Recovering from substance abuse requires all of the help and strength that you can get, internally and externally. This may come in the form of social support, emotional well being, or physical strength and each one of these affects another. More specifically, your diet and overall physical health can lead to depression, low energy, and other factors that can keep you from being successful in recovery. Proper nutrition and an overall holistic drug treatment program play a major role in giving any addict their best chance at recovery.
Nutrition Deficiencies & Substance Abuse
Specific effects each type of drug has on your body’s hunger and ability to process food can be typical and expected. In fact, a study published in pubmed.gov found that people with substance abuse disorders “typically suffer from nutritional deficiencies” which are connected with alcoholic myopathy, bone disorders, and mood disorders. However, the connection between nutrition and drug use may differ from one substance to another. For instance, long term alcohol use leads to soft stool and frequent diarrhea which can, in turn, lead to dehydration. On the other hand, opioids can lead to constipation and stimulants are often connected with malnutrition. Other common nutrition issues connected with substance abuse include:
- Low blood sugar
- Inability to absorb nutrients due to long term malnourishment.
- Compromised immune system
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Lack of appetite
- Damage to organs responsible for digestion and nutrient absorption
Nutrition & Detox
The physical toll that nutrition takes on a person’s body is why proper nutrition is critical during substance abuse treatment and soecifically the detox process. Most types of detox lead to withdrawal symptoms that include intense sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can cause severe dehydration. Additionally, the symptoms of withdrawal can cause severe fatigue. Proper nutrition included as a part of a detox center’s program can help boost your energy and mood, as well as decrease the overall time it takes to detox.
At a detox center, caregivers can help:
- prevent dehydration by encouraging you to drink water or by administering IV fluids,
- provide foods that are lighter and easier to digest (such as Jell-O, soup, and crackers),
- administer supplements to avoid vitamin deficiencies,
- encourage the consumption of high fiber foods that counteract constipation,
- introduce meal routines that encourage an overall healthy relationship with food.
Nutrition & Long-term Addiction Recovery
In terms of time, detox is a small part of your journey and recovering addicts need to acknowledge how nutrition can affect their sobriety in the long term. As mentioned previously, a healthy diet and nutrition intake can help your body mentally and physically, making you stronger maintain your sobriety somewhat easier. Once you have detoxed and you are working through the following steps of recovery, here are a few nutritional and dietary tips to remember:
- Eat foods that are composed of complex carbs, high in vitamins and minerals, high in fiber, and have low amounts of sugar. Hint: this includes vegetables, lentils, beans, and some grains.
- Get lots of protein in your diet. Consider eating more fish, chicken, turkey, beans, lentils and other foods that are low in fat and high in protein.
- Consider using supplements to get a solid vitamin and mineral intake. Talk to your doctor to determine which supplements could help you best.
- Maintain the meal schedule established during detox to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
- Drink lots of water!
As a part of the holistic drug treatment programs at Level Up Lake Worth, we help our clients maintain a healthy diet during treatment, as well as providing guidance for after treatment. One of the benefits of recovery through a substance abuse treatment program is that you don’t have to worry about finding the best thing to eat to keep your mind and body in the right place for long term sobriety.