Substance abuse can place tremendous stress on your mind and body, affecting everything from your sleeping patterns to your nutrition. Nutrition, in particular, is often not considered enough when beginning a treatment program and even after undergoing drug treatment in Arizona.
Despite the general lack of concern, it plays a vital role in your recovery and your ability to maintain long-term sobriety. At Desert Cove Recovery, we offer drug treatment in Arizona that addresses every aspect of your health, including nutrition.
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How Substance Abuse Affects Your Body
Drugs begin by affecting your central nervous system, either slowing down or speeding up its functions. Substances like drugs and alcohol interfere with how the neurons in your brain process signals via neurotransmitters, leading to abnormal signaling. And because drugs produce euphoria, they encourage the release of large amounts of dopamine into your system. This causes your brain to crave the drug again. 1
The drug’s effects on your body, including the nutritional deficiencies it can lead to, depend on the type of substance you have an addiction to. Cocaine and other stimulants reduce your pain perception, putting you at risk of injuring yourself and overstimulating your heart and nervous system. Stimulants also reduce your appetite, leading to severe weight loss and malnutrition. 2
Opioids affect your gastrointestinal system, reducing its motility. Many people experience constipation and stomach problems as a result. 3 Opioid withdrawal is powerful enough to cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea, all of which deplete your body with the nutrients it needs while also putting you at risk of an electrolyte imbalance.
Substance use disorders often appear alongside mental health conditions like eating disorders. And because stimulants reduce appetite, people with anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders are likelier to turn to them.
It’s also common for people with an addiction to have vitamin deficiencies because they lack a balanced diet. You can experience a deficiency of many vitamins, including the following: 4
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
These vitamin deficiencies are a serious concern precisely because the eating habits of people with substance use disorders tend to lead them to choose foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
Drug Treatment in Arizona: How Proper Nutrition Helps the Recovery Process
Lacking the proper nutrition affects you both physically and psychologically, making the recovery process more complicated. During detoxification, the nausea and overall discomfort make it more challenging to eat, worsening the nutritional deficiencies.
Following nutritional plans that ensure you receive the minerals and vitamins you need helps you recover. It enables you to decrease cravings and improve your mood and overall health.
A critical connection between recovery and healthy eating habits is that proper nutrition helps with neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to make new connections or rearrange existing ones. Since addiction changes your brain’s structure, you must offer your body all the nutrients needed to make new connections. For instance, you should make sure to consume:
- Carbohydrates provide energy and help the brain produce serotonin, which is essential for mood stabilization, reduced cravings, and improved sleep. 5
- Amino Acids are necessary for proper dopamine production, without which you risk worsening cravings and mood swings. 6
- Dietary Fats Like Omega-3 Fatty Acids facilitate neuroplasticity by protecting cell membranes in the brain while also reducing inflammation.
Healthy food can strengthen your body and help your brain heal from the damage addiction has caused, making the recovery process a bit easier.
Drug Treatment in Arizona: Nutritional Therapy for Recovering Addicts
Because of how powerfully nutrition affects your recovery, nutritional therapy has to be part of the treatment process. This is especially important if you have co-occurring mental health concerns like depression, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder because nutrition impacts mood levels and neuroplasticity.
Working with a nutritional therapist who can evaluate your needs and make meal plans is part of our holistic treatment. Our therapists will perform the necessary blood tests to gauge your health levels, personalize your treatment, and provide the exact care you need.
You want to remember to follow the nutrition plans set up for you and ensure that you’re keeping yourself hydrated. Regular meals are crucial, so don’t spend hours on an empty stomach. This can cause a mood crash that quickly worsens cravings.
For people who are in recovery from stimulant abuse, there is a tendency to overeat. You want to address that concern by avoiding high-calorie foods with little nutrition, like sweets. Eating small meals more often than a few huge ones is preferable, especially when you’ve just begun your recovery. It can also help to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.
Turn to Desert Cove Recovery
When you decide to get sober, holistic treatments like nutrition therapy should be part of your recovery process. At Desert Cove Recovery, we offer outpatient programs as part of our drug treatment in Arizona. With experts ready to provide the guidance you need, we allow you to achieve long-lasting sobriety.
Contact us at Desert Cove Recovery to learn more about our programs.
Sources: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114851/  https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/79/6/627/5911317  https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002149.htm  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8697046/  https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.160.10.1887