Cocaine addiction is a serious disease that can be difficult to overcome. However, even when you’ve had success in addiction treatment, and you’ve reached a point of abstinence, your road to recovery isn’t over. There may be a variety of challenges to your relapse prevention plan on the horizon, and it’s important to be ready for them before they arrive. Developing a healthy lifestyle is important for maintaining abstinence. However, cocaine can affect your weight and your ability to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. Learn how your body is affected by cocaine and how you can gain weight in a healthy way.
How Does Cocaine Cause Weight Loss?
Cocaine users often find themselves losing weight quickly and sometimes find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight immediately following detox and recovery. For a long time, it was thought that cocaine kept users thin because it suppressed their appetites. In fact, there were studies conducted in the 1990s that explored the relationship between eating and cocaine use. One rat study showed evidence that, at certain levels, cocaine does indeed have anorectic effects, which means it induces anorexia or a lack of desire to eat.
However, recent studies have found that cocaine users generally eat more and consume more calories than other people on average. So how can it be that they still lose weight? A study found that cocaine actually changes the way your body processes, stores, and releases food energy.
It’s unclear as to exactly how cocaine affects your metabolism, but everything else we know about cocaine use in the body should point to weight gain. Users report eating higher amounts of carbohydrates and fats, they often smoke cigarettes that typically cause a higher body fat percentage, and they have high levels of leptin, a protein associated with weight gain.
The fact that cocaine causes altered levels of protein and users continue to lose weight despite other factors that would normally increase weight tells researchers that the drug has a significant impact on metabolism. Understanding the effects this change has on people in recovery can help you start building healthy habits in recovery that might even promote relapse prevention.
Why a Healthy Weight is Important
A healthy weight and healthy eating habits can affect multiple aspects of your physical and mental health. Your body needs to have a healthy body fat percentage to work properly. Having too little body fat is linked to a variety of medical complications like anemia, heart problems, osteoporosis, muscle loss, hormonal imbalances, and gastrointestinal issues. Being overweight can lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and clogged arteries.
A healthy weight does a lot for your physical health, but it can also positively affect your mental health. Your weight and the food you eat can affect your hormones, brain chemistry, body image, and other factors. A healthy body and good eating habits can give you more energy to take on challenges you face in your recovery, and it can help you safeguard your sobriety.
Some people struggle to maintain a healthy body weight. In some cases, metabolic changes take time to reverse, and it’s difficult for you to gain weight. However, people who recently went through treatment for cocaine addiction often find that they begin to gain a lot of weight quickly. If you are used to eating fatty foods while on cocaine, and you quit, your metabolism won’t be able to keep up with your eating habits. The sudden increase in weight can cause depression in abstinence that often leads to relapse.
Healthy Ways to Gain Weight
Gaining weight while in recovery from cocaine use isn’t just about finding the highest calorie meal options and eating as much as possible. Since cocaine affects your metabolism, you will have to work to correct the damage the drug has done, and that may take some specific strategies. Developing a healthy lifestyle in recovery can do a lot for improving your physical and mental health. Here are a few ways to gain weight after a cocaine use disorder that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eat the Right Foods
Many common foods are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Soda, sweets, and fatty foods will increase your caloric intake without offering you much else in the way of vitamins, muscle building, and energy. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and seeds offer better nutrition and can have a positive impact on your overall health. If you are struggling to gain weight, avoid low calorie, low nutrient food and drinks, especially diet sodas and coffee, which can curb your appetite.
This may seem counterintuitive on the outset. Exercising burns calories, which makes you thinner, right? It’s generally true that physical activity causes your body to consume more energy which contributes to weight loss. However, studies have shown that exercise accounts for only 30 percent of weight gain and weight loss. Your body uses energy as efficiently as possible. You could run a mile and still have a long way to go before completely burning off a single cheeseburger.
Exercise has actually shown to cause weight gain in most people because it causes them to increase their caloric intake. The sudden expense of energy often triggers your appetite and encourages you to eat more. However, if you are incredibly active, you will need to eat enough to make up for the calories you burn every day. If you start to exercise more often, eat accordingly.
Eat More Frequently
If you are small, thin, or underweight, you may naturally find that you feel full quickly. If you still have a limited appetite, you may have trouble finishing meals and getting the calories that you need. If that’s the case, break your meals up into several smaller meals each day. Eating five or six meals each day can help you get the food you need and build a healthy metabolism.
Seeking Addiction Treatment
Addiction can have a serious impact on your mind and body that takes time and effort to correct. In most cases, a substance use disorder requires addiction treatment to overcome. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder and you would like to learn more about help and treatment options, call the addiction specialists at California Highlands Addiction Treatment at 855-808-5454 any time. Addiction is a chronic disease, but it can be treated, and you don’t have to go through it on your own.