Photo Courtesy: Maria Morri
According to the national survey on drug use and health done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service’s Administration in 2009, roughly 9% of the US population over 12 years old has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. While this percentage may have fluctuated in the last four years, it is likely still close to an accurate number.
Addiction is a serious condition that should be treated with professional assistance. However, it can still be difficult to overcome the addiction, even after taking part in a recovery program. There are also certain foods that can help or hurt the recovery process.
Regardless of who you are or your health conditions, it is important to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. This is particularly true for those recovering from addiction. Oftentimes, those who have abused alcohol or drugs become malnourished. Alcoholic beverages can be very filling but have little nutritional value. To be able to consume more alcohol, drinkers will sometimes go without meals so they can have room for their drinks.
Cocaine and other amphetamines are appetite suppressants because they cause so much adrenaline that the user does not feel hungry. Sometimes during recovery, weight gain is a concern for patients. But with the help of a professional dietician, healthy weight goals and eating habits can be implemented.
Control Mood Swings
A determined recovery patient can have an easy enough time deciding not to use their drug of choice when everything in life is normal. But when moods become extreme, it can be harder to resist the temptation. It is important for former addicts to do everything in their power to control mood swings, particularly during the early stages of recovery. There are a few specific foods that will help to keep moods in check:
- Bananas: This fruit is high in dopamine and will help give a rewarding feeling.
- Sunflower Seeds: These seeds contain tryptophan which acts well as an anti-depressant.
- Protein-rich meats: High protein meats have tyrosine which helps release norepinephrine, a natural anti-depressant.
Monitor Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar can make moods drop and give an intense craving for the abused substance. This is especially prevalent for recovering alcoholics. Alcohol cravings can cause hypoglycemia which causes blood sugar to drop which causes a more intense alcohol craving. This is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. However, it is not impossible. Steady, nutritious snacking can help to stabilize blood sugar. Some snacks should be avoided, though, for their negative side effects:
- Processed sugars: These will give a temporary feeling of fullness and energy, but have no nutritional value and will not keep blood sugar up.
- Caffeine: Coffee and caffeinated beverages give a short spike of energy but can cause blood sugar to take an abrupt dive after the high.
Complex carbohydrates which are rich in fiber are the best foods for steady and stable blood sugar. While three meals a day can give a sense of satisfaction and fullness, it does not do much to keep blood sugar at a steady level throughout the entire day. Regular snacking on nutritious, filling foods should help with that feeling though.
Alcohol or drug recovery is difficult and does not have to be tackled alone. There are plenty of resources for help. Those who struggle should reach out to family and friends for support. Holistic drug treatment, rehabilitation centers, and nutritional assistance can all aid recovery. Remember that during this process, it is important to keep in mind that it is not just the symptoms that need to be treated, but the entire body. A happier life can be found in the future as long as all the right resources are utilized.
Drew Kobb, in addition to studying civil law, loves long distance running and considers himself a health and fitness enthusiast. His interests range all over the medical field, and Drew highlights that range on his blog, Dr. Ouch.