National Nutrition Month: Healthy Diet, Healthy You
Substance abuse causes harm in many ways. One problem is that it often spurs poor and/or irregular eating habits.
A proper diet provides nutrients to create energy, fight off infection, and keep organs functioning as they should.
Depending on the substance people abuse, the negative effects will vary.
Opioids such as heroin or codeine can lead to constipation. Quitting can bring on withdrawal, including unfortunate side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, and the loss of nutrients vital for good health.
Alcohol is a major culprit in nutritional deficiencies. Booze blocks the absorption of nutrients, in particular B vitamins. Shortages of B1, B6, and folic acid (vitamin B9) can result in anemia or nervous system problems.
Blood sugar can also be disrupted by alcohol. While a doughnut may be a tempting fix, it’ll only provide empty calories and a quick spike of energy before crashing.
Stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine (meth) cut appetite, leading to weight loss and poor nutrition. When users stay up for long periods or spend a lot of time dancing at a rave or club, they run the risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Marijuana brings its own set or potential problems, including the urge to indulge (aka, the munchies). The danger there is nibbling oneself to a bigger pants size and all of the health issues that can follow.
A healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals is good for one’s mood and overall health. During recovery it’ll help a person heal and keep them going.
There is a myth that simply eating calories, whether they come from potato chips or pancakes, is enough when overcoming an addiction.
Ultimately it’s best to eat regularly and healthfully. Stick to a diet low in fat and full of complex carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables, dairy, beans and legumes, nuts and whole grains, as well as lean meats — these will all do a recovering body and mind a world of good.
Vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended, too, both during the detox phase and recovery. A health analysis and consultation with a nutritionist can make the sometimes-bumpy path to sobriety a little smoother to navigate.
medlineplus.gov – Substance Use Recovery and Diet