Healing the ravages of addiction is not something that can be accomplished quickly, but it can be done, done well, and bring a person back to full health. I’ll focus on some ways to heal the body during addiction recovery in this post. As in most of my posts, I’ll be looking at early recovery primarily, the period from day 1 to about a year of sobriety.
Healing the Ravages of Addiction: A Unified Approach
We looking at recovery most often through the lens of the body, mind and spirit, but there are other approaches. Healing the body includes diet, sleep, and exercise. We’re discussed diet in other areas to a degree. A change in diet is critical because addiction, even over a relatively short haul of a year or two has a three fold impact on health: drugs of addiction are actively damaging to the body. They cause harm to the cells, tissues and organs of the body. As a secondary impactor, this harm usually prevents the body from making good use of nutrients. An alcoholic’s stomach and digestive tract are often too inflamed to absorb nutrients well. Some drugs of addiction actually drive out nutrients–again, alcohol neutralizes the effectiveness of the B vitamin group. The third way addiction impacts our health is by altering our appetite, often taking it away, so that our intake of essential foods diminishes. Malnutrition is thus a major problem to be dealt with in recovery. As I’ve addressed elsewhere, altering our diet and adding a few supplements can turn this around, although it’s not an overnight cure. A dietary change can take a month or two before benefits become obvious to us.
Sleep seems obvious, until we can’t get it. Insomnia is a problem that ranges from a minor annoyance to a major health concern for recovering people. Trouble falling asleep (onset insomnia), maintaining sleep throughout the night (middle insomnia), and waking too soon (early morning wakening) are the three most common forms of insomnia encountered by the recovery. There are tons of self help tips for insomnia in every magazine and most general news web sites around. While I’ll discuss insomnia in addiction in more detail in a later post, let it be said right here and now that you cannot maintain recovery for long when your sleep is disturbed. Sleep is as important as good nutrition.