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Vitamins You Need in Addiction Recovery

This entry was posted in Health and Wellness and tagged on by .

Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Taking vitamins during rehab

Table of Contents:

Addiction can put a great deal of stress and strain on not only the brain, but also the body. Those suffering from addiction may have used substances that deprive the body of certain important nutrients and vitamins that are important for a healthy recovery. Different substances affect the body in different ways. A substance like cocaine can artificially increase levels of dopamine in the brain,followed by a debilitating deficit. The habitual consumption of drugs deadens naturally occurring dopamine and other receptors, thus making once enjoyable activities no longer pleasurable.1

It’s easy to see why shifts and imbalances in different vitamins and natural chemicals in our bodies might be detrimental to our health. Supplements can help replenish these much-needed vitamins, but it’s important to know what vitamins are best for those who are suffering from the effects of addiction and withdrawal.

What Are the Most Important Factors in Recovery From a Drug Addiction?

Recovery is not a one plan that fits all situations, unfortunately. Recovery from addiction requires a lifelong commitment, and that might work in different ways for each person

There are a few different factors that do remain universal to a successful recovery:

A Commitment to Recovery and Change

As much as we wish this was not true, people can’t change unless they want to. For recovery to be successful, the individual must want to change.


This simply means the individual believes that they can succeed. It may be difficult for those people who are long-suffering, but each day becomes a little easier. In a 2021 study, it was found that many recovering from addiction who have a lower level of self-efficacy show a higher level of craving for the substance they are recovering from.2

Preserving Mental Health and Wellness

Because the numbers for co-occurring disorders are so high, it’s vital to the recovery process to maintain a certain level of mental health and wellness. Conditions like depression and anxiety can be triggers for addiction in some individuals.

Structured Schedule

Structured Schedule

Structure can provide a great deal of relief for those in recovery from addiction. Organization and order are in direct contrast to the lives that those suffering from addiction lead when they’re actively using. Having a structured and organized schedule to stick to can help ease the uncertainty of everyday life.


Often, being in recovery can be difficult for those with addictions as they can feel isolated. However, with a strong support system, these individuals can feel more connected to the world around them. Having a connection with people and the world around them can help those in recovery stay sober and stay committed to their new life.

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These are the fundamental tenets of recovery. Whether through varying kinds of therapy, meditation, and holistic approaches, the above factors must exist for recovery to be successful. Additionally, addiction can create deficits in many vitamins in the body including magnesium, vitamin D, B6, folate, and many more. These kinds of deficits can make it difficult for recovery, and it may be necessary to replace those vitamins to help recovery be successful.

What Vitamins Are Helpful for People Recovering From Alcohol Addiction?

Recovery from alcoholism can be extraordinarily difficult for many people. With so much socialization and events revolving around alcohol and its consumption, it’s easy to see how some people suffering from alcohol addiction may be receiving most, if not all, of their nutrients from alcohol. However, this can leave the body with an immense deficit of certain important vitamins.9

Vitamins and nutrients helpful in drug recovery include:
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B12, all B vitamins
  • Vitamins A and C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Citicoline
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Theanine and other amino acids
  • Zinc



Magnesium deficiency is one of the conditions that those suffering from alcohol addiction may have.3 A magnesium deficiency displays a number of symptoms, including vomiting and nausea, muscle spasms, fatigue, and hyperexcitability, among other symptoms. Long-term magnesium deficiencies can cause conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Magnesium therapy is often recommended in some of these circumstances.

Vitamin B12

Long-term abuse of alcohol can also cause a B12 deficiency, which can lead to many significant conditions. A B12 deficiency can also be referred to as a cobalamin deficiency and result in fatigue, headache, pale skin, and heart palpitations. This can also become B12 deficiency anemia, which can cause mouth ulcers, irritability, and dementia.4 A B12 supplement would be a great addition to the treatment plan for someone suffering from alcohol addiction.

Vitamins A and C

Vitamin A and C deficiencies are also linked to alcohol addiction. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include night blindness, increased rates of infection, and skin irritations. Deficiencies in vitamin C may cause fatigue and connective tissue defects, including slower wound healing and gingivitis.

What Vitamins Are Useful for People Recovering From Opioid Addiction?

As with alcohol addiction, opioid addiction can cause many deficiencies due to malnutrition. Drug abuse and vitamin deficiency go hand in hand. Often these types of substance use disorders come with a poor diet, and because of this, there will be a deficiency in calcium and magnesium.

This deficiency directly relates to muscular and nervous system disorders as well as pain in those recovering from opioid addiction.5 A deficiency in calcium affects not only the bones, but also the health of the skin, hair, and nails. Calcium is also extremely important to muscle contractions and neurotransmitter release, and calcium deficiency could result in memory loss.

During the recovery process, it is also important to raise the levels of protein consumption. Because of a poor diet that is often a result of opioid addiction, the individual’s metabolism health is greatly affected. That means nutrients aren’t absorbed as readily. Increasing the intake of protein and also lowering the intake of simple carbohydrates may help to regulate metabolic health during the earlier stages of addiction recovery.

Treatment for opioid addiction may not be effective without proper attention to nutrition. Because of all the vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by long-term opioid use, the ability to absorb these vital nutrients is also in deficit. Therefore, increased levels of protein, B12, and magnesium would be a basic starting point for individuals recovering from opioid addiction.

Co-occurring Disorders and Vitamin Deficiency

Co-occurring psychiatric and substance abuse disorders are very common, roughly 34% of those with substance abuse addiction also suffer from a personality disorder.6 This is a large range of people who suffer from both conditions. While no pharmaceutical has been developed to fully assist with addiction, vitamin D has seen a high level of effectiveness in incorporation into treatment for substance use disorder and depression, as well as other personality disorders.7

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies have long been linked to different mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Light therapy to supplement the loss of vitamin D among those with depressive disorders. Typically, light therapy is combined with initial treatments for seasonal and non-seasonal depression. While long-term usage of bright light therapy hasn’t been closely examined in conjunction with non-seasonal depression, studies have shown a wide range of promise in the treatment of depressive disorders with light therapy.

As both disorders have been linked to a deficiency in vitamin D, it seems that supplementation of this vitamin may help in the treatment and recovery process of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Treatment should be multifaceted and should include a combination of different types of therapy and holistic approaches.

Mental health is essential to the success of any treatment program. Fueling our bodies with the best nutritional sources can help to heal mental health disorders. Treating co-occurring disorders in tandem is the best way to a successful recovery.

What Are the Best Supplements for Addiction Recovery?

As has been listed above,, the most important supplementary vitamins for recovering alcoholics and addiction recovery are B vitamins, vitamin C, D, E, magnesium, and calcium. These are the most common vitamins that are lost due to malnutrition caused by substance abuse disorders. These vitamins are also some of the most important to the different functions of the body, and widely affect almost all systems of the body.

foods dense in a variety of vitamins

These vitamins can also help someone recovering from addiction with withdrawal symptoms, making them more manageable and increasing the success of their treatment. Protein-rich foods can also assist in the treatment process. While you can certainly take vitamin supplements, you can also get the nutrients you need from foods that are dense in a variety of these vitamins.

Some different foods that may help include:

  • Dark, leafy greens. These should be at the very top of a treatment and recovery diet list. Dark, leafy greens contain magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins as well.
  • Beans. While not everyone may be able to tolerate dairy or some peppers to go along with beans due to allergies, beans themselves are a great source of protein and B vitamins
  • Broccoli. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C and the different important B vitamins.
  • Bananas. For those who might not be able to eat citrus fruits, bananas are rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium.

Nutrition is a vital part of the treatment and recovery process. Having a more nutrient-rich diet can also help with adhering to a routine and give those in recovery something to focus on instead of the substance they’re recovering from. Other nutrient-dense superfoods can help to treat mental health and addiction symptoms.

Vitamins from a nutrient-dense diet are definitely preferred, but there are also other supplement vitamins for those in recovery that have shown to help with treatment and recovery.

These supplements include:


Because long-term substance abuse can damage brain function, something to help repair those pathways may be vital to some in recovery. Citicoline is a bioavailable, or able to be used and absorbed by the body, form of choline, which is an essential B vitamin. Citicoline has been shown to help repair neuropathways.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

 Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Unfortunately, the body doesn’t make this essential fat on its own. However, omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health, including sleep and memory. They also help to protect from depression and Alzheimer’s.


Theanine helps us relax and is often found in tea. It promotes feelings of relaxation without causing drowsiness, and it can help to lower stress hormone levels.


Zinc deficiency has been linked to those suffering from addiction. Zinc is important because it helps promote good mental health, and zinc deficiency has been linked to an increased level of opioid consumption.8

With the addition of these supplements, as well as proper nutrition, recovery can be a more comfortable, and successful, process.

Should I Take Vitamins While Detoxing?

Rehab and recovery are difficult processes. The initial step is detoxification. This stage is very difficult for those suffering from substance abuse, and sometimes the withdrawal symptoms can be so great that individuals don’t recover successfully. Reducing these symptoms is an important part of the process. While some treatment programs may suggest pharmaceuticals to reduce these symptoms, the trouble with that is the potential for a new or worsening addiction. While they can be necessary in certain instances, pharmaceuticals aren’t recommendedfor everyone and can lead to other adverse and uncomfortable effects.

Vitamins are a great alternative to medication during the detox process. Some vitamin deficiencies may increase the symptoms of withdrawal. However, taking the right supplements can assist in alleviating the different withdrawal effects. Incorporating vitamins into a treatment regimen can also help the body rebuild its stores of these precious nutrients so it can heal more fully. Incorporating vitamin supplements into a treatment program can greatly improve the individual’s potential success.

 Taking vitamins during rehab

With the various long-term effects of substance use disorder, and how it changes the way the body can function, helping the body rebuild and learn processes is necessary. Boosting the immune system, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, alleviating negative withdrawal side effects, and helping people in recovery lead a safe and healthy life are imperative to the success of addiction recovery.

Vitamin deficiencies occur alongside long-term substance abuse. Because people lose the ability to lead healthy lives through worsening addiction, many of the things that are typically followed fall to the wayside. Nutrition is one of the major factors that become difficult for those who live chaotic lives due to addiction. Nutritional deficiencies grow worse over time also, and malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can cause many negative effects. These deficits can be restored through diet modification and supplementation.


1. Robble, M. A., & Wise, R. A. (2020). Dopamine and Addiction | Annual Review of Psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 71, 79-106.

2. Nupel Filiz & Sibel Polat (2022) The correlation between the addiction profile and general self-efficacy of patients receiving treatment for substance use disorder, Journal of Substance Use.

3. Shane SR, Flink EB, (1992). Magnesium deficiency in alcohol addiction and withdrawal. Magnesium and Trace Elements10(2-4):263-268. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from

4. Goebels, N., & Soyka, M. (2000, August). Dementia Associated With Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 12(3), 389-394.

5. Nabipour, S., Ayu Said, M., & Hussain Habil, M. (2014). Burden and nutritional deficiencies in opiate addiction- systematic review article. Iranian journal of public health, 43(8), 1022–1032. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from

6. Rush, B., & Koegl, C. J. (2008). Prevalence and Profile of People with Co-Occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders within a Comprehensive Mental Health System. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 53(12), 810–821.

7. Saver, J. L. (2008). Citicoline: update on a promising and widely available agent for neuroprotection and neurorepair. Rev Neurol Dis, 5(4), 167-177. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from

8. Tantillo, T. J., Jagtiani, M. R., Silverman, E. R., Bitterman, A. D., & Scuderi, G. R. (2021). Zinc deficiency: A cause of opioid-induced physical dependence and addiction in post-operative total hip arthroplasty patients. Journal of Opioid Management, 17(2), 145-154.
9. Mahboub N, Rizk R, Karavetian M, de Vries N. Nutritional status and eating habits of people who use drugs and/or are undergoing treatment for recovery: a narrative review.Nutr Rev. 2021 May 12;79(6):627-635. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuaa095. PMID: 32974658; PMCID: PMC8114851.

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Vitamins You Need in Addiction Recovery
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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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