Addiction often leads to malnutrition. Due to this, nutritional therapy is an essential part of the rehabilitation process. At WhiteSands Treatment Center, our registered nutritionists educate patients about maintaining a healthy diet, as good eating habits can help build a strong foundation for fighting cravings and the other physical and psychological effects of substance abuse.
Studies have shown that those who have a chemical dependency are less likely to eat a healthy diet. Each drug has a different effect, and many cause users to either overeat or lose their appetite. Health also becomes less of a priority as the addict’s tolerance increases. The focus shifts to getting more of the drug, and any thought of nutritional stability is forgotten. Nutritional therapy can help change a patient’s mindset and help them adopt new, healthier behaviors that can have a positive impact on their recovery.
How Proper Nutrition Helps
Nutritional therapy produces many benefits including helping the patient feel better, both physically and mentally. This in turn promotes a sense of well-being and more positive self-awareness, which are both essential in the rehabilitation process. Because drug and alcohol withdrawal can produce some uncomfortable and even painful symptoms, proper nutrition can help regulate them.
Alcohol is an example of a substance that is full of empty calories, and interrupts the breakdown of nutrients in the body. Stimulant drugs decrease appetite, and opiates can cause digestive problems. Withdrawal from these substances can cause dehydration, intense nausea and vomiting. Some addicts who have poor nutrition tend to suffer from digestive issues including upset stomach and diarrhea.
Drug abuse harms the circulatory and nervous systems, as well as the organs in the body. Nutritional therapy helps give rehab patients the foundation needed to begin repairing their bodies. The proper diet can help restore energy, strength and repair damage caused to body tissue and the immune system.
Good nutrition can also alter a person’s mood. A healthy lifestyle has proven to be helpful in the restoration of the chemical and physiological makeup of the brain, impacting behavior and increasing the production of serotonin, which is responsible for feelings of pleasure. Therefore, when recovering addicts start to feel better, and begin to take in the appropriate amount of nutrients, they can begin to focus on their ultimate goal of sobriety and greatly reduce their risk for relapse.