À la Carte -- 9. Addiction and Recovery
Part of A Practical Guide to Nutrition for People Living With HIV
People who use street drugs usually don't get enough nutrition (macronutrients or micronutrients). In HIV-positive users, problems with nutrition, such as wasting, may be driven more by drug use than HIV status. Some people who regularly use substances such as heroin, cocaine, crack and crystal methamphetamine don't have a regular place to live may find it hard to get food and to get the care they need for their health problems. And when it comes time to decide how to spend limited money, food is often a low priority. The downside is that malnutrition, HIV infection and addiction together place HIV-positive drug users at high risk of becoming sick and needing to go to the hospital. Eating better may help you stay healthier while you are using.
Maintaining Nutritional Health While Actively Using
When people begin to detox from active use, they often feel sick to their stomach or throw up and can find it impossible to eat certain foods. During this time it is important to drink enough fluids and to eat bland, low-fat foods that are easy to digest. Remember that detoxification is just a phase. It may last from a few days to a few weeks, but it will pass. And it is an important first step.
Eating Through Detox
Recovery goes on for life and many recovering addicts relapse from time to time. It is important to remember that if it happens, it is a normal part of recovery.
People in recovery sometimes gain a lot of weight. This can be due to having an insatiable appetite in early recovery, uncontrollable sugar cravings or a shift in the addiction from drugs to food.
When eating during recovery, the goals are to 1) set up a normal eating pattern, 2) keep levels of sugar in the blood as steady as possible, and 3) eat lots of healthy foods that replenish the body.
Recovering With Nutrition
This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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