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The Role of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

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If someone is already addicted to any substance and the individual’s brain has developed a chemical dependence to it, there is possibly no other way to get him/her out of the condition without appropriate rehabilitation care.

That being said, nutrition does play a significant role in the recovery process, and without proper nutrition aiding the treatment, it would be impossible for the addicted individual to come out of it without damaging his/her health severely. This is the reason why all good rehabs also have a dynamic diet system for their patients.

People Suffering from Addictions Have Poor Diet

There are certain attributes which are common to almost every addicted person in the world, and among them, poor diet is definitely right up there.

They are most likely having less food than they should, and the little food which they do have will likely be junk food. Most often, alcohol addicts also have a bad case of junk food addiction too.

Addicts are Often Physically Unable to Eat as Much as They Should

Even if the addicted individual tries to get back to a normal diet, it is more than likely that his/her body won’t be able to accept the nutrients in larger quantities right away, due to a damaged digestive system brought on by alcohol and/or drug abuse. Vomiting and diarrhea post the increased consumption of food are therefore a commonly observed result from such efforts.

Unfortunately, taking the person off the substance completely will lead to a worsening of these symptoms, and depending on how long the addiction has been allowed to take root, complete cessation could even be fatal without a proper rehabilitation system in place to safeguard and subdue withdrawal symptoms.

Diet for a Recovering Addict

It would be impossible to suggest or even predict an exact diet for a recovering addict, since there are no universal diets to follow.

Only the rehab center and their dieticians can guide people in this regard, which will vary according to the symptoms, the substance/substances in question, the patient’s reaction to the treatments, his/her medical conditions, the meds used and many other aspects. Nevertheless, the following should provide an idea regarding what to expect:

  • Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and beets
  • Starchy legumes like beans, peas and lentils
  • Complex carbs in processed form will be supplied by bread, cake, cereals and pasta
  • Fortified beverages, milk and other dairy items (unless lactose intolerant), tofu, kale, etc. for calcium
  • A mediocre dosage of animal protein from meat, poultry and fish
  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish (salmon) and olive oil or flaxseed

Will Supplements be Necessary?

Supplements in various forms will most definitely be necessary, and they will become part of the treatment itself. The dosage will of course vary according to the particular patient, but expect the following nutrients to be supplied at least in some amount via dietary supplements:

  • Thiamine, folic acid and B12 (Vitamin B-Complex)
  • Vitamins A and C
  • Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc

The Role of Hydration

It would be hard to find any situation where drinking enough water regularly isn’t a necessity, since staying hydrated is essential to staying healthy, even if someone has no apparent addictions.

Nonetheless, hydration plays a number of important roles while recovering from substance abuse, which can be listed as follows:

  • Flushes out the excess nutrients such as calcium and vitamins to prevent complications from them
  • Flushes the toxins from the meds administered, as well as the residual drugs
  • Aids in digestion and energizes the body even when it’s not capable of eating sufficiently
  • Keeps the body hydrated and brings the benefits of staying hydrated, just like for everyone else

Is Caffeine and Sugar Utilized During Treatment?

The short answer would be yes, both sugar and caffeine are utilized methodically and strategically to counterbalance the withdrawal symptoms, especially the mood swings.

Additionally, even more serious drugs and some of the same substance to which the patient is addicted to, can and will be administered by the doctors during the management process.

In case you are wondering why such heavy measures might be taken, then you are probably not aware of how serious a complete withdrawal can be. It is the job of the patient care facility to maintain the health of the individual, while simultaneously decreasing his/her dependence on the drugs/alcohol. Therefore, in moderation, even toxins can be utilized to good effect in a high-quality rehab.

What Can One Expect After Recovery?

This is the prize that’s worth going through all that trouble for, so it has to be good, and fortunately, it most certainly is good!

To begin with, once the withdrawal stage is over, the patient will begin to feel like a new person altogether. They will have more energy, enthusiasm, awareness, alertness and positivity about them that can even surprise the people closest to them.

Chateau Recovery lists ten honest and inspiring benefits of being sober on their website and explains how, just by staying clean, former addicts can expect to lead a better life with more money, better health and extra time that they can finally keep track of and utilize to grow further in life. As none of these are false or lofty claims, but are scientifically backed up, logical facts that are directly related to staying sober, it is a post worth reading for anyone currently struggling with alcohol or drug problems.

Diets during and after rehab are specifically designed to deliver exactly what the body needs in order to recover from its chemical dependency. Such diets are therefore dynamic in nature, as they are often changed to suit the present condition of the particular patient. It is this requirement for maintaining and changing the diet frequently which is another reason why trying to lose an addiction at home may prove to be an impossible task.

Drugs and excessive alcohol damage various parts of the human body, including the brain, and shoots up or lowers various hormone levels much beyond that of a normal human being. Unless the supplements, the diet and the meds are supplied in the correct order after monitoring the patient closely, it would be nearly impossible to get out of addiction for someone who is in the advanced stages of substance dependency.

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