The first principal in addiction treatment is to get the individual past the immediate crisis. Caffeine and nicotine may have some beneficial functions during detoxification. However, prolonged use of nicotine during recovery can contribute to comorbid conditions, compromised quality of life, decreased likelihood of long-term recovery, and be an overall healthcare burden.
Consumption of sweetened coffee and a cigarette as a breakfast substitute may have adverse effects in the afternoon. Both caffeine and nicotine interfere with hunger and fullness cues and can lead to dysfunctional eating behavior. Nicotine increases metabolism, acts as appetite suppressant, and compromises the sense of taste and smell. Smokers have a tendency to choose highly palatable snack foods and are less likely to enjoy the taste of fruits and vegetables. Caffeine has a high potential for abuse and can affect the duration and quality of sleep. Many caffeinated beverages also contribute to excess sugar consumption.
The timing of caffeine and nicotine reduction or cessation should be assessed on an individual basis. The first few months of sobriety are not always an optimal time to drastically alter intake. Caffeine abstinence is not always indicated but intake should be limited. Strict avoidance of caffeine during early recovery may make nutrition seem punitive rather than a helpful component of recovery. Nicotine cessation should eventually become a goal. Average weight gain of 8-10 lbs. is common for smokers who quit, and recidivism is high due to weight concerns. By focusing on the benefits of improved physical health, individuals in recovery will be able to make informed choices about what they eat. Nutrition education and counseling can become an effective adjunctive approach towards caffeine and nicotine reduction or cessation.
- View the slides from Nutrition in Recovery: The Role of there Dietitian in Addiction Treatment
- Read about Healthful Eating in Addiction Recovery
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