The importance of nutrition during alcohol and drug rehab
Alcohol and drug addiction not only takes terrible toll on the patients’ psychological
behavior, relationships but also on the diet and nutrition aspects of the concerned patient.
Majority of patients who are addicted to alcohol and drugs are unaware of the physical
damage that drug abuse have on their overall body. Therefore, recovery from the ill effects
of alcohol/drug addiction on the body requires a good nutrition plan that would help in
laying the foundation for continuing recovery. People suffering with alcohol or drug addiction
are often malnourished and food of any type is not a priority.
An insufficient quantity of nutritious food together with the effects of alcohol/drugs and or
existing chronic diseases can result in conditions such as osteoporosis or muscle wastage,
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome etc. Substance abuse of either alcohol or drugs harms the
body in two ways: (1) The substance itself affects the body and (2) It causes negative
lifestyle changes such as irregular eating and poor diet. A proper nutrition helps in the
healing process as nutrients supply the body with energy. Good nutrition has been known to
decrease mood and behavioral problems that includes anger, depression and anxiety.
Research within the last five years has found that in cocaine users, rates of relapse were
much lower among those who had higher omega-6 and omega-3 levels in their blood. The
study further shows that levels of these fatty acids were better predictors to relapse than
the past levels of cocaine. The alcohol and drug rehab centers in the United States
inculcates within their alcohol and drug rehab programs the nutritional counseling as part of
their treatment programs. The patients at these alcohol and drug rehab centers are
required to work with a nutritionist or dietician to customize a plan to help their bodies
recover and heal.
However, addicts or patients who do not have access to dietician or nutritionists can follow
the below mentioned guidelines or tips that would help them in revitalizing their bodies and
brain chemistry and self-esteem through proper nutrition. These tips include:
Patients must prefer decaffeinated drinks instead of caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee etc as
these drinks trigger mood fluctuations making it difficult to resist drug use.
Avoiding sugary foods and refined carbohydrates such as cakes, pastries, white bread is
recommended as these food products provide empty calories that inhibit eating rich nutrient
foods by the patient.
Eating anti-oxidant rich food such as fresh fruits and vegetables helps in rebuilding a strong
immune system during the recovery of the alcohol/drug addicted patient.
Eating protein and fiber rich diet would help the patient in recouping his/her digestive
system that may be upset due to alcohol/drug addiction. Protein rich foods include fish,
beans and poultry whereas fiber rich diet include brown rice, black beans, 100% whole
grains etc. Thus, it can be said that good nutrition is one of the best ways to replenish the
body that has been ravished by addiction.