An overwhelmingly large number of Americans are engaged in abusing drugs like opioids, tranquilizers, stimulants, and controlled substances like cocaine. As a result, fatal cases of drug overdose have witnessed a dramatic increase in recent years across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses claimed lives of over 630,000 people in the country during 1999-2016.
Against the backdrop of such an alarming situation, the Boston Medical Center’s “Cooking for Recovery” program is making waves as it seeks to set a new trend of a robust approach to treat addiction. “Recovery is not just about stopping the use of alcohol and drugs, it’s about how do we return people to a sense of wellness and a sense of well-being,” said Michael Botticelli, executive director of the medical center’s addiction treatment services and former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The center’s dietitian and chef, Tracy Burg, believes addiction to drugs can deplete users’ bodies of important nutrients causing severe deficiencies and imbalances. While treating people with substance use disorders, doctors generally tend to overlook good nutrition. Burg’s goal is to encourage recovering drug users to make healthy food choice because it aids the recovery process by supplying vital healing nutrients.
Burg has come across several patients recovering successfully from alcoholism or drug addiction but suffering from weakened intestines due to the complete absence of healthy bacteria. She recommends a high-fiber diet to such patients to regain the healthy microbiome in the gut destroyed by extended substance abuse. She emphasizes on the role of nutrition in the healing process. So far, several patients undergoing the center’s addiction treatment program have admitted that they never knew that healthy eating would help getting back their lives on track.
The success of the Boston Medical Center’s “Cooking for Recovery” program has even inspired other treatment centers to follow a similar approach. The Perinatal Addiction Treatment Program clinic at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has started a “grab and go” initiative for patients who can take home fruits, vegetables and casseroles after attending recovery group meetings.
Timely treatment is the key
Experts say every human being is wired for addiction. Once trapped in the vicious circle of substance abuse, only professional help can save them from losing control over themselves. Gone are the days where compulsive drug-seeking behaviors were viewed as a sign of moral weakness or a character flaw as research attributes improper brain functioning to drug cravings. So, the best way to deal with such a situation is to give the same amount of importance as in the case of any serious physical problem like hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes.
One should remember that substance use disorders can have devastating consequences, if left untreated. However, the good thing is that addiction to harmful drugs is treatable with timely medical intervention. If a person is battling substance abuse, he/she should immediately seek professional help from a state-of-the-art drug addiction treatment provider.
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