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    • 24 FEB 15
    How You Can Rebuild a Strong, Healthy Heart After Substance Abuse

    How You Can Rebuild a Strong, Healthy Heart After Substance Abuse

    In honor of Heart Health Month, we’re sharing some of the best ways to strengthen your heart after damage incurred through substance abuse. Studies have found a direct correlation between drug abuse and heart issues, which means it’s vitally important to focus on the recovery of your heart as you go through addiction recovery.

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those adverse cardiovascular effects can range from an abnormal heart rate to heart attacks. Furthermore, injection drugs can cause additional problems, such as bacterial infections of the heart valves and blood vessels along with collapsed veins.

    Thankfully, you can repair most of the damage to the heart and make it strong once again. The following are practical ways you can build your heart back up:

    Deal With Stress:
    Everyone suffers from stress, in varying amounts. However, it’s how you deal with the stresses of life that end up affecting your long-term health. The American Heart Association admits that more research needs to be conducted in order to determine exactly how stress impacts the heart, but they do know stress increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease. You know that you need to handle stress, but how? There are many productive ways that you can reduce your stress levels, one of them being therapy, such as the group and individual sessions offered as part of the RiverMend Health Center’s outpatient or relapse prevention programs.

    Group therapy works because it allows you see that others are working through similar problems as you. Sometimes, you may feel like you are the only one who deals with various issues, such as financial or family struggles. However, these support groups show you that you are not alone. Furthermore, they will help you build your resolve to stay away from the substance you were on before as a means of coping with your problem. In addition, the professionals overseeing these programs will guide you as you deal with stress and other issues when going through private counseling.

    Exercise:
    Another key to rebuilding a healthy heart is to begin an exercise regimen. Exercise also helps reduce stress, which means you can accomplish two goals at the same time. How you choose to exercise is up to you, but the more cardio that is involved, the better for your heart. You don’t have to go to a gym or hire a personal trainer in order to make your heart stronger through exercise. Any sort of physical activity that gets your blood pumping at least a few times a week will be sufficient. This can range from a brisk walk to active yoga to learning karate. The important thing to remember is to do something you enjoy. That way, you won’t feel like you have to work out.

    Eat Healthy:
    The final and perhaps most important way to build your heart back up after substance abuse is to change your diet. The most important adjustment is to increase your protein intake. Proteins help repair damaged tissue, and healthy protein intake is important in order to restore your heart to health.

    Curious about where to find protein? Try these protein-packed foods:

    • Nuts
    • Eggs
    • Lean red meats
    • Turkey
    • Fish
    • Chicken
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Chocolate milk
    • Oatmeal
    • Tuna
    • Peanut butter
    • Whey
    • Beans

    Adding more proteins is not the only change you will need to make in your diet to improve your overall heart health, but it is an important first step toward your goal. Furthermore, a regular amount of healthy fats helps your body absorb the vitamins and nutrients you are consuming and aids in cellular repair. Butter, avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and olive oil are just a few examples of healthy fats. Although altering your diet may be easier said than done, it is crucial to strengthening your heart.

    In honor of Heart Health Month, why don’t you commit to strengthening your heart? After all, what could be a better way to celebrate the special month, or your recovery, than to work towards restoring your heart to optimal health?

    Sources:

    Stats on the negative effects of substance abuse on the heart:
    click here for article

    Stress and the heart: 
    click here for article

    Diet:
    click here for article