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Why Diet and Nutrition Matter

Drugs and alcohol can have lasting physical effects on one's metabolism.

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1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:


2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old


graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.

Healing the Body with Good Food

Physical effects of drug and alcohol abuse, such as malnutrition and its results, can be healed with proper nutrition and regular meals. It’s important to us that each person go through a process of healing, physically as well as mentally and spiritually, to prepare for a lifetime of recovery.

The Effects Drug and Alcohol Abuse on the Body

Drugs and alcohol have many physical effects beyond intoxication. Excessive alcohol or substance intake can affect the body’s ability to absorb and break down nutrients, and to expel toxins. This can cause people with addiction to become malnourished, and can lead to a host of other health problems, too, including gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, and an inability to digest foods properly.

Alcohol and Nutrition

Only fat contains more calories per gram than alcohol. This can cause people to experience a sense of fullness during a period of binge drinking, even if they’ve eaten very little or nothing. These "empty calories" lead to poor eating habits and malnutrition.

Drugs and Nutrition

As with alcohol abuse, drug abusers experience similar issues with malnutrition, not because of a sense of fullness but because they may have poor eating habits. For instance, stimulants (such as cocaine or methamphetamine) give most people lots of energy; they often don’t want to eat. Marijuana, on the other hand, makes people lethargic and increases appetite. Either way, poor nutrition can result.

Healthy Eating Is Crucial to Recovery

Because of such a great potential for malnutrition and other health issues, it’s imperative to replenish essential nutrients in order for the body to recover. A diet for recovery should include regular meals with foods from all food groups. This can help a person’s body regulate blood sugar levels and provide consistent energy throughout the day. High-nutrient foods rebuild damaged tissues and organs, and help the nervous and gastrointestinal systems return to normal function. Nutrient-rich foods also allow the body to process important amino acids that are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. And, research shows that a diet with the right types of high protein and high carbohydrate foods can make a big difference in dealing with cravings for alcohol and drugs.