The Importance of a Healthy Diet in Recovery

Most people would agree that a balanced diet and healthy eating habits are important. This is doubly true for people in early recovery.


Some of the most widely used treatment modalities for addiction recovery engage with the psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of addiction, while some of the biological aspects are neglected at times. In the scientific community this relationship between problematic substance use and poor nutrition is increasingly being recognized.


Often, imbalances in the six major nutrients: carbohydrates, lipids (fats), proteins, vitamins, minerals and water lead to a variety of medical problems such as cognitive impairment, heart disease or even diabetes. These are often accompanied by a litany of psychological and behavioral impairments. For those struggling with drug dependency, learning about good nutrition is critical in the recovery process and is often instrumental in securing long term success.


Users of different drugs face different challenges. Alcohol, for instance, is so calorie dense that users feel relatively full even though the “empty calories” in alcohol do not support the health of the body. Opiate or cocaine users are often so distracted by the high that eating and self-care in general become an afterthought. On top of this, abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to constipation, diarrhea, poor appetite, and other digestive problems. The damage done to the inner lining of the digestive tract from the abuse of alcohol and heroin impairs the absorption of amino acids, vitamins and other essential minerals. A healthy gut means a healthy brain. It’s not just a fun adage, the gut’s job is to extract nutrients from digested food for the brain to make neurotransmitters. Vitamins and minerals are essential to making this system work. Addictive substances like alcohol, painkillers or even caffeine can damage or completely shut down digestion, preventing the brain from being properly nourished. Conversely, a well-nourished brain means fewer withdrawal symptoms during detoxification and a higher chance of achieving long term success. Consistency in a balanced and quality diet will provide enough macronutrients and micronutrients to help maintain a drug-free lifestyle.


Addiction is difficult…


We believe in bringing any and all effective treatment modalities to bear in order to achieve long term success. The Touchstone program here at Arch to Freedom was created with this in mind. As our highest level of care, residents in the Touchstone program receive support from our case managers, licensed therapists and staff in any and all areas of life they wish to work on; including diet enrichment and adopting healthy eating habits.

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