Drug or alcohol addiction causes harm to the user’s physical and psychological health. Part of this harm done is a result of unhealthy eating habits and a deprivation of essential nutrients and vitamins. Rehabs around the world are teaching recovering addicts about healthy behaviors and how to eat right. Learning how to eat right not only improves the recovering addict’s health, but is essential to prevent a possible relapse.
Improving the body’s health by eating right can enhance the recovery process, enrich the person’s life mentally, emotionally, and physically, and can also help to prevent a relapse. It is important to learn how to eat the right foods that have the best nutritional value to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Food Affects Mood
Eating the right foods can make a difference when a person starts to have a craving for drugs or alcohol. A deficiency of amino acids and nutrients like folic acid and B vitamins can have a serious and negative impact on the user.
Sugar and Caffeine
A diet that includes sugar and caffeine, especially in high amounts, can contribute to mood swings. These mood swings may cause the recovering addict to relapse; because, the addict is feeling down or is having difficulties coping with the various moods. Some people describe mood swings as an emotional rollercoaster, which is out of control.
Sugar and caffeine are both addictive themselves and are sold all over the world. Many addicts, especially in early recovery, will abuse one or both. Both sugar and caffeine are both destructive to the body and cannot only affect moods, but can also have other health consequences.
Amino Acids and Neurotransmitters
When a person uses drugs or alcohol, they body is prevented from properly processing two important amino acids. These are tyrosine and tryptophan. These amino acids produce chemical compounds known as: norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemical compounds are neurotransmitters that are essential for emotional stability, mental clarity, and overall healthy state of well begin.
As a person continues to use drugs or drink alcohol, the levels of these neurotransmitters are decreased, which will then affect the person’s mood and overall behavior. Once a person has become sober, it takes time to rebuild healthy levels of the chemical compounds; poor eating habits will only make the rebuilding process even slower. This means that the person’s mood and behaviors may seem similar to when they were using.
A relapse back into using drugs or alcohol is more likely when the recovering addict’s blood sugar levels fluctuate; this is normally because of the irregular intake of food. This is why it is important to eat healthy meals on a regular basis.
People who had an addiction to drugs or alcohol often forgot what it is like to be hungry. Oftentimes, they misinterpret their craving of hunger for a craving of drugs or alcohol. It is very difficult for a recovering addict to get use to feeling hungry again, and when they do and are unable to interpret this feeling, they may relapse; because, these feelings are so strong.
It is crucial that a recovering addict is encouraged to consider the possibility that they may be hungry when they believe they are having a strong craving; in doing so, they may be able to prevent a relapse. Recognizing the signs of hunger can be hard for some addicts, but with a little effort this can be achieved.
Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia
For any who has had an addiction, particularly to alcohol, has most likely deprived their body of essential nutrients. The hormonal response that occurs with a heavy amount of alcohol consumption is a rapid rise in insulin from the pancreas to manage the exceptionally high blood sugar levels. As the insulin brings the blood sugar down, the body goes through a state of hyperglycemia or high blood sugar and then to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. The person may feel anxiety, anger, irritability, fatigue, and cravings for more alcohol.
A diet that is high in sugar can also have the same effects, this means, when a person is in recovery, they must learn how to manage their sugar intake to avoid the feelings that may lead to a relapse. Recovering addicts often replace their cravings with something else. These tend to be processed foods or foods that are high in sugar. While it may seem ok, it can actually cause severe cravings for alcohol, for those that cannot deal with these cravings, they may relapse.