Eating Habits and Supplements: Answers for the Recovering Addict?

Contributor: Erica Smith, MA, NCC for San Juan Capestrano Hospital

libraryThe process of recovering from an addiction to any type of substance can be a long and arduous one. For the recovering addict, taking the first step by admitting that a problem exists is of the utmost importance. However, it takes a lot of courage to take this first step because the road that lies ahead can seem overwhelming to many.

The presence of an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol can reap many negative consequences on all aspects of a person’s life. Mentally, substances can overpower one’s thought processes, elicit irreversible cognitive impairment, and cause a consistent decline in one’s overall psychological health.

Indirect Consequences

Socially, the presence of an addiction can put a damper on interpersonal relationships, cause loved ones to distance themselves, and create turmoil within the family unit.

Occupationally, an addiction to substances can lead individuals to lack the ability to consistently perform at the expected level, potentially resulting in job loss, chronic unemployment, and ongoing financial distress. Physically, the ramifications of an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol can be seemingly endless.

Addressing the Detriments of Addiction

Once a person has engaged in treatment for substance abuse and addiction, and has begun on the path to recovery, the psychological, social, and occupational detriments that have arisen as a result of the addiction can be addressed and begin being worked through.

The physical effects of the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol must be given an equal amount of attention because the overall health of a recovering addict must be stabilized in order for full healing to occur.

The Recovering Addict Cannot Ignore Self-Care

考える女性When people abuse substances, not only will the direct result of the ingestion of various substances lead to health concerns, but individuals also tend to begin ignoring self-care and maintaining physical health while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

In many cases, the use of substances will supersede an individual’s desire to consume healthy foods or receive appropriate hydration. Their minds are too focused on getting the high that they desire from their drug of choice, therefore letting their overall physical health fall to the wayside.

Developing Healthy Nutritional Plans

For this reason, developing new, healthy, and well-balanced nutritional food plans are instrumental in eliciting positive treatment outcomes as individuals work towards overcoming their addictions.

Anyone who is recovery from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol can benefit from consuming foods that of the very highest in nutritional value because it will help restore their depleted brains and bodies. Foods that are cited as being optimal choices during the recovery process include the following:

  • Whole foods (such as foods that are not refined, chemically changed, cored, or peeled)
  • Whole grains (such as complex carbohydrates that are found it things like brown rice and oatmeal)
  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Good quality fats (such as those found in seeds, fish, and nuts)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood

All of the previously mentioned foods contain a wide range of nutritional value, of which can be extremely beneficial in successfully healing the body following the use and abuse of toxic substances.

Foods to Avoid for the Recovering Addict

Foods that are cited as being those that should be avoided during the recovery process include:

  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • White flour
  • Processed foods
  • Additives
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Hydrogenated oils

In addition to developing and adhering to a healthy, well-balanced nutrition plan, recovering addicts can benefit from implementing the use of natural supplements into their diets. By doing so, they can help reestablish the natural balance of their overall health and wellness.

The Roles of Supplements for a Recovering Addict

a Recovering Addict working out in gymNourishing the body with healthy foods and natural supplements can help restore the nutritional deficiencies and digestive issues that have arisen from the chronic use of drugs and/or alcohol.

By adding supplements into one’s diet, it can also help to restore metabolic problems and chemical imbalances that have resulted from the abuse of substances. Examples of various supplements that may aid in the recovery process can include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • B-vitamin complex
  • Amino acids
  • Probiotics

Receiving treatment for substance abuse and addiction is imperative in order to elicit true healing and lasting recovery.

By engaging in such treatment, individuals will not only develop the skills needed to successfully overcome their addictions and learn tools for preventing relapse, but also have the opportunity to gain knowledgeable insight as to how to best develop and implement an appropriate diet to assist in the overall recovery process.




About the Author:

“Eating Habits and Supplements: Answers for the Recovering Addict?” was written by San Juan Capestrano Hospital clinical team member, Erica Smith, MA, NCC. Erica has several years of experience working in the treatment field as a clinical therapist and has her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology.

About San Juan Capestrano Hospital:

San Juan Capestrano Hospital has been a leading provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment services in Puerto Rico since 1988. With multiple locations across the island, San Juan Capestrano Hospital strives to offer an environment of care, protection, and compassion so that individuals who are struggling with behavioral, emotional, and/or chemical dependency concerns can find hope and lasting recovery.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on February 28, 2015
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 7, 2021
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