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Eating for heroin

July 1, 1993

Eating for heroin

By M.L. Simon

I think it is time to take a closer look at the biochemistry of heroin. Heroin is an opiate. Opiates are drugs that come from the opium poppy or are chemically similar to that drug. Included in that drug category are drugs such as opium, morphine, heroin, and synthetic analogs such as Demerol, Methadone and OxyContin. Drugs in this family are excellent pain relievers and can be, among those genetically disposed, highly addictive.

Here is what we know about the biochemistry of those drugs. They bond to the endorphin receptors in the brain and by doing so relieve pain and give a sense of euphoria. In other words, they make you feel good.

What is most interesting about the human body is that it will, under various circumstances, produce endorphins on its own. In other words, the human body is a drug factory. However, it is best to keep this fact a secret to stay on the right side of the law. We certainly don’t want police breaking down our doors at 3 a.m. just for feeling good.

So, just to be on the safe side, we need to find out under what circumstances the body produces these heroin-like substances, these endorphins. One relatively hard way to get the job done is to exercise. Hard, sustained exercise will cause copious endorphin production. This produces what is commonly known as “runner’s high.” In those so disposed, it produces exercise junkies. These are no different from heroin junkies except for the source of the chemicals that fill the endorphin receptors. I guess this would make exercise machines drug paraphernalia. Not to worry, so far they are not illegal.

What else can we do to produce endorphins? Sex produces them … in huge amounts. It is one of the reasons that people who have just had sex have very dopey looks on their faces. They are, in fact, doped up. Of course, there are the inevitable sex junkies who would rather make their drugs by sex rather than injecting them in a vein. At least there are no puncture wounds to give the sex addict away.

There are a number of other things you can do to get the body to produce endorphins, but I’d like to talk about the most popular among young and old, rich and poor, the well educated and the ignorant: eating.

What foods are especially good at promoting endorphin production? Sugar is one. The sugar high is well known as are the withdrawal symptoms when the sugar levels in the body decline. This gives rise to the well-known and widely remarked sugar addict. Another food type that is really good at promoting endorphin production is fat. This may be one of the reasons that our many fast food emporiums often provide the customer with a whole day’s worth of fat in one sitting. It makes the customer feel good and, like any junky, the customer keeps coming back for more when the food fix wears off. Another great food that really supercharges the endorphin system is chocolate. With its mix of sugar and fat, it really cranks endorphin production. This is very popular among chocolate makers because it produces chocolate addicts who keep coming back for their next fix. The fast food and candy companies really do take advantage of the addictiveness of food. Once they get you started, you really are hooked.

What does this tell us about how we regulate opiates in America?

Given the current popular understanding of addiction, a Big Mac equals a shot of smack.

This either points out the futility of the drug war, or the need to greatly expand it. Please don’t tell the DEA, because they may decide that controlling heroin is not enough to keep the so-called “drug epidemic” in check. You may soon have agents patrolling the parking lots of fast food joints looking for eaters. We will all have to be on the lookout for food snitches, and you may have to get a doctor’s prescription for a burger, shake, and fries. I suppose if it prevents one addiction, it is worth it. At least, that is what they tell us when heroin is involved.

It is almost enough to make you want to move to France.

M. L. Simon is an industrial controls engineer for Space-Time Productions and a Free Market Green (c) M. Simon – All rights reserved. Permission granted for one time use in a single periodical publication. Permission also granted for concurrent publication on the periodical’s Web site.

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