The role of diet in recovering from addiction
When considering kosher rehab, there are several other factors in addition to counselling, behavioural therapy, and positive peer exampling – the things people usually focus on the most.
But, as vital as those are, there are many other aspects of full rehabilitation, and proper nutrition is particularly important.
During periods of addiction, it’s not uncommon for an individual to fall into extremely poor eating habits. Sometimes, those habits can become eating disorders that compound the problems already presented by the addiction itself. Because of this, and especially in the context of a kosher recovery center, it’s really important to understand how healthy nutrition can not only aid the recovery process, but also play a role in regulating emotional and physiological relapse triggers.
HOW SUBSTANCE ABUSE AFFECTS THE BODY
The more dramatic consequences of addiction are well known, such as liver disease in the case of alcohol abuse, but regardless of substance, there is a far greater cascade of negative effects that are often quite subtle or unseen against the greater immediacy of the addiction itself.
One of these is particularly important: the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients becomes impaired, and vital vitamins and essential amino acids can no longer be easily assimilated. When this happens, physical breakdown happens faster, and general health declines dramatically.
The addiction itself can accelerate this process and gives rise to problematic eating patterns. Some individuals will forget to eat, or lose the ability to eat, while under the influence or while in withdrawal, and for people suffering from addiction, nutrition is not a priority. Nutrition, though, plays a pivotal role in kosher rehab, and deserves special focus.
At the other end of the scale, certain substances trigger overeating, which leads to obesity and the health challenges that this can present. And, at both extremes, there are gastrointestinal issues to contend with, such as irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, and inflammation of the digestive tract. This in turn can do serious damage to the body’s immune system, placing the individual at far greater risk of illness or viral infection.
The damage is not limited to the digestive tract, though, and supporting organs also begin to suffer damage: the pancreas and liver are particularly susceptible, too, and a range of blood sugar-related issues can begin to manifest, from hypoglycaemia to diabetes, which can be equally and drastically life-altering.
THE HEALING PROCESS
So, where to begin in repairing the damage? It’s important to remember that there are stages of recovery, and at our kosher recovery center, these apply to nutrition just as they apply to therapy.
The first stage, which is the process of guiding an individual away from substance dependence through progressive detoxification, is an opportunity to embrace healthier eating patterns and better dietary choices that support easier recovery.
At this time, it’s particularly important to ensure that nutrition is balanced and supportive. Very often, appetite is drastically reduced, or disappears, and the introduction of balanced protein shakes or smoothies can be a way of ensuring that the nutritional bases are covered throughout.
The detoxification process produces symptoms that mimic those of flu, so lighter foods, like chicken soup or yoghurt are often more palatable while still enabling good nutrition. Often, an individual suffering from addiction can literally forget what hunger feels like and may even mistake natural hunger as being a substance craving instead. One of the key elements of reintroducing normality is to use meals to establish a basic routine, which has an extremely beneficial effect, not just physically, but psychologically too.
Freeman House is of course a kosher recovery center, and we ensure that our nutritional regimen for residents is 100% kosher at all times.
Supplementation is equally important, and vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, zinc, iron, folate, and B vitamins also play a role.
As far as possible, our kosher recovery center emphasizes the importance of natural, unprocessed foods, which lead to better overall health and sustainable lifelong eating habits. This also reduces the likelihood that a recovering addict will replace a substance addiction with an eating addiction.
LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR LONG-TERM HEALTH
Longer-term kosher rehab recovery strategies are important, because healthy eating habits reduce the likelihood of addictive triggers. It’s important to remember that natural stimulants such as too much coffee, excessive sugar, and certain food additives, can induce physiological changes which make relapse more likely – for example, sugar triggers dopamine release in the brain, exactly as an addictive substance does. By comparison, healthy foods encourage serotonin production in the brain, which induces calmness and contentment.
The kosher rehab approach is not just short-term care, but longer-term education and equipping. Our counsellors adopt a holistic approach, incorporating diet, appropriate exercise, and emotional management techniques – among many others – to provide each individual with all the tools needed to not just recover, but to excel.
Effective kosher rehab requires the input of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals, not only in the fields of physiology and psychology, but also in the field of nutrition – and that is precisely where Freeman House excels.
To find out more about our facilities, contact us today.