Addiction to the illicit, prescribed and alcohol is an alarming public health issue. Did you know that heavy drinking and drug use leads to big shortages in the nutrients you get? Studies on addictive disorders have demonstrated severe nutritional deficiencies among alcohol and drug abusers with behavioral, physiological and cognitive symptoms. Substance abuse generally leads to a lack of proper nutrition, either as a result of not eating enough throughout the day or eating foods that are low in necessary nutrients. The intake of alcohol and other drugs cause significant damage to health, increase mortality and morbidity and make a poor quality of life. Abusers of alcohol and other drugs also consume less than the minimum amount of vegetable, fruit and grains recommended by the food pyramid and are more eager to have sweets.
Harmful lifestyles often are associated with addiction, such as poor eating patterns and nutrition, lack of exercise, and changes in sleep patterns. These compounding factors result in an increased risk of long-term health problems, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, weight problems, and eating disorders. Months or years of extreme drug or alcohol abuse combined with a poor diet will take a toll on the body.
Nutrition also plays important role in the process of recovery and survival of an individual, such as in HIV infection which endangers nutritional status until it may produce malnutrition. An efficient nutritional intervention among drug addicts during treatment could decrease their nutritional deficiencies and subsequently, boost up their ability to grasp the addition tools needed for long term recovery.
Persistent drug or alcohol abuse and lack of food will quickly lead to malnutrition, which can manifest in ways, such as:
- Low body temperature
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Heart rate inconsistencies
- Suppressed immune system
- Cognitive impairment
- Muscle degeneration
- Vitamin deficiencies
Nutrition plays the same key role in maintaining recovery while also improving the resulting health conditions and deficiencies. Proper diet can…
- reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol,
- stabilize mood and reduce stress,
- encourage self-care and a healthful lifestyle, and
- address medical conditions that are co-occurring or have resulted from substance abuse.
It’s a simple fact, when your body gets all the nutrients it needs, your mental and physical health improve. Your body starts to heal, your mood balances out, and your stress drops. All these changes can help lessen your desire to crave alcohol and other drugs.
Proper nutrition and hydration is key ingredient to the substance abuse healing process because they help restore physical and mental health and improve the chance of recovery. Macro- and micronutrient deficiencies can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and low energy, all of which can lead someone to start using drugs or alcohol or trigger a relapse.
The body needs a variety of foods to recover and maintain healthy balance. While carbohydrates are great for a short-term burst of energy, the body also needs proteins and healthy fats to preserve for later use. Maintaining a balanced diet is key to creating a healthy lifestyle in addiction recovery.
The Augustine Recovery Center is committed to providing the healthiest diet possible for optimal recovery and physical prowess. We keep processed foods to a minimum, and strictly limit white flour and refined sugars. These have proven to be problematic and addictive to those who eat them. The Augustine provides fresh, whole foods to fuel the body during early recovery. Daily diet also consists of fruits and vegetables, some grown in our own garden.
Click here to learn more about our approach to nutrition.
David A. Cunningham LADACII, NCACI, CADC, QCS
Director of Development