The Importance of Nutrition During Drug and Alcohol Rehab

March 3, 2021

Nutrition is one of the most essential factors in addiction treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, according to the University of Southern California, nutritional guidance is often absent during the substance abuse treatment process.

This lack of direction and education in many drug rehab programs persists although many people going through recovery often face heightened risks of malnutrition, dramatic weight fluctuations, and eating disorders.

Why is Nutrition so Vital for Addiction Recovery?

People with a history of using addictive drugs may experience difficulty recovering their appetites and restoring balance within their bodies. Effective nutritional counseling, education, and healthy diets can prove instrumental in the recovery process.

Whether someone has had an endless case of “the munchies” for several years or has consumed very little food, malnutrition from eating too little or the wrong types of foods is quite common among patients entering a holistic drug treatment program of any kind.

Improving nutrition can help someone in recovery in the following ways: 

1. Heal Malnutrition & Bodily Harm Caused by Substance Abuse 

Drugs and alcohol affect the body in many ways. Different substances create different problems. For instance, someone with a long-term dependence on marijuana may experience increased appetite and corresponding weight gain as a result.

In contrast, those who abuse the following substances may experience a loss of appetite as well as weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances: 

  • crack
  • cocaine
  • methamphetamines
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, etc.)
  • amphetamine (Adderall)
  • dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
  • ecstasy

Additionally, drugs and alcohol change the chemistry of the body and the brain. Prolonged exposure to the chemicals in most narcotic drugs damage the body. Examples include:

  • Inhalants spread toxins quickly throughout the body damaging livers, kidneys, and even bone marrow.
  • Methamphetamines can elevate heart rate, cause convulsions, and may even do irreparable damage to the heart. That is in addition to major damage to teeth and a condition known as “meth mouth.”
  • Cocaine makes people more vulnerable to infections, strokes, and heart attacks.

Even the brain and skin are not immune to the ravages drug addiction inflicts upon the human body. Without adequate nutritional health, the body will have a more difficult time recovering. Which is why nutritional guidance, instruction, and education is critical. It helps provide the body with the nutrients it needs to repair the damage done by prolonged drug abuse.

2. Good Nutrition Works to Prevent Relapse 

Today’s Dietitian, a magazine for nutritional professionals, reports that nutrition and hydration are fundamental for restoring physical and mental health during recovery from addiction and improving the chances of recovery while also reducing the risks of a relapse. 

3. Better Nutrition Improves Mood & Energy Levels 

Good nutrition does all of the following to promote better mental and physical health throughout the recovery process:

  • Reduces risks of depression related to nutritional deficiencies.
  • Improves energy.
  • Reduces anxiety.
  • Stabilizes mood and reduces stress.
  • Reduces cravings for alcohol and drugs.
  • Encourages a focus on health and self-care throughout recovery and beyond.

This is why it is necessary to seek a holistic drug rehab center that focuses on nutrition for healing and offering nutritional guidance and education from day one.

Benefits of Choosing a Holistic Rehab Center that Prioritizes Nutrition 

The old way of dealing with drug addiction relied heavily upon guilt and behavioral modifications to address addiction and recovery without solving the problems that created a situation ripe for addiction or repairing the physical, emotional, and spiritual damage addiction left behind. Success rates were dismal at best.

Choosing a holistic drug treatment program offers hope in a manner 12-step programs were never able to manage. The reason is simple, a holistic recovery center is focused on healing the whole person and not simply changing their behavior. 

The Role of Nutrition in a Holistic Drug Rehab

Holistic drug rehab involves all areas of a person’s life offering real hope on every front that recovery is possible and a happy, healthy life is possible.

An effective holistic rehab center focuses on every aspect of healing, including exercise and nutrition to not only help the body detoxify and cleanse after years of abuse and damage. It is also necessary to promote the physical healing that goes hand in hand with recovery.

This dedication to whole body healing is what sets holistic drug treatment programs apart from 12-step programs that have delivered limited results over the decades. 

Other factors to consider when choosing a holistic drug and alcohol treatment center include: 

  • natural detoxification
  • exercise and fitness classes
  • group and private counseling 
  • life skills training

Elevate Addiction Services’ Nutrition Resources

Elevate Addiction Services provides nutritional guidance to individuals enrolled at our facilities. At Elevate, we know the importance of limiting sugary and processed foods during addiction recovery. 

We start during detox. While we provide three-square meals a day. Individuals in detox are less likely to have a large appetite, so during this phase of treatment, individuals are provided with healthy snacks including fruit and Sun Chips. 

Once a patient moves into the main facility for the inpatient part of their treatment, they will have access to: 

  • Breakfast
  • Salad Bar 
  • Lunch & Dinner Meals 

Some common breakfast items at Elevate include: 

  • Scrambled or fried eggs 
  • Fresh fruit 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Breakfast burritos 
  • And much more! 

A few examples or our lunch and dinner meals include: 

Lunch: Steak Tacos (steak,chicken, shrimp) Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, mexican rice, black and chili beans mixed, pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded lettuce, salsa, homemade salsa, sour cream, cheese

Snack: Fruit (honeydew, grapes, kiwi, papaya), Celery and peanut butter with cranberries, cantaloupe juice.

Dinner: Whole chicken (rotisserie) roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta with tomato sauce, green beans, dinner rolls (wheat), gravy, salad

Lunch: Pho (chicken or steak), rice noodles, bean sprout, sliced onion, mushrooms, tofu, cilantro, green onion, basil, lime, hoisin sauce.

Snack: Fruit tray, edamame, greek yogurt

Dinner: Fish (mahi mahi, halibut, swordfish), rice pilaf, couscous, grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli, biscuits.

Lunch: Turkey Bacon Club Sandwich (lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, mayonnaise) Spring mix salad (strawberries, mango, kiwi avocado) brown rice salad, caesar salad, broccoli soup, lentil soup

Snack: Fruit tray, Cheese and Cracker, 

Dinner: Pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, white rice, parmesan cauliflower, grilled asparagus, bread (garlic)

To learn more about how proper nutrition can assist in a wholesome addiction recovery, contact an addiction counselor today.

This page does not provide medical advice
Written by Elevate Addiction Services | © 2021 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved

Medically Reviewed by

Scott Friend, MSW, M.S.

December 4, 2020

Overcome Addiction at Elevate Addiction Services
Elevate is currently offering immediate enrollment in inpatient, outpatient, or telehealth programs. Reach out today to learn more.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Table of Contents

Jump to a Section

Article Contents

Treatment Resources

Related Links