It makes intuitive sense that individuals who suffer with addiction may have nutritional or dietary deficiencies. By the very nature of addiction, untreated individuals persist with their use of alcohol or drugs (or other compulsive behaviors) despite ever increasing negative consequences. Addiction patients have a tendency to neglect their own health and wellbeing, including an adequate and nutritionally balanced diet. This neglect is a common part of the addiction lifestyle. Emerging research demonstrates that correcting these imbalances may aid in the recovery process, both during alcohol or drug withdrawal, and by reducing ongoing cravings.
Numerous companies sell dietary supplements to treat a host of health problems, including addiction. A number of the less credible overstate the value of their products and imply or directly state that the user can expect a cure of his or her addictive disorder. This overselling is bothersome, because it sets up unrealistic expectations and may contribute to relapse. On the other hand, a comprehensive and multiple modality treatment plan with an emphasis on behavioral interventions, including 12-step, which includes addressing nutritional deficiencies as well as eating patterns, has been shown to offer the addiction client the best opportunity for lasting recovery.
The human brains is designed so that actions vital for propagating their genes are highly rewarding (like eating and sex). Those neurochemical reward pathways can be hijacked by addictive drugs and alcohol (and also behaviors such as an eating disorder). The drug user (or addictive behavior participant) actually causes the brain to cease producing some of the chemicals necessary for this reward sensation to be felt which foster the sensation of physical and mental dependence on the drug.In our never-ending quest to improve treatment (a quest that has been strengthened by treating addiction, alcoholism, and eating disorders for 25 years), we have inevitably begun to focus on the nutritional component of recovering from addiction. (we long ago learned that by focusing our clients on spiritual, rewarding, and physically challenging recovery activities would enhance their likelihood of recovery).
Our blog post will soon outline some of the specific nutritional recommendations we make for our clients who are receiving drug and alcohol addictio treatment at our facilities.