Long-term substance misuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems. Addicts are often malnourished due to years of abusing their bodies with toxic chemicals, which can lead to several mental and physical issues.
How Substance Abuse Interferes With Nutrition
Substance abuse is detrimental to your health in many ways, one of which is that it hinders the body’s ability to get adequate nourishment from the food you eat.
Below are some of the many ways drugs and alcohol can disrupt your diet.
- Skipping meals: Users may experience a diminished appetite or forget to eat while under the influence.
- Eating unhealthy foods: Addicts tend to make their substance of choice a higher priority than eating a balanced diet. They also have poor decision-making skills, which can result in them choosing to eat junk food and empty calories instead of having a balanced diet.
- Malnourishment: Malnourishment can result from failing to eat on a regular schedule, or because your body is not able to absorb the necessary nutrients to carry out biological processes.
- Overeating: Eating too much, or eating only overprocessed and sugary foods, can lead to obesity and the range of health issues that are linked to being overweight.
- Organ damage: Substance abuse can harm the liver, stomach lining, pancreas and intestines, all of which play a role in the proper absorption, digestion and distribution of nutrients.
- Immune system damage: Substances such as alcohol and opiates can suppress the immune system and make users more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Alcohol can contribute to chronic gastrointestinal tract inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, pathogenic bacterial overgrowth, fungal intestinal infections and acid reflux.
- Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar is one result of having an imbalanced diet.
Eating Your Way to a Better Recovery
As a recovering addict, you need adequate nutrition to boost your energy and mood and help you return to full health. Because years of substance abuse can take a toll on your internal organs, a balanced diet can provide the foundation you need to begin reversing this damage.
You can use healthy foods to help repair yourself from the inside out. You can also use your diet to improve your emotional and mental well-being. Many foods have been proven to benefit your mood, and a positive attitude can help you stay motivated to keep moving forward with your addiction recovery.
For many people, hunger is a significant relapse trigger. Improving your dietary habits, therefore, can also help you stay on the path to sobriety and avoid backsliding into drinking or drug use. Plan to eat frequent, healthy meals each day, and get on a consistent eating schedule so your body will begin to look forward to having food at specific intervals throughout the day. In many cases, keeping a food journal can help you track what you consume.
We’re Here When You Need a Helping Hand
If you are struggling with substance misuse issues, don’t try to go it alone. At Spearhead Lodge, we are here to provide a transformative experience for young men who are battling addiction. Our extended care program in Austin is exclusively for young adults, providing customized, evidence-based treatment. Reach out to our admissions team today to begin your recovery with us.