Nutrition During Active Addiction
Anyone who has experienced drug or alcohol addiction understands that it takes over every aspect of your life. In an effort to relieve discomfort, many people will err to their substance of choice over proper nutrition. Getting one’s next fix becomes more important than anything else, meaning that key components of self-care quickly fall by the wayside. One of the most dangerous areas that is often overlooked is one’s diet.
In addition to this confusion in priorities, substance use disorders confuse your brain’s signaling – it can feel nearly impossible to differentiate hunger cues from other stimuli that you may be experiencing. Malnourishment and withdrawal can be very similar sensations for those in early recovery.
Each addictive substance has a different effect on one’s nutrition and health. Alcohol, when consumed in high quantities over time, creates a thiamine deficiency in the body. This prevents tissues in the brain, liver, and heart from functioning as they’re meant to, increasing the risk of liver and heart failure. Metabolic syndrome is also associated with alcohol consumption, which results in high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, among other side effects.
Opioids slow one’s metabolism to a crawl, meaning that the body is no longer able to process nutrients from any food consumed. On the other end of the spectrum, stimulants cause dramatic weight loss and disordered eating patterns. While on a cocaine bender, it’s not uncommon for someone to go days without eating, only to binge at its conclusion.
These factors, combined with behavioral concerns, illustrate the devastating effects that addiction can have on your physical health. Once you’ve eliminated drugs and alcohol from your life, nutrition becomes more important than ever.
What You Eat Affects Your Health
It may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s important to understand just how much nutrition impacts your well-being on a daily basis. Your diet should ideally consist of a variety of foods rich in nutrients – substances that promote bodily wellness. The names of these nutrients should be familiar to you: proteins, fats, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals are a few.
Low levels of certain micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, can affect your physical and mental health. For example, if you don’t consume enough folate or B vitamins, it’s likely that you will experience symptoms associated with depression, sleep issues, and fatigue. You can ensure a steady source of micronutrients by eating a balanced diet with whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Macronutrients are also an important component of your physical well-being. Carbohydrates are an excellent example. These are your body’s main source of energy; without them, blood sugar levels fluctuate, and the body cannot function normally. If you don’t eat enough healthy carbs (found in low-fat dairy, vegetables, potatoes, and whole grains), you may experience drug-like cravings and disrupted sleep patterns.
Supercharge Your Recovery with a Healthy Diet
While in rehab, you will experience structured days filled with internal work: reflection, therapy sessions, and group conversations. Each of these activities aims to teach you healthy ways of coping with cravings, processing emotions, and preparing for a new life in sobriety. However, it’s very difficult to learn if your brain is malnourished.
Without a consistent meal plan and balanced diet, it’s unlikely that many of recovery’s lessons will stick. This is why it’s imperative that treatment centers and patients alike monitor one’s diet and food intake. By focusing on getting the right amount of nutrients into the body, you will be better equipped to retain the valuable information being conveyed to you in meetings.
Beyond this, the popular maxim H.A.L.T. comes to mind. You’re at great risk of relapse or emotional vulnerability if you don’t pay attention to your body’s signals of being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Make sure to protect your mind and body by eating three full meals each day, supplementing with healthy snacks when you need to, and choosing a variety of exciting foods at the grocery store. Stay excited about your nutrition for best results!
Nutritional Wellness at Makana Path
At Makana Path, we understand the importance of physical health during your addiction recovery journey. Our Intensive Healing Program is specially designed to holistically help treatment-resistant patients and chronic relapsers. Drugs and alcohol wreak havoc on your nutrition; if you or a loved one could use assistance with dietary planning and relapse prevention, we encourage you to reach out today by calling 866-905-4550.