The effects of alcohol and drug abuse on our bodies can be long-lasting. Recovering from substance use disorder after a carefully monitored detox is a process that requires attention to many different issues. One area of concern is addressing nutrition. Ensuring the body is getting proper nutrition is vital for helping the body and mind heal themselves and maintain health. Prolonged substance abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies from low levels of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and protein.
Causes of Poor Nutrition
Each individual may have a unique relationship with their nutrition when using drugs or alcohol. Below are some common ways that substance abuse may be interfering with a good diet and nutrition:
- Eating Poorly: Individuals with substance use disorder may prioritize their substance use over proper eating. Because of this, their diets can lack sustenance.
- Failing to Eat: Some people may have a suppressed appetite from the use of drugs or alcohol or simply forget to eat under the influence, which can cause malnourishment.
- Overeating: Excessive eating brought on by using certain substances can lead to being overweight, which can cause health conditions.
- Damage to Organs: Prolonged substance abuse can damage specific organs, such as the stomach lining, liver, pancreas, and intestines, which can lessen these organs’ ability to absorb and digest nutrients properly.
After Detox Care
When a person becomes stable after a medically supervised detox, addressing one’s nutrition with the patient is critical. A balanced diet can improve mood, health, and wellbeing, and it is vital to encourage a healthy diet for individuals in recovery. You will likely receive nutritional counseling or guidance specific to your dietary needs after treatment. A study on nutritional education in substance abuse treatment programs found that proper nutrition is an essential component that can enhance substance abuse treatment outcomes. Some tips to keep in mind that can help you achieve a healthy and lasting recovery include:
- Have Regular Mealtimes. Eating regular, smaller meals throughout the day can help keep blood sugar levels up while decreasing the cravings for unhealthy snacks in-between meals.
- Get Enough Protein. Making sure you eat enough protein and fiber can help you stay full and help maintain or build muscle that may have been weakened by malnutrition.
- Take Vitamins and Minerals. This may be helpful during recovery to restore any deficiencies. These may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C. However, talking with your physician first before this is essential.
- Avoid Processed Foods when Possible. Processed foods usually lack nutritional value and can have unhealthy fats. Eating healthier meals and snacks while getting more complex carbohydrates provides steady, long-lasting energy without spikes and crashes you may experience with simple carbs.
- Get Plenty of Exercise and Rest. Regular exercise can increase energy, boost your mood, alleviate cravings, and improve self-confidence.
- Stay Hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help those who are dehydrated from substance abuse. Consuming water with meals and in-between meals can also help you stay full longer.
- Monitor Your Sugar Intake. Some people in recovery from substance use disorder may experience cravings for sweets as they can trigger dopamine, a neurotransmitter also activated by some forms of drug use.
- Reduce Caffeine. Watching how much caffeine you intake is important in early recovery because too much can cause dehydration and appetite suppression.
- Seek Help. Regularly seeking guidance from counselors or support groups can help you stay on track towards a lasting and healthy recovery.
For some individuals in early recovery after detox, implementing another dramatic lifestyle change such as their diet can feel overwhelming. However, maintaining proper nutrition is crucial for a healthy recovery. This is why nutritionists and counselors can evaluate your nutritional needs and help you recognize any deficiencies while creating a plan to meet those needs. The ultimate goal is to provide a healthy, well-balanced diet.
If you feel as though it may be too much all at once, it may be helpful to adopt these routines gradually. Being honest with health professionals about what you are struggling with in your new routine can help them adjust and find the right strategies for you. Having adequate access to this nutrition education can provide insight to those seeking recovery regarding concerns that may be addressed after detoxing. Long-term recovery is a multi-faceted process that requires attention to mental and emotional healing and physical healing, such as through nutrition and exercise.
Prolonged alcohol and drug abuse can take a significant toll on the human body and mind. Recovery from this is a process that requires attention to many issues, one of them being nutrition. After detox, it is essential to heal the body just as much as the mind. Through a healthy and well-balanced diet, an individual in recovery can begin to regain strength and health after possibly experiencing malnutrition and dehydration. To support growth and wellbeing in all the other aspects of recovery, it is crucial to have strong physical health. If you are struggling with substance use disorder, or have questions about receiving treatment for you or someone you love, reach out to us at Alta Centers. We are a premier substance abuse treatment center located in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California. In addition to providing detoxification, treatment, recovery, and educational services, we provide quality and stability in a time of need. Call (888) 202-2583.