Nutrition is the science of diet and health, and having good nutritional habits is important for everyone. Unfortunately, substance abuse and poor nutrition often go hand-in-hand, with one exacerbating the other. Dietary imbalances, in particular those related to vitamins, healthy fats, good carbs and proteins, wreak havoc on the general health of an addict.
One of the reasons for this is that most addictive substances change the way our brains respond to pleasure. The artificial and enhanced euphoria that comes with the drugs begins to override our normal cravings – food may no longer appeal to us in the same way. Along with this, many drugs of abuse cause changes in sleep patterns. They may prevent a deep, healthy sleep, or even keep us awake for days at a time.
The double attack of using up stored resources and not allowing for proper recovery with sleep and a good diet eventually lead to the obvious changes associated with addiction. The extreme weight-loss seen in meth and cocaine users is one example. The weight gain that can occur with chronic marijuana use (and snacking) is another.
Some addictions lead to deficiencies in particular nutrients. Chronic alcohol abuse is well known to inhibit absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (A, E, and D). Even if an alcoholic is eating normally, they may still show a deficiency in this group of vitamins.
Addiction recovery is devoted to restoring the body and mind to a pre-addiction state of good health. Thus, any good treatment facility will pay attention to the nutritional needs of its patients.
photo by Nyboer Creative
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