Not every rehab facility allows you to bring vitamins or nutritional supplements. Should a facility allow vitamins or supplements, the exact nature of what’s allowed varies facility to facility.
Some facilities may not allow you to bring any, while others have guidelines outlining what type of vitamins or supplements are allowed. For instance, a multivitamin may be on the approved list of what to pack, whereas certain supplemental vitamins or herbal supplements may not be.
Drug Abuse Can Cause Vitamin Deficiencies
Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction can cause poor health, malnourishment, and key vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. This occurs from both the drug of abuse and the way of life which frequently accompanies substance abuse. The majority of drug abusers experience a declining quality of life, poor self-care, and physical health problems, all of which may contribute to nutritional deficiencies.
Your body needs vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function properly and to maintain a healthy immune system. Many of these substances come from our diets, which are often quite poor within patterns of abuse and addiction. Over time, without these things, your body may weaken; one way this occurs is through malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies.
Here’s how drug abuse causes your body to reach these unhealthy, malnourished, and deficient states:
Appetite suppression: Many drugs of abuse, especially stimulants like meth, cocaine, and illicitly abused ADHD medications, suppress, or reduce, a person’s appetite. Because of this, a person may eat significantly less or even go long periods of time without eating anything at all.
Without proper caloric intake, a person is not able to derive the vitamins and nutrients they need from their diet. In certain cases, your body may even begin to strip itself of certain key elements (like calcium) in an attempt to address any deficiencies.
Excessive appetite and food cravings: Certain drugs, like marijuana and opioids, may lead a person to crave certain foods. Research illustrates that heroin abusers are more inclined towards craving sweets, while a marijuana high leads many individuals to consume excessive amounts of junk food. Many of these foods and beverages are full of empty calories and offer little to no nutritional value.
Poor diet: Drug abuse can squash a person’s motivation and desire for self-care. This often results in poor dietary choices (such as fast food, junk food, and sugar-laden foods and beverages); high-calorie, low-nutrient food; and little to no fresh produce, grains, legumes, and other foods which have a high nutrient density.
Alcohol, for example, is full of empty calories. Many people consume less food because of this, limiting the amount of nutrients they take in.
Decreased nutrient absorption: Certain drugs of abuse actually inhibit your body’s ability to absorb certain key vitamins and nutrients, even if you’re eating well. For example, Psychology Today reports that alcohol can cause calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium deficiencies, as well as decreased levels of vitamins A, B, C, D, and K.
Certain deficiencies cause serious problems. Chronic drinking can impede both the manner in which thiamine (B1) is absorbed and the ability of cells to utilize this important nutrient. This can become very dangerous, leading to a serious and even life-threatening brain disorder called Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, or “wet brain.”
Vitamins Can Be A Beneficial Part Of Addiction Treatment
To counter these deficiencies, resolve any damage caused from them, and to boost general health and well-being, many rehab facilities integrate nutritional support, including vitamins into their care plan.
Certain drugs, like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids often require a medically-supported detox. While detox is a time for your body to strip the chemical burden of the abused substance from its system, it’s also a time when good things need to be going back into your body. Fluid hydration and vitamin supplementation is quite commonly used during this time.
As we’ve noted, vitamin deficiencies can progress to serious extremes, such as within the case of alcoholism. Various B vitamins, including thiamine, are critical components of a treatment plan for those recovering from an alcohol addiction. Other vitamins, minerals, or supplements may be used as needed. Alcohol isn’t the only drug addiction which benefits from vitamin supplementation.
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Any form of drug abuse can impair physical and mental health. Certain drugs cause greater nutritional deficiencies than others, especially when abuse reaches levels of addiction. For example, the Psychology Today article continues, noting that cocaine can create vitamin B and C deficiencies, while marijuana can reduce levels of zinc and disrupt the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamins support detoxification, healing, and all around better health, when used within a holistic, integrated treatment plan. Certain programs which offer alternative therapies may also utilize various herbal supplements. Nutritional support is quite commonly supported by exercise, healthy meal planning, and alternatives therapies like yoga within rehab.
When paired with researched-based treatment modalities, good nutrition helps to promote a balanced mood, alleviate stress, reduce cravings, and address any medical concerns (including co-occurring disorders) which may accompany addiction.
If you’d like to learn more about the role of vitamins or nutrition within inpatient drug rehab, it’s best to talk to a treatment specialist for more information and resources.