West Coast Symposium

West Coast Symposium in La Quinta, CA from June 2-5, 2016

The West Coast Symposium is one of the funnest addiction conferences of the year. Most private sector addiction treatment centers in Southern California will have some form of representation there! David Wiss MS RDN, Founder of Nutrition in Recovery will be speaking on Saturday June 4th at 10:45am. View the full agenda HERE.

Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain

1. Discuss the impact of addictive substances on nutritional status
2. Explore disordered and dysfunctional eating patterns in addicted populations
3. Propose nutrition therapy guidelines for specific substances and for poly-substance abuse

Reflections from David Wiss

When I first began to investigate the connection between nutrition and substance abuse back in graduate school, my primary findings were that substance abuse was associated with malnourishment. This was obvious and made lots of sense. I then began to wonder if specific substances caused specific deficiencies. I quickly realized that this research had not been done, since substance abuse can cause primary malnourishment (from not eating properly) and second malnourishment (from altering health) and it is virtually impossible to control for primary malnourishment (for research purposes). There was established evidence that alcohol caused deficiencies of thiamine and some other vitamins, through mechanisms such as decreased absorption (altered gut health) and increased utilization (altered metabolism). But there was little to no evidence for illegal drugs, since it is unethical and quite expensive to conduct prospective studies, not to mention poor patient follow-up in this population. So all of the drug-induced malnourishment studies were retrospective and under-powered.
Originally I hypothesized that addressing nutritional deficiencies would improve treatment outcomes. While I still believe in the importance of this today and would love to see some fresh data collected, in recent years I have shifted my attention away from nutritional deficiencies and towards eating behavior and food preferences. The reason for this is because it is easy to address nutritional deficiencies with dietary supplements. The challenge is addressing the cause of the nutrition deficiencies in the first place, which is the addiction and the associated eating behaviors. In other words, giving addicts nutritional supplements and then allowing to eat the way they have been eating will eventually re-create the malnourishment. So how do we help people in recovery get a new relationship to food?
Nutrition therapy guidelines for specific substances can be found in a chapter from an academic textbook written by myself and Therese Waterhous which is available for purchase online HERE. If you really want a copy, email me and I will send it to you 🙂
My first obsession was on Food Addiction, as this research began to explode once the Yale Food Addiction Scale had been validated in 2008. An archived webinar on Food Addiction through the Los Angeles District of California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can be purchased HERE.
My next obsession was on hormones. I had to figure out how hormones (leptin, insulin, ghrelin) interacts with addictions and eating behavior. A recorded webinar on this fascinating topic can be viewed HERE.
My latest obsession has been on the microbiome. This was the missing piece to the puzzle. It turns out that the gut is the second brain and many neurotransmitters have an intestinal source. Turns out that bacteria that live inside of us can influence our eating preferences and eating behavior! Most of the research is on animal models, but a comprehensive recorded webinar can be watched HERE. 
Bringing all of this information together, I have created the June 2016 version of “Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain” and I am making my slides available for viewing. This is a special share for everyone at the West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders! Enjoy!

Dr. David Wiss became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in 2013 and founded Nutrition in Recovery, a group practice of RDNs specializing in treating eating and substance use disorders. In 2017, David received the “Excellence in Practice” award at the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the “Emerging Dietetic Leader Award” in 2020. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in the Community Health Sciences department (with a minor in Health Psychology) by investigating the links between adverse childhood experiences and various mental health outcomes among socially disadvantaged men. His treatment philosophy is based on a biopsychosocial model which incorporates an understanding of biological mechanisms, psychological underpinnings, and contextual factors that integrate the social determinants of health. Wise Mind Nutrition is an app-based interactive treatment program available for download now - https://wisemindnutrition.com/download.

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