Did you know that 21.7 million people need substance abuse treatment every year?
For those entering addiction recovery care, their primary concern is withdrawal. Getting through the detox process and finding tools to manage their addiction take precedence over everything else—including nutrition.
But the truth is that there’s a vital link between nutrition and addiction recovery. In this post, we’ll explore that connection and provide some helpful tips for anyone going through the addiction recovery process.
Read on to learn more!
Nutrition and Substance Abuse: What’s the Connection?
The direct effects of drug abuse are well-known, like liver damage from alcohol or brain damage from meth. But did you know that long-term addiction can also take its toll in more subtle ways?
Many who abuse drugs prioritize their addiction, leaving proper nutrition to fall by the wayside. Some substances suppress appetite, making users go days without eating anything. Others increase appetite, leading to overeating or binge eating.
The results of these poor dietary choices can include:
- Low blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Damage and inflammation in the digestive tract
When the body doesn’t get the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids it needs, health problems will quickly compound. For that reason, any addiction recovery care program should include addressing nutritional deficiencies.
Nutrition and Addiction Recovery: Helpful Tips
Loss of appetite is one of the most common drug withdrawal symptoms—not exactly helpful when you’re trying to boost your nutrition. The detox process can also cause nausea and decreased appetite.
If it’s difficult to eat a solid meal while detoxing, you can still get the nutrients you need from smoothies or protein shakes. Your counselors might also prescribe supplements to help with any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Others find that substance abuse disrupts their digestive system so much that they no longer recognize what hunger “feels” like. Some might even mistake hunger for substance cravings. To get your metabolism back on track, try to stick to 3 meals a day (even if they’re small), along with a few healthful snacks.
Constipation could be problematic during the recovery process. If that’s the case, add more soluble fiber to your diet with leafy greens, fresh fruits, and whole-grain products.
Another important tip: Those prone to addiction often replace one vice for another. While you’re on the road to recovery, make sure that food doesn’t fill the void that drugs or alcohol left behind. Otherwise, you could end up with a whole different set of health problems.
Read More: A List of Addictions: 5 Common Examples
Nutrition: A Vital Part of Addiction Recovery Care
Research has shown that proper nutrition is essential to any addiction recovery care routine. Those suffering from addiction often suffer from malnutrition and other diet-related health problems.
Use the tips above to ensure you (or your loved one) gets the proper nutrition to aid in the recovery process. Focus on reestablishing a healthy eating pattern that addresses nutritional deficiencies. Then you’ll be one step closer to making a full recovery.
Did you find this article helpful? Be sure to browse our other health-related posts for more great information.