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The Importance of Nutrition during Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery

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It is common knowledge that people addicted to drugs neglect their nutrition. Then it makes sense to make proper nutrition part of the addiction treatment and recovery process. Just consider the following facts about drug abuse and nutrition:

  • Drug users have fewer and less consistent meals.
  • Their food is highly processed and unhealthy.
  • Many of the nutrients they ingest are flushed away through vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Abused, most drugs also cause gastrointestinal damage, obstructing the nutrient absorption process.
  • Food influences brain function, inducing pleasure, cravings, anxiety, or irritability, just like drugs.

It should be obvious that any addiction treatment or recovery efforts should also cover nutrition. Whether battling addiction at home or in a specialized facility, it is important for anyone addicted to drugs to eat properly.

What and How to Eat While Battling Drug Addiction

People recovering from drug addiction need a diet that balances their serotonin levels, curbs cravings, addresses their vitamin deficiencies, and provides the necessary nutrients to support healing and adequate energy levels.

Such a diet would have to include:

  • Complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables)
  • Dairy products rich in probiotics and calcium (especially products obtained through natural fermentation, from safe sources)
  • High-quality protein in moderate amounts (grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish)
  • Healthy fats (avocado, olive, flaxseed, coconut, cold-pressed vegetal oils)
  • Freshly squeezed juices, herbal teas, and adequate amounts of water
  • Foods and herbs that help curb cravings and support recovery

Of course, each patient’s needs are different. Some have serious co-occurring disorders. Others experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. There are also people who are allergic to some foods and herbs and are not aware of it. For all these reasons and more, any diet interventions should be made under specialized guidance and supervision.

Natural Ways to Curb Cravings and Support Recovery from Alcohol and Drugs Addiction

  • Cayenne pepper – It reduces cravings and relieves irritability and anxiety during detox. It can also help with stomach problems and is safe to consume even over long periods of time.
  • Milk Thistle – Silybum marianum helps with cravings as well. It is rich in silymarin, known to improve liver function, often problematic in drug-addicted patients. It is very effective at cleansing the liver from drugs and toxins.
  • Dandelion – It can be very helpful when it comes to detox and managing withdrawal symptoms. For optimum results, both the herb and the dried root can be brewed into tea. Some patients notice results within days by consuming up to three cups of tea daily.
  • Kava Kava – This herb has long been used by South Pacific islanders as a sedative and hallucinogen. It reduces cravings and relieves anxiety. Both supplements and tea blends are available.
  • Goldenseal – This herb is well-known for its strong antiviral properties and often labeled as a natural antibiotic. Although its bitter taste can be difficult to get used to, its crave-curbing effects should make the effort worthwhile.
  • Evening Primrose – Its oil is highly effective at curbing cravings. Gel capsules are available as well.
  • Kudzu – This wild vine is rich in daidzin, proven to curb alcohol and drug cravings. It is available as a supplement, tincture, and tea.
  • Passionflower – It can be of great help during the withdrawal period, proven to relieve drug-use related anxiety.
  • Skullcap – Like others on this list, this herb helps curb cravings and relieves anxiety and tension.
  • Valerian root – It binds to the same brain receptors as Valium and replicates the latter’s effects on anxiety and restlessness.
  • John’s Wort – This herb is known as a natural antidepressant. It is also rich in hyperforin, a chemical proven to reduce alcohol intake.
  • Essential oils – Their healing properties include relieving anxiety and pain and detoxification, so they can prove valuable allies in the battle with drug addiction.

Of course, including all these foods and herbs into a balanced diet plan is not easy. Some herbs may interact with the prescribed medication. Others may have a negative impact on co-occurring disorders. For these reasons, any diet interventions should follow the advice and be carefully monitored by specialists.

Let the Asheville Recovery Center Team Help You Put Together a Healthy Diet Plan and Recover from Drug Addiction

At Asheville Recovery Center, we understand the importance of proper nutrition for treating drug addiction. Our patients benefit from integrative addiction treatment and recovery programs that cover all their needs, from medication, supervision, and care, to nutrition, exercise, and moral and psychological support. To benefit from our advice and guidance, schedule a free consultation!