The Importance of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

Nutrition for Addiction Recover - Person Preparing Food

Nutrition plays an important role in recovery from substance abuse and mental illness. A diet comprised of healthy foods can help repair your body after being dependent on drugs and alcohol, and ward off symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and low energy that contribute to cravings for junk foods and harmful substances. Dana Point Rehab Campus offer their patients nutritional services so they can rebuild their physical, mental, and emotional health as they recover from addiction.

How Does Drug and Alcohol Addiction Contribute to Malnutrition?

Over time, regular use of drugs and alcohol can negatively impact nutrition to cause health problems such as low metabolism, poor organ function, and mental illness. Alcohol has been found to interfere with the body’s absorption of important nutrients, while stimulants like cocaine can quickly deplete electrolytes to cause dehydration. Drugs and alcohol can also cause imbalances in neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin to increase the risk for mental health disorders like depression.

People who suffer from addiction often devote lots of time to obtaining and using drugs and to recovering from the effects than to practicing good nutrition. For example, they may feel too tired or sick to cook healthy meals after a night of alcohol use, and they’ll either visit the nearest fast-food establishment or skip eating altogether. Neglecting nutrition like this on a regular basis can often lead to malnutrition and related health problems.

Here’s the impact of different substances on nutrition:


The most common deficiencies associated with alcohol use are vitamins A, D, E, B1, B6, and K, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, according to MedlinePlus and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol abuse also damages the liver and pancreas — both of which are involved in metabolism and nutrition. Damage to these organs increases the risk for an imbalance in electrolytes, calories, protein, and fluids.


Heroin and painkillers affect the gastrointestinal tract to cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can often lead to loss of fluids and electrolytes to increase the risk for malnutrition.


Stimulants like crack, cocaine, and methamphetamine speed up the central nervous system to cause reduced appetite, which can then lead to extreme weight loss and malnutrition. According to Dentistry Journal, meth use also contributes to less saliva production and dry mouth, which increases the risk for tooth decay and tooth loss. Individuals affected by “meth mouth” may eat less often to avoid the pain caused by these oral health problems.


Marijuana is found to increase appetite and cause some users to suffer from “the munchies,” resulting in weight gain. Long-term users of marijuana may overeat regularly or consume high amounts of unhealthy foods that contribute to weight gain.

What Is the Goal of Nutrition Therapy at Drug Rehab?

Some drug rehab centers like Dana Point Rehab Campus, include nutrition therapy in their treatment programs. Patients may receive nutritional supplementation during drug detox, while those in better health can visit the kitchen to eat nutritious meals.

Nutrition therapy  has the following goals:

  • To nourish and heal the body after having been dependent on drugs and alcohol
  • To reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol
  • To improve comorbidities caused or worsened by drug and alcohol use
  • To reduce stress and regulate mood
  • To teach patients how nutrition affects the body and brain, and prevent relapse
  • To promote healthier lifestyle behaviors in patients

Nutrition Tips for Mental Health and Addiction Patients

Patients usually receive nutrition therapy, counseling, and education for the duration of their treatment programs so they can continue to become healthier and reverse the damage caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Patients can improve their chances for a healthy, long-term recovery when combining good nutrition with regular exercise, quality sleep, and regular participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

Here are nutrition tips for those in recovery from addiction:

  • Stick to eating meals at the same time every day to prevent skipped meals and overeating.
  • Eat foods that are low in sugar and fat.
  • Avoid foods that contain high amounts of harmful additives and preservatives.
  • Eat foods high in protein, dietary fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
  • Use nutritional supplements to restore nutrients lost or depleted on behalf of drug and alcohol use.

Dana Point Rehab Campus offers nutritional services with drug and alcohol rehab programs to help patients strengthen their immune systems and restore their health after overcoming drug and alcohol dependence. Our staff prepare healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals that can help you feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally as you recover from addiction. Contact us today at 949.569.7517 to learn more about our nutritional services and many available drug rehab programs.