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The Importance of Exercise and Nutrition for Recovering Addicts

A young man does a plank in a gym, with kettle balls next to him.
Any kind of exercise can give your body—and mind—a boost while in recovery.


You hear it your whole life: You need to eat right and work out if you want to be healthy.

But when you’re recovering from addiction, the stakes are higher—way higher. Eating right and working out become critical. This isn’t about looking good in a bathing suit. It’s about getting your life back.

In fact, one study reported that nutrition counseling has been found to “significantly improve three-month sobriety success rates,” according to a story in Today’s Dietician.

The next question, then, is what should you eat to optimize your recovery—and what exactly can exercise do for you?

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Cocaine Recovery Diet

It’s a fact that cocaine can result in malnutrition. But what many people don’t know is that malnutrition leads to both cravings for drugs and disease risk. To avoid that, you’ll want your diet to be full of the following:

  • Nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables to boost anti-oxidants and reduce inflammation
  • Complex carbohydrates to help keep blood sugar levels stable, give you energy and reduce irritability and cravings
  • More protein — the amino acids in protein serve as building blocks for neurotransmitters, which are critical to mood regulation
  • Plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Foods rich in omega-3s like salmon, flax, chia seeds and walnuts
  • Less caffeine, which can exacerbate anxiety and insomnia, as well as less sugary and refined foods

This isn’t the time to obsess over a cookie. Rather, make it your goal that most of what you eat is nourishing and good for you.

The Importance of Exercise

Justin S. Rhodes, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign is the author of a study examining the relationship between exercise and addiction. He’s also examined other studies on the topic.

The take-home message, he says, is clear.

Exercise seems to stimulate reward centers in the brain that might “substitute for drug cravings,” according to an interview Rhodes did with The New York Times.

In addition, exercise makes you stronger, can increase motivation and can also just be fun, especially if you go for a hike with friends or do yoga outside on a beautiful spring day.

Cocaine Rehab Center in Denver

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center that believes in a whole-person approach to recovery. Our team of doctors, therapists, nurses and even a nutritionist knows how to best help—and give hope to—those in recovery for cocaine abuse. We’d love to answer any questions you may have. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the cocaine addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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