Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start works in the mental health industry and takes great pride in seeing his clients succeed. Some of the major factors in his client’s recoveries are weight loss and the importance of dietary changes.
In the following article, Thomas Cothren of Maryland explains in greater detail why losing weight and maintaining physical health play such a prominent role in addiction recovery.
First off, it’s important to understand how substance abuse affects an addict’s health in the first place. Unsurprisingly, alcohol and drug addiction tend to pave the way to degrading physical health.
One adverse side effect that many experience during addiction, or when initially recovering, is excessive weight gain. Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start explains that this means losing weight often plays a necessary and vital role in successful recovery.
Since many addicts and alcoholics gain weight due to poor lifestyle choices, the first step to losing weight is for recovering addicts to overhaul their diet and exercise routine. Not only will this help them drop excess weight, but it will also enhance both their overall physical health and mental health, ensuring a better foothold on recovery.
How Addiction Affects Body Weight
Thomas Cothren of Maryland says that while alcoholism and addiction constitute unhealthy habits on their own, but they also open the gateway to other negative lifestyle choices. These often include poor dietary choices and excessive inactivity. Alcoholics may suffer weight gain from the alcohol itself, while many drug addicts may overindulge in unhealthy foods that cause them to pack on pounds.
Those who use certain substances, such as methamphetamines, may actually lose weight during addiction. However, Thomas Cothren of Maryland explains that this may cause the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction when they enter recovery. As they begin putting more food in their bodies, the unhealthy eating habits they’ve acquired can lead to startling weight gain in a short amount of time.
Even those who eat healthy in early recovery may still initially gain weight because addiction can affect the user’s metabolism. This might make weight loss sound like an uphill battle, but addicts can still achieve their goals with a bit of discipline and basic knowhow.
Losing Weight in Addiction Recovery
Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start states that because many addicts suffer from poor metabolism, losing weight may require a lot more effort for those in early recovery than it would for the average person. However, at least a few of the same basic tips still apply. These include:
- Maintaining a regular exercise routine
- Getting enough rest in between workouts
- Focusing on healthier dietary choices
- Taking vitamins to make up for nutrition lost during addiction
- Drinking enough water
This last point carries extra weight (no pun intended), as many addicts and alcoholics suffer from frequent dehydration. Having fallen out of the habit of drinking enough water, they may need to force themselves to drink more of it in early recovery. However, Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start says that water is essential for losing weight, as it helps to flush the system.
Furthermore, while many recovering addicts tend to replace their former addictions with excess amounts of coffee and cigarettes, quitting or at least cutting back on caffeine and nicotine can help greatly when losing weight in recovery. Doing so will also help prevent dehydration while making workouts less strenuous.
Importance of Physical Health in Recovery
Staying healthy during recovery can actually affect the quality of recovery itself. This operates on both a physical level and a mental one. For instance, addiction can cause numerous side effects besides weight gain, and many of these can be lessened through proper dieting and exercise. These side effects include:
- High blood pressure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Blood sugar imbalance
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Hair loss
Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start points out that as recovering addicts trudge the road toward improved physical health, they can improve their mental health as well. The weight gain caused by substance use disorders often leads to lower self-esteem. In some cases, this can lead to recovering addicts developing eating disorders, or relapsing into disorders they struggled with prior to or during addiction.
By improving physical health and self-esteem, addicts and alcoholics add extra value to their new life in recovery. Successful recovery does not hinge on finding reasons to stop drug or alcohol use, but rather on finding reasons to stay sober. The difference may sound negligible, but it can mean everything to the person in recovery.
Thomas Cothren of Maryland adds that while staying clean and sober relies on a lot more than simply losing weight and staying healthy, aiming for these goals certainly lends a helping hand to those in search of a better life. Recovery will still prove difficult for many, but the improved sense of physical and mental well-being that accompanies a proper diet and exercise will certainyl make it all a little bit easier.