Nutrition in Recovery

Legacy Healing Center Blog

For someone recovering from a substance use disorder, it is common for their physical health to have taken a nosedive as a result of their destructive habits. Some people will find themselves malnourished, while others sit on the opposite side of that spectrum with routine binges. No matter the case, successful addiction treatment should focus on both a patient’s mental and physical health. At Legacy Healing Center, we understand the importance of nutrition in recovery. Here we are breaking down the ways the body can suffer from substance abuse, as well as how to best replenish it moving forward.


Nutrition and Addiction by Type

Something many people overlook is the different ways that addiction can affect multiple facets of a person’s life. Why a person starts abusing a drug is important to consider. Certain individuals will abuse stimulants to stay awake and focused, while cannabis might be religiously taken as a means to relax and manage anxiety. No matter the case, different kinds of drugs and alcohol can have a unique effect on the physical and nutritional well-being of the person taking them.

Alcohol and Nutrition

It is common for someone abusing alcohol to also have poor eating habits. Not only does the alcohol itself have a negative effect on the absorption of nutrients in the body, but being intoxicated will likely not help a person to consider the health risks of what they are eating and drinking. Because of potential damage to the lining of the stomach, serious digestive deficiencies can develop. Additionally, severe harm to the liver and pancreas can also occur. 

Nutrition and Opioid Addiction

What is unique about this opioid substance abuse is the presence of gastrointestinal distress throughout the withdrawal process. Symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting will deplete the body of important nutrients, sometimes severe enough that dehydration will occur. Although it may not be easy, ensuring that eating healthy meals during opioid withdrawals is crucial and is a priority for patients undergoing opioid withdrawal treatment at Legacy.

Stimulant Abuse

A major selling point that draws in abusers of stimulant drugs like amphetamines and cocaine is the prospect of a decreased appetite. Considering the emphasis that has been historically placed on thinness, it is not hard to imagine why a person would resort to the use of a dangerous substance in order to meet these beauty standards. Unfortunately, malnutrition is all too common and can result in serious health risks like a weakened immune system, vitamin deficiencies, cognitive issues, and even damage to the reproductive system.


The munchies are a well-known side effect of cannabis use that typically involves the binging of junk food. This increase in appetite can lead to excessive weight gain over time, while deficiencies in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can also prove destructive.

Any kind of disordered eating should be addressed, and if the presence of these symptoms persists, additional intervention could be necessary.


Suggested Diet for Alcoholics and Others in Recovery

Effective addiction treatment will look different for everyone and should be based on the unique facets of a person’s individual health and substance use disorder. That being said, there are still certain steps a person can take to improve their overall well-being.

Recovery nutrition guidelines can include:

  • Minimize caffeine intake
  • Exercise regularly
  • Replace simple carbs with complex carbs
  • Eat more fiber and protein
  • Take supplements and vitamins (your doctor can suggest what would be best for you)
  • Monitor how much sugar you eat
  • Hydrate with plenty of water

Nutrition in recovery is so important because it allows patients to receive comprehensive care that considers not just the treatment of their minds but their bodies as well. No matter what level of care you are placed in, our team of professionals will ensure that you will receive this consideration throughout your stay.


To learn more about our treatment and therapy options, call our Legacy Healing intake specialists at 888-534-2295 today.


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