My skin and menstrual cycle were affected by Nzu, which is eating salted kaolin clay (geophagia). A lot of people reached out to me after reading the article I wrote on how nzu affected my skin and menstrual cycle and asked me how I was able to stop nzu addiction because they were also struggling, which is why I shared this article and I urge everyone to read it.
You will be surprised at the number of people struggling with this habit, and, sadly, no awareness is being created to help reduce clay addiction. For people who do not know what nzu is, it is an edible clay that is eaten by people from different parts of the world. I used to believe that nzu was mostly eaten in Nigeria, but this is not the case. In Nigeria, it is known by different names depending on the tribe, such as ndom in Efik/Ibibio and eko in Bini/Edo, and it is also known as calabash chalk. Generally, this is edible clay.Let's dive into how to stop nzu addiction. Nzu addiction is very prevalent in Africa and other countries. In Nigeria, it is overlooked because nzu isn't categorized as a hard drug, and with the state of the country, a lot of health issues are overlooked.
In this article we will focus on how to break out of nzu addiction, and in another article, I will talk about the harm nzu causes to your entire body. I'm being as honest as I can to give you a more imaginative insight into how it starts and how it can be stopped.
A lot of young men, girls, children, and pregnant women eat clay, and there has been research stating that clay is beneficial to your health, which isn't true. It's very contradictory in my opinion. I don't think this study was done right because it didn't state that the amount of nzu you take matters. It also didn't talk about how addictive nzu is, what its side effects are, or how it can harm your health.Nzu addiction, or clay-eating addiction, for many Nigerians is inherited. For me, it started from going on errands to buy edible clay for my sister and also seeing them eating it. For most kids, it's their pregnant mum eating clay during pregnancy or seeing their mum and aunties, even uncles, eat clay. A lot of people saw people around them eating nzu and thought it was OK to do the same. This addiction also includes people with Pica, an eating disorder that causes them to eat things that don't have any nutritional value, like dirt, chalk, hair, paper, etc.
I started eating nzu at a very young age. If I remember correctly, I was about 6 years old, and I had a friend whose mom was addicted to eating clay (nzu) and bought it in large quantities. She threw the ones she didn't like on the field in front of her house, and since we were neighbours and I was friends with her daughter, we would both go and look for them and eat them all. I started going there regularly and grew up eating nzu.
As I entered secondary school and began living in a boarding house, I began asking the day students who were coming from their homes to help me buy edible clay almost every week. We all sat down to eat the nzu together when we had free time or were at the hostel. I had friends I made just because they brought nzu to school. I also started buying it myself because my father always gave me pocket money. I finished secondary school with a severe craving or a second stage of nzu addiction, and when I went to university outside Nigeria, then the main addictive cravings kicked in.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Nzu Addiction?
I started adding nzu into my food, especially jollof rice. When my food is hot and steamy, I dish it and put the nzu under the food to allow the hot steam to heat the clay and give me the nzu aroma mixed with jollof. The smell of the clay was so satisfying to me. I will eat nzu and then drink very chilled iced water or hot coffee. At this point, I had a limited supply of nzu, but whenever somebody gives me nzu, I get really happy and protect it like it was a precious stone. I am not exaggerating.
I started getting advice from friends, telling me how bad nzu is. Sometimes I take them, sometimes I just continue. I also lied to them, saying I had stopped but was still taking it. But at this point, I knew something was wrong because it got to the point that I would just sit, and I would start perceiving the smell of nzu. My brain was recreating that smell and I will just want to have it immediately. I decided to stop, and here is how I was able to achieve that.
Stopping completely isn't possible or the best line of action towards quitting addiction completely.
1. Self-awareness also plays a role in stopping nzu addiction. You need to identify the problem and acknowledge that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Sometimes being intentional also plays a great role. You cannot stop unless you act and work towards stopping. You need to push yourself and understand that clay doesn't make the rules, you do.
2. When I eat clay (nzu), I swallow all the clay, but when I tried to stop, my first line of action was to start licking it and throw the clay away. I was getting a taste but not swallowing the clay. I mean, chew the clay to get the taste, but do not swallow it. Spit out the clay after getting a taste of it. This is the first line of action to quit.
3. Stay away from triggers. This might sound so funny or unbelievable, but there are nzu triggers around you. For me, it was the smell of a burning dry fire, ash, marble walls, new buildings or brick/block making sites, burnt firewood, iced water, roasted groundnuts, cement and chalk. I will update this article if I remember anything else.
4. Stop buying Nzu in large quantities. The truth is that as soon as you buy the edible clay in a large quantity, you have a high tendency to eat all of it in one sitting. Most of the time, I tell myself that I will just eat one and then stop, but the fact that it is available for consumption at home puts me on the path to failure because I will go and take another one, saying it is the last one, and another one, and another one, and more, and won't stop until the nzu is finished. The reason is that when you start eating the clay, you do not get the full satisfaction after eating one, which makes you eat another one to quench your craving but buying it in a small quantity restricts you from eating more because you only eat the small amount you bought.
People who have a clay (nzu) addiction will agree with me that when you eat or lick nzu, you do not taste clay. You get an undertone of a milky taste that is both dry and creamy. I am already laughing as I am writing this post because of how detailed it is, but the truth is that buying nzu in bulk makes you eat more. By reducing the quantity, you buy, you have a tendency to eat fewer pieces because, after what you have is finished, you won't have any left to eat. As a result, you will be able to reduce the amount of nzu you consume on a daily basis.5. Now that you have reduced the quality of Nzu you used to buy, you will need to set a reasonable target. When you hear the word "set your goals," it applies to everything in this world. If you always take it every day, then set a target to eat it less.
Below is a practical table to help you reduce your Nzu intake weekly.
You may be surprised that people take a lot of clay daily, so I will start with the highest number possible. You may fall on a lower scale; follow the table to reduce your nzu intake. For example, if you take 10 pieces of Nzu per day, then you might start by reducing it to a number below 10 per day by following the table below.
6. Don't be too hard on yourself while following the above table. Take it as slowly as you can. Rushing into stopping addiction is more like giving your brain a heavy task that will only last for a while before you become immersed in it again. The reason why you take it step by step is to enable your brain/body to step down easily and not to attack back aggressively. Let me briefly explain how addiction happens and how people get addicted so you can understand what I am trying to say. Meanwhile, just to let you know, I am a medical doctor, and addiction doesn't respect any profession.
How does addiction occur?
In your brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex (see illustration). Neuroscientists call the nucleus accumbens the brain's pleasure center because the release of dopamine in that part of the brain is always linked to pleasure. As you keep eating clay (nzu), dopamine is being released. The feeling you get while eating nzu is satisfying, making the release of dopamine intensify as you take more. Addictive substances provide a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine. The hippocampus remembers this quick feeling of satisfaction, and the amygdala makes a response to certain stimuli that are conditioned.
Dopamine plays a role in memory and learning, two processes that are essential in the transformation from liking something to becoming addicted to it. It also contributes to the experience of pleasure.The brain reward centre
7. Knowledge is power. Knowing the effect of eating clay might also help you reduce the intake. I will dedicate a post to just the side effects of eating clay (nzu) and how it affects your entire body. Most people do not know that nzu (salted kaolin clay) causes harm to their bodies. The only information they have about it is that it is a traditional substance that is eaten to satisfy their cravings. Getting people to know the harm eating clay can cause will help some people quit or stay away from a high intake of nzu. Find out the effect nzu has on human health.
8. Do not be afraid to fail. Strive to stand and continue. What I mean is that when you start trying to get off of nzu eating addiction, even if you go months without taking it, you may relapse; don't be afraid to restart your journey.
Finally, I will urge you to always talk to someone about your clay addiction. This has contributed to very serious health issues in women in particular, and it needs to stop. I understand the desire to eat nzu during pregnancy but staying healthy is priceless. Like I said before, there are no regulations for clay (nzu) intake, and it is sold openly and widely accepted. Don't let that fool you into thinking it's safe to continue eating it. It is an unhealthy, addictive substance that can cause great damage to your health. Nzu, like marijuana and other hard drugs, is not healthy. The only difference is that you don't get high. Nzu causes harm to your body by creating long-term health conditions.
Take care of yourself in the best way you can. Eat healthy and abstain from unhealthy substances. Nzu addiction is real, and we have to start creating awareness because even kids are addicted. Let's strive to be better each day and remember that the journey isn't supposed to be so smooth without falls and turbulence but aim for the goal and make the journey worth the effort.
I would like to hear your views about clay (nzu) addiction in the comment box below. If you have experienced it or are experiencing it, and if you have practical solutions to help people struggling with clay addiction.