The chili addiction: Why former addicts are turning to spicy foods

It’s tough to break an addiction, but former addicts are sometimes able to replace that “artificial” addiction with something that gives a more natural high.

Call it a chili addiction. Part of it has to do with the thrill of trying something not everyone can handle. The other part may have to do with replacing the old cravings with a new, healthier buzz.

It takes guts to try the world’s spiciest peppers, and that’s why thrill seekers find seriously spicy food so exciting.

Extremely hot peppers obviously aren’t the same as drugs, but they can give you a “thrill” without turning to something illegal. Like drugs and alcohol, some people turn to spicy foods for instant satisfaction.

In fact, the feeling you get when you eat extremely spicy food can almost mimic the high from drugs and alcohol. Your head may start to feel a little buzzy and you may even feel a bit numb. When you consume capsaicin, the hot compound found in chili peppers, you instantly start to feel a burning in your mouth and sometimes even numbness throughout the rest of your body. When this happens your brain releases endorphins. Think of it like the feeling you might get if your ran a marathon, with no exercise required.

People who’ve battled addiction in the past are also told how important it is to adapt to a healthier lifestyle. While doing drugs in the past may have led to binge-eating junk food, the idea now is to replace those cravings with healthier options. Topping off healthy food choices with hot sauce or cayenne pepper can help replace the need for junk food, and lead to a more natural high. While climbing the heat scale isn’t entirely the answer to fighting addiction, it can possibly help fill the void with something healthier and, of course, less dangerous.

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