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Rural Health Information Hub

Incorporating Wellness Activities into Treatment


Research indicates that nutritional counseling and education can be an important part of recovery for individuals who are receiving treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD). Substance use or misuse can cause nutritional deficiencies and imbalances, affect appetite and mood, and impact the digestive system. Studies have found that providing nutrition education improves outcomes for those receiving SUD treatment, especially when provided in a group setting.

Several nutrition and diet resources may benefit individuals with SUDs. In particular, some individuals in rural SUD treatment programs may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides financial assistance for access to food. Program planners may also choose to provide information about SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed), a program that provides information to SNAP beneficiaries about healthy food choices.

Weight Management and Physical Activity

As substance use and related health conditions can lead to issues with excess weight, program planners may also be interested in providing information about physical activity and weight management. Studies indicate that physical exercise can also help increase the likelihood of abstaining from substance use and decrease depression symptoms among those in treatment for SUDs.

Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Some SUD treatment programs incorporate aspects of complementary medicine, which is defined as a non-mainstream medical practice that is used in addition to more conventional healthcare. Integrative medicine coordinates complementary and conventional treatments in an effort to address a health condition using a holistic approach. Complementary approaches to traditional SUD treatments may include mindfulness-based approaches, like meditation, yoga, and tai chi, which are intended to impact both physical and psychological aspects of recovery. Research indicates that meditation may be a promising approach to support recovery. Additional research needs to be conducted to understand the types of meditation and yoga that are most helpful to people with different SUDs. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health provides additional information about current research on non-conventional approaches to medicine.