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Understanding the Importance of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

The importance of nutrition in addiction recovery is often overlooked. Yet the majority of people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction have issues with nutritional deficiencies when they first arrive at an addiction rehab facility for treatment.

4 Minute Read | Published Sep 17 2023 | Updated Mar 08 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

The Importance of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

How Nutrition and Addiction Are Linked

It’s common for addiction specialists in most drug and alcohol addiction rehab centers to treat recovering people for malnutrition and various gastrointestinal disorders.

Many people caught in a cycle of drug addiction may fail to eat. The drugs may suppress appetite in some users or simply cause the person to forget about eating while they’re under the influence.

There is also the issue of many addicts eating an unhealthy diet. When the user does choose to eat, they are more likely to choose unhealthy snack or meal options, lacking in proper vitamins and minerals the body needs to function optimally.

Drugs and alcohol also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals from food. If the body isn’t receiving healthy levels of the right vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids and fats, deficiencies can trigger a range of different mental and physical problems.  

Proper Nutrition during Detox

The importance of nutrition in addiction recovery may not seem like such a big deal at first. However, when you consider how a lack of nutrition and addiction to drugs or alcohol can affect your physical and mental health, the idea of getting the right vitamins and minerals becomes more pronounced.

Many users detoxing from drugs and alcohol may experience a range of physical withdrawal symptoms that include vomiting or diarrhea. If the recovering person isn’t eating a healthy, balanced diet, the effects of vomiting and diarrhea can cause electrolyte imbalances and dehydration, both of which can make the intensity of withdrawal symptoms feel worse.

It’s possible to ease the severity of some physical symptoms associated with withdrawal with proper nutrition. It’s advised that recovering people try to eat balanced meals that include nutrient dense foods and carbohydrates, along with drinking plenty of water.

In many cases, specialists within addiction rehab facilities may provide nutritional supplements to recovering people to ensure they receive the correct vitamins and minerals needed.

The Link Between Nutrition and Recovery from Substance Abuse

The importance of nutrition in addiction recovery goes beyond just helping the physical body recover and regain health. A large percentage of people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction tend to have issues with poor self-image and low self-esteem.

Eating well can also help reduce biochemical imbalances and problems, which could ease some of the psychological symptoms associated with addiction recovery.

Nutritional Therapy in Addiction Recovery Programs

Many drug and alcohol addiction rehab clinics use a combination of traditional treatments and medications along with various holistic or alternative therapies in an effort to improve likely outcomes.

Nutritional therapy helps recovering people understand why eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for their overall physical health. However, taking the time to learn how to prepare and cook healthy meals also begins building self-esteem and confidence levels.

Preparing healthy food and eating well is also an important form of self-care. Many recovering addicts spend almost all of their time focused on their addiction while they are still using. As a result, the addict becomes selfish and completely absorbed with finding, obtaining, taking or recovering from drug use to the exclusion of almost all else.

By comparison, during recovery it’s crucial to learn to practice self-care.  Getting a good night’s sleep, getting some physical activity into each day, taking care of personal hygiene and grooming needs, and eating a nutritious diet are all acts of self-care that help reinforce and establish healthy, new routines.

Proper nutrition and recovery from substance abuse go hand in hand. Many recovering addicts turned to drugs or alcohol to escape from emotions or numb painful feelings. Yet by learning how to practice self-care and really taking time to understand the importance of nutrition in addiction recovery can help many people remain clean and sober over the long term.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.


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