How Substance Abuse Affects Nutrition: Why Rehabs Need to Include Nutrition as Part of Addiction Treatment
Addiction is an incredibly complex disease that affects far too many Americans. With opiate addiction on the rise and dangerous synthetic drugs entering the market, there’s no better time to start getting clean and improving your overall health.
However, it’s important that you seek complete, comprehensive treatment that treats the mental AND physical aspects of addiction so that you can get clean and stay that way. One of these aspects that is often forgotten is the role that nutrition plays on your overall health. Like a car needs fuel, your body needs healthy foods to keep it running correctly. Rehabs are recognizing the benefits of including nutrition as part of addiction treatment.
The Link Between Mental Health & Physical Health
If you or someone you know has ever experienced chronic depression or anxiety attacks, you’re well aware of how closely the body and mind are linked.
Depression can make you ignore basic human needs like hunger or thirst, and anxiety can activate your body’s fight or flight response to raise your heart rate, make your body shake, and your mind go all cloudy. Just about any physical symptom can be a result of stress on your body, and chronic symptoms often come along with depression.
Similarly, your brain needs a specific level of different vitamins, minerals, proteins, and more to operate properly. When it doesn’t receive what it needs, is suffers from oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. These free radicals can be harmful, reacting with other molecules in your body to result in high oxidation that can lead to anxiety and depression as well as the symptoms associated with them.
Fortunately, thanks to medication and healthy eating you can maintain your oxidation levels and diminish the effects of anxiety and depression on your body. After all, the majority of your serotonin intake – the hormone that controls your appetite, sleep, ability to process stress, and ability to regulate mood – happens in the digestive system as your body absorbs the food. However, those who suffer from addiction add another complication to the mix: drugs.
When drugs are abused, they act as another factor in the body’s chemical balance (and not in a good way). Common side effects of drugs like cocaine and opiates are nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. They can also cause a numbness or lack of awareness that makes the user ignore basic functions like eating or drinking for extended periods of time, causing malnourishment and dehydration. This can lead to a lack of proper nutrients being provided to the brain and body, limiting the serotonin uptake that controls and regulates mood as well as cravings. Additionally, they don’t receive the dopamine “reward” from eating a filling, healthy meal which can lead the user to seek out their dopamine release from their vice of choice.
The Role of Nutrition as Part of Addiction Treatment
When you think of rehabilitation services, you likely think of support groups, therapy, and other treatments for the mental side of addiction. However, once you’ve gone through detoxification from the drug, there is another stage of physical treatment required: nutritional therapy.
Rehabilitation for drug use is just as much about physical health as it is mental, which is why accredited rehabs put an emphasis on addressing your nutritional needs. Your mental and physical health are closely related, with your diet playing a huge role in your overall health. If your drug use was serious enough to require medical attention, it’s likely that it threw your general health and nutrition off as well. This is where a carefully curated nutrition and diet plan can greatly improve your ongoing recovery efforts.
The healthy, balanced, and satisfying meals provided at Ocean Hills Recovery will help to feed the dopamine cravings your brain and body will have safely without the use of harmful drugs. They’ll also help to get you thinking clearly, processing the stress of kicking your addiction, and your appetite back to normal. This way you can avoid further drug use by following a nutrition plan that ensures you get all the vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and more that you need to be your best – mentally and physically.
Choosing a Rehab for the Mind and Body
When making an important (and possibly life or death) decision like choosing a rehab facility, it’s important to look for the very best option available. This will often be a treatment center that offers effective, comprehensive care for all aspects of addiction treatment for an affordable price.
At Ocean Hills Recovery, you can be certain that you’re going to receive the care you need to kick your addiction and get your life back. In addition to exceptional mental health and therapy services, they also emphasize nutrition as part of addiction treatment to help heal your body from nutritional trauma and make the path to recovery easier on you. No matter what form of addiction you struggle with, it’s not too late to get help. Start your recovery today with Ocean Hills Recovery.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.