12 Jun Exploring the Role of Nutrition in Drug Rehabilitation and Recovery
When someone suffers from addiction, the goal of recovery is set above everything else. Of course, this is only natural, but certain things that are needed to aid recovery are often overlooked. One of the most important, above all else, is nutrition. The benefits of a healthy diet are seemingly endless regarding both our physical and mental health. Furthermore, when someone has been through substance abuse, the two significant adverse side effects are the deterioration of both these things.
Today, we are going to run through some of the benefits of encouraging a nutritious diet throughout and beyond the recovery process. We will discuss some of the reasons why people may not look after themselves when battling addiction, some particular vitamins and foods that can boost a person’s mental health, and discuss how to reintroduce a positive routine after rehab. The role of nutrition in addiction recovery is vital. So, if you or anyone you know is struggling right now, we highly recommend reading on. Sometimes, it can be challenging to identify drug or alcohol addiction, so understanding some tell-tale signs can have tremendous benefits for you and your loved ones.
How a person’s healthy routine can deteriorate when struggling with addiction
Drug and alcohol addiction can significantly impact all aspects of a person’s life. These can range from financial problems to antisocial behaviour, but some of the most notable struggles can be with physical and mental health. Drugs and alcohol can consequently impact motivation, energy levels, and appetite. Many drugs also disrupt a person’s regular sleeping pattern, which can further exacerbate these side effects.
There are many reasons why nutrition intake might be affected by addiction; here is a list of a few of the most recurrent problems that cause people to dismiss their health.
Drugs can often decrease or increase someone’s appetite – Depending on the addiction, it can either eradicate food cravings or dramatically increase them. Neither of these is healthy. On the one hand, the person will suffer from having no intake of nutrients; on the other, they may find themselves eating far too much unhealthy food.
Addiction impacts mental health, which can lead to poorer choices – Almost everyone struggling with addiction has started using to deal with their poor mental health. However, drugs and alcohol will only deplete a person’s mental health, worsening the problem that was there in the first place. When someone is struggling with their mental health, it can lead to several poor life choices, and one of the first to suffer is sufficient nutrient intake.
A lack of motivation can lead to caring less – Every negative side effect of substance abuse will exacerbate another. Poor mental health will create a lack of motivation and cause a person to not care about their health. This is a problem that usually worsens the longer the dependency lasts.
Drugs and alcohol can effect financial stability – One thing that we haven’t touched on yet in this article is the financial impact of addiction. As well as being highly unhealthy, drugs and alcohol cost money. When people become dependent on one of them, they will put it before everything else in their lives. This can lead to financial decline and being unable to afford to eat healthily.
Addiction can lead to unhealthy food cravings – A very unfortunate part of addiction is when you do crave food; it is usually the worst kind. Addicts will often crave foods that are high in sugars and fats, containing very little or no nutrients.
Many people are not educated on nutrition or have the support network they need – The average person is not educated on the importance of nutrition, so this can play a large part in the struggle to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Addicts will also isolate themselves from the rest of the world, so their chances of having someone to help them can be very low.
Why do people not prioritise nutrition during recovery, and how can this affect the recovery process?
This can be down to a variety of factors. When facing it, most people will perceive addiction to be the number one enemy. It is understandable why eating healthily might be put on the back burner during the recovery process. However, it is absolutely crucial to put in the effort to live a healthy life while maintaining abstinence. Food that is rich in nutrients plays a vital role in aiding a successful recovery.
If someone is neglecting their health because of addiction, the body becomes familiar with its nutritional intake and reliant on the drug to feel ok. If you take one away, it is essential to balance it out by improving on all factors of past neglect. A healthy lifestyle should become the main focus in this battle as it helps rebuild the immune system and is a valuable tool to keep the mind focused on something other than the substance they are trying to escape. Without other significant focuses, it is much easier to slip back into using.
Furthermore, if you know someone going through the motions, you should prioritise supporting them in this endeavour. Withdrawal can be both physically and mentally draining on anyone. It is even likely that physical and mental neglect will be more prominent in the initial steps. So someone needs to have the support they need and seek help from medical professionals if they are finding it too difficult.
What can drug rehab do to help maintain a nutritional diet that can assist in a healthy recovery?
First and foremost, drug rehabilitation clinics will be full of highly experienced healthcare professionals with the knowledge, equipment, and facilities to deal with every stage of the recovery process. Recovery programmes are made up of a variety of components, and one of those is promoting a healthy lifestyle so addicts can relearn how to be kind to themselves.
Professionals are becoming more aware that a holistic approach is much more beneficial. This means that instead of the client simply being fed healthy meals and snacks; they will also learn how to prepare them and also get to understand the actual benefits of a nutritious diet. This is incredibly beneficial in more than one way.
- Healthy eating – of course, a nutritious diet will provide all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help assist recovery and return someone to full health. This will promote positive mental development during rehab as well as dramatically improve their physical health.
- A distraction – Learning how to prepare healthy food will also serve as a vital distraction, taking their minds off the substance they are trying to leave behind. When in rehab, much time is spent on various activities that can aid recovery similarly to this.
- A new skill – Learning new skills will give someone a feeling of self-empowerment, confidence, and self-worth. These are all things that tend to get lost when someone is an addict. Reconstructing these long-lost feelings is a critical component to not only quitting drugs and alcohol but staying off them post-rehab. The work done in rehab is only the first part of the battle. For the rest, it may take several years, so it is important to learn to feel good about oneself.
- A better understanding – Equipping the client with the knowledge they need to look after themselves post-rehab will help them stay focused and healthy throughout the entirety of the recovery process and, hopefully, their lives. When a person feels healthy, they feel good about themselves, so this can serve as a crutch in the more trying stages of recovery.
The Role of Nutrition in addiction recovery
As we have mentioned over and over again, nutrition plays a vital part in aiding addiction recovery. When a healthy diet declines in someone battling addiction, it is almost certain that they will become deficient in specific vitamins and minerals. The most common deficiencies in addiction are zinc and iron, fatty acids, omega-3, vitamin D, and magnesium. Being able to identify the most likely deficiencies can help to ensure that the right foods are being eaten.
On top of these deficiencies, it is imperative to keep drinking water and consuming products that are high in vitamin C. Addicts are likely to be lacking dopamine, which is the chemical in the brain responsible for feeling motivation, pleasure, and satisfaction. Vitamin C is incredible for increasing this chemical; without it, battling addiction can be much more difficult.
Here are some foods that can be incredibly useful when recovering from addiction.
- Fatty fish – This is an incredibly concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some great options include wild-caught salmon, mackerel, and sardines. They are also a good source of nutrients like vitamin D, B vitamins and minerals such as zinc and selenium. Regular consumption of fatty fish has been linked to improving brain function and happiness. It can also help reduce inflammation.
- Legumes – Regularly eating beans and lentils is excellent for improving the immune system and promoting overall health. As for nutrients, they are a good source of fibre, iron, B vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals. All of these work great in flushing out toxins and protecting the body when it is at its most vulnerable.
- Mixed berries – Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries are full of antioxidants and vitamins; these low-calorie healthy snacks can support both immune function and brain health.
- Nuts and seeds – Another healthy snack idea that is rich in good fats, fibre, and protein and is a fantastic source of vital vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and magnesium. These can enhance the immune system, heart, brain, and digestive health and help manage weight, which can often be a problem post-addiction.
- Dark leafy greens – These can be very important in aiding addiction recovery as they are full of vitamin C, which means they help increase dopamine levels in the brain. They are also packed with nutrients and vitamins that support the immune system and overall health. Good examples of these incredible leaves are spinach and kale.
- Avocados – These can help support brain health and the nervous system, as they are extremely rich in healthy fats and many essential minerals.
- Beef liver – This is renowned for being one of the most nutrient-rich foods out there. It is extremely rich in iron, which is very important for supporting a healthy recovery. It is also rich in zinc which supports the general immune system, and when teamed up with iron, can work wonders for cognitive ability. Including this in a regular healthy diet can support recovering addicts in returning to their former selves.
Can supplements aid addiction recovery?
Supplements can be beneficial in assisting addiction recovery, but they should not replace proper food intake. In some cases, when someone suffers badly from withdrawal, they are needed as they might not be able to eat food until the withdrawal symptoms subside. It is also helpful to note that a medical professional should be consulted before taking supplements, especially considering the implications of addiction recovery.
Useful supplements for addiction recovery include vitamin B complex, magnesium, amino acids, fatty acids, and Omega-3. These supplements work well at reducing anxiety, bettering mental health, improving brain function and immune support, and regulating moods. However, some supplements are useful in different ways. For instance, milk thistle helps aid liver recovery, and glutamine can decrease drug cravings.
Are you seeking nutrition advice to aid addiction recovery?
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, it is important to speak up and start the journey to recovery now. At Calm Rehab, we offer extensive recovery programmes guided by a team of experts in a tranquil tropical paradise. At our drug rehab in Bali, we take every aspect of the recovery process seriously and would be happy to give any advice you need. Get in touch today and move one step closer towards the best version of yourself.