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The Pillars of Successful Long-Term Recovery Part One: Health


December 3, 2017

Successful, long-term addiction recovery is nothing less than a complete change in lifestyle, but do not let that discourage you. In many instances, the positive lifestyle changes build on previous healthy choices, and you gain positive momentum as you go along.

Addiction recovery requires attention to your health, your living situation, your sense of purpose, and having a supportive community surrounding you. While those may sound impossible to someone new to recovery, it all begins with hope. Recovery is holistic, addressing not just cessation of the use of addicting substances, but also creating healthy routines and building a strong foundation for your future. Health is one of the pillars of long-term addiction recovery. Here is how to take charge of your health as you practice recovery.

Routines Are Important

Americans can have a cavalier attitude toward regular mealtimes. People are busy, and family and friends may have difficulty staying on the same meal schedule. Nevertheless, you should try to develop a routine that works for you. Regular routines have a way of “grounding” you, much like the ground wire of an electrical cord detours excess electricity safely into the ground.

There is no single diet that is best for everyone in addiction recovery, but in general, you should emphasize a diet of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. The great news is that several of these foods are incredibly easy and convenient, like fresh fruit and nuts. Do not try too hard to shoehorn your life into a meal pattern that simply is not right for you. If you are not a breakfast person, do not try to force yourself to have eggs and toast and juice every day. However, the simple routine of breakfast, even if that is a piece of fruit and a cup of coffee, is another valuable piece of completing a healthy lifestyle puzzle.

Avoid Sugar and Caffeine if Possible

There is no denying that sugar and caffeine are safer than, say, heroin and meth. Sugar and caffeine can be tremendously appealing to people early in addiction recovery. That cup of coffee first thing offers a jolt that you can feel, yet you are still sober. Sugar has a way of soothing the brain through a neurotransmitter dump to which it is all too easy to get accustomed.

The problem, particularly with sugar, is that over time, its effects can be highly detrimental. For one thing, you will pay for that sugar high now with a sugar crash in a couple of hours. Over time, sugar primes your body for type 2 diabetes and raises heart disease risk. Furthermore, the insulin that must be used to process sugar can cause problems with your blood vessels.

Opioid Recovery Requires Care for Digestion

Gastrointestinal stress goes along with opioid addiction. People with opioid abuse disorders often develop constipation, which can turn into nausea and diarrhea once they stop using. Simple, easily digested foods like oatmeal, rice, and simple vegetables and fruits are good choices for those early in addiction recovery from opioid abuse. Minimizing saturated fats and highly processed foods help reduce the burden on your liver and help you work up to eating multiple servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Food, Hydration, Rest

Good health depends on your continued addiction recovery and is aided by basic healthy practices. Eat sufficient (but not excessive) amounts of healthy, minimally processed foods at regular intervals, remain hydrated with plenty of water, and do your best to get adequate rest. These do not guarantee long-term addiction recovery, but they give your body some of the tools it needs to work through recovery with greater strength.

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