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Can a Healthy Diet Help Your Recovery from Opium Addiction?

Can a Healthy Diet Help Your Recovery from Opium Addiction?

Unhealthy eating habits can increase the risk of relapse

Papaver somniferum is a poppy plant that can create opiate alkaloids like morphine, codeine and thebaine. When incisions are made into the green seedpods, the plant oozes white sap that is collected and dried. The final product, typically a dark tar-like substance, is opium, and users usually smoke it in a pipe or rolling papers. Though popular in other countries, opium in its traditional form is less common in the US, although heroin and opioid painkillers are synthesized from the same alkaloids. Regardless, all opiates are highly addictive, and abusing them can have physical and mental health consequences. A comprehensive treatment plan is the best way to overcome opium addiction, and a healthy diet can promote recovery.

Opium abuse can cause constipation and other gastrointestinal issues, and many addicts develop unhealthy eating habits during substance abuse. Restoring a healthy diet causes the following changes:

  • It produces chemicals that improve mood and energy levels
  • Recovering addicts who eat too little may mistake hunger pangs for opium cravings
  • Low blood sugar can result in sudden mood changes, nervousness and fatigue
  • Healthy proteins and fats help replace brain tissue damaged by the substance abuse

Furthermore, the withdrawal symptoms of opium detox can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and excessive sweating. While it may be difficult to eat or drink during detox, a healthy diet helps users overcome withdrawals in the following ways:

  • Healthy eating and drinking replace lost nutrients and electrolytes
  • Drinking plenty of water is important to address dehydration issues
  • Fiber-rich and complex-carbohydrates help the digestive track
  • Proper nutrition assists with the physical demands of detox

While healthy foods can improve attitude and outlook, eating empty calories and junk food can sap motivation and rattle moods, while undernourished individuals can feel depleted and stressed. In either case, unhealthy eating habits can increase the risk of relapse and stall the healing process.

Treatment centers can help with specific eating recommendations, but a general dietary guideline typically includes the following elements:

  • Develop and maintain a regular eating schedule (including healthy snacks)
  • Focus on eating more lean protein, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates
  • Avoid foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat and low in nutrition
  • Take vitamins A, E and B-complex, zinc and other supplements if you would like to do so
  • Ideally limit caffeine intake and smoking cigarettes

The key is balance. For example, healthy fats found in olive oil, nuts, avocados and similar foods can help with cellular membranes, and dark chocolate can be a helpful antioxidant and mood booster. However, consume such foods in moderation as part of a well-rounded dietary plan. A healthy diet is a valuable resource, but one of many tools that treats opium addiction. Rehab centers tailor specific recovery plans for each patient, but potential treatment can include behavioral therapy, stress management skills, healthy coping strategies, group and individual counseling and integrated care for co-occurring mental health disorders.

If you have questions or need addiction help, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to address your concerns, to explain recovery options and to make recommendations. Many health insurance companies now cover addiction treatment, and our staff can check your policy for specific benefits. If you or a loved one struggles with opiates, please call now.