Being in active addiction usually means our brains have been rewired to such an extent that there is little designation left for thoughts about anything other than drugs and/or alcohol. Personal hygiene, finances, relationships, and nutrition all fall to the wayside. Different substances affect nutrition in different ways. For example, alcohol can cause munchies, but the high sugar levels of alcohol throw our nutritional system off balance.
Cocaine and stimulant drugs like amphetamines and meth make someone go days without eating. Heroin also causes dramatic weight loss and poor nutrition. One of the main contributors to nutritional problems in active addiction is financial ability. While supporting a steady and excessive drug and alcohol problem, possibly without a job or extra financial support, it’s hard to maintain a grocery budget as well.
Recovery and Nutrition
Eric Powers is a chef and a long term member of recovery. He suggests starting to change nutritional habits by rewiring the brain in the way you react to cravings. Addicts have a tendency toward instant gratification. We program our brains by what we take in nutritionally. If a sugar craving is always met with candy the brain will think of candy first when blood sugar drops. By making different choices you train the brain to think differently.
When a craving for candy, or sugar, pops up, replace it with a banana or a smoothie, he suggests. In time, the brain will seek healthier options first before craving sugary sweets. “Cravings are a signal from your body telling you it needs something, and your brain recognizes these needs in the way you usually fulfill them,” Powers states. Repeated use of drugs create cravings in the brain for that drug. Through symptoms of withdrawal and obsessive craving, our brains and body send strong signals to satisfy a need. Just as we learn to redirect our cravings for substances, we can learn to re-channel our food cravings as well.
Other ways to improve your nutritional habits include:
- Replace regular snack staples with healthier, whole food options
- Replace refined sugar with organic dark chocolate or fruit
- Modify snacks to be more wholesome
- Maintain portion control
- Learn how to make snacks you love at home with healthy ingredients
C4LC offers nutritional training to set patients on the right track. Recovery is a journey of holistic healing. We believe in nurturing the mind, spirit, and body. For more information on our intensive outpatient programs of treatment call us at (951) 775-4000.