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Appetite. 2008 Jan;50(1):33-42. Epub 2007 May 31.

Food, eating, and weight concerns of men in recovery from substance addiction.

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351A MVR Hall, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401, USA.


Dysfunctional eating patterns and excessive weight gains have been observed during recovery from drug and alcohol addictions. Yet, little is known about food choice behaviors among substance abusers and the role that food plays in their lives. The purpose of this study was to understand how men at different stages of recovery from substance addictions experienced food and eating, weight changes, and used food in recovery. A purposive, multi-ethnic sample of 25 urban men at different stages of recovery from drug and alcohol addictions participated in qualitative interviews. Data analysis based on the constant comparative method revealed three main themes: excess weight gain, meaningful use of food, and disordered eating and a struggle to eat healthy that differed by recovery stage (early, mid, and later recovery). Men in early recovery described dysfunctional eating practices such as mood and binge eating, the use of food as a substitute for drug use, and the use of food to satisfy cravings. Men in mid to later recovery expressed weight concerns and distress about efforts to lose weight. The findings also suggest that food deprivation in active addiction and interactions between stage of recovery and living environment may contribute to changes in food choice behaviors and to excess weight gains in recovery. These findings highlight behavioral interactions between food and substance abuse and opportunities for nutrition and weight interventions in recovery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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