Oftentimes, people who are struggling with addiction lack proper nutrition. Depending on the addictive substance, additional side effects will strip your body of nutrients and harm your organ systems. Your overall well-being begins to decline throughout your substance use as a result of your dietary deficiency.
One of the behind-the-scenes aspects of quality addiction treatment centers that aid in an addicted person’s recovery is the nutrition-based meal schedules. As you go through the levels of care, your treatment center supplies you with dietary necessities. These meals provide you with the nutrients your body has needed but hasn’t been receiving.
How Does Addiction Effect Nutrition?
Typically, a drug user’s nutritional health is affected by habitual poor eating habits. Through an addiction, a person’s focus will shift to obtaining their drug of choice. Food standards slip throughout an active addiction because all income is spent repurchasing their addictive substance.
Another common result of substance abuse is a lack of nutrition due to a failure to eat. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol often experience a suppressed appetite. While under the influence of their substance, the addicted person will forget to eat for extended periods of time.
Alternatively, drug users can go through binging cycles once the effects of their addictive substance have worn off. These periods of overeating result from the user’s body regaining an appetite, their hunger now insatiable. Binge eating puts immense pressure on the digestive system. The addicted person will go without nutrition during drug use and then introduce enormous quantities of food in a short period.
The most common adverse effect of opioid use is gastrointestinal difficulties. Specifically, constipation occurs as opioids can partially paralyze the stomach. Also, opioid abuse often results in low levels of cortisol, the body’s “fight-or-flight” hormone. In addition to regulating our stress, sleep cycle, and energy, cortisol controls how our bodies use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Since opioids reduce the cortisol within the body, addicted people often experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, fatigue, and general weakness. Opioid abusers are extremely deficient in most essential nutrients because they have little appetite and the drug-induced nausea results in the purging of the food they do eat. With little appetite, and vomiting the food they do eat, opioid addicted people are extremely deficient in most nutrients needed to function. Consequently, the nutrition they do consume is often utilized incorrectly, if at all, due to the low levels of cortisol.
Stimulants are well-known for their appetite-suppressing side effects. As a result, people who abuse stimulants rarely consume a sustainable amount of food during drug use. Stimulant abuse often leads to unintentional weight loss and poor nutrition due to the negligible amounts of food consumed. Additionally, stimulant users often lack the proper hydration, resulting in dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance.
Alcoholism damages multiple organ systems, complicating the body’s digestion in the process. Abusing alcohol harms the pancreas, often leading to pancreatitis. This is especially problematic due to the pancreas’ role in digesting proteins, carbohydrates, and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Alongside pancreatic issues, alcohol abuse leads to gastrointestinal difficulties such as vomiting and diarrhea. The resulting intestinal complications of alcoholism impedes the absorption of certain vitamins. Without properly replenishing these vitamins, the abuse can result in permanent brain damage. Unfortunately, depletion of nutrients during alcohol abuse is cyclical. Alcoholism damages the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and damage from alcohol exponentially increases in bodies lacking the proper nutrition.
Short-term benzo use tends to result in weight loss and poor nutrition due to a decrease in appetite. Long-term Benzodiazepine use commonly leads to weight gain as the drug slows the person’s metabolism and digestive system. The slowing of digestion typically develops into gastrointestinal issues such as constipation. Benzo abuse can affect the addicted person’s nutrition as it correlates to their emotional and physical fatigue. The sedating effects of benzos often lead to under-eating because addicted people lack the energy and motivation to cook for themselves. Other people suffering from benzo addiction may binge out of boredom and a feeling of numbness. Additionally, people will over-eat in an attempt to self-soothe and fend off withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, most people addicted to benzos have little concern for their nutrition. As a result, they become deficient in necessary vitamins and minerals vital to healthy bodily functions.
Proper Nutrition Helps In Recovery
Having a healthy, balanced diet can aid in your drug and alcohol addiction recovery. The early stages of recovery can be an incredibly grueling process for both the mind and body. Addiction takes a toll on the addicted person’s nutrition. In order to maintain a sober lifestyle, it is important to regain nutritional balance. To properly function, the brain requires hundreds of vitamins, minerals, and chemicals. However, during active addiction, people rarely consume enough of the necessary compounds to promote quality brain and organ performance.
Found in sources of protein, Omega 3 fatty acids reduce symptoms of depression, provide energy for the body, and aid in the fighting of infection and repairing tissue damage. These essential fatty acids are important to consume in recovery because stimulant abuse strips them from the brain during abuse. Leafy green vegetables provide vitamin B6, folic acid, and beta-carotene, nutrients commonly lacking in the bodies of alcoholics. A vital part of gaining and maintaining your sobriety is replenishing the nutrients that addiction depletes. Implementing a nutritionally balanced diet promotes a strong foundation of physical and mental health to discourage relapse.