Substance use disorder can significantly impact overall wellness, especially the many kinds of nutritional deficiencies that can occur. This leads to a depletion of vitamins, minerals, fats, essential amino acids, and much more that can cause both physical and mental health issues. An important part of optimizing recovery is ensuring that nutrition is up to par, focusing on a proper healthy diet that will help undo the damage that drugs have inflicted.
Addiction and Appetite
Addiction can affect the appetite and overall food intake in various ways. Some people may struggle with eating enough from day to day due to nausea, suppressed hunger, or simply forgetting to eat due to being under the influence. Others may suffer from malnourishment caused by skipping meals or only having access to unhealthy foods that lack sustenance, along with the body’s inability to absorb nutrients necessary for normal and regular bodily functions. All of this can eventually lead to organ damage, particularly to the liver, stomach lining, pancreas, intestines, and heart. The immune system also becomes very vulnerable, making people more susceptible to infection and illness.
Reset and Repair
Sometimes people in early recovery will notice a change in their appetites, causing them to taste foods differently or experience specific cravings that can be caused by stress, emotional grief, and other circumstances. While indulging in junk food can seem tempting, it’s best to avoid binge-eating behavior as a coping mechanism as the body is lacking in nutrients from healthy foods. A sudden influx of foods can cause weakened stomach lining to deteriorate further, or for malabsorption to cause uncomfortable digestion issues as a result. It’s recommended that those in recovery focus on eating balanced meals every day, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, and ensuring they avoid processed foods, especially those high in sugar and additives. Supplements are also encouraged, but a medical provider should be consulted before use, as there could be rare but known interactions with medications.
Recovery services can help refer patients to nutritionists or dietitians that can assemble meal plans and support for patients who are looking to improve their eating habits to enrich their recovery further. Many of these nutrition professionals also offer telehealth options that don’t require weekly appointments, but rather video or phone conference options for patients that are not able to fit more visits into their schedule along with outpatient counseling. Some of these services may be covered by insurance and can prove to be a vital part of ensuring long-term recovery and relapse prevention.
Improving nutrition can help patients feel better and encourage them to continue their path towards healing both body and mind. Along with healing internal damage caused to organs and tissues by substances, better nutrition will also improve overall mood and energy as well. With a more robust immune system, those in recovery will begin to feel a general better sense of wellness that can open up doors for more recovery enrichment and activities that may not have been possible before. Need more information? Feel free to contact us now!