they’re going off of that and I give them a serotonin enhancer, like 5-Hydroxytryptophan together with some B vitamins, that’s actually going to help make serotonin. So, not only is it going to help bridge that withdrawal, but when they are finally off of the drug, they may need to take that 5-Hydroxytryptophan because they may have their own predisposition. Everyone’s different, and some people just need more than others -- and that’ll take care of the initial problem so that they’re not going to need to be on a drug. They may need to be on this amino acid, 5-HTP, and they may need to be on vitamins either for the rest of their lives in some form or other, or at least for a certain amount of time, but that’s great. I mean, what you’re getting is something natural that the body is missing and needs. Lyle Hurd: Do you do consulting by. Do you do distance consulting? Hyla Cass: Not really, but what I can do is give people advice that they then can take to their own doctor and use it that way. I can’t really practice phone medicine, but I can certainly do some counseling and give them information. And I also have my books, Natural Highs, 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, Supplement Your Prescription, that contain a lot of this information. Lyle Hurd: So, either one of those books or www.drcass.com could be a good place to start. Hyla Cass: Yes.