Is Sugar Addiction Worse than Alcoholism?
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Is Sugar Addiction Worse than Alcoholism?


addicted to candy(This post was originally published in May 2014.)

When I was a baby, my dad decided it was obviously an excellent idea to feed me Kool-Aid out of my baby bottle. I was a fairly miserable child, prone to constant antics and tantrums, and I didn’t like milk or water, so Kool-Aid was the next best thing, you know? Basically, it was the only thing I’d actually drink. My dad meant well and he didn’t mean to screw me up—he was just trying to keep me satiated and content—but I feel pretty damn sure that that Kool-Aid situation set the stage for what would soon become a lifelong, Incredible Raging No-Good Very Horrible Sugar Addiction Like Whooooooaaaaaa.

So I read this story, about Rosie O’Donnell’s battle with sugar and her struggle to eat healthy after getting bariatric surgery, with interest. Like me, Rosie wasn’t just addicted to any old sugar, she was addicted to candy. Swedish Fish, in her case. As she says, “Almost like how alcoholics can’t go into a bar. They want to grab the bottle, I want to do that with the Swedish Fish.”

Rosie, I feel the same about Swedish Fish, FWIW. But I feel that same special passion for, well, nearly anything gummy or sour or chewy or fruity…anything really obnoxiously, overpoweringly sweet, to be honest.

Also, let me admit upfront: sugar is my primary addiction. It’s not as sexy as drugs or alcohol, but it’s been my longest, biggest obsession, as well as the one that’s hardest for me to kick. Sure, sugar might have fewer consequences than my eventual addiction to alcohol, but…actually, maybe not. Sugar has been linked to everything from cancer to obesity to diabetes to general inflammation. It’s really, really, really not good for you. And it might be especially not good for you if you have a problem with booze.

The link between sugar and alcohol has been more than well-established. To sum it up, alcohol is sugar. Pretty much pure sugar, actually. And lots of alcoholics turn to the sweet stuff when they give up booze, because duh—it tastes amazing, gives a you an immediate natural rush (similar to getting f*cked up), and is pretty much the closest thing you can possibly get to booze without having actual booze.

I’ve tried to quit my sugar habit, like, 400 times over the past 10 years. At least once every 12 months, I make a grand attempt to either get rid of the stuff entirely or give up the refined white stuff (allowing myself to still have honey, agave, stevia, maple syrup, etc). It’s fine, while it lasts. It never ever lasts, because honestly, I don’t want it to. When I’m really honest with myself, I don’t know if I will ever ever be willing or able to give up sugar entirely.

I know this sounds insane and hyperbolic, but I honestly don’t know if I’d want to keep living if I couldn’t have sugar. I know. I know. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing, but it’s true. Sugar gives me more pure, straight-up pleasure than any other substance or thing in this world (not counting warm fuzzy stuff like love, animals, strong relationships, etc).

So you might just have to pry it from my cold dead hands. And I’m okay with that—at least for today.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.