When you go into Colorado drug rehab, you commit to abstinence from drugs or alcohol–substances that have caused problems in your life and on which your body has become dependent. There could be another substance, however, that causes problems for your body while it recovers from dependence on drugs or alcohol.
Studies have shown that a diet high in sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup found in soda, candy, and other processed foods, can impact how the body reacts to many kinds of drugs and how it heals from addictions.
Eating high amounts of sugar caused subjects in one study to react less to opioid drugs, which could lead them to take a higher dosage to get a similar effect and lead to more overdoses. Even when you have stopped abusing opiates, a high-sugar diet may cause maintenance medications like methadone or buprenorphine not to work as effectively to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Many people who stop using drugs will turn to sugar and caffeine to replace at least some of the dopamine they are not getting from the drugs anymore. While it may seem like sugar and caffeine are less harmful than the drugs you are weaning yourself off of, using these replacements could actually put your recovery at risk for a few reasons.
How Sugar Can Harm Recovery Efforts
Besides impacting how maintenance drugs may work, eating a lot of sugar will eventually lead to a crash, which increases the risk of relapse. Eating or drinking large amounts of sugar makes it hard to follow the conventional rehab advice of following the HALT diet, that is, not letting yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Sugar crashes lead to hunger, more emotional volatility, and fatigue, which can mean an increased risk of relapse for some.
Many addicts are already malnourished from a lack of appetite or interest in eating while using drugs or alcohol. Because sugar is largely devoid of nutrition, vitamin deficiencies may persist and exacerbate other conditions like depression, mood disorders, and chronic illnesses that often come to light while in recovery.
Another problem with eating a lot of sugar is that it causes weight gain, which was typically not a problem in the midst of the addiction. While it might not have a big impact at first, weight gain over time can be discouraging and lead to thoughts of using drugs again just to lose the weight.
How to Handle Sugar in Rehab
There is nothing wrong with sugar in moderation, but most of your diet in recovery should consist of fruits and vegetables and lean meat and fish, which have the most nutrients and will support your body as it recovers from the abuse it suffered while you were using drugs or alcohol.
Developing a regular routine of healthy meals and snacks will also support other treatment goals like keeping your body’s systems well-fueled and preventing crashes that can weaken your defenses and push you toward relapse.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado drug rehab that offers comprehensive treatment programs for any kind of substance abuse and incorporates lifestyle components like healthy eating into its regimens. Contact us today to discuss the treatment options available to you.