When you are addicted to opioids, everything else comes second. The desire to meet that insatiable demand can overshadow relationships, work, health and even your appetite. Many people do gain weight when they quit taking opioids — but this is not a bad thing. As your body recovers from years of abuse, it’s normal for your weight to fluctuate.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the reasons you may be gaining weight. We’ll also explore healthy ways to address weight changes as you move forward in your recovery journey.
Why Quitting Opioids Can Cause Weight Gain
Opioids bind to the reward center of your brain. As addiction takes hold and dependence grows, you will feel an unnatural need for that substance. Addiction to opioids impacts eating habits in two main ways:
- Irregular eating patterns: At the height of addiction, everything else pales in comparison, including food. Compulsive cravings lead to more drug-seeking behavior while neglecting proper nutrition and regular eating.
- Uncomfortable side effects: Long-term opioid use can cause a variety of harmful side effects, including nausea, vomiting and constipation. These side effects can decrease your appetite, slow digestion and lead to extreme weight loss.
When you quit using opioids, your body begins to regulate. You may notice your appetite increase or that you crave certain foods. That’s because your body is making up for lost time and replenishing essential vitamins and nutrients.
How to Manage Your Weight Gain
Gaining weight after opioid addiction could be a sign that your overall health is improving. However, if you’re concerned about gaining weight in an unhealthy way, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Beware of Overeating
Addiction and overeating have similar effects on the brain. Both activities activate the brain’s reward center, triggering the release of dopamine and making you feel good. Overeating can become a replacement behavior for opioids, leading to binge eating and unhealthy weight gain.
Choose Healthy, Nutritious Meals
Eating regular meals and healthy snacks throughout the day makes it less likely that you’ll binge eat or make unhealthy food choices. Be sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables, as these will give your body a boost of the sugar it may be craving. While the occasional donut or fast food run is OK, try to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
After all the abuse your body endured while addicted to opioids, you’ll probably need to replace some vital nutrients. Invest in a good multivitamin, as this should provide most of what you need. Your doctor can also suggest a few other supplements based on your needs.
Incorporate a Fitness Routine
Exercising regularly is an important aspect of keeping your body trim and toned. However, for those recovering from opioid addiction, fitness can also help improve your mood and make you feel more optimistic. Physical activity stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin, also called the “happy hormones.”
Contact AppleGate Recovery to Learn More
There are many excuses you can make that could prevent you from getting help with opioid addiction. Don’t let the fear of gaining weight be one of them. Contact AppleGate Recovery today to learn how our proven addiction treatment method can help you.