Nutritional Therapy During Treatment. Nutrient deficiencies are rampant among people who are addicted to drugs. According to one study, 54 percent of drug addicts showed some degree of insufficient calorie intake. With long-term failure to eat food of sufficient quantity or quality, deficiencies are likely to develop and reinforce the addiction at hand. While drug addicts may benefit from improving their nutrient status on their own, the nature of addiction makes this challenging at best. Instead, addicts can benefit from a structured inpatient drug rehab with nutritional therapy that helps them recover from addiction and replenish their nutrient stores at the same time.
Causes and Effects of Nutritional Deficiencies in Addicts
Nutrient deficiencies can arise from drug use in a number of ways and can have devastating effects on addicts. Many drugs inhibit appetite directly. For example, amphetamines are known for eliminating hunger and were even once common as weight loss aids. Opioids, including heroin and painkillers, bring the digestive system to a standstill and can prevent sufficient food intake as a result. Meanwhile, marijuana addicts may lose their appetite during recovery, increasing their drive to start using the drug again.
Physical and emotional problems may become severe as malnutrition sets in. With early nutrient deficiency, increased stress sensitivity and exhaustion are common. Over time, severe mental health problems, including depression and psychosis, can develop. By this stage, drug addicts are generally accustomed to using drugs to offset physical and emotional discomfort and may have more difficulty resisting these substances than ever before.
Key Nutrients for Addiction Recovery
Many vitamins, minerals and amino acids work together in the body to provide mental, emotional and physical stability. However, certain nutrients stand out for their value in recovering addicts. These nutrients include:
- B vitamins
- vitamin C
B-vitamins are essential for energy production and are easily depleted by stimulant use and heavy sugar consumption. Vitamin C, a vital antioxidant, is quickly burned during periods of stress. Minerals buffer stress but are consumed in the process. Whereas the amino acid l-tryptophan is used by the body to make serotonin, a substance that promotes calmness, l-tyrosine is used to make dopamine, which is essential to feelings of pleasure.
Importance of Clinical Treatment
Nutritional therapy is best offered in a structured clinical environment. Here, with a set schedule and staff who can determine nutrient deficiencies and identify solutions, patients are better able to recover from both addiction and malnutrition. Denied access to drugs, recovering addicts learn that they can handle life without a chemical crutch as long as they get the nutrients they need. After inpatient rehab, patients often benefit from extended outpatient support and counseling to help them manage their diet and other challenges.
A wholesome diet may be sufficient to meet long-term nutritional needs in recovering addicts, but intensive nutritional therapy is valuable for many individuals who are just leaving addiction behind. The right nutrients can help patients overcome the issues they face. Inpatient rehab offers a safe, controlled environment in which recovering addicts can re-learn to live a life free of drugs.