By Sandy Baker
Your body requires ongoing access to nutrients to support each cell’s function.
During drug and alcohol addiction, the body is virtually starved of this all-important fuel. Lack of fuel causes a depletion of stored nutrients and, in some situations, leads to the breakdown of your organs. Recovery starts to change things. When you stop using drugs and alcohol, you stop doing damage to your organs and cells. Yet you have to build your body’s health back up, and good nutrition promotes this process.
How Substance Abuse Impacts a Person’s Diet
- When addiction occurs, almost nothing else matters. A proper diet filled with nutrient-rich food is not something an addicted person prioritizes. Most of their money and time are spent on finding and using the drug of choice. As a result, diet suffers. Poor diet habits can include the following:
- Binge eating, especially when coming off a high, to try to quell the cravings for more drugs.
- Not eating enough, because commonly abused drugs and alcohol work as an appetite suppressant.
- Choosing unhealthy food, including fast food, high-sodium foods, and other inexpensive “junk” foods.
Even if you live in a beautiful home and have a good job, your food habits tend to change significantly during drug use. The longer you make poor decisions about what to eat, the more likely you are to struggle with health complications.
What are the Effects of Poor Diet?
Imagine living an addicted lifestyle, having unhealthy eating habits for years. The longer this occurs, the more damage it can do to the body. The way it impacts you depends on various factors, including the length of time, the severity of nutrient deprivation, and the type of drugs you are using. Some of the most common outcomes from nutritional deficiency can include:
- Malnutrition, which can lead to significant weight loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Muscle degeneration
- A lowered body temperature, limiting cell function
- Cognitive impairment, including slowed thought processes and difficulty understanding language
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Heart-related complications including heart failure and rhythm imbalances
- A compromised immune system, increasing the risk of infection and illness
Poor Nutrition Increases Relapse Threats
In a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, researchers found that those with an alcohol or drug use disorder who had poor nutrition were more likely to struggle through recovery and be less resistant to relapse. That’s because poor nutrition often leads to physical and psychological health deficits. Without proper nutrition, your body is unable to fight off the cravings and demands.
How Can You Recover Physically from Alcohol or Drug Abuse?
First, you will want to seek professional treatment. Working through drug and alcohol rehab with our team in Lubbock, TX, allows you to gain an understanding of all of your mental, emotional, and physical needs. This includes helping you to recover from malnutrition. Care begins in our doctor-monitored detox facility. Once you become stable, we’ll help you learn more about nutrition and what your body needs during your recovery.
Most people will see their appetite return during the recovery process once withdrawal symptoms subside. This is when it becomes important for you to begin to get support from dietary professionals to teach you how to eat not just to meet your body’s daily needs, but also for health improvement. Your plan will likely include:
- Treating any type of vitamin or mineral deficiency with supplements or electrolytes as necessary.
- Providing enough calories to stimulate your body’s metabolism and to ensure increased energy levels.
- Including nutrient-rich foods of every rainbow of color to support cognitive improvement and to boost your immune system.
- Treating you for any physical ailments and conditions that have occurred as the result of drug use, such as heart, lung, and kidney damage.
- Discovering which healthy foods you love the taste of, to encourage you to continue to eat a nutritious diet.
Nutrition is vitally important to your recovery. It is a part of the treatment plan here at The Ranch at Dove Tree. When you come in to speak to our team about your needs, we’ll provide a full assessment to determine your nutritional goals, too. We can give you the support you need to break the cycle of addiction and poor eating habits so that you can live a vibrant, healthy life.