Are there foods that will help with withdrawal symptoms of an opiate addiction?

Dennis6969 asked...

I am an opiate addict and am going through severe withdrawals from dilaudid and suboxone. I also have Hepatitis C and liver disease. Are there foods that will better help me through this process and that have restorative qualities for my liver and withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, irritability and muscle twitching?

Expert Answer

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

I would first like to congratulate you as you take your first steps towards recovery from your opiate addiction. Good nutrition is a powerful ally. The physical healing can begin by providing your body with nutrients needed to establish a healthy environment as you manage the withdrawal symptoms. The liver is our master detoxifying organ, critical to the proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system. There are a number of nutritional strategies that are supportive during this healing process.

  1. Reduce the load on the liver by minimizing saturated fats and processed foods while eating a well-balanced diet that is high in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

  2. Choose organic varieties of produce and animal products whenever possible to further reduce the amount of "toxic load" the liver must process. Work towards eating 9-12 servings per day of fruits and vegetables, and choose more plant proteins from beans, peas, lentils and other legumes in place of animal protein.

Especially helpful foods for the liver include;

  • Artichoke, watercress, cilantro, parsley, green leaf vegetables

  • Crucifers (Cabbages) including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale.

  • Healthy fats from wild, cold water fish such as salmon, sardines and herring

  • Flaxseed, nuts, seeds and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

  • And finally, drink plenty of filtered water, white and green tea, to help hydrate the body and support the work of the liver and kidney as they work to "flush" toxins from the body.