The ups and downs a person goes through when life becomes difficult can be overwhelming, and when a person is trying to recover from drug addiction, it can be doubling challenging.
When a person is kicking a drug addiction, the tools they need to be successful are education, knowledge and skills to change thoughts and behaviors, and a healthy support system.
Recovery presents some special challenges, including unwanted weight gain. Before they can understand their weight problems, the recovering addict needs to understand how their metabolism works.
The human metabolism
Metabolism refers to how the body uses energy. People eat, taking in calories, which the body uses as energy. When the person takes in too many calories, it is stored as fat. To use up the stored fat, individuals need to eat fewer calories or increase the amount of energy they use.
Eating for nutrients
The body uses amino acids to break down food for several purposes. People’s brains need to produce dopamine (a brain chemical that affects their moods and energy levels). When a person doesn’t eat enough protein, the body will break down its own muscle tissue. This often happens when a person is high and forgets to eat. By not eating, more protein is used than is taken in.
This is particularly important to someone who is recovering from a drug addiction. Many drug abusers have spent weeks, months, and years not providing their bodies with enough calories and protein to operate properly. Over time, the body uses its own lean muscle mass and uses up any stored body fat for energy. Now that the abuser has dealt with the drug addiction, he or she has less protein and fat reserves than before, which means that their metabolism is markedly slower. If they eat like they did before they became an addict, they will gain weight. To make a difference, the recovering addict should eat less (or exercise more) to prevent too much weight gain.
The body will have send out messages craving specific foods to satisfy its needs in answer to certain chemical reactions in the brain. This is an instinctive survival trick. It’s supposed to work this way.
Eating because it makes them feel good
Some people eat just because it makes them feel good. This happens because of a chemical reaction in the brain. Sugar and carbohydrates make the brain release dopamine, which makes them feel good.
There are a lot of chemical reactions when people eat. Some foods trigger the chemical serotonin to be released in the brain. The general good feeling a person experiences is partly caused by the serotonin being released. Low serotonin levels are found in people with depression.
Eating until a person feels full helps raise serotonin levels, lowering feelings of depression. A recovery addict can easily make a habit of overeating to feel better.
How often a person eats has a major impact on their metabolism. The more time between meals, the more their metabolism slows, and the more likely the body will begin to break down muscle mass for protein.
Eating more frequent, smaller meals lets the body know food is always available and it doesn’t need to conserve energy. This raises the metabolism. Eating several small meals, instead of 3 large ones, is better at lessening feelings of depression.
It may take some time for the body to get used to being fed regularly. When it does, the individual will feel better.
There’s nothing as powerful as the urge to eat. So try eating right to help sustain a recovery from drug addiction.