Weight gain is a common issue that can happen for several reasons during addiction recovery, some of which may be unavoidable. As you adjust to a sober lifestyle, you can adapt to these factors accordingly, so you shouldn’t let the fear of putting on a few extra pounds stop you from quitting drugs.
Why Does Weight Gain Happen In Addiction Recovery?
- Increased Appetite
- Changes In Eating Habits
- Metabolic Changes
- Medication Side Effects
- Emotional Eating
Some drugs, such as heroin and other opioids, make you feel “full” or even nauseated at the sight of food, even if you’ve barely eaten anything all day. If you regularly used these drugs in the past, you were likely malnourished.
When your appetite returns after detoxing, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overeating. This is the body’s natural response to being in “starvation mode” for so long.
Changes in Eating Habits
When people struggle with addiction, they often neglect their health and well-being. This can lead to poor eating habits, including consuming unhealthy foods, skipping meals, or overeating.
In recovery, people often begin prioritizing their health and well-being, which can lead to changes in their eating habits. However, these changes can sometimes result in weight gain, so be sure to educate yourself about the types of food you are consuming.
Drug and alcohol abuse can have a significant impact on metabolism. In particular, when people abuse amphetamines, their metabolism may accelerate, leading to unintentional weight loss.
However, when people enter recovery, their metabolism will begin to normalize, which can result in weight gain. Likewise, certain drugs can slow down your metabolism, and things can take a while to return to normal even after getting sober.
Medication Side Effects
Many people in addiction recovery take medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms or mental health conditions. Some of these medications can have side effects that include weight gain. For example, antipsychotics and certain antidepressants can increase your appetite and alter your metabolism.
Addiction recovery is a highly emotional process, forcing you to confront unwanted feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, and depression without using substances to cope. In the absence of drugs and alcohol, some people may turn to food as a new way to cope with these emotions, which can lead to weight gain.
What Can You Do About Weight Gain In Addiction Recovery?
If you are experiencing weight gain during addiction recovery, there are several things you can do to manage the issue.
- Talk To Your Doctor
- Practice Mindful Eating
- Stay Active
- Seek Support
- Be Kind To Yourself
Talk To Your Doctor
If you are concerned about your weight gain, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine if there are any underlying health issues or medication side effects contributing to your weight gain.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a practice that involves paying attention to the types and amounts of food you are consuming. It can help you develop a healthier relationship with food and prevent overeating. To practice mindful eating, focus on your food’s taste, texture, and smell, and eat slowly. Also, try to eat without distractions like watching TV or using your phone.
Exercise can help you manage your weight, improve your mood and reduce stress—making it particularly helpful during recovery. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
This can include activities like walking, jogging, biking, dancing, swimming, or anything else you find fun. In particular, consider taking up long-distance running, as the rush of endorphins produced by this particular exercise modality can naturally induce a pleasurable and drug-free altered state of consciousness known as the “runner’s high.”
Managing weight gain during addiction recovery can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Seek support from friends, family members, or a support group. You may also want to consider working with a therapist or counselor who can help you develop healthy coping strategies and address any emotional difficulties contributing to your weight gain.
Be Kind To Yourself
If you feel you’re at a crossroads in your recovery journey, indulging in the foods you love is not something you should feel ashamed of, as—unless your doctor has informed you otherwise—most food “addictions” are far less harmful than genuine drug or alcohol addictions.
While an unhealthy diet is not ideal for your long-term health and wellness, temporary weight gain is ultimately a small price compared to the risk of relapsing and possibly suffering a fatal overdose. As such, it’s essential that you be extra kind and forgiving towards yourself—especially in the first few months after quitting drugs.
Addiction Detox In Utah
Weight gain can be a significant source of stress and anxiety for many people in addiction recovery. However, with the right strategies and support, you can manage this issue and work towards maintaining a healthy weight. If you or a loved one are ready to embark on the road to recovery, consider contacting Nexstep Medical Detox today to get started.