How Healthy Eating Can Help You During Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery and Nutritional Health

While most people will agree that going through detox and allowing the body to rid itself of drugs and other contaminants is an integral part of substance abuse recovery, many fail to realize how consuming a healthy diet can further enhance their addiction recovery efforts. A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for everyone; however, it is even more critical when you’re trying to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Although prescription-based medication can ease severe withdrawal symptoms as you go through detox, a healthy, well-balanced diet can go a long way toward undoing some of the damaged caused by substance abuse. After all, studies show that while individuals are in the throes of addiction, they often make bad food choices or will go days and days without eating anything at all.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect Your Nutritional Health?

In addition to the short-term pleasurable effects associated with abusing drugs or alcohol, these substances can, over time, cause a significant amount of damage to the body, most of which is not immediately apparent until after an individual has stopped using. It is worth noting that chronic substance abuse in and of itself is enough to cause significant damage to the body; however, the damaging effects caused by these substances is further compounded by poor nutrition. That said, let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly abused drugs and how they can impact one’s health:

Opioids โ€“ Whether you have a problem with prescription-based or street-level opioids like heroin, for example, these drugs not only impact digestion but also your gastrointestinal system as a whole. Studies show that abusing opioids can decrease gastrointestinal activity, which, in turn, can lead to appetite loss and extreme constipation.

Alcohol โ€“ Few drugs can do more damage to bodily systems when consumed excessively than alcohol. Studies show that heavy drinking can cause the upper gastrointestinal tract, which consists of the esophagus and stomach, to become inflamed. Heavy drinking can also damage the pancreas and liver, which can make breaking down and absorbing nutrients very difficult. Of course, the damage does not stop there as long-term drinking has also been linked to the following health problems:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis

If you’re a long-term drinker and have decided to end your relationship with alcohol, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help reverse some of the damaging effects caused by alcohol and make your overall addiction recovery process that much easier.

Stimulants โ€“ Whether you have a problem with prescription-based stimulants or street-level stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines, for example, abusing stimulants can lead to dehydration, poor nutrition, and extreme weight loss. Similar to alcohol, if you have ended your relationship with stimulants, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help reverse some of the damaging effects caused by these drugs and make your overall addiction recovery process that much easier.

Rehab Facilities and Better Nutrition

When it comes to making positive changes like ending your relationship with drugs or alcohol, for example, improving your nutritional health should be part of that equation. That said, it is a good idea to work with a rehab facility that provides nutritional counseling. Nutritional counselors that can guide patients on how to make better food choices both in rehab and after they have returned home. During rehab, the nutritional counselor will work with patients to create a meal plan that addresses their physical needs as they go through detox. After the patient has completed detox, however, the meal plans will be aimed at addressing nutritional gaps and improving their overall health and wellbeing.

Overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol requires a multi-faceted approach that includes medication to help with severe withdrawals symptoms, access to substance abuse counselors, and nutritional counseling. It is important to note, however, that those who turn to addiction recovery treatment centers for help must be committed to changing their lives for the better for these programs to be effective.

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