What is the role of nutrition as a causative factor in addiction?
By Dr Maharaja SivaSubramanian N
I was discussing with a group of health professionals on the probable causes of addiction, and one of them that I proposed was nutritional factor; especially for addiction of tobacco and alcohol. This article will highlight some of the probable causes and also findings which are usually seen to be present in case of tobacco and alcohol addicts.Nutrition plays a vital role in the health of the individual. A description from my own definition of health about nutrition;
Nutritional enrichment. Nutritional enrichment is a healthy state where the individual is able to have appropriate balanced nutrition to take care of their nutritionally health needs. Nutrition which improves health in all planes of health instead of a diet which focuses only on physical health. Nutrition which is neither below the needed levels nor exceeding the needed levels, but maintained in a balanced level, enriching the individual for higher level of wellness.
Addicts usually suffer from poor nutrition habits. Even when I did my internship in my under graduate program, I could find a commonality between the patients who were alcohol consumers, to have poor food habits.
A lot of Doctors, especially those who see a lot of patients and clients with tobacco and alcohol consumption from the level of early dependence to addiction can confirm from their experience that these people have poor diet habits. They have malnourishment.
Malnourishment is seen in a scenario where the patients do not get to have a balanced diet. And in such a case, the energy needs of the person is not met resulting in stress both physiologically and psychologically; and disturbing the lifestyle.
Such people need immediate source of energy which will also give them with energy and also help them reduce the stress.
The actions of alcohol and nicotine (stimulant component of tobacco) has well been documented to act as stimulants and as stress relievers. In such cases resulting in positive reinforcements, people tend to associate indulge in tobacco and alcohol consumption whenever they need a stimulation and lack energy. Over a period of time, it develops as a dependency leading to a stage of severe addiction.
How can this be prevented and treated?
A good step for prevention and treatment is spreading awareness and education. This will include promotion of healthy eating habits which need to be done pro-actively in at-risk groups and through public education programs.
Treatment of patients with tobacco or alcohol addiction should also involve nutrition counselling where steps should be taken to improve the nutritional health of the individual. This will help a lot in minimising the effect of withdrawal symptoms which may occur in patients who are undergoing cessation.
Also, this will help in improving overall status of health, increase immunity; and promote quick recovery and less treatment span.
Alcohol and Tobacco may act as stimulants, however they have little or no nutritional value thus resulting in more harm. However, by the time, the patient may realise it, they may have reached a stage of dependence where fear of occurence of withdrawal symptoms may prevent them from abstinence or overcoming the habit, forcing them to continue the dependence as a result of negative reinforcement. In such cases, treatment should be done in a holistic method where, behavioral modification therapy can help psychologically, family counselling can help in social adaptability, therapeutic agents and exercise therapy can help physically; and these all should be well supported with nutritional treatment and enrichment too, which will help in faster recovery in an effective and efficient manner.
Be Healthier and Happier. Become Empowered and Enriched.
Dr Maharaja SivaSubramanian N
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Dr Maharaja SivaSubramanian N is India’s 1st Holistic Concierge Medicine Doctor specializing in Homoeopathy, Counselling, Hypnotherapy, Nutrition, Exercise Therapy. Contact Dr Maharaja N for your treatment needs.