As the field of addiction treatment advances, it is becoming more common for treatment centers to use a holistic approach, meaning they treat the whole person. One aspect that can be incorporated into addiction treatment is the use of proper nutrition to promote healing and recovery.

Here, learn about the role that nutrition plays in addiction treatment.

Recovering from Poor Diet and Malnutrition

When a person is in active addiction, it is not uncommon for them to spend most of their time and money seeking out, purchasing, and using drugs. This means that proper nutrition can fall by the wayside. Someone with an addiction or substance use disorder may not have adequate funds to obtain healthy foods, or they may be using large quantities of drugs like methamphetamine, which can reduce the appetite.

Even if a person with an addiction is still managing to obtain food, the truth is that when someone is in the throes of addiction, drugs and/or alcohol become the focus of their life. This means they probably aren’t making an effort to follow a balanced, nutritious diet.

Given the fact that poor nutrition can be a reality for those with addictions, it is not surprising that studies have shown that people in addiction treatment consume low amounts of fruits and vegetables and have low intake of vitamins. Individuals in treatment for addiction are also more likely to have deficiencies in nutrients like calcium and magnesium, which can be detrimental for the recovery process.

The Effects of Poor Nutrition on Addiction Recovery

Poor dietary habits and nutritional deficiencies not only negatively affect a person’s health; they can also interfere with the addiction recovery process. Research shows that poor nutrition can make it difficult to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, so it is important to prioritize proper nutrition when beginning an addiction recovery program.

Beyond the fact that nutrition is important in the early stages of recovery, it can play a role in helping individuals with addictions to remain sober over the long term. Self-care has been identified as a critical part of the relapse prevention process. Patients who do not practice self-care may attempt to soothe themselves or fill a void with drugs or alcohol. Caring for yourself through proper nutrition allows you to feel your best, so you can make a full effort in your recovery.

Finally, proper nutrition plays a central role in healing the body after addiction. Studies have demonstrated that drug use is linked to iron deficiency anemia, as well as deficiencies in key nutrients like Vitamins A, C, D, and E. The use of certain drugs, particularly cocaine, can cause metabolic changes and lead a person to become underweight. Heroin addiction can also reduce the appetite, as drugs become more pleasurable than food, causing users to consume less food.

What all of this means is that when a person enters addiction recovery, they are likely to be underweight and/or suffer from nutritional deficiencies. It is essential to heal the entire body through proper nutrition so that someone can fully recover from the effects of addiction.

Incorporating Healthy Eating Into Addiction Recovery

Given the importance of nutrition, some inpatient addiction treatment centers have begun to employ nutritionists on their staff to support patients in recovery. In other instances, a doctor may refer patients in outpatient care to see a nutritionist if dietary issues or malnutrition are identified as a concern. If seeing a nutritionist is not feasible for you, due to financial constraints or lack of available providers, you can heal your body from the health effects of addiction by following a healthy diet. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide valuable information to help you make healthy eating choices.

Incorporating healthy nutrition into your lifestyle can be used alongside other self-care behaviors, such as getting regular exercise, to help you heal your body and prevent relapse. If you’re looking for accessible and affordable addiction treatment services, provides comprehensive treatment in a 100% online format via our telehealth app. Our counselors can help you to create relapse prevention plans that incorporate holistic practices, such as proper nutrition, to help you stay drug and alcohol free.