How nutrition affects the efficiency of drug addiction treatment

Jan 26, 2019 04:31 PM EST | By Staff Reporter


Unlike the majority of medical conditions, drug abuse affects a person as a whole, penetrating every area of their life. Drugs weaken the immune system, cause damage to the brain, liver, and heart, induce memory and attention problems and often contribute to nausea and abdominal pain, which, in turn, facilitate having unhealthy weight and muscle loss. At the same time, drug addiction deteriorates relationships and creates financial problems. Intense cravings for the drug, health issues and crumbling friendships may lead to anxiety or depression.

Naturally, the treatment for drug abuse or addiction should be complex as well. It's important to get to the root of the problem instead of fighting the symptoms. For this reason, all rehabilitation programs have the same core, consisting of detoxification, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications, required to help the patient go through the withdrawal period and ease the strain on the body during adjustment.

Some centers, however, go beyond the basics to ensure their clients' successful and long-standing recovery. The majority of private rehabilitation clinics (browse around here), for instance, pay great attention to their patients' diet, fitness, and sleeping patterns. They recognize that addiction exhausts the body, and attending to it is important to help the person find strength and motivation to complete the program.

The role of nutrition in the recovery process

Certain drugs can significantly distort a person's normal eating habits, leading to either poor nutrition or obesity. For example, according to the National Institutes of Health, marijuana affects the area in the brain that regulates appetite, thus making a person feel hungry, which increases the likelihood of the user being overweight. Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine have the opposite effect. They increase a person's energy and alertness, make them stay awake and active for longer periods of time and often result in the person's being underweight and dehydrated.

Sufficient nutrition is a vital part of drug addiction treatment. All types of drugs influence the body in unnatural ways, exciting it or slowing down some of its reactions. These impacts put a person's heart, liver, respiratory and nervous systems under stress. Repeated exposure to the drug requires the body to use more of its resources, and any additional load tends to worsen the person's condition.

One of the advantages of private rehabilitation is a great concern for nutrition. Private substance abuse treatment centers provide their clients with individual meal plans after analyzing the patient's current condition, level of fitness and any possible deficiencies. In addition, inpatient rehab centers simplify the task of staying in shape by helping people eat healthy without having to think about it, and therefore enhance the patients' ability to focus on working through the mental issues that led to or resulted from their addiction.

Diet at private rehab centers

Private drug rehabilitation centers essentially have two objectives regarding nutrition. The first task is to provide their patient's with a diet that will correspond to their particular needs. Furthermore, it's crucial to equip patients with knowledge about why nutrition is important and help them understand the principles behind putting together a healthy and balanced diet.

Opioids like morphine and heroin cause deficiencies in certain proteins, fats, and vitamins and inhibit a person's ability to digest carbohydrates. Considering that people with opioid addiction were also found to eat more sweets and neglect consuming an optimal amount of vegetables, fruits and other foods that are high in vitamins, it could pose a serious threat to health.

Deficiencies in B-complex vitamins, specifically thiamine, folic acid, and B12, are particularly common. Also, the lack of vitamins C, D, calcium, magnesium and zinc frequently occur. The inadequate levels of vitamins may result in fatigue, anxiety, dry skin, diarrhea, hair loss, muscle aches, and low bone density. If a patient experiences some of these deficiencies, it is necessary to supplement the diet with the lacking vitamins. In addition, foods high in carbohydrates and protein can help normalize the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, associated with the feelings of happiness and relaxation.

Foods that facilitate recovery

A person's need for nutrients remains higher than normal for approximately a year after they complete a rehab program. Although drugs are not present in the body anymore, physical recovery takes time. Eating regularly and maintaining a healthy and varied diet enables the body to heal faster without spending additional resources to account for malnutrition or junk food.

Generally, the diet should consist of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. For people who are going through addiction treatment and recovery period, the suggested amounts of each of them might differ from the standard dietary recommendations.

This way, complex carbohydrates should make up approximately 50% of the overall daily calorie intake. They can be found in grains, fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Protein should constitute 15% to 20% of calories and is present in such foods as chicken breast, fish, tofu, eggs, beans, and green peas.

Fat should account for 30% of calories. Preferable foods include canola, olive and flaxseed oil, nuts, cheese, avocado, fish and red meat.

Calcium deficiency can be countered with dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk. Also, some non-dairy calcium-rich foods are almonds, chia seeds, soy milk, dried figs, broccoli rabe, and edamame.

Holistic methods in drug rehabilitation

Some private rehab facilities utilize a holistic approach in addition to standard addiction treatment, and nutritional therapy is usually a part of it. The main objective of holistic rehabilitation is a care for the person's mind as well as body. Holistic methods aim to bring a sense of peace, confidence, and motivation to the patient through various practices like exercising, meditation, yoga, and various physical activities, including horseback riding, swimming, and rock climbing.

Holistic approach promotes a healthier lifestyle, and it's impossible to achieve it without proper nutrition. Just like in sports, the body needs additional energy sources to compensate for the stress that drug abuse puts it under. While medications and therapies are necessary and irreplaceable to defeat addiction, a properly balanced diet goes a long way in improving a person's general well-being and maintaining this state for a long time.


About the author:

Thanush Poulsen is a Danish health blogger who investigates the problem of addiction and various factors which speed up the recovery process as well as ensure more long-standing results.

© 2018 Food World News. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


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