Weight gain in recovery is common for many reasons. Some people may gain back the weight they lost before they started using drugs or drinking while others may gain a substantial amount. The reasons for weight gain vary, but they do play a part in recovery and health. It can become a problem itself if a significant amount of weight gain is not addressed.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why weight gain in recovery is so common. If you need reliable and affordable Wilmington, NC drug rehab or alcohol treatment, please call Legacy Freedom for more information!
Weight Changes and Addiction Recovery
When someone is addicted to drugs or drinks heavily, he doesn’t get the nutrition he needs. He may go for days without eating. Food is not the main concern for someone with an addiction problem. This can cause physical problems that need to be addressed in recovery. The body will go into starvation mode when it does not receive proper nutrition.
A program that teaches good eating habits can be beneficial for someone overcoming addiction. Not only will they learn to eat like a normal person again, they can use healthy foods to help them feel better physically. Addiction takes a toll on the body, so it’s important to try to repair the damage done.
Studies have shown that substance abuse affects metabolism, which can cause weight gain. Metabolism is the way the body uses food as fuel. Some people have a fast metabolism, while others break down food more slowly. Someone who takes drugs or drinks drastically alters the way the body breaks down food and prevents nutrients and amino acids from being properly absorbed and used by the body. For instance, people who are addicted to opiates are known to have issues with constipation.
A study done at Cambridge University found that cocaine causes metabolic changes in the body that make it hard for the body to store fat. The drugs causes a decrease in leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. Researchers found that, of the people they talked to, most consumed foods high in fat and carbohydrates. This may be because the body is trying to increase the levels of leptin that the drug depleted. When someone stopped taking the drug, they still ate the same foods, but they gained weight because they didn’t have cocaine to help keep the leptin levels down.
In some cases, people in recovery develop an addiction to food after they have given up drugs or alcohol. Drugs and eating can have a similar effect on the brain because they both stimulate the reward response in the brain, which release dopamine, the “feel good” chemical. When someone is not able to take drugs or drink in order to get that feeling, he may turn to food.
Someone who has taken drugs for an extended period of time may have a reduction of dopamine levels, which means they have less control over impulse and emotional regulation. These changes take time to improve after someone gives up drugs, so it can leave the door open for other addictions to develop. If you have a friend or loved one with an addiction problem, call Legacy Freedom for affordable Wilmington, NC drug rehab and alcohol treatment.
When someone turns to drugs or alcohol, it’s likely because he has other emotional or psychological problems. He or she may even have a history of eating disorders or other issues with food that were never resolved. Depression and anxiety can also lead someone to use drugs or alcohol to cope. All of these underlying problems can resurface when someone gives up drugs or alcohol, leaving them with a desire to seek out something to make themselves feel better.
Comfort eating is common among people dealing with stress. Someone in recovery may feel overwhelmed by the day-to-day activities of life and may turn to food for comfort. In many families, food was used as a reward, so someone in recovery may use food as a way to celebrate achievements. Unfortunately, people usually turn to junk foods such as cake, ice cream, chips or fast food as their form of reward. Foods high in sugar and salt can cause cravings that can lead to symptoms similar to those of someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. It can cause another cycle that will need to be broken.
Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain
During recovery, some programs offer nutrition therapy to show addicts how to eat properly in order to begin reversing the damage done from substance abuse, but also to show them how to develop healthy relationships with food. If someone has other issues that have caused them to seek out drugs, alcohol, or even food in order to cope, then they need to be addressed. If the underlying problems are not dealt with, it can be difficult to move forward in recovery.
After Wilmington, NC drug rehab, it is important to establish a healthy eating plan. Eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will replace the nutrients lost during addiction. It may even be necessary to take a vitamin supplement. If vitamin D and B levels are low, it can cause fatigue and mild depression. A routine check-up with blood work can determine if vitamins levels are low. If digestive problems are still an issue, supplements such as probiotics and amino acids can help resolve those, too. A physician can make recommendations.
Exercise is also important – not only for avoiding weight gain, but for overall health. It releases dopamine, which is that “feel good” chemical mentioned before. But you won’t experience a let-down or withdrawal from exercise in the way you would by getting that high from drugs or food. Experts recommend getting about 30 minutes of exercise a day five days a week. Any kind of exercise will do – start with walking around the neighborhood and work up to harder activities such as jogging or biking.
Legacy Freedom | Awesome Wilmington, NC Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment
If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and need help, call Legacy Freedom of Wilmington today. We offer nutritional therapy for those who want to learn how to take care of themselves through healthy food choices, and family programs as well. Our holistic approach will show you ways to live life without depending on drugs or alcohol. Our outpatient programs for Wilmington, NC drug rehab also allows you to get help while you continue to work or go to school. Call us today to speak to an admissions counselor so you can get on track to the healthy, sober life you deserve.