Why Nutrition is Important to Recovery


After a drug addict has been using for a while, his body may reach a very bad physical condition. In some cases the addict may even be close to death although his body may be too anesthetized by the addictive substance that he can't feel the pain.

Many of the drugs that a person can become dependent upon, such as crack, heroin, alcohol, and prescription medications, cause him to use them so heavily that his body becomes nutritionally deprived. The drugs interrupt so many of his body’s vital functions, including the metabolism of food, that he no longer has any reserves from which to draw needed nutrition.

For example, drug abusers who use crystal meth, Ritalin or other prescription drugs considered uppers have small appetites because their body processes which convert food to energy are interrupted by these stimulants. Chronic methamphetamine users often have serious dental problems as the drug depletes calcium from bones and teeth.

What is more, the processes whereby the body produces its own vitamins are interrupted by drugs as well. Therefore, you have the situation of a double threat wherein the body cannot produce its own vitamins and is incapable of absorbing any nutrients from food. At the same time, the drugs absorb or burn up vital nutrients.

In other words, the typical addict’s body is unable to take in nutrition and has no nutritional stores. As a last resort, his body ends up using some of the chemicals found in his drugs as a replacement for vitamins and minerals.

This is part of the reason why when someone quits drugs “cold turkey,” or even tries to wean himself gradually off drugs without professional assistance, he may go into severe withdrawal symptoms. This is especially the case with addicts who are hooked on alcohol, heroin, or prescription medications.

Because the person being treated is in such a state of nutritional deprivation, withdrawal counselors and drug counselors must pay careful attention to the nutritional needs of their clients.

This starts with introducing a sufficient amount of protein into the drug abuser’s system, a task which is easier said than done because a drug addict oftentimes has little appetite. He is usually underweight and his body is not in a mode to assimilate protein, etc. It is often quite an accomplishment to get him to gain a couple pounds.

Not only does he need to be given protein but he also needs to receive enough vitamins and minerals that his body doesn’t go into shock when the drugs are taken away.

Narconon New Life Retreat uses an exact, proven regimen of vitamins, minerals, food and nutrition so that in some cases our clients can experience a relatively pain-free withdrawal. Additionally, the drug-free withdrawal step of the Narconon program uses unique exercises to help reduce the emotional pain and misery that often accoompanies withdrawal.

Narconon takes into account the fact that most drug addicts seeking to recover quit right at the beginning during the withdrawal phase because that is the most difficult part. So we work hard, with close personal attention, to make that process easier.

There’s still a long road ahead once the addict frees himself physically from the drugs that he’s been abusing. Many more factors have to be addressed. However, withdrawal is a very important milestone. With the proper nutritional program in place, as used by the Narconon program in our drug abuse rehab center, we’re able to get far better results than traditional programs.

If you have more questions about nutrition as it relates to addiction, or if you know someone who needs help with drug abuse rehabilitation, call our hotline at