nutritional challenges

Addressing Nutritional Challenges in Addiction

The term comfort food alone tells us that there is a strong connection between mood and food: you choose what you eat depending on how it makes you feel. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is the leading reason why most people turn to comfort foods, among which sugary desserts like cake, ice cream and other sugary sweets rank the highest. More than just satisfying your sweet tooth, foods high in refined sugars are potentially addicting and can have similar effects on the brain as those caused by drug addiction, based on research findings from the European Journal of Nutrition. In this blog post we will address the nutritional challenges in addiction.

What is your gut telling you?

About 95% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep, appetite, and pain inhibition, is produced in your gut, says Dr. Eva Selhub of Harvard Health. Serotonin also plays a key role in emotional and motivational aspects of human behavior. For many who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, their addictive behaviors have left them with nutritional challenges and digestive diseases such as the following:

• Crohn’s Disease
• Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD or heartburn)
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
• Celiac Disease
• Fecal incontinence
• Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
• Acid Reflux
• Liver Disease
• Kidney Disease
• Hemorrhoids
• Gallstones
• GI Bleeding

Long-term use of recreational, illicit or prescription drugs causes gastrointestinal problems as described above, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Is it any wonder why individuals with substance abuse also have mood disorders?

The link between digestive diseases and nutritional challenges

Not only do drugs and alcohol affect the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for mood, addiction also robs your body’s ability to absorb antioxidants it so desperately needs. Antioxidants are naturally produced in the human body and can be supplied by foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants repair cellular damage caused by free radicals, which are formed from normal cell metabolisms (e.g., when the body uses oxygen) and from exposure to external sources such as radiation, air pollution and second-hand smoking. If your body’s digestive system is compromised by drugs and alcohol, it cannot absorb the nutrients and antioxidants that would counteract the free radicals which, over time, accumulate in the body, resulting in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other chronic diseases like the ones mentioned above.

Recovery is possible with dual diagnosis treatment

You can prevent the continual downward spiral to diseases and poor quality of life if you take control of your future with dual diagnosis treatment. At New Method Wellness, a premier dual diagnosis treatment center in San Juan Capistrano, California, individuals with substance use disorders can choose from a wide array of holistic programs that will help them quit their addiction and achieve long-term recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and other forms of CBT are often used to help wean people off their substance use and abuse. Through New Method Wellness’s nutritional counseling program, clients learn the essentials of diet and exercise as they replenish their bodies with nutrients the right way. In dual diagnosis treatment, licensed clinicians, nutritional therapists and other addiction professionals work together as a multidisciplinary team under one roof to guide individuals and their families toward freedom from addiction. New Method Wellness has been recognized and recommended time and time again by Dr. Phil for the high success rates of their programs.

For more information about our dual diagnosis addiction treatment center, call 866.951.1824 today!