Most people understand when they begin methadone treatment for opiate addiction that they’re in it for the long haul. For the first time following their heroin or pain pill abuse, when they go into methadone rehab they begin to feel better. They can even like themselves once again!
Unfortunately, however, use of methadone in addiction treatment often results in weight gain. It’s very upsetting to be doing something so positive for yourself and then you have to put up with this unflattering, unfortunate side effect.
Before people begin treatment, they just don’t eat right. Looking at the people grouped around the doors at a treatment program, you can identify the ones who are new to methadone rehab. That’s because most of them take their first walk into a methadone clinic weighing barely more than their shadow. The problem is that someone who is consumed with getting over his last high and figuring out how they’re going to get their next one pays little attention to what and when they should eat. When they go into methadone rehab, they have little to no idea how they can best regain good health. And then, as they get into the swing of the program, the pounds start piling on.
- Many opiate addicts who get into treatment start craving sugars. Chocolates and other sweets help people deal with cravings, but they translate into additional pounds. Potato chips and chocolate, anyone? When you’re abusing your body with opiates, you need to make the healthiest choices possible, including diet.
- Methadone might slow down your metabolism. Although there is no evidence concerning hyperglycemia, you simply won’t burn calories as efficiently. Scientists believe this is affected by a liver enzyme called CYP34A. This enzyme breaks down foreign substances that shouldn’t be in the body, including opiates and other types of drugs. The efficiency of CYP34A varies from person to person, and the effects are wide-ranging. This enzyme can reduce the effectiveness of methadone, and it can alternatively reduce the body’s rate of metabolism. Also, when people are eating poorly because they’re using drugs, their CYP34A levels are affected, so being in methadone rehab reverses the process. The results are pudge, pounds, and panic.
Now that you’re in methadone rehab, for starters, congratulate yourself on the healthier lifestyle you’re living. Look at all the people out there who haven’t made it and aren’t even going to try. To celebrate your success, add these healthy practices to your daily routine:
- Eat the three square meals a day that you missed during the days when you were focused on addiction. You may have to proactively plan healthy meals and then shop in advance for the ingredients you’ll need. Many people suffer from boredom during methadone rehab that can lead to relapse; why not take up a new hobby such as cooking as you work on your recovery?
- Begin to think about the nutritional value of the foods you eat each day. Don’t just reach for pizza, tacos, and ice cream. Think about the basic food groups, and choose foods that offer healthy choices. You can train yourself to do this gradually: When you shop for groceries, for example, look at the labels of the foods you like. Include fresh vegetables and fruits several times a day.
- Add plenty of water to your daily diet. It will help rinse from your body the toxins that you accumulated over time. Your complexion will improve, and you’ll also notice that your digestive system works better. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can drink some cool, clear, delicious water in order to stave off hunger. And—drinking water can be a big plus considering that many people in methadone rehab suffer from constipation.
- This is a great time to begin an exercise program. It will add a helpful activity to your daily schedule, and your muscles will benefit from the improved sleep and diet as well as the exercise you give them. Your brain has temporarily slowed down or even stopped its production of those feel-good endorphins that we all need. Your body is screaming out for some drugs in order to stimulate endorphin production. That’s why it’s important to exercise, because it will provide generate the dopamine production that your brain is crying for. In the meantime, you’ll be burning calories, which will help fight the pounds.
- If necessary, ask the doctor at your methadone program for a referral to a nutritionist. And just remember, in the event that you gain a few pounds: Being clean is worth the weight!
You’ll notice that your hair, skin, and nails all look better. As your sleep improves, you’ll look and feel happier. With a better diet and more sleep, all body systems experience better functioning. You will eliminate any worry you have about weight gain during methadone rehab. It will be all systems go!