When we think of addiction recovery, we typically think of abstinence—stopping drinking or abusing drugs, going through withdrawal, and getting sober.
But what we often don’t realize is that in addition to abstaining from addictive substances, quality treatment programs also help us add valuable new processes and steps into our lives. Addiction treatment isn’t all about what we must give up. In fact, it’s often focused on what we should add into our daily routines to help us lead healthier and more rewarding lives.
One area that addiction treatment is beginning to embrace—with increasingly positive results—is the incorporation of nutrition and wellness into recovery programs. At Midwest Recovery Centers, for example, we incorporate a nutritional wellness program as part of our standard curriculum.
Nutrition is a vital component of addiction recovery because a focus on healthy meal planning, diet and exercise not only improves physical health but has a proven impact on overall wellness. A 2009 research study from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom found that addiction often has a deep connection to nutrition—for example, researchers noted that alcohol and drug abuse can actually harm the digestive system, making it harder to nourish the body and fuel the brain.
In addition to improving physical health, a focus on nutrition and wellness during addiction recovery can help in several other ways, including:
Help combat urges to relapse: Having a healthy outlet for drug and alcohol cravings can often substantially reduce the risk of relapse. Whether that’s a hobby, exercise, or nutritious food, being able to find an alternate path to fulfillment can often greatly decrease the likelihood of relapse in many people recovering from addiction.
Help people recovering from addiction learn self-care: The importance of taking care of your body and brain is one of the most important lessons that people in recovery learn during addiction treatment. A focus on cooking, preparing, and eating nutritious food can be an important step towards greater self-care and self-love, which includes staying sober and avoiding harmful relapses.
Help improve and stabilize mood: Eating well has been proven to have positive effects on the brain, which in turn allows people in recovery to feel more stable, energized, and calm. In addition, focusing on health and wellness can be a great outlet to focus on during times of stress, helping to lessen the risk of relapse or other harmful behavior.