When you’re in recovery, it’s important for your body to function at its best. Addiction almost always depletes the body of nutrients and increases stress-related hormones in the body. 

But the connection between food and recovery is even more complex. So if you or someone you love is struggling to take care of themselves during addiction recovery, read on to find out why it’s a good idea to focus on nutrition at this time. 

Why Nutrition and Exercise Are Important for Recovering Addicts

When you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’re likely to experience appetite suppression and will forget to eat while you’re under the influence. And even when you are hungry, if you have to choose between a substance or food, the substance will win every time.

So you might end up eating junk food from a dollar menu when you finally do eat. 

And then, there’s the crash. When an addict crashes from substance abuse, meaning they come down from the high, they may suffer from an insatiable appetite. And it’s no wonder. People are unlikely to get any real nutrients while they’re drunk or high. So when the drugs and alcohol wear off, they’re likely to be very hungry and binge on unhealthy high-calorie foods. 

And if you’ve suffered from addiction for years, you are probably also suffering from extreme deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Many forms of addiction, including alcohol, opioid, and other central nervous system depressants, slow down neurons in the brain and spinal cord, and this can affect the muscular system in many ways.

Opioid Abuse and Nutrition

Chronic constipation is one of the most common side effects of the lack of nutrients from opioid addiction. This is because opioids can partially paralyze the stomach.

It’s common for opioid abusers to turn to laxatives to find relief from constipation, and this only compounds the problem as excessive laxative use can lead to electrolyte imbalances and heart palpitations, and it can also lead to irreversible gastrointestinal problems. 

Alcohol Abuse and Nutritional Deficiencies

People who abuse alcohol are highly unlikely to eat a healthy, balanced diet to begin with. But chronic alcohol abuse makes the problem even more prominent. When you drink heavily over time, your body loses its ability to break down and absorb nutrients from food because the stomach lining becomes damaged.

In extreme cases, vitamin deficiencies from chronic alcohol abuse can lead to an irreversible brain condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and it comes from a thiamine deficiency. 

Nutrition and Exercise In Addiction Recovery

It may seem like extra work when you’re already in the fight of your life, but nutrition and exercise in recovery are actually going to help make this a sustainable change for you.

When you eat right and exercise, you’ll look better and feel better, and when you’re in addiction recovery, we need all the help we can get. 

One of the many benefits of recovering with proper nutrition and daily exercise is that you can justify a massage after a hard day’s work. Properly recovering with a massage from exercise can help your body bounce back faster, which will help restore your muscles and energize your body. 

If you’re currently struggling with addiction, search for a 12-step recovery program that incorporates nutrition and exercise into its daily program.