Substance Abuse and Nutrition: What to Know

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Substance abuse and nutrition are interconnected. Substance abuse is the repetitive consumption of harmful substances in unhealthy dosages or intervals. On the other hand, nutrition is the process of consuming food that’s important for your overall health, growth, and development. Substances like drugs and alcohol aren’t harmful to the body in tiny or minimal amounts. However, abusing these substances can cause chemical imbalances in the body and chronic diseases. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the interrelationship of substance abuse and nutrition. Moreover, we’ll delve deeper into substance abuse recovery and how proper nutrition can help abusers get back to optimum health.

How Does Nutrition Affect Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse causes chemical imbalances in the body. These imbalances don’t immediately cause long-term damage but can trigger the development of chronic illnesses. However, it’s still possible to reduce the impact of substance abuse with proper nutrition. Here are some ways how nutrition helps with the effects of substance abuse:

  • Carbohydrate-rich foods: Recovery from substance abuse starts with reprogramming the brain. Carbohydrates can help regulate the levels of serotonin hormones in the body. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for mood stabilization. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains and legumes can help patients have stable moods. Moreover, serotonin helps in brain relaxation, and it is an excellent way to prepare the body for recovery.
  • Vitamins for a stronger immune system: Besides good nutrition, the body also needs a strong immune system. When exposing the body to harmful substances, malnutrition occurs. With malnutrition, your immune system weakens, which could increase your chances of catching viral and bacterial infections. 
  • Mineral-rich foods for chronic alcohol consumption: For alcohol abuse patients, the main nutrition issue is mineral deficiencies. Alcohol in the body takes so many resources and energy to dispose of. Drinking supplements containing thiamine, folic acid, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, and calcium can help the body recover lost nutrients.

Nutrition Plan for Substance Abuse Recovery

The nutrition plan for substance abuse patients is a gradual introduction of healthy food and vitamin supplements. Chronic substance abuse is not a condition you develop overnight. Alcohol and drug abuse are a product of time. Hence, substance abuse and nutrition recovery plans also need time to take full effect.

Below is a general nutritional plan for substance abuse recovery:

  1. Detoxification: The body is at the worst state as these harmful substances run in the bloodstream. Before counseling begins, the patient must undergo detox to remove the toxic substances from the body. After that, the patient will undergo a nutritional program to restore lost minerals and nutrients and bring the patient back to optimum condition.
  2. Psychological intervention: After detoxification, it’s time to address the causes of substance abuse through therapies and counseling. In this phase, patients will confront their triggers and develop healthy coping strategies for healthy recovery.
  3. Reinforcement: Phase two may take some time, depending on the progress. However, if the patient shows signs of recovery, reinforcement sessions will contribute to the patient’s continuous recovery.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect Nutrition?

Now that we know how nutrition improves the effects of substance abuse, let’s see how substance abuse affects your nutrition. As mentioned earlier, alcohol and drugs aren’t inherently bad. It’s okay to drink occasionally, especially during times of celebrations. Moreover, some states allow medical marijuana for pain management. Hence, it’s all about moderation.

Substance abuse and nutrition need not be on each other’s edge. But if substances are used excessively without control and out of urges, it will cause harm to the body. Here are the nutritional effects of excess harmful substances on the body:

  • Weight loss with noticeable physical changes: Losing weight takes months before obvious physical changes are evident. But with substance abuse, weight loss can be fast because most substances suppress your appetite. Just search on Google the before and after photos of meth and heroin addicts. You’ll see how drugs can destroy your body inside and out. 
  • Chemical imbalance in the body: Metabolism is the sum of all chemical processes in converting food into energy. With excess alcohol and drugs in your system, these substances interrupt the metabolism. Sometimes, your body speeds up and burns too much energy. When this happens, coupled with little to no food intake, the body will have no choice but to use the stored energy in fats and muscles to achieve the body’s needs. Hence, it will result in malnutrition and extreme weight loss.
  • Loss of nutrients: In other cases, consuming too many harmful substances causes vomiting and diarrhea. These gastrointestinal symptoms impact the absorption of nutrients. When you vomit, the nutrients from food aren’t absorbed. In diarrhea, your digestive system is eager to dispose of its contents, resulting in low nutrient absorption and dehydration.

How Does Stress Affect Nutrition And Substance Abuse?

Good nutrition and recovery from substance abuse are nothing if the root causes aren’t identified. Yes, stress is the number one factor that leads to substance abuse. That’s why substance abuse recovery plans always include therapy and counseling. 

Stress is our brain’s response to pressure coming from external stimuli. Financial distress, loss of life, trauma, and other events can cause stress. Letting stress win over you can further substance abuse or cause a relapse. That’s also the reason why substance abuse recovery includes “reinforcement” therapy to ensure continuous healing.

Keep in mind that you can’t avoid stress in life. It all boils down to your coping strategies and mental fortitude to withstand temptations.

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Substance abuse and nutrition are two concepts vital to recovery. Stopping substance abuse finds its roots in the patient’s mind, behavior, and tendencies. On the other hand, nutrition is a preventive action to heal the body physically from the effects of harmful substances. Mind and body—that’s the essence of substance abuse recovery.Are you looking for nutrition and addiction recovery services? Get the help you need at Restore Treatment Center. As the premier addiction recovery center, we offer top-of-the-line programs and rehab facilities aimed at helping you heal physically and mentally. We are your partner on the road to recovery. Call us now at (818) 806-3914 or send us a message through our contact form to get started.

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