Will Your Diet Improve Your Drug Detox Program?

Learn about the role of diet while in a drug detox program and during recovery in this detailed article.

Table of Contents

What Is Detoxification?

Detoxification is the process through which the body removes toxins. In a drug detox program, detoxification refers to a medically supervised intervention. This intervention aims to manage symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal.
Drug Detox Program

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Impact of Detoxification and Withdrawal

One primary characteristic of addiction is the body’s dependency on the substance to function. When the body no longer has the substance in its system to rely on, it tries to compensate. As a result, withdrawal side effects occur.

These withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the substance, addiction severity, and the patient’s health. Thus, for patients’ safety, medical professionals recommend patients detox at medical facilities. Most treatment centers, rehabs, and hospitals offer drug detox programs.

How Long Does Detoxification Take?

There is no set timeline for detox. The length of a drug detox program depends on a variety of factors, including the substance, length, and severity of abuse, as well as the patient’s age and general health. Some detoxification processes can last only three days, while others can last up to two weeks. Most drug detox programs are short-term, emphasizing the transition to further treatment.

How Detoxification Works

A drug detox program aims to help individuals get through the initial stages of detox and withdrawal and set people up for success in the long run. A drug detox program is the first step in addiction treatment and can be broken down into three phases: evaluation, stabilization, and treatment plan development.

Evaluation

The first step of the drug detox program is evaluation. Upon arrival, the patient will be evaluated by a medical health professional. They will take some time to learn more about the patient, their history with substance use, and any other conditions they have or may have. During the evaluation, the medical team will take a blood test to see what substances are in the bloodstream and establish a baseline.

Stabilization

Drug detox and withdrawal can be uncomfortable and strenuous, both mentally and physically. The withdrawal symptoms can vary wildly depending on the substance, and some can lead to fatal consequences. Unlike detoxing at home, detoxing through a drug detox program is safe and more comfortable.

Once detoxing starts, the medical staff will help ease and manage drug withdrawal symptoms and detox. Symptoms vary from physical (e.g., muscle aches, insomnia, shaking, headaches) to psychological (e.g., depression, paranoia, cravings). Thus, doctors often prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms. Stabilizing from withdrawal can range from a few days to a few weeks.

Treatment Plan

Once individuals reach stabilization, it is time to move on to the next step in their treatment. Treatment for substance use disorder looks different for everyone and depends on many factors. Not everyone benefits from the same level of treatment. Working with a drug detox program will help patients find the right care to succeed in recovery.

What’s the Difference Between Drug Detox and Detox Diets?

Detox is a buzzword that is thrown around a lot when it comes to health. For instance, detox can refer to a change in diet, such as water fasts, elimination diets, and juice cleanses. At the same time, detox can also refer to eliminating toxins from the body. Detox diets and drug detox are two different types of “cleanses,” as one is a diet and the other is an addiction treatment.

Will Diet Improve Your Drug Detox Program?

Unfortunately, no magic diet can rid the body of toxins from substance abuse. However, diet does play a key role in recovery. A healthy, well-balanced diet can improve people’s experience in a drug detox program. Many individuals with substance use disorder also have nutritional imbalances related to their drug use. Addressing these imbalances in a drug detox program helps support the body, reducing symptoms.

A healthy diet will always support improved health. So, learning how to make and maintain a nutritious and balanced diet throughout and after recovery can go a long way.

What Is the Role of Nutrition in Substance Abuse Recovery?

The importance of a well-balanced diet extends beyond the initial detox phase. A well-rounded drug detox program will address nutrition to set you up for success in recovery.

Why Diet Matters During and After a Drug Detox

Substance use disorder can lead to changes in eating habits and poor diet, resulting in nutritional imbalances. A healthy diet during and after a drug detox program can improve overall health and chances of long-term recovery.1

How Can a Nutritious Diet Aid Addiction Recovery?

Eating a well-balanced diet has been shown to improve mood and health. In terms of addiction recovery, a well-nourished brain and body can reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings while in a drug detox program.
Further, individuals who keep a well-rounded and balanced diet are less likely to relapse than those who do not. For example, research has shown that people with cocaine and alcohol addiction who consumed foods rich in omega-6 and omega-3 were less likely to relapse.2

How Does Substance Abuse Disrupt Nutrition?

One of the consequences of substance use disorder is a disruption in nutrition. One study found that 92.4% of people with a substance use disorder were underweight and malnourished. In the long run, these changes can result in nutritional deficiencies and other health consequences.3
A good drug detox program will provide well-balanced and nutritious meals throughout the day. Substance abuse is linked to malnutrition, making healthy meals an essential part of recovery.

Alcohol and Nutrition

Alcohol consumption is immensely disruptive to the body. It damages the gut microbiome and leads to nutritional imbalances. This is because alcohol use impairs the body’s ability to take in and process nutrients from food.
Alcohol use can lead to deficiencies in vitamins A, B, D, and more. Low levels of certain vitamins can have detrimental effects on the body. For example, vitamin B deficiency can lead to the development of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, also known as wet brain. Symptoms of this disease include confusion and loss of mental activity, loss of coordination, vision changes, memory problems, and hallucinations.

Supporting Statistics

Data shows that approximately 2% of the population in the United States has Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The majority of cases are caused by chronic alcohol use.4

Opioids and Nutrition

Opiate and opioid use can lead to decreased levels of blood sugar, thiamine, vitamins B6, B9, C, and D, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Additionally, diarrhea and vomiting are common side effects of opiate use, which lead to electrolyte deficiencies and dehydration. Severe electrolyte loss and dehydration are life-threatening and can lead to death.

Stimulants and Nutrition

Stimulant drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine reduce appetite and can lead to malnutrition. Similarly to alcohol, individuals who use cocaine are at risk for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome due to vitamin B deficiencies.

Marijuana and Nutrition

Marijuana use can increase appetite, leading to weight gain. While under the influence of marijuana, individuals may not make the best choices in food. This can lead to overconsumption of processed, sugary, and fatty foods. Long-term complications of an unhealthy diet include increased blood sugar and cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

How Do Nutrients Affect the Body?

Our bodies need specific nutrients to function properly. A well-balanced diet includes vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, carbohydrates, and lots of water. Not getting enough of any one of these key components can lead to further health problems. Proper nutrition will help improve the withdrawal experience during the drug detox program and the overall outcome of recovery.

Vitamins

Vitamins are specific nutrients that are essential for many processes in the body. Because the body cannot create these nutrients on its own, they must be supplemented through a good diet. For the body to function properly, it needs a source of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. While supplements do exist, it is best to get these vitamins by eating a healthy diet.

Minerals

Minerals are another type of nutrient required for normal body function. Necessary minerals include calcium, chloride, copper, cobalt, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulfur, selenium, and zinc.

Protein

Protein is essential for both building and maintaining muscle in the body. Protein fuels the body, providing the body with energy to move through life. Protein can be found in meats, seafood, eggs, seeds, nuts, and soy products.

Fat and Fatty Acids

Fats and fatty acids are also important to a healthy, well-balanced diet. Fats are needed to help the body absorb certain vitamins and feel full longer. They also provide the body with energy.

Carbohydrates

The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide fuel for the body. They help the body store energy, creating energy reserves. Additionally, carbohydrates contain fiber, which is pivotal to gut health.

Water

The human body is mostly made up of water, making it one of the most important parts of a balanced diet. Water is necessary for the body’s nutritional transport and toxin removal. Water also helps with digestion, temperature regulation, feeling full, and organ health

Diet Tips to Help During Drug Detox

Eating healthy is a form of self-care and self-love. A well-balanced diet can boost the immune system and improve well-being in the long run, not just during a drug detox program.
Drug Detox Program

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

During detox, water is essential. Dehydration is common during withdrawal, so medical professionals recommend that individuals drink 2–3 liters of water per day. Drinking enough water will prevent dehydration and lessen withdrawal symptoms during the drug detox program.

Pack in the Protein

Muscle injury and damage can be a side effect of substance abuse. A protein-rich diet can help the body heal and provide muscles with adequate fuel. Protein can be found in animal products, such as meat, eggs, and dairy. Plant-based proteins can be found in beans, soy, nuts, and seeds.

Fruits and Vegetables Are Essential

Fruits and vegetables are key to a healthy diet, as they are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. For example, leafy greens, such as spinach, are high in vitamins A and K, which are necessary for bone health and preventing inflammation. Fruits can provide the body with natural healthy sugars and are often high in vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables are also another source of fiber, which is necessary for gut health.

Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are good for both the brain and body. Choosing foods high in healthy unsaturated fats, like omega-3s, is beneficial. These foods include fatty fish, seeds, nuts, avocados, and olive oil.

Avoid Saturated Fats and Processed Foods

Saturated fats and processed foods can lead to an overconsumption of calories. Additionally, these foods can increase cholesterol and lead to weight gain. Foods high in saturated fats include full-fat dairy products, red meat, butter, and processed foods. While receiving treatment at a drug detox program, avoiding these foods will be easy, as it is rare for medical facilities to provide unhealthy foods.

Get Your Whole Grains

Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them an important part of a well-balanced diet. Whole grains include oats, farro, quinoa, barley, corn, and rice. These grains can help the body feel fuller for longer and provide the fiber needed to keep things moving.

Eat Foods That Are Good for Your Liver

The liver filters toxins from the body. It breaks down substances, such as drugs and alcohol, and processes them. Eating foods that support liver function is helpful during the drug detox program and recovery process, as the liver will be working hard to remove those toxins. Foods high in antioxidants and selenium promote liver function. These foods include garlic, citrus, broccoli, turmeric, walnuts, beets, carrots, apples, and avocados.

Seaweed Is Your Friend

Seaweed is a fantastic superfood and a great addition to a diet fit for recovery. Seaweed is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, seaweed is full of fiber that can help restore gut health.

Drink Ginger Tea

Ginger is another superfood to consider during recovery. Ginger tea is soothing to the stomach and can help alleviate nausea during withdrawal. Ginger tea is also helpful as an anti-inflammatory, which is beneficial during recovery.

Learn More About Recovery Food at Profound

At Profound, we focus on all aspects of recovery, all the way down to the food. Our chefs work diligently to provide everyone with well-balanced, healthy meals for detox and recovery. We also offer helpful information about specific foods for recovery, eating right, and how to make lasting changes to your diet.

Come join us and experience the Profound difference through our drug detox program today.

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