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Heroin Recovery: Nutrition and Exercise

A man and a woman work out on exercise bikes in a gym.
Exercise and nutrition can be powerful tools in the fight against addiction.


You’ve been hearing your whole life how important diet and exercise are. But when you’re trying to overcome heroin addiction they’re more than just important. They’re lifesavers.

Yes, good nutrition and working out will make you healthier. Let’s be honest, that’s not the most important thing right now. You’ve got a lifetime to worry about your cholesterol.

The most important thing right now is breaking free from the destructive and deadly hold of heroin.

And that’s exactly where nutrition and exercise come into play. They can both help you reduce cravings and feel good. In other words, they’ll help you stay clean and build a new life.

Nutrition and Heron Recovery

There’s a reason the super skinny look popular on models in the 1990s was called “heroin chic.” It’s because heroin can take over a life fast. Food quickly becomes an afterthought, leading to malnutrition and weight loss.

Nourishing your body is obviously important for long-term health. But it also has the immediate benefit of helping to control cravings and improve mood. Here are some of the key nutrients you’ll need:

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

It’s tempting, when giving one thing up, to seek quick hits of pleasure from food that will ultimately make you feel worse. But there is a better way to boost your mood, which leads to our next topic …

Research has shown that exercise can stimulate reward centers in the brain in a similar way to drugs. Of course the high isn’t as intense, but it also isn’t a threat to kill you at every moment.

Consider the case of Todd Crandell. He’d been abusing alcohol and drugs, including heroin for years when he got his third DUI and decided to change his course. He now does triathlons and is the founder of an Ohio group called Racing for Recovery that advocates for exercise as a key component of living well.

“When I stopped drinking and doing drugs, I immediately shifted to lifting weights and cleaning up my diet,” Crandell told the Chicago Tribune.

Today, he’s still racing, helping others and living clean.

Heroin Detox in Colorado

At The Raleigh House, getting you off heroin is only half our goal. The other half is to teach you how to live a full and good life. We have a chef on staff to prepare foods designed for those in recovery and exercise opportunities include yoga, swimming, rock-climbing, hiking or just hitting the gym. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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