There is a lot happening on the drug de-addiction front.
Along with groundbreaking research that can help drug addicts, their loved ones now can use home drug testing kits to keep a close watch on them to prevent relapse. But even with all the measures in place, the perils of drug abuse are more serious than what many realize.
For example, when a person takes drugs, the chemicals get into the brain’s communication channel. This disrupts the way the entire nervous system functions. In other words, the person’s ability to process, send and receive information takes a backseat.
How exactly does this happen?
- The chemicals imitate the brain’s natural chemical messengers.
- They also overstimulate what’s also known as the ‘reward circuit’ of the brain.
This is why drug abuse, in the long-term, can prove to be detrimental to the brain and its functioning. Its adverse effects are clearly visible from the way drug addicts make judgments or decisions, learn or remember things, and from their behavior in general.
Because drug addiction is something that alters a person completely, especially from the biological point of view, it is necessary to ensure the recovery program involves the constant monitoring of brain health.
Here are two important points in getting the brain back on track post-addiction.
1. Focusing on Nutrition and Diet
Keeping a close watch on the nutrition and diet of an addict goes a long way in helping the brain recover, even after prolonged drug abuse. This is because each organ in the body reels under the impact of drugs. Eating healthy and nutritious food can help restore the balance in the body.
The first step is consulting a physician to recommend a balanced diet for the recovering drug addict. More often than not, the diet will consist of frequent meals that will help maintain the recovering addict’s energy levels and keep mood swings in check.
A healthy diet includes includes the following elements:
- Fresh fruits, green vegetables, and whole grains should be included in ample amounts.
- The intake of red meat needs to be limited to a large extent and can be replaced with lean protein such as poultry and fish.
- Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea can be replaced by decaf coffee and herbal tea. Coffee should be limited to one to two cups per day, if at all.
- Salt and sugar intake should be limited.
- Omega-3 fatty acids from nuts, flaxseeds, fish oils etc. are also an essential part of the diet and need to be consumed regularly.
- Processed foods of any kind, especially junk food, needs to be avoided.
- It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and other fluids. However, consuming too much water may lead to the loss of essential minerals and water toxicity.
Note: No major changes to the diet should be made immediately, but instead introduced gradually. This will help in the successful implementation and completion of the entire nutrition program.
2. Taking up Physical Activities
It is common knowledge that engaging in physical activities can boost the body’s functions and increase blood flow to the brain. This, in turn, helps alleviate frequent mood swings and bouts of depression. Moreover, it can stimulate the brain in a positive way and make an individual feel rejuvenated.
Just as with nutrition, one needs to begin slowly and steadily with physical activities. For example, a low-intensity exercise regimen can be used for a while. Over time, the duration and the intensity of the regimen can be increased. If needed, exercise can be done with the help of a trainer or in a group that specifically addresses people recovering from drug addiction.
Joining a gym is perhaps the most obvious way to get some exercise. To make the most of your gym membership, do cardio and strength training. You also can practice yoga, which brings several benefits to the table. Iyengar Yoga, Power Yoga or simple meditation can do wonders for restoring physical as well as mental health.
Hiking, walking or trekking can alleviate stress and bring about relaxation. Brisk morning or evening walks, especially in the lap of nature, can work wonders by boosting brain function.
Another way to get exercise that can be maintained long-term is taking up team sports and recreational activities. Taking up sports such as swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby can help recovering addicts maintain their fitness routine. They also provide them with opportunities to mingle with like-minded individuals. Indulging in recreational activities such as dance is a great way to achieve fitness goals without taking away the fun factor.
Adequate and proper exercise brings about a positive change and makes an individual feel better. This reduces the chances of a relapse. Also, it helps the individual get some peaceful sleep, which is also important for healing the brain.
Drug addiction and recovery can be a trying period for the affected individuals and may take a toll on their brain health. However, with a proper nutrition and exercise regime in place, they can recover faster and get their health back on the track.