💊💥Pain Medication Addiction
and the Disabled

Patients with disabilities often use prescription medications to battle painful conditions, many of which have high potential for addiction. Prescription opioids in particular are effective pain relievers, yet are highly addictive and can easily be abused. People with disabilities are more likely to abuse opioids, but less likely to get the treatment they deserve. Opioids are so highly addictive that even individuals that closely follow short-term prescriptions can quickly get hooked, a risk that only goes up the longer the prescription is for.

Once a disabled individual develops an addiction to prescription opioids, they will often end up switching over to cheaper and more readily available drugs such as heroin when their prescription runs out. This risk is heightened among the disabled, who are often under greater mobility and financial restrictions than the general population. These factors, combined with the fact that opioid addiction is by far the most likely form of addiction to end in overdose and death, make disability and addiction to opioids a growing cause for concern.


Substance Abuse Disrupts Nutrition

Pain Med Addiction and the DisabledThe main side effect of an unhealthy diet is malnutrition, a condition caused by a lack of nutrients. Substance abuse increases the risk of malnutrition because alcohol and other drugs deprive the body of its ability to absorb nutrients. Many people with substance use disorders ignore dietary needs and rely on their drug of choice to relieve physical or emotional discomfort. “When they’re using, they can’t separate hunger cues from other cues,” Friedell said. “During recovery, it’s hard to differentiate between malnourishment and withdrawal.” Weight gain or loss is an overarching concern for people in recovery. Some people lose too much weight because of malnourishment. Others gain too much weight because they try to replace drugs with food. Each type of substance also causes unique health problems.


Opioids slow the way the body functions, making people who take them feel sleepy. The drugs also slow digestion and metabolism. That means the body isn’t able to efficiently process nutrients from food. The most recognizable side effect of disrupted digestion is constipation. Withdrawal from opioid use can disrupt a meal plan. People often feel nauseated, vomit and have diarrhea during withdrawal. These symptoms can prevent food and water consumption at a time when the body needs fuel.


🍣🥗Proper Nourishment is Key During Rehab and Recovery

Counselling, therapy and other holistic strategies are key components of lasting addiction treatment programs. They teach people in recovery healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions and behaviors. But it’s hard for a malnourished brain to learn. We need to refeed and replenish our minds and bodies before any therapy can work. If our brain isn’t working, coping skills are going to go in one ear and out the other. If we are eating properly, and feeding our bodies with nutrient dense whole foods,   a therapist and any recovery supports can look at mood in a different way.

Proper nutrition and hydration are key to the substance abuse healing process because they help restore physical and mental health and improve the chance of recovery. Macro- and micronutrient deficiencies can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and low energy, all of which can lead someone to start using drugs or alcohol or trigger a relapse.

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