From alcohol to opioids, substance abuse takes a two-fold toll on the body. First, the substance itself causes damage; alcohol damages the liver, for example, and opiates such as oxycodone can damage the gastrointestinal system. Continued substance abuse causes increasing health problems in many individuals as the need for drugs or alcohol consumes more energy and time. Individuals spend less time on healthy activities and may trade consuming nutritional food for taking in more drugs or alcohol. Most rehab programs include nutritional therapy to help individuals recognize these dangers and combat addiction with better nutrition.
Specific Drug Impacts on the Body
The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the health impact of a number of drugs. Marijuana can impact short-term memory, increase a person’s heart rate, and impair balance and coordination. Since marijuana also increases appetite, some users are more likely to eat an inappropriate amount of high-fat, high-sugar foods, resulting in risks of chronic health conditions such as diabetes.
Other drugs, including cocaine and meth, decrease the appetite. Even alcohol can provide a false sense of nutrition to the body, decreasing the amount of food a person eats. The results are overall lack of nutrition, which can lead to organ damage, general fatigue, and physical issues such as tooth decay or loss of teeth.
Many drugs, particularly uppers, increase heart rates and impact blood pressure. Long-term abuse can lead to heart disease or failure. Meth can increase overall body temperature, causing organ and brain damage over time, and inhalants and some prescription drugs can cause seizures, hallucinations, and coma. Many drugs cause nausea or diarrhea, which leads to the loss of what little nutrition a person has taken in.
Nutritional Therapy in Rehab
Nutrition plays an important role in both the physical and psychological aspects of drug and alcohol treatment. Most rehab programs first address the immediate concerns of addiction and any associated medical problems, but facilities also include nutritional training and counseling in treatment plans. Nutritional training teaches individuals about the importance of eating well and how to do it after discharge from a program. During an inpatient stay, dieticians work with patients to provide appropriate meals and snacks to rebuild the body and help repair damage done by substance abuse.
MedlinePlus points out that a person who feels better may be less likely to relapse into drug or alcohol abuse. A balanced diet helps you feel better by improving energy and mood, reducing hunger, and fueling the body with appropriate ingredients. Good nutrition requires regular meals with low-fat, high-vitamin foods. Eating foods high in protein, dietary fiber, and complex carbs is recommended, and some nutritionists may recommend supplementing with vitamins and minerals for optimal physical recovery.
During inpatient recovery times, individuals can benefit from nutritional therapy. Meals are prepared for individuals, so they don’t have to worry about what is best to eat or stress over the need to make three or more meals each day. One-on-one and group nutritional counseling helps prepare individuals for the future, when they will have to prepare their own meals. Taking full advantage of nutritional therapy is one way a person can help increase the success of their own recovery.
At Roots Through Recovery, every patient’s nutrition is seen as a vital part of the recovery process. Hence, the food that we serve our patients is always given much attention. Visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.