Learning to cope with your teen’s addiction can be overwhelming. All of a sudden, you’re tasked with the job of confronting your teen about their substance abuse, finding a facility and choosing treatment programs. This can trigger many confusing and frightening emotions and it can become easy to let things slip through the cracks, including nutrition. Nutrition serves several purposes in the body, including providing energy and maintaining vital bodily functions. Without the proper nutrition, your teen’s body won’t have what it needs to heal the damage addiction has caused.
Physical Effects of Addiction and Malnutrition
You may already know that drugs and alcohol affect the body in negative ways, but what you may not know is that it changes how cells absorb nutrients into the body. The chemicals in drugs and alcohol work to convince the brain that the body isn’t hungry, greatly reducing the desire to eat and increasing the need to use. They also limit the body’s ability to effectively utilize what little nutrients it may be receiving. That is why so many teens lack the nutrients they so desperately need. Nutrient deficiency affects every part of the body, including:
- Skin and hair
- Central nervous system
Psychological Effects of Addiction and Malnutrition
Many teens who suffer from addiction experience severe depression or fatigue. Although this can be due to a number of reasons, one cause is from the severe drop in blood glucose levels after the initial high. To bring their energy level back up to normal, teens feel the need to consume more sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates. This constant cycle of highs and lows in combination with the challenges your teen faces at school or home creates a cyclone of stress and despair that can be hard to escape. Many times teens turn to more substances to carry them between highs, drop out of school or make a series of poor decisions. These experiences all add up to a tangled web of emotions that isn’t easily unraveled without the proper help and diet plan.
Benefits of Nutrition in Recovery
A healthy diet is imperative to achieve long-lasting recovery, especially for young, growing teens. Nutrients will provide your teen with energy, repair organ tissues and strengthen their immune system. Because addiction damages vital organs and slows down the body’s processes, your teen requires the proper nutrition to allow their body to start restoring itself naturally. Good nutrition also enhances mood. Consuming certain foods will release feel-good chemicals into your teen’s brain and allow them to feel better about themselves and about the world around them. This could even have added benefits, such as improved grades and greatly reduced risk of relapse.
Essential Vitamins for Recovery
Every vitamin and mineral plays a vital role in your teen’s health. A few that are especially helpful include:
- Vitamin C – Reduces tissue pain and inflammation
- Vitamin E – Reduces muscle soreness, inflammation and pain
- Vitamin D – Maintains healthy bones and teeth and protects the body from diseases
- Vitamin B – Converts food into energy and allows the body to heal faster
- Calcium – Improves joint and bone health and helps heal connective tissues
How to Get Started
One of the first steps your teen should take to improve their health is to eliminate as much sugar and caffeine as possible and incorporate whole grains and lean proteins into their diet. If they’re able to, eating several small meals every couple of hours helps to evenly distribute their nutritional intake and help their body process it more effectively. It is also helpful to always keep a healthy snack on hand, like a bag of nuts or granola, to avoid sugar crashes. Your teen’s health and nutrition has been greatly affected by addiction. It is essential that they start receiving the nutrients they need to heal their mind and body. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and the proper nutrition will ensure they stay on the right path for a happier, healthier tomorrow. To learn more about nutrition in addiction recovery, give us a call at 877-466-0620.