Relevance of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

Most people do not pay attention to diet when they begin treatment for addiction. What they think of is participating in counseling, suffering withdrawals, or undergoing group therapy. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that it might not be possible to flourish in treatment without taking note of nutrition. Therefore, in this piece, we will take a closer look into how substance abuse affects nutrition, and what needs to be done.

The Main Stages of ​Addiction Recovery

Substance recovery is not something that happens overnight. It’s a five-stage process that you have to undergo to achieve a full recovery from substance abuse. The steps are explicitly illustrated below:


Those who are in this stage are in the process of admitting that they have a problem. This might be due to the pressure coming from an employer, a loved one, or even a legal action. However, they might still not be aware of the severity of the problem at hand.

At this stage, most addicts will shun conversations related to addiction, or even walk away from those who try to discuss it with them. Usually, when they are approached, addicts will strongly deny the fact that they are in a dire situation.


At this point, the individual has accepted the fact that they need to adjust their lifestyle, but due to addiction, they are unable or unwilling to identify the root of the problem. They might also be unsure of the best way to move forward to achieve the desired changes.

This stage is a lengthy one, and an addict can stay here for several months or even years. As they think of the best way to take action, they will still embrace their current lifestyle and might suffer malnutrition due to depression.

It is best for addicts to focus more on an addiction-free future, instead of regretting their past mistakes. This stage usually ends with remarkable anxiety and unease.


Most addicts get to this stage because they are fueled by extreme excitement and hope for a better future. This is because they have managed to come up with concrete plans to begin and succeed at their recovery from substance abuse. Some of them might be planning to admit themselves to rehabs or take a pledge of abstinence.

However, this person is getting ready for a life without substance and alcohol, but they do not have a clear vision of how they will accomplish it. If they can come up with a good plan of action, moving on becomes easier. They’ll likely still need some professional guidance as they work to achieve 100% recovery from alcohol and substance abuse.


This stage is quite clear and almost self-explanatory. Many will begin this stage by making various physical changes. For instance, they might change their behavior and the people they associate with. This mostly happens once they have joined a credible rehab. These lifestyle adjustments normally make them feel confident and believe they can handle more change.

This is the stage that begins to open the door to a lifetime of sobriety. At this phase, most individuals will encounter vulnerability, but they need to stick to their plan of action. It might also be the first time they’ve experienced having strangers and outsiders looking in. They will get motivated by the feelings and satisfaction that comes in from action stage.


This might be one of the most overlooked stages of recovery. Overall, the recovery process demands lots of time, patience, dedication, and inner strength. It is a process, so you should not expect it to be a single event. Once you’ve completed the action phase, you need to jump into the maintenance stage right away.

Once they are done with professional treatment, a recovered addict should go back home and continue to deal with the reasons that made them abuse drugs and substance. To help stay on the right track, they should spend more time with the sober community since this will help them avoid possible temptations and will provide positive reinforcement.

Substance Abuse and Its Effects on Nutrition

Malnutrition has always been the immediate result of an unhealthy diet. It’s what happens when your body does not have adequate nutrients. But since substance abuse affects nutrition, you are more likely to suffer the condition until you start working on through the recovery process.

For instance, if you abuse alcohol, your body will lose its ability to absorb nutrients, so you will end up in poor health quite quickly. Sadly, those with addiction-related disorders tend to rely on substances of their choice whenever they feel physical or emotional discomfort.

This is a huge problem because, with time, they will start to mistake hunger cues for other cues. Some health experts report that when individuals begin their recovery process, it is hard to tell malnourishment from withdrawal. Also, weight gain or weight loss is a major concern among drug addicts trying to restore a sober lifestyle.

Others might gain a lot of weight because they substitute drugs with food. Note that each substance has its unique health implications, so it is vital to know what you are dealing with in the first place. For instance, those who abuse alcohol will deprive their body of an essential vitamin known as thiamine.

All tissues in the body rely on thiamine for various functions. They might not be able to work properly without this vitamin. Also, without enough of this vitamin in the body, you risk experiencing heart complications. Your brain will also suffer significantly.

Those with thiamine deficiency are likely to suffer from Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and dementia. This syndrome leads to complications related to vision problems, incoordination, memory loss, and confusion. Chronic use of alcohol might also lead to metabolic syndrome, which has a close relationship with high cholesterol, high sugar levels, and excess body fat. You also are likely to suffer from diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

If you use opioids, the general body functioning of your body will be slowed down. This drug is also it slows down digestion processes and metabolism. If this happens, your body might lose its ability to process food and absorb nutrients. When you start to have these complications, you will realize that constipation becomes a regular encounter.

Effects of Eating Disorder in the Body

People who abuse substances and alcohol are eleven times more likely to suffer from eating disorders compared to their sober counterparts. This is according to a study that was conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

The same study reveals that at least 50% of individuals suffering from eating disorders also abuse alcohol and other drugs. There are different types of eating disorders, and they have various effects on the body.

When people do not ingest enough calories, their muscles might start to break down. When the heart breaks down, blood pressure and pulse in the body system might drop to dangerous levels. Also, purging might deprive the body of essential electrolytes; the heart will not beat properly.

Food deprivation and purging might significantly interrupt the digestive system. As a result, your body will struggle to digest, absorb, and use up the nutrients. This is what normally leads to constipation. If you do not have enough nutrients in the body, the hormone production will not take place. This is because the hormones can only be produced if there are enough nutrients in the body.

Another problem with eating disorders are that your brain might not be getting the nutrients it needs to function properly. For instance, if there are not enough electrolytes, your nervous system will not work properly. Also, due to hormonal imbalance, you will have low energy levels. After some time, your productivity in the workplace will be greatly reduced.

The other problems related to the eating disorder include disrupted menses and very low body temperatures. Note that each disorder mentioned above deprives the body of getting adequate nutrients for normal functioning. When eating disorders and addiction occur at the same time, the effects can be severe. However, those who get admitted to rehabs can recover quickly.

Though your body does not need too many vitamins, it is essential to ensure that individuals take in enough of them each day. Vitamins and minerals play a central role in ensuring that various body systems work optimally without developing complications.

Wrap Up

From the pointers above, it is clear that substance abuse affects nutrition in a number of ways. Also, there are steps that can be used to ensure that the worst does not happen. If you are unsure of the right steps to take, it is advisable to get in touch with an expert.

If your addiction has present for a long time, then you might not recover without getting assistance from professionals. It all starts from realizing and accepting the fact that you need help and then taking the right steps toward addiction recovery.

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment: