Substance abuse, especially when it is long-lasting, can wreak havoc on a person’s physical health. Not only can drug and alcohol abuse lead to serious health complications such as cardiovascular issues, respiratory problems, and even cancer, but also it can lead to health problems that may not be as noticeable from the surface.
The Relationship Between Vitamin Deficiency & Addiction
Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies in drug addicts and alcoholics are common problems. In one study, 92.4% of drug addicts were under the mean weight of a comparable control group not on drugs, and 18% were considered deeply malnourished.1
Malnutrition from addiction can happen for several reasons. Not only are the substances being abused filled with toxins, but also the secondary effects of addiction may lead to a vitamin deficiency or malnutrition.
Some drugs like cocaine or Adderall are believed to suppress a person’s appetite or interfere with the body’s metabolism. As a result, some drug users may go days without eating. When they do eat, they may only snack on junky or sugary foods instead of eating a healthy and nutritious meal. Over time, these vitamin deficiencies may lead to more serious problems such as muscle weakness, digestive problems, nerve damage, cardiovascular issues, and more.
Substances of abuse may also affect how the body absorbs vitamins and nutrients. Alcohol abuse specifically can interfere with the absorption of vitamins like thiamine also known as vitamin B1.2 In severe cases, an alcohol-related thiamine deficiency may lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder that involves a variety of cognitive problems. Because this damage may be irreversible, it is important for people to not wait for alcohol abuse help and get sober.
Supplements and Vitamins for Drug Addiction Recovery
Vitamins and supplements for alcoholics and drugs addicts who recently went to inpatient addiction treatment and got sober can help them get the nutrients they have been missing and start to help their body heal.
Some of the best vitamins for recovering drug addicts include:
Believed to be connected to the brain’s reward system, vitamin D may be an important supplement for addiction recovery.3 Research on lab animals suggests that vitamin D deficiencies can increase the risk of addiction to drugs like opioids, and when vitamin D levels are restored to normal levels, opioid dependence was curbed. In humans, vitamin D deficiency may increase opioid cravings and their effects, so it is important for people in opioid addiction treatment to get enough vitamin D in recovery to combat these effects.4
Some foods with vitamin D include:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
Zinc deficiency is a common problem among people who abuse drugs, especially those dependent on opioids, but adding zinc back into your diet in recovery could help. Zinc deficiency is believed to be associated with an increased risk of opioid dependence, so taking zinc in recovery may be a viable way of combating dependence.5
Foods with zinc include:
- Red meat
Another beneficial vitamin for recovering drug addicts is magnesium. Not only does magnesium help with muscle and nerve function, but it may also reduce levels of addiction and relapse in a variety of drugs like cocaine, opioids, nicotine, and amphetamine. Scientists believe that this effect is in part because of how magnesium activates the brain’s reward system.6
Foods with magnesium include:
- Leafy greens
One of the best vitamins for alcohol recovery specifically is vitamin B or thiamine. Many alcoholics tend to be thiamine deficient, and this lack of vitamin B can lead to serious health issues. Getting enough of this vitamin in sobriety may keep problems from getting worse or even reverse some of the damage. In clinical trials, scientists are also testing the use of vitamin B1 supplements for alcoholics in recovery to help them control their drinking.7
Foods with vitamin B1 include:
- Enriched grains
Withdrawal during a drug detox can be painful, and in some cases like with opioids even deadly. Some research now suggests that high levels of vitamin C during this process can reduce the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms including cravings.8
Foods with vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits
- Red peppers
Of course, everyone is different and has different needs, so it is important to consult with your doctor or a nutritionist about what type of diet, supplements, and vitamins in recovery your body needs.
At Vertava Health Texas, we understand that recovery from addiction is more than just stopping substance abuse. Our programs are designed to help people find comprehensive care and lasting recovery. To learn more about what we have to offer or to get started, reach out to us today.