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Health and Relapse Prevention

Health and relapse prevention go hand and hand, and one of the best things that an individual who is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can do is to exercise and maintain a healthy diet. While a former drug rehab patient may not be able to control their heredity or many of their environmental factors, they do have a choice about the foods that they put into their body and the amount of time that they set aside for physical activity. Some of the primary things that can have a positive effect on health and relapse prevention include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and consistently maintaining a healthy diet; additionally, getting support from loved ones and from fellow addicts who will be able to understand and encourage them, will go a long way in preventing a drug relapse.

Because balanced nutrition and regular physical activity have been reported to help improve mood and health, it is important to encourage people recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction problem to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into their daily lives. However, a former drug rehab patient that feels that they have just given up an important source of pleasure, may not be ready to make other drastic lifestyle changes; in this instance, it is much more important that they avoid returning to substance abuse than that they stick to a strict diet.

In relation to health and relapse prevention, eating a balanced and healthy diet will make an individual that is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction problem feel better; when a person who is in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction feels good, they will be less likely to reach for mood altering chemicals. When a person has just completed a drug rehab program, their main focus should be on avoiding the substance that caused the addiction in the first place. However, another important aspect of drug or alcohol recovery that is often overlooked or neglected is what a newly recovering addict should eat and how often they should exercise; both of these things can be a primary factor in steadily maintaining an optimum level of physical health, which will aid in relapse prevention.

Exercise and Relapse Prevention

A positive correlation between exercise and relapse prevention has been confirmed; numerous studies have reported that the same reward system in the brain that is activated by drugs and alcohol, also lights up in brain scans during physical activity. The same studies have indicated that many people turn to drugs and alcohol for the sole purpose of altering their mood. Because regular exercise has commonly been reported to be able to improve a person's mood, being physically active can provide a person in recovery for a substance abuse problem with a healthy hobby that does not involve drinking or using drugs. While using drugs or alcohol may be able to provide a temporary mood boost, drug and alcohol addiction has also been reported to lead to depression in the user; on the other hand, numerous studies have reported that exercising regularly ,for as little as 30 minutes a day, caused a significant improvement in individuals that reported symptoms of depression.

Substance Abuse Depletes Nutrients

Numerous studies have reported that individuals who have actively abused drugs or alcohol for any length of time will be undernourished, as substance abuse depletes nutrients in the body; the reasons for this are two-fold. First, drugs and alcohol will often be consumed in the place of regular meals, so there is a lack of nutrients that are being made available to the body; additionally, nutrients may often be depleted by the stomach upsets and diarrhea that commonly accompany the substance abuse.

Alcohol and drug abuse have also been reported to damage the body's ability to absorb and use the nutrients in the foods that are eaten; this is particularly true of the B vitamins and certain various different types of proteins. Because of this, a newly recovered addict will have an extra special need for nutrient dense foods in order to heal the damaged tissues and organs so that the body can begin to function as it should. In relation to health and relapse prevention, when a person in recovery is eating a balanced diet, they will be functioning at an optimal level and will be less likely to revert back to their former addictive behaviors.

How Food Affects Mood

Research related to health and relapse prevention has indicated that dietary habits can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter our behavior and our emotions. Although a large number of studies have concluded that what we eat greatly affects how we feel, very little research has been conducted about this subject in relation to health and relapse prevention. Aside from the malnutrition that is so commonly associated with substance abuse, research has shown that certain foods will not only affect a former addict's moods, but will also help to prevent drug or alcohol cravings; this is a primary example of how health and relapse prevention can work to complement each other. If a former addict is feeling good, they will be much more likely to be able to overcome drug or alcohol cravings.

Mood swings can magnify cravings and make it more difficult for a former addict to be able to resist the substance that was the basis for their addiction, once again underscoring the correlation between maintaining optimal health and relapse prevention. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can go a long way in helping to minimize the changes in mood that can hinder the substance abuse recovery progress. Healing from a drug or alcohol addiction requires paying attention to many different things, and nutrition and physical activity is right up there at the very top of the list. In fact, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help speed addiction recovery, by giving a person's body the essential ingredients it needs to maintain energy, elevate mood, and keep vital organs functioning at optimal levels.

In relation to health and relapse prevention, a former drug rehab patient should try to keep their nutrition intake regular and consistent; this includes not going for long periods of time without eating and keeping a variety of healthy snacks readily available. Having a handful of nuts with a piece of fresh fruit can often go a long way in staving off hunger. When a person allows themselves to become overly hungry, they are much more likely to become anxious, irritable, or depressed; in terms of health and relapse prevention, a former addict that is at this point will be more likely to make a bad decision when it comes to their drug or alcohol cravings.

Another beneficial practice can be for a person who is in the beginning stages of drug or alcohol recovery to enlist the assistance of a health conscious family member or friend; folks who are a healthy part of their support network can assist them by helping them to develop and maintain healthy eating choices. The best thing for a former drug rehab patient to do in terms of health and drug relapse prevention is to stick with the basics; this includes consistently eating well-balanced meals on a regular basis, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and maintaining a positive attitude. Because health and relapse prevention go hand in hand, a person in recovery from substance abuse is unlikely to have one without the other.

In terms of health and relapse prevention, what constitutes eating right and exercising while in recovery? While having access to a dietician or having a membership at a fancy health club could be beneficial to a former drug rehab patient, they don't have to have either of these to be able to figure out how to eat healthy regularly; by following some very basic dietary guidelines, a person in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction will be doing themselves a great service, in relation to health and relapse prevention.

For optimal results in terms of health and relapse prevention, a balanced diet should include:

Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products- Aim for at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. As for which fruits and vegetables to choose, go for both variety and color; examples of these will include dark leafy greens, blueberries, squash oranges, and tomatoes- basically any fruit or vegetable that is rich in red, yellow, orange, or dark green. Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will ensure a former addict that they are providing their body with the mix of nutrients that it needs to speed the substance abuse recovery healing process; this will go a long way in promoting optimal health and relapse prevention.

Grains are an essential part of healthy eating, and whole grains are generally processed less are therefore superior to refined grains in terms of their nutritional value; additionally they are good sources of complex carbohydrates and they are generally low in fat. Whole grains will also generally have higher fiber content and will contain more of many important nutrients, such as potassium, selenium, and magnesium. Whole-grain rice, cereal, flour, pasta, and bread are generally readily available at any food store. Whole grain choices are: brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur millet, oatmeal, popcorn, pasta, barley, and whole-wheat bread or crackers.

Fat free and low-fat dairy products are widely available at grocery stores, and can include skim or 1% milk, and many different brands of cottage cheese and yogurts. Unfortunately, many manufacturers will add sugar in order to try to make up for the lack of taste in some of these fat-free products; in relation to health and relapse prevention, choosing products that are high in sugar would not be beneficial.

Various different types of lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts-Eating a variety of these types of food will help a former drug rehab patient to be able to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, which can be key in terms of health and relapse prevention. Former addicts should schedule a series of regular physical activities; in doing so, they will need to get plenty of lean protein in their so that they can repair muscle tissue to effectively recover from periods of exercise.

Eating foods that are reported to be low in trans fats, saturated fats, sodium (salt), and added sugars- In order to maintain the stable energy levels that are needed in order to fight drug or alcohol cravings, former addicts should avoid sugar and various different types of highly processed baked goods.

Eating a large variety of high fiber foods, including a variety of whole grains and various different types of beans could help to restore health to a former addict's digestive tract, which may have been damaged substantially by chronic substance abuse.

Eating good fats for satiety, flavor, and to maintain good health; these types of fats can generally be found in foods such as nuts, olive oil, avocados and seeds. Fats are important for the health of a former addict's cell membranes, which is basic to how they feel; thus is beneficial in relation to optimal health and relapse prevention. The good fats are the unsaturated fats which can lower cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good fats; a few of the foods that contain these types of good fats include almonds and pecans and canola, peanut, and olive oils.

Limit processed and packaged foods- These types of foods are generally loaded with sugar, salt, trans fats and other chemicals that may slow down the physical side of the substance abuse recovery process; additionally, these types of foods will often fill the place in a diet and food budget that should be taken by the nutrient dense foods that are necessary for maintaining optimal levels of health.