It’s no secret that substance abuse is harmful to your overall health. But do you know how addiction affects your heart?
In honor of American Heart Month in February, take a look at the detrimental effects of drugs and alcohol on the heart, and discover how you can develop a heart-healthy lifestyle in rehab.
How Addiction Affects Your Heart
Substance abuse and a healthy heart do not go hand in hand. In fact, drug and alcohol abuse has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease—deterioration in the health of the heart and blood vessels. Many cardiovascular problems stem from atherosclerosis, which develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms it can block blood flow altogether, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Use of drugs such as opioids and stimulants can increase the risk of vascular disorders by disrupting the balance of neurotransmitters in the body and brain. This can lead to changes in blood pressure and heart rhythms, as well as increased blood clotting and arterial plaque formation. All of this may increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events like a heart attack.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also be dangerous for the heart, leading to high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, and cardiac arrhythmia. Binge drinking can put you at higher risk for atrial fibrillation—an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. Heavy drinking can also cause premature aging of the arteries.
How to Heal Your Heart from Addiction
Fortunately, there are ways to reverse the negative effects of substance abuse on your heart. Here are three key factors for developing a heart-healthy lifestyle in rehab:
1. Heart-Healthy Diet
A great way to build heart health is to feed your body healthy, nutritious meals. Eat plenty of lean protein to repair heart tissue damage caused by substance abuse. Good sources of protein include fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, nuts, and beans. In addition, healthy fats like olive oil and avocado help your body absorb vitamins and nutrients and aid in cellular repair. Round out your diet with whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit your intake of sodium, cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fats, and sugar.
In a luxury rehab, you will have the opportunity to eat delicious, nutritious meals that are specially prepared to put you on the path to clean living. Licensed nutritionists are available to teach good eating habits so you can continue to enjoy a healthy heart after rehab.
2. Heart-Healthy Exercise
If you want to have a healthy heart, you’ve got to get your blood pumping. Exercise can help lower your blood pressure, control your weight, and reduce stress. Whether you’re running, swimming, biking, or just taking walks around the block, you can rebuild a healthy heart. As long as you get up and move, you can keep your heart (and body) in shape.
Not sure where to start? At a luxury rehab like Beachside Rehab, you can enjoy fitness activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and horseback riding, as well as yoga and meditation. A full-time fitness instructor is available for coaching so you can incorporate heart-healthy routines into daily life.
3. Heart-Healthy Mindset
In order to keep your heart rate and blood pressure under control—and reduce your risk of heart disease—it’s important to learn how to manage stress in a healthy way. Exercise is excellent for stress reduction, as it releases serotonin and endorphins into the body. Physical activity can also help you sleep more soundly, which is essential for full-body recovery.
At rehab, you will learn relaxation techniques to preserve the health of your heart and mind. Individual and group therapy can help you understand the root causes of your stress in order to manage it more effectively. The support of your peers as well as professional counselors can provide the tools you need to navigate life in recovery.
If you’ve been living with the consequences of addiction, it’s not too late to find healing. Reverse the cardiovascular damage by going to rehab, getting sober, and learning to make healthy choices each and every day.
Is your heart hurting from the damage of drug and alcohol addiction? Healing is possible. Contact Beachside Rehab’s trained admissions counselors at (866) 349-1770 to take the first steps toward sobriety and a heart-healthy lifestyle.