Recovery from addiction is a wonderful achievement. It means you have overcome a substance that not only controlled you, but essentially ravaged your life.

Addiction, which is also referred to as substance abuse, can cost you friendships and loved ones. It can cause you to lose your job, as well as your home. Think about the things addiction can take from you, and you’ll understand how destructive it can be.

What is sometimes overlooked with addiction, however, is that it can take a terrible physical toll on your body, particularly your nutrition.


If the title for this section reads like an oxymoron, then yes, it is intended. To eat like an addict is to not eat at all. In fact, by the time most addicts reach a rehabilitation center, they are severely malnourished.

The reason for this is simple. Substance abusers are more interested in their next high than their next meal. As their addiction develops, sustenance loses increasing value to the point that some severe addicts barely even eat.

Nutrition plays such an important role in the recovery process, that many rehabilitation centers automatically include it in a person’s treatment plan.

In short, a healthy recovery demands healthy eating habits. Healthy nutrition can also ensure a continued successful recovery.


The first action that addiction takes against nutrition is it tricks the brain’s receptors into thinking the body is getting feel-good chemicals previously associated with food and drink.

At the same time, alcohol and drugs prevent the body from absorbing any nutrients it could (and should) receive. Addiction experts cite tryptophan, which is associated with food, as a major feel-good chemical blocked by drug and alcohol abuse.

Poor nutrition due to addiction can also affect the immune system. This action compromises the body’s ability to fight off anything from a cold or the flu to more complex afflictions, including various types of cancer. Those cancers can lead to complications with the liver, lung and colon.

It is important to consider how malnutrition and substance abuse can affect one’s outward appearance. They can become overweight and/or underweight with substance use, as well as develop blotchy skin. A person’s teeth, in addition to their overall hygiene can suffer due to poor nutrition and drug use.

Lastly, some of these symptoms of poor nutrition can leave long-term effects on the body, which includes organ damage as well as physical damage due to scaring, pockmarked skin and other physical ailments.


The old term of feed a fever, starve a cold, has much of the same application when it comes to recovery and nutrition.

With that, addiction and nutrition experts agree certain measures can be taken to help your recovery thrive.

  • Ease up on the caffeine by drinking less soda, tea, and yes, coffee. Drinks that contain stimulating chemicals are known to be triggers which can cause a recovered addict to have less resistance toward alcohol or drugs.
  • Stay away from sugary foods, particularly during the holiday season. Experts cite that similar to caffeine-stimulated drinks, foods with a lot of sugar, could cause a person to relapse.
  • Instead of diet drinks and chocolate croissants, one should invest their palate into foods rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants boost immune systems and protect cells from free radical damage which has been shown to cause cancer.
  • Ex-addicts should utilize the antioxidant properties in fruits and vegetables to help rebuild an immune system compromised by alcohol or drugs. A strong serving of fruits and vegetables can even go as far as to restore your skin tone and hair thickness, both of which are susceptible to extended drug use.
  • Protein is as important to a healthy recovery as fruits and vegetables. Protein helps the brain rebuild itself after extensive substance abuse. Try to pick proteins such as fish, poultry, eggs or beans as they are easy to digest, and not too rough on damaged vital organs such as the liver.
  • Fill up with fiber not flour. Toss the tortilla and opt instead for foods with 100% whole grains. Brown rice, black beans, artichokes, peas, and whole grain pasta will also provide valuable roughage for your system. To jumpstart your fiber intake, consider using an over-the-counter fiber supplement.

True recovery from substance abuse is about restoring your mind and your body. Good nutrition is one of the best ways to replenish a body that’s been ravished by addiction. For more tips and a customized plan, talk to a nutrition specialist or look for a drug rehab program that includes nutritional counseling. Diet plays a significant role in how you feel; the better you feel, the greater your chances of a successful and lasting recovery.

If you feel you or a loved one has an issue with substance abuse, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

Recovery and Nutrition.

Recovery and Nutrition