Addiction is a disease that leaves people physically and mentally depleted. It affects all organs of the body, saps the immune system and damages the respiratory system. Lack of rest and good nutrition are another problem and contribute to the deterioration of health.
Many people arrive in treatment extremely underweight and undernourished, with poor muscle tone, skin problems, thinning hair and dental issues. These are just some of the outward symptoms.
It’s not just the body that suffers. Drugs and alcohol alter the brain, depriving it of essential oxygen and affecting the levels of neurochemicals in the brain. These neurochemicals are vital to keeping mental balance. Drugs effectively rewire the brain, resulting in depression, anxiety, fatigue, “brain fog”, short term memory loss and more. Over time, these changes can become permanent.
Poor nutrition also takes a toll on the brain. The brain needs a constant supply of high-quality proteins and nutrients in order to function properly.
Recovery isn’t just about not using drugs and alcohol. It is about recovering your body, mind, and spirit. Addiction takes a toll on all areas of life. When a person arrives in treatment, they are in desperate need of care and healing.
In order for recovery from addiction to be successful, attention must be paid to health and wellness. It isn’t just about putting on some weight. Wellness encompasses nutrition and supplementation, exercise, and mental health.
Addressing these areas can dramatically improve the success rate of recovery. Staying clean and sober when you are feeling healthy, energetic and positive is much easier than when you are feeling sick, fatigued and depressed.
The effects of drug and alcohol use don’t go away overnight. Studies show it takes at least a year for the body and mind to recover and get back to a baseline level, and it can often take longer than that, depending on the individual’s drug use and lifestyle. The body tends to recover more quickly, but the brain can take much longer.
There are ways to speed this, though, starting with optimum nutrition.
Nutrition can play a huge part in the success of recovery. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals and proteins are all essential to repairing the damage done by drugs and alcohol.
Many people don’t get enough nutrients in their diets. For people who have been using, often for years, this is doubly the case. Not only have they been depriving their bodies of what they need, they have also been flooding their system with toxins consistently.
Good nutrition should start immediately, as early as detox. In some cases, supplementation with vitamins can help ease the detox process. Certain vitamins and supplements can also help boost energy and improve mood. This is important because the first few weeks of recovery are important for building a good foundation. There is a lot of work to be done, and it is much easier to make progress when you are feeling well.
Proteins and healthy fats can help rebuild muscle and tissues that have deteriorated. Adequate amounts of foods rich in these essential fats and proteins can dramatically help speed healing of the brain, allowing for better functioning. It can be surprising how quickly a person can see and feel improvement, in their energy levels, mood, appearance, and overall well-being once they start eating right.
Exercise shouldn’t be overlooked as an important element of recovery from drug and alcohol use. Regular and varied physical activity helps increase oxygen to the bloodstream and brain. It releases endorphins, improving mood and energy. It helps work the respiratory system. It builds strength, endurance, and confidence.
Simple activities such as walking should be started right away. Other activities, such as swimming, aerobic exercise, and weight training should also start early on. These activities not only help improve health in the short term, but they also help build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Yoga is a wonderful example of a wellness practice that helps heal both the body and mind. Yoga improves strength, stability, posture and flexibility. It also impacts physical health in other ways, improving digestion, circulation, immune system and neck and back alignment. It helps alleviate aches and pains and increases energy.
There are other benefits, as well. Yoga has been found to reduce blood pressure, stress levels, and anxiety. The practice of yoga has a positive impact on mood and increases discipline and impulse control. People who practice yoga report feeling calmer, more centered and more able to focus. Yoga impacts brain activity and brain chemistry. It is truly a healing practice and is great when paired with meditation, which can also help heal the addiction-damaged brain.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is a phone call away. First Steps can help you overcome addiction with a personalized treatment program that works for you. Call 1-844-BIG-STEP today to get started.