Alcohol and drug abuse /addiction can result in numerous and gross nutritional deficiencies that hamper the physical and mental health of the individual. A healthy diet plays a major role in sustaining and improving the quality of life in recovery.
Alcohol and drug use can affect nutrition in the following ways –
Those addicted to alcohol have poor food intake. Either they do not eat at all in order to drink or eat a lot without awareness of satiety.
In both cases, there is nutritional depletion as the body is busy processing the alcohol that needs to be metabolized before the food.
Alcohol results in inflammation of the gut and stomach lining, resulting in indigestion, acid reflux, gastritis, mal-absorption resulting in diarrhea and consequent dehydration.
Severe deficiencies of Thiamine, B12, B6, and Folic acid develop resulting in conditions like peripheral neuritis, anemia, fatigue, headache, memory problems, and Wernicke Korsak off syndrome due to Thiamine deficiency. Muscle wasting, immunity reduction happens to make the person prone to ailments, and in Indians the most common ailment that afflicts a person when the immunity drops is Tuberculosis.
Chronic alcohol use can cause significant damage to the liver and pancreas which are involved in the digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, hormones, and sugar balance thus causing an imbalance in them.
Withdrawals from drugs like opium, heroin, etc results in cramps and severe diarrhea preventing the person from eating resulting in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Eating carbohydrates and enough fluids will tide over this.
Stimulants keep the drug user awake for hours on end, hyperactive, and kills the appetite whereby people do not eat for days. This results in malnutrition, electrolyte, and hormonal imbalance leading to severe weight loss, muscle loss, alopecia, increased risk of infections, heart ailments, depression, apathy, confusion, etc.
In treatment, eating more can result in an upset digest system as it is just getting used to food. this requires experienced medical care. Meals should be had in small portions.
Marijuana usage results in a ravenous appetite but mainly junk food excessive consumption of which can result in obesity. Lack of any nourishment in junk food also results in malnutrition. There is a deficiency of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which can result in skin ailments like eczema, rash, and other inflammatory processes. Healing of wounds is delayed and susceptibility to infections is increased.
A craving for sweets develops in most people in recovery from addiction to alcohol and drugs, as sweets trigger the same dopamine reward pathway that is triggered by the substances in the brain.
Exercise regularly- various yoga asanas aid in bringing the hormonal balance in the body and regain optimum organ functioning, regain physical and mental balance and core muscle tone. Starts working out slowly being in connection with one’s body as the existent muscle wasting and lack of tone if pushed into working out too soon and too hard will result in recurrent injuries.
Eat more complex carbs – Green vegetables, whole grains, and foods made from them, such as and whole-grain bread, Rotis, Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin, Beans, lentils, and peas.
Some other nutritional advice that could help in recovery better is –
Every treatment /rehab facility should have a good and nutritious diet provision with adequate opportunities to exercise. We at AH provide such an optimum blend of nutrition and physical and mental growth in a luxurious ambiance.
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