One of my favorite jobs as an nurse practitioner and educator is working with my Substance Abuse patients in the areas of nutrition and physical exercise as part of a Comprehensive Medical Program. Studies on addictive disorders have demonstrated severe nutritional deficiencies in opiate abusers with behavioral, physiological and cognitive symptoms. Opiate addiction is linked with the Hepatitis C Virus, as well as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and other blood borne diseases generally from the use of needles to inject heroin. One of my many passions was training as a Raw Food Chef in Atlanta with the goal of teaching patients HOW to incorporate plant-based meals into their diets.
Nutrition will help treat abnormal metabolic pathways in the substance abuse patient who has severe nutritional deficiencies from drugs, alcohol or poor diet. Plant based meals with side dishes of meat can balance low hormones, depression, anxiety and be an critical aspect to recovery.
Plant minerals have the power to heal cells and improve the disease process. Powerful hormones that make us feel happy, such as serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is critical to the health of your brain and low levels is one of the causes of depression, mood regulator, memory and sexual desire.
The addiction population is extremely vulnerable to severe nutritional deficiencies. Beating addiction can be challenging both physically and mentally for any patient, but of critical concern in people with undiagnosed nutritional deficiencies. Proper detoxification and rebuilding the gut-brain connections is critical to the patient's long term success or (failure) and many addiction professionals are simply not qualified to assess, diagnose or treat critical biochemical nutritional and detoxification challenges in a Substance Abuse patient.
Studies about addiction disorders have proven that extreme nutritional deficiencies exist in drug abusers such as weight loss and dietary pattern changes. Research has shown that changes in specific nutrient status can lead to barriers in withdrawal from opiate addiction The research shows when medication assisted programs incorporate a nutritional and physical activity plan, patients go through withdrawal from opiates safely, more successfully and are more empowered to stick with the program.
For example it is known that diabetes decreases sensitivity to dependence on morphine and vitamin D deficiency slows down morphine dependency as well as protein deprivation which generates preferential fat intake with low cocaine use. Nutritional status also plays important role in the process of recovery and survival of an individual, such as in HIV infection which endangers nutritional status and may produce malnutrition. Protein, vitamins, minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, chromium, magnesium, potassium and other essential nutrients should be prescribed in detoxification programs to recovering addicts. Zinc can help to improve immune system and proper brain function. Many opiate and alcohol addicts have calcium and magnesium deficiencies. Calcium and magnesium deficiencies are the major factors of pain and nervous/muscular disorders among addicts and alcohol consumers during detoxification programs.
Sweet Corn and cabbage
Makes 4 Servings
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let marinate 30 minutes!
If you add meat make sure it is organic and grass-fed/grass finished, no hormones and no antibiotics. Make sure to add some organic beans as well!
Hearty chili mac
Makes 10 Servings
1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
2. Heat water in a large pot. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add bell pepper and vegetarian ground beef substitute or chopped vegetarian burgers. Mix in tomatoes, beans and their liquid, corn and its liquid, chili powder, and cumin. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
4. Add cooked pasta and check seasonings. Add more chili powder if a spicier dish is desired.
black bean chili
Makes 4 Servings
2. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add optional toppings just before serving.
Do you or someone you care about suffer with an Addiction Disorders? Please get help before it is too late and schedule an appointment with me today. I offer Tele-medicine online virtual medical care from any SMART Device or In person medical and counseling appointments! Call 910-755-6060 or 910-755-6065 to schedule your initial medical appointment.
If you would like to learn more about prevention and wellness to recover from chronic disease that may hinder your ability to fight your addiction or substance abuse disorder please check out some of the educational information at Dr. Carly Willeford's Ministry Website. Click Here
Carly Willeford DNP, MS, FNP, RN, BSW, BSW
Certified Addiction Specialists/Pain Management
Functional Medicine/Anti-aging/Prevention Medicine
Dr. Carly Willeford
1 in 25 adults has a serious mental illness in a given year. That adds up to 10.4 million people, or 4.2% of U.S. adults 18 or older.