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Why Do Over 90% of All Substance Abuse Programs Fail?

 Millions are spent annually on substance abuse programs. The number of Americans who have been in such a program or have had a family member in one is staggering. Yet the number of individuals who relapse after being released from such a program is staggering. Between 90% to 95% of people who participate in substance abuse rehab programs fail. Why is the failure rate so high? Can it be prevented or alleviated?

Studies have shown that 60% to 85%+ of individuals experience a relapse during their recovery.  These 
specific emotional occurrences listed below are some of the common reasons why individuals relapse.  

· Exhaustion — they allow themselves to become overly tired, and over committed not prioritizing 
health, fitness and nutrition.  
· A Negative emotion or experience resulting in stress, fear, frustration, depression, and/or 
· Excuse making.  Telling those around them and themselves lies while making excuses. 
· Impatience/ Frustration — They let themselves get frustrated when something isn’t happening 
fast enough, or become impatient with people.  Finding small, unimportant things that set them 
· Self-Pity — they feel like a victim and refuse to acknowledge responsibilities.
· Arrogance — they think they have conquered addiction and put themselves in tempting situations.
· Complacency/ Boredom — they give up working with programs and fall short on commitment.
· Expecting too much — they can’t understand why everyone isn’t changing when they have put 
forth so much effort in their recovery.  

Emotions are the link between nutrition and addiction relapse.  
Eating is emotional, it is common for people to celebrate with food, turn to food when they are 
depressed, anxious or feeling other similar emotions (listed above).  When food is used in combination 
with emotions, the food choices tend to be poor, including processed foods rich in sugar, harmful fats, 
dyes, chemicals, gluten, all of these inflammatory foods stimulate the opiate receptors and disrupt the 
optimal pH levels of the body.  

A common problem in addiction recovery is the substance that one was addicted to are often replaced 
with food, typically junk foods, this is also known as “transfer addiction.” This leads to increased risk 
for obesity related diseases like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The surges and
 drops in blood sugars as a result of poor diet resemble the highs and lows of the actual substance that 
was once used. When overcoming addictions, addressing the root causes of the addiction with a therapist
while converting nutrition into a sound program that will allow the body to function will make a statistically
 significant impact on the overall success of the addiction and sober living recovery program. Channeling the addictive 
behaviors into healthy lifestyle strategies like cooking, exercise, meditation, and healthy hobbies with the
guidance of your therapist will generate long-term success. 

Recovery from substance abuse also affects the body in other ways, including metabolism (processing 
energy), organ function, and mental well-being. Proper nutrition will help the healing process, repairing 
damaged tissue. Nutrients supply the body with energy. They provide substances to build and maintain 
healthy organs and fight off infection.
Nutrition also plays an important role in mood. Research suggests that changes in your diet can alter brain 
structure both chemically and physiologically, and influence your behavior. Furthermore, the consumption 
of certain foods has been tied to increased production of key neurotransmitters like serotonin, which 
improves mood. Keeping mood stable will decrease the risk for cravings and relapse in addiction recovery.
Substance abuse recovery requires a support team of counselors, therapist and numerous other health 
professionals.  In addition to that support team adhering to a nutrition plan that suppresses opiate 
receptors, reduces inflammation, and supports optimal pH balance will also decrease the relapse rate.  
This nutrition plan is low in natural sugar, free of processed sugars,  artificial sweeteners, gluten and most 
dairy.  This plan is rich in vegetables, some fruits, quality protein, heart healthy anti-inflammatory fats, 
and stable alkaline-based water. You can get a free week's worth of menus at 

Suppressing the Opiate Response
Consuming a diet rich in nutrient dense palatable foods is the key to offsetting the negative effects of opiate
 receptors. Feeling satisfied after consuming a meal that both appeared and tasted pleasant will offset the 
urge to “want more.” Unfortunately with all of the preservatives and unhealthy additives we think of 
palatable as unhealthy foods, reforming this mindset will allow foods to both increase the success of your 
recovery while allowing you to be healthy and have an optimal functioning metabolism. It is common among 
anyone who is trying to eat healthy, that the food at first will taste and appear bland due to the reduction in 
sodium, fat, and sugar and in most cases calories. Using fresh herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables and healthy 
fats will improve the overall enjoyment of the foods leaving one feeling rewarded and satisfied not craving 
anything else. Suppressing the opiate response is a valuable key to successfully beating the addiction and 
maintaining this will lower the relapse rate.
Also in addition to amino acids therapy administration, consuming foods that are rich in amino acids like 
fish, meat, and poultry will not only help repair and regenerate damaged tissue, it will keep cravings down 
and help maintain lean muscle mass and proper organ function. Each meal should have an amino acids rich 
food like fish, meat, or poultry, and if needed a protein supplement.

Body pH balance and its effects on our body’s ability to overcome addiction.
The typical American diet is packed with sugar and processed foods, which throws off your body’s ability to 
optimize your pH. Although your body naturally has it’s own mechanisms to buffer your pH, many of us are 
likely living in a state of low-grade acidosis from eating too many low-quality processed, depleted foods. 
Eating a diet rich in low nutrient processed foods puts the body in a state of mild, moderate or even severe 
inflammation.  Inflammation can affect our body’s ability to regulate insulin levels resulting in increased 
cravings for sugary foods. In recovery, sugary food cravings can often be misread as a craving for the once 
abused substance due to similar hormonal responses of serotonin and opiate receptors. Optimizing our pH 
through a balanced and pure nutrition and hydration plan will reduce inflammation and help avoid cravings, 
hormonal imbalances and chances for relapses. Consuming at least 9-11 servings of fruits and vegetables, 
heart healthy fats, and high quality moderate sized protein servings along with hydration strategies in the 
form of high quality stable alkaline water resources will have a statistically significant effect on helping 
patients withdrawal from addiction while reducing symptoms.

Article written exclusively for Funky Frugal Mommy by Dr. Keith Kantor, a leading nutritionist, author, addictions counselor, and founder of the NAMED program. Dr. Kantor says that one of the leading causes of relapses is a poor diet and nutrition. He says that many people actually fall into substance abuse because of a poor diet and nutrition.


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