Can nutrition play a role for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in recovery? You bet it can. I was curious about this myself, so I did some research and thought I would present you with some facts about it.
But first, let’s clear up some of the myths you might have heard:
Myth #1 – Certain foods can fight cravings – this is basically false, although some research concluded at one time that it might be true.
Myth #2 – Proper nutrition or vitamin supplements can constitute a recovery program – this is false. Regardless of how many vitamins you take or what diet you consume, it will not radically change the way you feel in recovery, especially in terms of the emotional roller coaster that early sobriety brings with it. True recovery from addiction requires much more than just proper nutrition. (In fact, I did not even think about nutrition for the first 7 years of my recovery, and I did just fine!)
* Special note: if you are withdrawing from alcohol, you need medical supervision, not nutritional advice.
So here is the road map I’ve found for nutrition in recovery:
1) Recovering alcoholics and most drug addicts will tend to be malnourished in early recovery. The solution is to eat a healthy diet. There is a ton of information available as to what that consists of, but here is my pick from the Mayo Clinic.
2) Be sensible. A daily multi-vitamin is probably a good idea. On the other hand, taking mega doses of exotic vitamins and formulas is probably not necessary.
3) Limit or curtail caffeine and heavy sugar intake. A surprising high number of recovering alcoholics also drink coffee. You don’t have to quit, but what about going from 4 cups of coffee to one or two per day? Again, be sensible.
4) Here is a recommended “recovery” diet. You’ll notice that it is sensible, simple, and healthy. Who would have imagined that?
So in recovery, nutrition is important, but there is no magic formula out there that says you should be taking certain supplements because you’re in recovery. During the detox stage, some extra supplements might be necessary (under medical supervision), but there is no need for anything other than a healthy and balanced diet in long term recovery.
Does anyone have any nutritional advice for recovering addicts and alcoholics? Let us know in the comments….