Episode 115: Sugar Addiction

Today’s episode features a conversation with Mike Collins, founder of sugaraddiction.com and Chair of the Food Addiction Institute, an organization that is making headway informing the public about sugar addiction as a substance abuse disorder. Mike and I talked about the science of sugar addiction, the experience of detoxing from sugar, the necessity of abstinence, and the importance of a supportive community.  

Free Download of Mike’s Book “The Last Resort Sugar Detox Guide”

Link to Mike’s Private Facebook Group: The Sugar Detox and Sugar Addiction Daily Support Group


00:00 John S: This is episode 115 of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast.


00:23 John S: Today’s episode features a conversation with Mike Collins, founder of sugaraddiction.com and Chair of The Food Addiction Institute, an organization that is making headway informing the public about sugar addiction as a substance abuse disorder. Mike helped me more fully understand and appreciate sugar addiction as a serious life-threatening problem, and I think you’ll find this discussion both interesting and valuable.

00:49 John S: Hello, I’m here with Mike Collins. Mike is a recovered addict, who’s been sugar and flour free, I guess for 30 years. He’s the Chair of the Board for The Food Addiction Institute, and he’s a founder of sugaraddiction.com. Welcome, Mike.

01:05 Mike Collins: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me. I really… I’ve been watching you guys for a while, and I enjoy your stuff.

01:11 John S: Well, thank you. This is good for me, and I think it’s good for our listeners, as you know, in the recovery community, we’re so focused on our drug of choice that we forget the bigger picture. And I’ve talked to people in the past, Tommy Rosen, for one and Dr. Vera Tarman about the importance of diet and exercise, and I haven’t followed their advice yet, but I hope to. And I know that this is a serious subject, so I don’t want to make too much light of it, but I know that it’s so widespread the problem, that almost everybody can relate to it. Why don’t we start, Mike, if you don’t mind, giving us a little bit of background about you and how you recognized sugar addiction as a problem.

01:58 Mike Collins: Yeah, sure, no problem. I think there’s a saying around some of those rooms that I’m just a garden variety alcoholic addict kind of person, and I started like everyone else in my early days. My mom was a pretty good sugar junkie. She gained 60 pounds with my birth in a 105 pound frame and basically told me she ate mostly sugar products, and she had a stash, and I knew where it was. And I thought really at that point I was just a kid, or everyone, whatever. You could probably remember this, but we had unfettered access to the sugar bowl, alright? So we could just dump as much sugar on our Cheerios, or our corn flakes as we wanted, and if there wasn’t a half an inch of sugar at the bottom, we didn’t put enough sugar on it, so we just scoop it up with the milk.

02:46 John S: As a kid, some of my earliest memories actually are of pouring sugar on an already sugary cereal. [chuckle]

02:53 Mike Collins: Correct. Me too. Same thing. And we used to have sugar on butter sandwiches, sugar and butter sandwiches. That was like when we were… Yeah, see? It’s amazing that people actually concur with me when I say that there’s a great YouTube video out there with Eric Clapton, Ed Bradley of 60 minutes was interviewing him. He says, “Down at this Antigua Treatment Center, and they asked, “So, this addiction started with heroin, right Eric?” and he says, “No. Ed, it started with sugar.” And Ed looks at him with a quizzical look. He said, “Sugar?” He says, “Yeah, look, I was putting stuff and bread and butter, it’s the same thing, sugar and bread butter sandwiches in my mouth at six, trying to change my state.” And so I just evolved on, I was a big candy guy. My mother thought sugar was love for everyone. We had all kind of everything. Well, the anxiety of going to high school, and you can’t eat enough candy for that anxiety. So beer came into the picture. And then pot and then college, and I got sober at 28. I can spare you the gory details, but basically I got sober at 28. And after I got sober, I was like, I was gaining weight, and I was lethargic, and I was just really kind of… I used to drink 16 ounce Mountain Dews, like eight of them a day, right?

04:23 John S: Wow.

04:23 Mike Collins: And they used to call me “The Mountain Dew Man.” And that was on top of sugar and everything, and I tried to quit caffeine, I would just drink Seven Up with every meal. And so I was just obsessed with sugar. And basically, it was a simple substitution. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. I substitute one… Well, I take that back, because I was eating sugar while I was drinking too, and drugging. But yeah, so it was just a substitute. I just add… I just went to… Probably my gateway, I’ve listened to Tommy’s stuff too, and Vera’s stuff I know both of them. I’ve interviewed both of them, and it’s like it was my gateway drug originally, and it never changed, I never stopped using that product when I was using. The nights that I… Like on Monday and Tuesday night when I didn’t drink, man, I had a lot of sugar going on that night, right? And my father used to be like that too. He’d be drinking or we’d have a lot of ice cream Sundays the night he wasn’t drinking.

05:15 Mike Collins: So, yeah, I mean, it was just a simple substitute, and I realized it. And I started reading about it, and there wasn’t much out back then. There was a book called Sugar Blues, and Sugar Blues was about… There was a guy who was at a party one time, and he heard a voice from… He’s putting two lumps of sugar in his coffee, and the voice said, “I wouldn’t have that stuff in my house let alone my body.” He turned around, it was Gloria Swanson, the movie star. And he eventually married her. And this book came out in the early 80’s, and it was a really good book, and I just turned me around. I don’t know where I got the thing, and I just started studying it and I’ve been sugar-free ever since. So it’s been about over 30 years now.

06:02 John S: Okay, so how does a sugar addiction basically work?

06:07 John S: I mean physiologically.

06:09 Mike Collins: That’s a great question. And I think the advancement of science in the last five years has been so insane, so great, so rapid, that this is gonna get figured out pretty quickly. And it’s basically dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, norepinephrine, oxytocin. I mean all of these reward centers are hit. Primarily dopamine, but are hit by the drug and they are manipulated or their dopamine receptors are down-regulated after so much abuse. And they are just not working well because they’ve been manipulated manually by a substance. And this is the same substance to do with alcohol and cocaine and whatever. It’s the same thing you’re looking for. It’s not that cocaine that gives you the high or it’s not the… Whatever, it’s the amount of dopamine it pumps out of your glands. And that happens with sugar. It’s just a lower dose, takes a longer time to show to damage, but the buzz or just the amount of change in state, the little bit of lift in well-being is very powerful. Because it was meant to help us search out food and sex to survive as a species. And when you start playing with those things in your mind, manually, you end up with either addiction or dependency or whatever.

07:39 John S: I was wondering about that, if Sugar was actually something that’s even natural anyway for human beings to consume. I guess there would be fruit and so forth, but not the sugar that we eat now which is anomalous to everything I guess?

07:55 Mike Collins: Well, you’re bringing up an interesting evolutionary thing, and the way that I describe it best to folks is like… It’s not probably the best thing in the world, but the Indians in South America would chew the coca leaves and it’s not… They would get a little lift and whatever. But when you start to granulize it, it becomes a lot stronger, more powerful. And the same thing happened with sugar. And here’s the split, and this is where the science has been involving rapidly in the last five years, is that half the sugar molecule is fructose and half the sugar molecule is glucose. And glucose, theoretically, the brain runs on glucose the body needs it. There’s been some dispute with the Keto diet fame coming up and how the glucose is produced in the body and what is needed for. But let’s set that aside for a second, and just understand about the fructose. The research with the probably the most eminent researcher in the field today Dr. Robert Lustig has discovered that fructose, the the metabolic… He calls it… I guess he’s got a scientific name for it. But the bottom line is the… Oh he calls it the toxic metabolite is in the fructose.

09:05 Mike Collins: Now, he does not differentiate between the fructose in fruit and the fructose in granular form like the sugar. Like table sugar. And all of the other 50 or 80 names for sugar and dextrose and what have you. So, let’s extrapolate backwards now, let’s look at the fruit hybridized over 300 years. Forget about fruit juice. The body does not know the difference between a Coke and an orange juice. Literally no fiber. The hit on the liver from the fructose, it’s the fructose that causes fatty liver. Now we have fatty liver in children. This is ridiculous. This is an alcoholics disease and we have fat… They don’t drink alcohol. They’re six, eight, 10, 12, he’s… Dr. Lustig is actually taking livers out of 12-year-olds…

09:53 John S: Oh my God.

09:54 Mike Collins: Or taking gall bladders… Excuse me, out of 12 year-olds. I mean I think livers. I don’t know, I have to check that. But fact checked that one honest, but it’s really… He’s discovered that it does cause the fatty liver. And so let’s go backwards with the fruit. Let’s look at a Navel Orange. How does that fruit propagate with no seed?

10:14 John S: Okay.

10:15 Mike Collins: And when you look at a banana that’s 300… A banana that’s 300-years-old, it’s so much seeds in it you cannot eat it.

10:22 John S: Oh wow.

10:23 Mike Collins: And they would eat it. And the old little old crab apples you see in the wild, whatever. These are the things that we would eat or whatever… Animals would eat to spread the seeds around, and that’s once a year a tiny amount. And so now, fast forward 300 years, the sugar trade that made England and everything and here we have our body being pummeled with this stuff day in and day out. It’s just 300 years is only like five minutes in evolutionary time and our bodies just can’t handle it, to be honest. It’s the fructose not… And this is the science. This is the big deal right now, that it’s just really in the last year that these real discoveries about fructose are happening. And I asked Dr. Lustig point blank, I interviewed him on a Kick Sugar summit that we had. And I said, “Dr. Lustig, do you think… Do you think fructose could be a psychoactive drug?” And he didn’t even let me finish the question. He said to me, “Absolutely, and we have a lot of evidence for that.” So now we start adding that to the equation, right? The possibility that fructose is actually working in the same way that other drugs, “hard drugs”.

11:32 John S: Yeah.

11:34 Mike Collins: Sorry, I’m probably I did a little rant there. But…

11:36 John S: No, that’s really interesting and quite honestly I never stopped to think about… I’m probably like 90% of the people in recovery never stopping to think about, “It’s great that I’m not drinking, but how I’m eating too.” It can be really difficult because I have this feeling that if I were to get off of sugar, that I’m gonna have to start cooking [chuckle] Because I think that I eat a lot of these processed foods which probably are all full of sugar.

12:09 Mike Collins: Yeah, that is with the people I coach and work with that the big deal. They are just accustomed to quick and convenient. And 80%… I don’t know what’s 70 to 80% of the food products in the stores have sugar in them. And so if you don’t work the outside of the grocery and go to the meats and seafoods and vegetables and stuff, then you’re gonna end up with sugar regardless.

12:38 John S: When I was reading your book, too, I thought it was interesting that as a person detoxes from sugar that you feel hungry, but you say it’s not really… You’re not really hungry, you’re not really needing to eat. I guess, it’s just your body rebelling and demanding more sugar?

12:55 Mike Collins: Yeah, let’s talk delivery systems, okay. Alcohol co-ops the digestive system because it’s a liquid and so you drink it. But if you’re doing cocaine, you’re snorting it up your nose, and if you’re shooting heroin, you stick it into your veins. Well, sugar happens like alcohol to have co-opted the digested system as a delivery system. And once you get clean, and I use that word intentionally, once you get clean, you end up that that’s really just a symptom of withdrawal, that hunger that you’re feeling, the description of the vacantness in your stomach, the growling, the growling 100% goes away. This freaks people out a little bit. It’s like, “My stomach was growling so loud, you could hear it across the room.” That hasn’t happened in 30 years. My stomach doesn’t growl anymore. And so it really is weird how the body wants what it wants. It wants the dopamine hit. It’ll do whatever it’s got to do to get it. So, yeah, that’s a… You’re gonna have to cook, you’re gonna have to make sure… There’s an eternal vigilance to it…

14:07 John S: It becomes a lifestyle, doesn’t it?

14:11 Mike Collins: It does become.

14:12 John S: That what everything boils down to, even in recovery from drugs and alcohol, I think, it requires adopting a new lifestyle.

14:20 Mike Collins: Correct. And the problem is, John, is that the real bad part you don’t get arrested, you don’t wreck cars usually, but we’re seeing it now that the dose-dependent toxin ends up hurting you after 20 or 30 years, less sometimes. And it starts to manifest all kinds of disease and they’re starting to call Alzheimer’s, diabetes three and…

14:51 John S: So that’s interesting.

14:52 Mike Collins: It’s just kind of crazy that things that… The predictions in countries like Canada and the UK is that the metabolic syndrome, which is basically what sugar causes, is gonna crater the whole system. There’s no way that they can sustain it in the next 20 or 30 years, and that’s happening here, too. It’s just raising prices for insurance and what have you.

15:16 John S: So, is compulsive overeating generally related to sugar addiction? Or can those be two separate issues?

15:26 Mike Collins: So now this is a great question and it really, it’s really… There’s a controversy out there and I’ll try and sass it out as best I can and let the folks decide, is that in the eating disorders world, they don’t want to demonize one food. And I understand it. I don’t want to include binge eating there, but definitely anorexia and bulimia, they end up… They don’t want them to demonize one food yet they allow them to go to 12-step meetings where the most of the recovery meetings are about addiction kind of thing. But what I’m getting at here is that I believe in the… You mentioned the Food Addiction Institute, we are beginning to believe in, I know for sure, and some of the treatment centers owners on our board, and some of the PhDs and MDs on our board, this is actually a substance used to sort, And it’s no longer, in my view… Everybody’s got an opinion… It’s no longer an eating disorder issue, it’s not a nutrition issue, it’s a substance use disorder issue, and that some people like alcohol, some people are gonna drink and never think about it. They don’t become alcoholics. But in this scenario, there’s this button percentage of people and they think it’s somewhere around a third of people who cannot biochemically handle the sugar-flour products.

16:56 Mike Collins: Their body just wants more of it, maybe they learned it as a child, maybe it’s part nurture part nature, maybe it’s dopamine and your child, but who cares, who knows right now? Maybe they’ll figure that out in 20 years, but we have to realize that the people that have gotten clean and sober, the people who are now five and seven and 10 years and 20 years in with no flour and no sugar, they know they can’t have just one. There’s no moderation anymore, which identical I guess… Well, it’s identical to the folks who believe drugs and alcohol, they can’t have one, there’s no moderation program, for most people.

17:37 John S: So, the answer is abstinence?

17:39 Mike Collins: Correct.

17:39 John S: And the first time I ever heard about that was from Dr. Tarman when she was talking about her approach to food addiction and sugar addiction is abstinence, which I found surprising because I recall speaking with people that were going to OA and they would talk about how their big problem was that they couldn’t find abstinence, they had to figure out a way to eat with control. But I guess if you target specific foods that do trigger the dopamine, you can avoid those things and you can achieve abstinence from that.

18:13 Mike Collins: Yeah, so… And this is a good topic, I think, for the general scope of your podcast. And I become or trying to become… I’m not Ernie Coots or Bill White, but I’m trying to become an amateur anthropologist of the food programs and the people who are pioneers in this. And so in a way, they have a construct that you can name your own abstinence. It’s up to you. Well, about 25 years ago three groups spun out of OA and by accident, not really, but partially really from experience… And this is way before the science that we were just talking about. Nobody knew about dopamine or anything like that. But what they found is that when they practice abstinence, and that’s the Gray Sheeters, CEA how…

19:09 Mike Collins: And there’s four of them, actually: Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous, which are… They’re separate, it’s weird, but they’re separate. And Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is a very progressive organization that is, they’ve got good marketing in place. They’re really, actually, kind of ahead of the curve a little bit, but what I’m getting at here is that they do name your abstinence. And the people that are successful, say, “No flour, no sugar,” and then, some of them weigh and measure. I’m not a huge weigh-and-measure fan; that’s a long story. Separate, a little separate, but when people don’t use flour and sugar and adhere to that program and the rest of the 12-Step Program, all spirituality aside, and they go to meetings and whatever, then they lose a hundred pounds. They got a hundred-pound club in one of them. [chuckle] I can’t remember which one. They… The weight just comes off naturally. That’s happened in my practice as well. It’s not about the weight, it’s not about health… It’s not a health issue, it’s a substance use disorder. And by accident, or hook or crook, or by crowdsourcing, which is what I believe happened, in the church basements for 20 or 30 years, these four offshoot programs have really discovered… And the problem is, is they’re locked in anonymity for the general population.

20:23 John S: Let’s talk about how to get free from this. I’d like… I’m interested in knowing what the detox process is like, how long it takes, and then how to maintain abstinence, and the type of support… I know that you have a community on Facebook and through your website, if we could talk a little bit about that.

20:46 Mike Collins: Yeah. The founder of the Food Addiction Institute, Phil, he’s still around actually, he’s almost 80. He said, “This needs an inordinate amount of support.” And this is not a revelation to folks in recovery of any kind. They know that we tried by ourselves to do it… [chuckle] I tried for a long time, I’m sure you did too, to do it by yourself, right? It requires a lot of the support and meetings work or whatever, but it does… The popular thing in out there now is peer recovery, and that’s helping in our practice. But, to start from the beginning, people have to realize there’s actually withdrawals. There’s actually… You’re gonna have physical withdrawals. And what goes up must come down. If you have used this drug since childhood, to assuage hurt, or harmful, or upset feelings, then you’re going to need new practices: Yoga, meditation, call a friend, exercise, walking, whatever. You’re gonna need new self-care practices to help get through life’s regular stressors because a cookie’s not gonna be an option anymore or ice cream’s not gonna be an option at night anymore. You’re gonna have to figure out a way to get through it, and then, depending on your habit, and that’s what it is, depending on how much sugar you ingest in a day and how long you’ve been doing it, how down-regulated your dopamine receptors are, it’s a little nasty at the beginning.

22:27 Mike Collins: You just feel depressed, lethargy. You don’t need to go get SSRIs, you don’t need to go get… And I’m not prescribing for anyone as… Obviously, but I’m just saying, it takes a while for you to come back. They actually, the PAWS, the post-acute withdrawal symptom, I’m sure you’ve probably talked about on this show, is like it’s nasty. It takes a while, and you gotta eat right, and you got to hydrate right, and you got to get… You got to exercise and these things and do all of the other things to help you, like prepare your food and don’t get caught somewhere. You got to do all the logistical things. But, it’s very similar to drug and alcohol recovery, in that you have to be cognizant of your emotions, and once you connect the two, once you connect the emotions of your use, in other words, you used it when you’re upset, you used it when you’re angry, you used it when you’re down, you used it when you’re up, and once you figure that part out, and journal it out, then, you can get free of it, if you do the logistical part and eat right. Yeah, that’s the short version. [chuckle]

23:38 John S: Yeah. Can you talk about the… Your website and your Facebook group?

23:45 Mike Collins: Yeah, sure. I own the original sugaraddiction.com, I have for nine years. And I thought in the early days, John, that I could just put the information out there because it was heck, just sugar, right? It’s like, I could just put the information, so I had a beautiful course done up and videos and all this other stuff, and I sold some courses, but no one got… No one got off the sugar, and they… I mean, they did, they went back and forth, and then I started one-on-one coaching with folks, and I got a lot of success stories, because there was someone was accountable, they were accountable to it, right? And then, the group started because we do, now, we do group… Groups come in at the same time and usually monthly, not always, but usually monthly. And we do Zoom meetings on different nights of the week, which I’m trying to grow to as many as I can. But the most part, the magic part happens in the Facebook group is we got 24 hundred people in a Facebook group that they’re just supporting. They’re basically loving each other to recovery, and they’re getting hooked up and calling and messaging and they got their built their… We’ve helped them, through some education, build our own peer support group inside of Facebook. And that’s just simply because everyone’s on Facebook, as this evolves that hopefully will move off of Facebook, but for now it’s on Facebook. And…

25:14 John S: Is it one of those secret groups where someone has to let you in?

25:16 Mike Collins: It is.

25:17 John S: Okay.

25:17 Mike Collins: Correct, it is. You can’t get in. It’s a private group; it’s not a secret group, there’s a difference, but…

25:21 John S: Right. Oh, okay. I was confused by that. I know they got closed groups, secret groups…

25:26 Mike Collins: It is.

25:26 John S: I don’t know what a private group is. [chuckle]

25:28 Mike Collins: Private group, you can see it and people, I think, can see that you’re… Or maybe not, they can’t see that you’re in it. They can’t get in it. They can’t get in it. In a secret group, neither is the case, you have to… Someone has to tell you where how to get there.

25:40 John S: Exactly. Okay.

25:42 Mike Collins: And those are the ones that you see on the news all the time when somebody infiltrates them. [chuckle]

25:46 John S: Right, right, yeah. Yeah.

25:48 Mike Collins: Somebody infiltrates and they find it, they find out bad stuff is going on in there.

25:53 John S: Yeah. We have a secret group for AA Beyond Belief, but we don’t do anything bad in it.

25:57 Mike Collins: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah. It’s a… I believe, personally, that it’s… The technical part is, I think, mirror mirror neurons. But, I think that the reality is, it’s just a tribe, it’s a new tribe that’s… We’re kind of pioneers, even in alcohol and drugs a little bit. It’s not widely accepted in that the meetings, and the premise of your podcast and your group and everything is so exciting to me because the true statement of, “Take what you leave, and leave the rest,” is really not true because people want you to be spiritually oriented or whatever, but in reality it’s the community that’s the…

26:41 John S: It is.

26:41 Mike Collins: Is the game changer.

26:43 John S: It is.

26:43 Mike Collins: The community is what makes it all work. And in the Facebook, in the digital age, there is and already is replacements for physical meeting space. And strangely enough, and they have university studies that prove this, that these digital spaces, these digital groups help… I can’t… And who knows yet, if it helps as much as an in-person one. I’m gonna give you another anthropological story, which is very interesting, fascinating to me. I won’t name it, but I was at one of those four offshoot groups: The food addict groups. And it was the national business meeting, and they were had a 10-minute agenda item that they were going to can the phone meetings, they were gonna can the phone meetings because they believe that you need to be there in person. And there was, this is 9:00 AM, they’re just gonna get it over quick. By noon, there’s still lines at both microphones pro and con. Saying, “That’s ridiculous. These phone meetings saved my life. I never wouldn’t be… ” You know what I mean? And just think of… I think of it as the extension or the precursor, if you will, for the online stuff.

28:09 Mike Collins: And so, they ended up… It’s like almost the Republicans versus the Democrats. The conservative, older folks, older more time in the program folks, voted it out. And the crazy part is, it just moved… They all moved to another one of the groups that I described. The phone meetings still exist, just in another group. [laughter] It’s like, “What the heck? What did you accomplish?”

28:38 John S: It’s funny how recovery organizations are like that. They just…

28:42 Mike Collins: Yeah. Yeah. It was just a… I’ve been dying to tell that story because there only very few people who would get it, or a very few audience, for sure, would even make… It wouldn’t make any sense for them. Might be, at least, a little bit humorous. But yeah, it’s just… And so, we’re in a place in society, in evolution of recovery that things are a changing. And it’s dumb to just not experiment with them. Anyway, that’s…

29:11 John S: Absolutely.

29:12 Mike Collins: That’s the stuff that’s working now, and that… I call it, now, our magic sauce: It’s the community.

29:18 John S: Yeah. Well, that’s definitely what those of us who are agnostic/atheist believe because the whole higher power thing doesn’t work for us, but we do help each other, and I think that’s what we have in common with everybody, anyway. But, most of the people… The audience that listens to this podcast, they’re actually very interested in issues outside of just alcohol recovery. And I think that we’re… A lot of us are beginning to realize that there’s a lot more that we can do for our health than just abstain from our drug of choice, so it’s good information. Can we finish up by talking about the Food Addiction Institute? Can you let… I’m kind of interested in knowing what it does, what you do there?

30:06 Mike Collins: Yeah, absolutely. The Institute has been around since 2005. It’s mainly… It’s all volunteers, obviously, it’s a non-profit, but it’s a 501C non-profit. And our stated mission or goal is to A, get food addiction named to the DSM 5 or is it… It’ll actually be the 6, which is this diagnostic manual that they described…

30:33 John S: I didn’t know it wasn’t. I did not know it wasn’t.

30:36 Mike Collins: Right, no. It’s not in there.

30:37 John S: Wow.

30:38 Mike Collins: Just recently, named to the… And, I should circle back on this a little bit. Binge eating was named to the DSM 5. But food addiction, sugar addiction, for sure, but food addiction, in general, processed-food addiction is not… And treatment centers have tough time billing for it, so they… Because it’s not, theoretically, something that… Or one of isn’t recognized. That’s what one of the goals, and more than that, it’s the advocacy movement that exists in the world of drugs and alcohol, which I love. We spoke before we got on. The bigger names or faces and voices in recovery. There’s a bunch of different ones, one of which merged with a government institution or an old line one. Anyway, they’re very, very effective in reducing the stigma of drugs and alcohol, trying to eliminate the term addict and the term addiction and change it to substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder, and opioid use disorder, and these kinds of things. And I believe those things are very important. And in the food addiction world, nothing like this exists really.

31:54 Mike Collins: And I’m kind of an Internet guy, have been for a lot of years. And so I was brought in on the board, and then as the chair, to kind of bring us into that world. And to be the… To help the Institute and help the world of food addiction understand the concept, the construct, just like what we’ve been describing today, that you’ve been so kind to let me articulate. Is that this is, we believe, a substance use disorder and that abstinence is the answer, which flies a little in the face of even the people who are in the world of eating disorders and the big organizations and…

32:38 Mike Collins: And the nutritionists are the worst. I love them, but they really believe that people can’t… Some… They believe everyone and that can moderate the sugar and flour, or whatever, but we know for a fact, and in our meeting, whatever, we just know the success stories of people who tried for decades, then finally adapted abstinence and are living a recovery life. And so that’s the mission. Those are the missions to help further lower the stigma, get as much information out. As we grow, we’ve got a 40-page booklet that you can get there for help with food addictions, free. As the budget grows, we like to get the information out. But the other goals are stigma reduction and getting people to understand food addiction and sugar addiction.

33:31 John S: Yeah. Well, those are worthy goals, and I’m so glad that I had this opportunity to speak with you. I said the same thing to Tommy Rosen, years ago, when I spoke with him that, “This is gonna be a game changer for… ” But, I don’t know, I recognize, especially when we were talking at the very beginning of the podcast about my very earliest memories, very earliest memories are of sugar. Crazy. Anyway, gives you something to think about.

33:56 Mike Collins: Well, the crazy part, too, is that when people have withdrawals, they… Remember your using dreams, when you started to get sober and clean?

34:04 John S: Yeah.

34:05 Mike Collins: People have the same dreams with sugar.

34:07 John S: Yeah.

34:09 Mike Collins: It’s like, they were dreaming like they got 20 days in, and that they went on a binge, and then they wake up, and they’re so happy because they…

34:15 John S: I can believe it.

34:16 Mike Collins: They didn’t get high. [chuckle]

34:17 John S: Yeah. Well, is there anything else that we should touch on that I didn’t bring up?

34:22 Mike Collins: Well, I think you… [chuckle] I’d like to compliment you on this podcast and your openness to do this, and I’d kind of like to tie it to what we’re doing in that this is all an evolutionary process. And I believe we’re very, very early in the game for the sugar world, in adopting this. And how it’s all gonna play out is always interesting to me, in the next five years with the advancement of the science. And obviously, we’re all looking for a tipping point. We’re looking for like the tobacco litigation where basically a trillion dollar advertising campaign hit the market in the form of the coverage of the litigation. And so the food world is, if you look at it, I’m in it everyday, but if you study it a little bit, every health magazine out there has a sugar detox, and everybody’s talking about sugar addiction, and everybody’s talking about… But they’re, how should I put this? It’s like they’re patting you on the head, and they’re saying, “Oh, you got a little sugar addiction.” A little sugar addict… You know like, they’re like…

35:32 John S: Right.

35:32 Mike Collins: It’s just not taken seriously. Rodney Danger…

35:34 John S: It kills people. It kills people.

35:35 Mike Collins: It kills people, but it kills them slowly, right?

35:38 John S: Yeah.

35:38 Mike Collins: Rodney Dangerfield, you remember him, he had a tie, and he’d pull on his tie, and he’d say, “I get no respect.”

35:43 John S: Right.

35:44 Mike Collins: Sugar gets no respect as in processed food, sugar and flour with power, get no respect as a drug of abuse, and that part has to change.

35:56 John S: Yeah.

35:58 Mike Collins: And, however many podcasts that I got to go on, whatever, because I’ve seen the damage. Both my parents, I believe, died of this kind of malady, if you will. They didn’t die of old age, they died of things caused by sugar addiction.

36:17 John S: Yep.

36:18 Mike Collins: And so, it’s just… Yeah, and I’ve watched it up close, and it wasn’t fun.

36:23 John S: Yeah.

36:24 Mike Collins: That’s what I’m interested in. And I applaud you for getting it out, for you taking a stand in the community that you’re in, and, hopefully, folks will understand what we’re about, too.

36:35 John S: Okay. Thank you so much.


36:51 John S: Well, that concludes another episode of AA Beyond Belief. Thank you so much for listening. If you would like to support our site and podcast, there are a couple of ways you can help out. You can post a review on iTunes, hopefully a favorable one. And you can help us out financially by making either a recurring or one-time contribution either through our Patreon page at patreon.com/aabeyondbelief or through PayPal at paypal.me/aabeyondbelief.org. I would really appreciate any help that you could provide. Thank you so much for listening, everyone. I’ll be back again posting another episode next week.