Getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients through supplements and food is essential to living a lifestyle that has balance. When an individual develops a substance addiction, they often do not treat their bodies properly and forget about their physical health. This can often make their addictions worse. This is why our team at Fresh Start puts a focus on rebuilding the value of nutrition during recovery.
Although a healthy diet is not always thought of when it comes to recovery, we understand how vital it is in regard to our patients’ time here at our facilities. Our professional team is available to all of our clients. They can help to decide what goes on our facility’s menus and can also develop specific plans for each patient.
How Addiction Affects Nutrition
Some diseases can cause malnourishment and lower the levels of important minerals and vitamins within someone’s body. Addiction is certainly on this list of these diseases. Substance abuse doesn’t allow the user to focus on anything but their addiction. Individuals often forget to do simple tasks throughout the day, including eating meals.
When people think of someone who suffers from an addiction disorder, their minds often picture a frail body frame and pale skin. This is due to their substance of choice preventing their body from absorbing the important nutrients it needs. They also are not able to separate their craving cues from their hunger cues. When they feel “hunger,” they automatically associate it with needing to use more of a substance.
Although it is common for someone to lose weight while constantly under the influence, people can gain weight, as well. When it comes to alcoholism, most of the beer, wine, and mixed drinks consumed have many calories. This can lead to significant weight gain over a long period of use.
Alcohol also enhances appetite and encourages poor eating habits. Instead of filling their bodies with healthier options, alcoholics usually pay no attention to diet and consume large amounts of processed fats and sugars.
Types of Substances and Their Effects
Each type of substance, when abused, can cause multiple health problems that contribute to someone’s malnourishment. Here are some different substances and their effects that can cause an individual to become nutritionally deficient.
Opioids produce a type of euphoric effect on an individual’s body. This feeling can suppress the user’s appetite and speed up his metabolism. Due to these issues, users often don’t get a healthy daily intake of vitamins in their diet.
When withdrawing from opioids, some of the main symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. These make it very hard to keep down food or even want to eat in general, which also hinders nutritional intake.
Alcohol in large quantities over a long period of time can lead to many health conditions arising. Two of the most common are metabolic syndrome and insufficient amounts of thiamine in the body. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. This can further lead to health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Insufficient amounts of thiamine because of chronic alcohol use can cause multiple long-term effects on the body. Every tissue in the body uses thiamine, so a lack of it has the potential to damage tissues in the kidney, heart, lungs, and brain permanently. This can also lead to heart disease, kidney failure, and dementia.
Stimulants include substances like cocaine and meth and are often used to help individuals stay alert or awake. The main effect of the chronic use of stimulants is that of weight loss. While a user is high on cocaine or meth, the drug may suppress their appetite. This may cause the individual to forget to eat for days at a time. Once they finally come down from that high, they may feel extremely hungry and eat large amounts of food at a time before starting the cycle over.
Due to the effects of binge eating while not high on stimulants, a lot of users develop eating disorders. Crystal meth also causes tooth decay, so users may not even be able to consume solid food from missing multiple teeth.
How to Spot a Nutritional Deficit from Substance Use
When spotting nutritional deficiency as a result of substance addiction, there are many things to look out for. Most of them will include the appearance of the individual, but there can also be behavioral signs, as well.
Some of the physical signs of addiction and nutritional deficiency are:
- Pale or gray looking skin
- Dilated pupils or red eyes
- Bags under eyes
- Poor oral hygiene
- Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
- Lack of care of their appearance
- Body odor
Some of the behavioral signs are:
- Lack of appetite
- Poor sleeping patterns
- Loss of control of movement
- Slurred speech
If you believe you or someone you know is nutritionally deficient from prolonged drug use, our team at Fresh Start is here to help. We will begin by evaluating your needs and devising a plan of action specific to your addiction.
Why is Nutrition Important in Rehab?
To recover fully from addiction, a patient must work on the health of their mind and body at the same time. This is why it is equally important to focus on nutrition as it is to focus on therapies and treatments.
In order for a brain to learn new skills, it must be properly nourished. Because addicts often ignore diet while under the influence, it is hard for them to focus on their recovery in rehab. This is where our licensed dietitians come in to start reintroducing important nutrients that a patient’s body might be lacking.
Our dietitians perform tests that allow them to understand where each patient’s deficiency stems from. They then form a dietary plan for each individual’s specific needs. This may include adding more protein to their diet for certain minerals or a heavy carb diet to get back to a healthy weight.
All of these factors play into allowing patients to be able to have a clear mind while undergoing treatments. They also give them the energy they might have lost to power their bodies and brains to want to work at their recovery.
How Certain Nutrients Affect the Body
Each type of nutrient plays a specific role in the overall wellness of the body. When a patient is lacking a healthy level of even just one type, it can cause a string of problems to arise. This is why we put an emphasis on a daily diet here at Fresh Start.
The two categories of nutrients are macronutrients and micronutrients. Although both are important, the body needs a larger amount of macronutrients than it does micronutrients. Below are some different types of nutrients and the way they help our bodies function.
The energy supply of the body depends on the daily intake of carbohydrates or carbs. Without the proper amount, an individual can feel tired, irritable, and experience depression and anxiety. Foods that contain carbs include vegetables, fruits, grains, and potatoes.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that isn’t used for energy. Instead, it helps the foods consumed go through the digestive system. It also helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Wheat bread, beans, and apples all contain fiber.
Healthy fats allow the body to function properly, as well as act as a mood booster. They also act as an energy reserve for when the body doesn’t have the correct amount of carbs. Healthy fats can be found in different types of nuts, avocados, and fish.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals fall under the category of micronutrients. Our bodies do not require the same amount of these as they do macronutrients. They still play a key role in preventing depression, fatigue, and even helping us sleep better. They are found in foods like dairy, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.
Without the proper level of protein in the body, an individual’s hormone production can be lowered. This is due to the essential amino acids found within protein-enriched foods. When a body’s hormone levels are low, someone can experience depression and anxiety at a much higher rate. Protein is found within foods like eggs, fish, and red and white meats like chicken and beef.
A Fresh Start for You
After levels of certain nutrients have been so low for an extended time, it can be hard convincing yourself that nutrients are important to your recovery. This is where our dietitians will step in. They will educate you on how the substance you have been abusing has affected your body’s function. They will also plan daily meals specific to your body’s needs, which will help your overall recovery.
If you believe you or someone you know is experiencing nutrient deficiency because of their addiction, our staff is here to help. Do not hesitate to call or message us today in order to get your body and mind back on track. Everyone deserves a fresh start!