Once we are free of the chemicals that have created such pain in our lives, our brains need some time to heal. Developing a lifestyle consistent with true recovery includes attention to all the areas of our lives that have been changed and damaged, so I'm planning on addressing each of these over time. My hope is that family members will be willing to consider those suggestions as well.
Early on, we may believe that it is the drugs and/or alcohol that have been the problem. Now that we are clean and sober, we find that our physical health has suffered along with our mental/emotional health, relationships with people we love, finances, and behavior reflective of our values. Detox is a start but won't fix these things.
Current research shows us that our brain function often is a little "skewed" from the average person way before we ever pick up a drink or a drug. Some of this can be assigned to genetics, some to environmental factors, and some to behavioral patterns learned over time. Since we can't change our genetics (yet), the obvious routes are to take a look at our internal and external environment and our behavior; both things we CAN change. Managing our internal responses to external stresses is a major player in the process of enjoying a recovering lifestyle. We CAN feel good, be healthy, and enjoy our lives. Who'd want to stay clean and sober if that weren't something we could look forward to?
So let's begin with a look at the way we nurture our bodies. There are direct connections to healthy brain function, and the healing process for our whole selves. What we eat affects mood, organ function, and resilience of our body's natural defenses against disease.
There are numerous fad diets around but healthy nutrition in recovery needs special attention.
So step #1 is to get to know your physical body. Yes, we're all human beings, but we have differences that are important to know about. For instance, pharmaceutical research does not distinguish between recovering and non-chemically dependent populations. Many of us have responses to medications that have not been accounted for in the research. The same is true for food.
Start with a full physical and pay attention to what that reveals about acute and chronic issues. Your doctor will appreciate your interest in her/his findings and your questions related to suggestions made for your health. Drug and alcohol abuse and dependency often masks underlying health issues that won't become evident until well into the second year in sobriety.
Keep checking back for more on nutrition in Recovery...