Nutrition and Recovery

Nutrition and Recovery

Articles, Australia, Education, International, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

Nutrition and Recovery – The traditional programs of recovery tend to emphasize healing of the mind and the spirit. While there is always some measure of care taken to ensure that people get enough to eat It is not always the case that treatment programs and even individuals in recovery take particular care with the kind of nutrition they need as they recover. Active addiction in itself does horrendous damage to physical bodies. Alcohol inhibits the break-down of nutrients and does damage to all the organ systems, not just the liver. Opiates tend to case gastro-intestinal problems. Withdrawal for these drugs can cause severe stomach problems which lead to a loss of nutrients. Amphetamines suppress appetite and people who have been using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs often come into treatment severely malnourished. What people eat during treatment and recovery can have everything to do with a healthy and full recovery. 

While vitamin regimens can be helpful, most doctors and other health care professionals agree that real food is the best way to re-establish the proper balance of nutrients in the body as one recovers form addiction. One of the difficulties in this is that people who are newly sober from any drug often crave fatty, processed foods with high sugar contents. These foods mimic the deficiencies they are experiencing. They provide immediate satisfaction without long-term benefit. And it is widely known that eating these kinds of foods is horrible for the body in the long run. But as one works to slay the demon of a life-threatening substance, it can be hard to say no to fatty sweet foods.

Nutrition and Recovery

Doctors recommend foods with less processed sugar. Natural food sugar levels actually stabilize moods for people in recovery. As they adjust to sobriety and the resulting mood swings that come with the depression and anxiety common in early recovery. A diet of low sugar foods will actually stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the craving for sugars. They will stabilize moods which lead to depression and anxiety. While it is tempting to indulge in donuts, they will actually complicate recovery over time.
Since so much a substance abuse causes break-down and damage to organ tissue, complex amino acids and proteins are the best prescription for recovery. These are often combined with supplements such a vitamin B-12 which stimulates tissue re-growth. Here again, this is not an invitation to pig-out on cheeseburgers. Healthy amounts of proteins in normal portions seem to work best. Vitamin B-12 will increase appetite but this is often a necessary part of early sobriety and recovery.

Nutrition and Recovery – All people in recovery, regardless of the substances they may have been using, are urged to cut down or eliminate processed and fatty foods. Junk food will actually impede recovery by causing harm to the body which is not all that different from substance abuse. Doctors generally agree on a program of “never hungry, never full.” This means to eat in moderation but never allow yourself to get hungry. It is a common-place that hunger itself can be a trigger for relapse. But over-indulging in food can become a road block to actual recovery. By maintaining a healthy balance of nutritious foods and guarding against over-indulgence in junk food, recovering addicts can aid their own recovery and help their bodies bounce back from years of abuse and neglect.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.
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