The role of addiction and nutrition on the body’s ability to sustain balance is one so rarely considered by individuals who are entering treatment. Since their substance of choice has become the main priority, addicts typically haven’t taken care of themselves in other respects. Not only is proper nutrition an important component of the physical healing which takes place when ceasing substance abuse, but maintaining a healthy balanced diet is actually a huge contributor to relapse prevention as well.
Balanced nutrition improves mood and health, and when people feel good, they are less likely to start using alcohol and drugs in abusive ways. For this reason it’s important to encourage a healthy diet for people recovering from addiction problems.
The brain and nervous system are strongly impacted by our nutrition, and when these systems are operating at a healthy homeostatic balance, we are better able to handle anything life throws at us. Neurotransmitters relay information throughout the brain and require certain components of vitamins to positively influence cognitive ability. Understanding the relationship between food and cognition helps us to determine a good diet in order to promote mental fitness.
In addition to understanding what we need nutritionally, when ceasing use of an addictive substance there has typically been significant damage done to areas of the brain which allow us to feel our best. This is why for a time in early sobriety a recovering addict might have decreased energy or depression.
Addiction overloads the brains natural reward pathways which are signaled by dopamine receptors. This alters the way people think, feel, and behave. Substance abuse also disrupts the brains ability to communicate with the nervous system, which affects the ability to make decisions, memory and coordination and reflexes.
Addiction and nutrition play an important role in why a person is unable to effectively manage their life, irritating the body’s natural ability to achieve an optimum balance. The Discovery House offers nutritional counseling as part of our treatment program, so patients can work with a nutritionist to customize a plan to help the body recover and heal, and promote a stronger and healthier recovery.