The Right Nutrition Can Aid Drug Addiction Recovery Efforts

Nutrition and Drug Rehab

Nutrition and Drug Rehab

Think of your brain as the Internet. Every brain cell is a different PC that needs a modem (or, in this case, a synapse) to connect to all the other cells on the neurologic network. But as any IT expert can tell you, plugging in the right wires is only half the battle. Power has to be turned on for the machine to be able to function.

Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters must be running at peak performance for information in the brain to be processed correctly. Four specific neurotransmitters handle all communications relating to our emotional well being and tranquility: serotonin, endorphins, GABA, and dopamine.

Genetic Mutations Set the Stage for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

When the synapses or neurotransmitters fail to function like they should, transmission gets garbled and we begin to feel intense loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression. Most often this malfunction happens because of genetics. In fact, an estimated 33 percent of people have some type of genetic predisposition to addiction.

Drugs and alcohol make us feel good because they stimulate neurotransmitter functioning, which is why we keep going back for more. It is a false sense of euphoria, however, because addictive substances eventually deplete the neurotransmitters necessary for healthy functioning.

What’s more, drug and alcohol addiction impedes on the uptake of vital nutrients our body needs to stay alive. When drugs take over, changes in appetite bring malnutrition which exacerbates the awful symptoms we try to avoid. We can’t get enough because we never actually feel good anymore.

Prime the Mind for Successful Drug Addiction Recovery

If you could jump-start your body into feeling good again without the need for addictive substances, you could essentially erase all cravings and free the mind to focus on behavioral and cognitive improvements.

Amino acids have been found to be the stuff neurotransmitters are made of. Supplying the body with an abundance of specific amino acids can help restore their functioning, reduce cravings, increase sensations of wellbeing, and minimize relapse.

Brain Food for Drug Addiction Recovery

Amino acids are found in foods high in protein. Below is a list of specific amino acids that have been shown to alleviate symptoms of addiction, and the most commonly available food sources from which they come:

L-tryptophan – Egg whites, spirulina, atlantic cod, raw soybeans, parmesan cheese
L-5 hydroxytryptophan chromium salts – Minute traces in turkey and cheese, supplements derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia
L-Glutamine – Meat and dairy products, beans, beats, spinach, parsley, and cabbage
L-phenylalanine – Cow milk, goat milk, aspartame sugar substitutes
L-tyrosine – Cheeses, spirulina, soy protein, egg whites, salmon
Phenylalanine – Meat, poultry, fish, soybeans, dairy products, nuts and seeds

The body is a sucker for sweets and carbohydrates when it’s lacking other vital nutrients. Replacing sugar and refined starches with just some of the foods listed here can help restore balance and emotional integrity to an otherwise stressful situation.

Along with psychological and spiritual therapies for overcoming addiction, nutritional support and dietary supplements are quite literally the food our brain needs for enhanced recovery.

Tell Us: What’s your favorite recipe using some of the foods mentioned above?

Wendy Lee Nentwig

By Wendy Lee Nentwig
Guest Contributor

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Canyon. For more specific information on programs at The Canyon, contact us today.

2 Responses

  1. Cassidy February 23, 2011

    Thank you so much for writing this and for the list of foods that can help restore the balance… My fiance has been struggling witha herion addiction for years and hasn’t had more than a year and a half recovery in the whole time we’ve been together. Three monthsso far, since his last relaose/two month binge. It is so hard to know tht he is suffering and that I can not do anything to help him feel better… Hopefully this and some guidance will help…. thanks again…

  2. laura May 29, 2011

    As an ex addict to substance and alcohol abuse, I wholeheartedly agree that correct nutrition is one of the prime factors thats leads to recovery. “we are what we eat” as our grandmother would tell us…This I found especially true in relation to alcohol abuse. The more you drink, the more you crave, as most alcohol is pure carbohydrate!! Its a vicious circle as most alcoholics tend not to eat, replacing food with alcohol, their appetite is supressed…the body just craves the carbs for energy…Its SO sad to think that when abuse has reached this level, you are totally controlled by the effects of alcohol. Physically and mentally your body is working at “ITS” command.
    HOWEVER, looking at your list of foods to aid in rehab, I was horrified to see that you recommended aspartame sugar sustitues!!! This additive is a truely TOXIC substance and should not be taken lightly – please read the research..It absolutely astounds me that this product is still used so freely and injested by millions – even children – its a downright disgrace. I would go as far as saying that ingesting this product over years will cause many side effects and could even lead to dimentia!!!… Here ends the sermon – please people, eat sensibly and as near to natural and unprocessed as your budget allows…If you like things sweet, try using honey…Its takes a wee bit of adjusting BUT it is truely a healthier option!!!