What We Can All Do About Sugar Addiction … And Why We Might Want To.


he research is unequivocal: sugar is one of the most addictive substances on earth.1,2,3,4,5,6 But that’s just one of sugar’s issues:

Here’s a few more:

  • There is evidence that sucrose consumption activates the mesocorticolimbic system in a manner identical to substances of abuse.7
  • A strong and consistent relationship was found between high sugar consumption, in the form of sweets and chocolates and non-diet soft drinks, and involvement in peer violence and substance use among adolescents across 26 industrialized countries.8 Still another study documents associations between soft drink consumption and aggressive behavior among a quarter million adolescents across sixty-four different countries.9
  • Daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increases the incidence of anxiety in schoolkids,10 adults11 and seniors.12
  • High-glycemic (high-sugar) diets significantly increase depressive symptoms.13,14,15
  • Higher blood glucose levels and diets high in fructose increase the risk of dementia.16,17,18
  • Adolescents (in Boston public high schools) who consumed more than five cans of soft drinks/week were 9-15% more likely to have engaged in aggressive actions and significantly more likely to have carried a weapon.19
  • People addicted to gambling also tend to be addicted to sugar and have higher levels of anxiety.20

Studies have documented an association between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ADHD,21,22 and a plausible causative mechanism has been suggested: an overdriving of the same dopamine pathways involved in so many other forms of addiction, causing the same reactive desensitization of those pathways that we see in alcoholism, cocaine, methamphetamine or opioid addiction.23,24 In six southeast asian countries high soft-drink consumption among students correlates not only to a higher risk of being in physical confrontations but also alcoholism, suicide attempts and amphetamine use.25

And finally, a study comparing fruit juice consumption to sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) across eleven US states and the District of Columbia found a 26% greater prevalence of poor mental health among the SSB drinkers than the fruit juice imbibers.26

This new research speaks directly to my personal experience. Full disclosure: I’m a recovering sugarholic myself.

Four Hour Course

(recorded March 13, 2022)




  • Sugar’s role in history
  • Sugar’s role in emotional/cognitive development
  • Nutrient-based approaches allow gentle step-by-step paths towards more neuroprotective diets
  • Willpower gets a metabolic boost
  • Clinical pearls you can put to use immediately
  • Complex metabolic pathways made simple with story and metaphor

This Course Focuses on:

  • The historical context of sugar’s role in the development of western culture,
  • The impact of sugar addiction on psychological and physical health,
  • Peer-reviewed evidence documenting the addictive nature of sugar and its health impacts,
  • A simple nutrient-based approach to stopping sweet cravings.

Goals & Objectives:

Students who complete this course successfully will:

  • Be able to name and accurately describe how sugar creates addictions,
  • Be able to accurately describe at least three peer-reviewed studies documenting the impact of sugar on health,
  • Name three publicly available resources to which they can refer patients for education purposes and offer a critique of at least one of them.

Four Hour Course

(recorded March 13, 2022)




  • Sugar’s role in history
  • Sugar’s role in emotional/cognitive development
  • Nutrient-based approaches allow gentle step-by-step paths towards more neuroprotective diets
  • Willpower gets a metabolic boost
  • Clinical pearls you can put to use immediately
  • Complex metabolic pathways made simple with story and metaphor

Duane Law, L.Ac. is among the earliest acupuncturists licensed in the US. For forty years patients have been bringing him medical challenges unresponsive to conventional care and he’s been able to help nearly all of them.

Duane’s courses are known for being colorful, entertaining and loaded with evidence-based facts. He believes in teaching by telling stories and sharing personal anecdotes from his practice and his own self-care explorations. While the occasional data dump is inevitable in continuing ed courses he takes pains to ensure that all learning styles are accommodated.

Duane Law, L.Ac. has taught acupuncturists since the 1980s and has been a provider of continuing education for mental health professionals in California since 2000.

Duane is among the earliest acupuncturists licensed in the US. His clinical focus has been mental health issues and otherwise non-responsive medical challenges since 1982, with an emphasis on food awareness, nutrition and client education as interventions.

The Healing Sugar Addiction course meets the qualifications for 4 PDA points as required by NCCAOM.

Normally there are no refunds issued to enrollees after the course begins or once course materials are viewed or downloaded, except if you’re really annoyed for some reason get in touch and we’ll work things out to your satisfaction. The same applies to anyone with a grievance.

If you need special accommodations for any reason please let us know at the time of your enrollment in the course by sending me a message, texting or calling me at (310) 498-2777.

Course certificates for live course attendees will be provided by email within 48 hours at the end of the seminar. Asynchronous attendees viewing the webinar recording will be asked to pass a short quiz; the passing rate will be 70% correct and certificates for these students will be provided by email within 48 hours of completing the quiz. Asynchronous attendees seeking NCCAOM PDAs will also need to complete a worksheet.

Duane Law, L.Ac. (PCE 102132) is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs; and by NCCAOM (Provider #9140) to provide continuing education for acupuncturists.

Duane Law, L.Ac. maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content.

 1. Wiss DA, Avena N, Rada P. “Sugar Addiction: From Evolution to Revolution.Front Psychiatry. 2018 Nov 7;9:545.

 2. Ribeiro A, Igual-Perez MJ, Santos Silva E, Sokal EM. “Childhood Fructoholism and Fructoholic Liver Disease.Hepatol Commun. 2018 Nov 30;3(1):44-51.

 3. Olszewski PK, Wood EL, Klockars A, Levine AS. “Excessive Consumption of Sugar: an Insatiable Drive for Reward.” Curr Nutr Rep. 2019 Jun;8(2):120-128.

 4. Freeman CR, Zehra A, et al. “Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior.Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2018 Jun 1;23:2255-2266.

 5. Wei S, Hertle S, Spanagel R, Bilbao A. “NMDA Receptors in Accumbal D1 Neurons Influence Chronic Sugar Consumption and Relapse. eNeuro. 2021 May 17;8(3)

 6. Avena NM, Long KA, Hoebel BG. “Sugar-dependent rats show enhanced responding for sugar after abstinence: evidence of a sugar deprivation effect. Physiol Behav. 2005 Mar 16;84(3):359-62.

 7. Jacques A, Chaaya N, Beecher K, Ali SA, Belmer A, Bartlett S. “The impact of sugar consumption on stress driven, emotional and addictive behaviors. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Aug;103:178-199.

 8. Bruckau Z, Walsh SD. “Adolescents’ multiple and individual risk behaviors: Examining the link with excessive sugar consumption across 26 industrialized countries. Soc Sci Med. 2018 Nov;216:133-141.

 9. Shi Z, Malki A, Abdel-Salam G, Liu J, Zayed H. “Association between Soft Drink Consumption and Aggressive Behaviour among a Quarter Million Adolescents from 64 Countries Based on the Global School-Based Student Health Survey (GSHS). Nutrients. 2020 Mar 5;12(3):694.

10. Zahedi H, Kelishadi R, et al. “Association between junk food consumption and mental health in a national sample of Iranian children and adolescents: the CASPIAN-IV study.Nutrition. 2014 Nov-Dec;30(11-12):1391-7.

11. Kose J, Cheung A, Fezeu LK, et al. “A Comparison of Sugar Intake between Individuals with High and Low Trait Anxiety: Results from the NutriNet-Santé Study.Nutrients. 2021 Apr 30;13(5):1526.

12. Masana MF, Tyrovolas S, Kolia N, et al. “Dietary Patterns and Their Association with Anxiety Symptoms among Older Adults: The ATTICA Study.Nutrients. 2019 May 31;11(6):1250.

13. Breymeyer KL, Lampe JW, McGregor BA, Neuhouser ML. “Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight/obese healthy adults on high-and low-glycemic load experimental diets.” Appetite. 2016 Dec 1;107:253-259.

14. Knüppel A, Shipley MJ, Llewellyn CH, Brunner EJ. “Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study.Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 27;7(1):6287.

15. Hu D, Cheng L, Jiang W. “Sugar-sweetened beverages consumption and the risk of depression: A meta-analysis of observational studies.J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 15;245:348-355.

16. Crane PK, Walker R. “Glucose levels and risk of dementia.N Engl J Med. 2013 Aug 8;369(6):540-8.

17. Seneff S, Wainwright G, Mascitelli L. “Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: the detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet.Eur J Intern Med. 2011 Apr;22(2):134-40.

18. Lakhan SE, Kirchgessner A. “The emerging role of dietary fructose in obesity and cognitive decline.Nutr J. 2013 Aug 8;12:114,

19. Solnick SJ, Hemenway D. “The ‘Twinkie Defense’: the relationship between carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violence perpetration among Boston high school students.Inj Prev. 2012 Aug;18(4):259-63.

20. Chamberlain SR, A Redden S, Grant JE. “Calorie Intake and Gambling: Is Fat and Sugar Consumption ‘Impulsive’?J Gambl Stud. 2017 Sep;33(3):783-793.

21. Yu CJ, Du JC, et al. “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Is Adversely Associated with Childhood Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Jul 4;13(7).

22. Del-Ponte B, Quinte GC, Cruz S, Grellert M, Santos IS. “Dietary patterns and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A systematic review and meta-analysis.J Affect Disord. 2019 Apr 10;252:160-173.

23. Johnson RJ, Gold MS, et al. “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: is it time to reappraise the role of sugar consumption?Postgrad Med. 2011 Sep;123(5):39-49.

24. Blum K, Braverman ER, et al. “Reward deficiency syndrome: a biogenetic model for the diagnosis and treatment of impulsive, addictive, and compulsive behaviors.J Psychoactive Drugs. 2000 Nov;32 Suppl:i-iv, 1-112.

25. Freije SL, Senter CC, Avery AD, Hawes SE, Jones-Smith JC. “Association Between Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and 100% Fruit Juice With Poor Mental Health Among US Adults in 11 US States and the District of Columbia.Prev Chronic Dis. 2021 May 20;18:E51.

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