Nutrition allows the human body to generate energy and maintain its systems. Proper nutrition is essential to everyone, but individuals attempting to recover from alcohol abuse will have a much smoother detox experience with a diet supplemented by vitamin therapy. Prolonged consumption of large quantities of alcohol has several adverse effects on the body, and poor nutrition makes the detox and recovery process more stressful and uncomfortable.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
To recognize how important nutrition and vitamin supplements are to alcohol abuse recovery, it’s vital to understand the effects alcohol abuse has on the human body. Symptoms will vary case by case due to individual health factors, how long alcohol abuse has continued, and how far the addiction has progressed.
Some alcoholics are so severely addicted that the bulk of the nutrients in their diet come from the alcoholic beverages they consume. When the body cannot obtain the nutrients it needs from consumed food and drink, it will start breaking down other tissues in the body. This also impacts the body’s glucose levels. Glucose, or blood sugar, is a necessary component for healthy brain functions as well as other metabolic processes.
Excessive alcohol intake can deregulate the body’s ability to control blood glucose levels. This can cause hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). These conditions can be harmful, especially for individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes.
Alcohol and Digestion
After food is consumed, the digestive system breaks it down into its smaller molecular components. The body absorbs these compounds to maintain vital systems and create energy. Alcohol prevents the efficient breakdown of food by inhibiting the production of digestive enzymes. Food may be consumed, but the body is far less capable of breaking it down into a useful form while there is alcohol in the body.
Even when food is successfully broken down, alcohol inhibits the processes the body uses to absorb the nutrients and use them. Over time, this means an alcoholic will progressively receive less and less energy from the food and alcohol they consume, depriving the body of essential nutrients at an increasingly faster pace.
Health Risks of Advanced Alcoholism
Long-term alcohol abuse is one of the most physically damaging forms of substance abuse. Untreated alcoholism cannot only cause complications in virtually every bodily system, but it can be fatal. Some of the long-term or permanent effects of alcohol abuse include heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver from vitamin A and E deficiencies, nerve damage, and pancreatitis. Additionally, alcoholics often experience seizures due to impaired brain function, and many advanced alcoholics suffer from dehydration and malnutrition.
Wet Brain Syndrome
An especially dangerous condition, common in advanced alcoholics, is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, often called “wet brain.” This condition manifests when the body is deprived of vitamin B1 (thiamine) for an extended period, and hinders nervous system and brain functions.
Addiction and Nutrition
Malnutrition is more dangerous than many realize, and it often goes unaddressed for long periods of time of time with alcoholics. When the body does not obtain the nutrients it needs to continue essential functions, the entire body begins to degrade. Essentially, the human body will begin breaking itself down to survive. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, and dehydration is not only dangerous, but over a long period of time, it can be seriously damaging to the body.
Alcohol itself is damaging to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, but addictive patterns contribute to the damage as well. Most substance abusers will start neglecting self-care and other everyday activities as their addictions worsen. Eventually, the only thoughts are about where to find more alcohol. Not only does alcohol hurt the body when ingested, but the search for more alcohol also prevents the alcoholic from obtaining essential nutrition.
When alcoholics seek treatment, it’s vital to address the damage that the alcohol has done to the body’s vital systems. Vitamin therapy describes treatment involving high doses of essential vitamins. This process helps the body regain essential functions. Vitamin therapy not only helps address malnutrition and dehydration and the severe issues they cause, but also helps the alcoholic by allowing them to approach the recovery process with a more solid foundation.
Addiction is deeply rooted in behavior, and while alcohol has a significant impact on physical health, the psychological battle with addiction is far more stressful and difficult. When the body and mind are deficient in essential vitamins, it becomes even harder.
The Detox Process
Once the effects of an alcoholic’s last drink start to wane, he or she will begin experiencing withdrawal. Once the body has grown accustomed to a particular substance, it reacts negatively when that substance is no longer available – and this is withdrawal. For alcoholics, withdrawal typically entails delirium tremens, also called “DTs” or “the shakes,” and causes violent tremors. Additionally, severe anxiety, seizures, sweating, irregular heartbeat, fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, nausea, and irritability commonly manifest during the withdrawal period.
Rebuilding the Body
This is typically an excruciatingly painful process, and an alcoholic in withdrawal will experience intense cravings for more alcohol. With medical supervision and vitamin therapy, alcoholics can have a much easier time handling the onset of withdrawal and working through it.
The high doses of essential vitamins during treatment help jump-start the body’s essential functions. Vitamin therapy can be a valuable part of any alcoholic’s recovery and not only help the physical pains of detoxing, but also pave the way to a smoother psychological recovery with a healthier mind and body.