I work for Sanford Behavioral Health in Greater Grand Rapids. Michigan, my job gives me a bird’s eye overview of our patients in recovery. Everyone knows that addictive substance use can wreak havoc on our physical health. However, I’d like to address what it does to our physical appearance as well. I don’t see our clients daily, so I am privy to the cumulative effect recovery can have on a person’s overall look. And what a difference even a week can make!
I always say to our patients in treatment, “You look like you feel great!” The difference between how someone looks when they arrive at a Sanford Behavioral Health facility and when they leave is marked. I can describe it in four words eyes, hair, skin, and health. I’ll be honest; individuals arriving at Sanford look like empty casings. They have lost all their color. It’s like someone has taken a big pink eraser and rubbed out their vital force.
Substance use disorder (SUD) takes its toll in many ways, and it is beautiful to see the restoration in recovery. Even after a week of consistent nutrition, joyful movement, evidence-based practices, safety, and abstinence, miracles happen. Inside and out.
Here’s Why Sober is Beautiful
In the early days of sobriety, the eyes are still bloodshot, and the whites are yellowed.
This is because alcohol and other drugs dilate the small veins in the eyes, causing them to leak. Alcohol and drugs also cause the blood vessels in your eyes to expand, making them more prominent. Yellowing of the whites is a side effect of a compromised liver resulting from long-term substance use. Puffiness, bags, and dark circles around the eyes are caused by lack of sleep, bad circulation, water retention, and overall poor health.
Clear, sober eyes with snowy whites are gorgeous! And clear eyes signify good health and well-being. The dark circles under your eyes will return to life when you quit drinking. Once sober and clear-eyed, you can keep your eyes in shape with Vitamins C, E, A, and Zinc. Fruits like strawberries and mangoes; veggies like spinach and carrots; zinc-rich meats like turkey and chicken; and yogurt, nuts, and seeds; all feed the pretty peepers you want to have. Think “orange” for eyes – oranges, carrots, and apricots.
Alcohol causes hair loss. Substance use disorders produce brittle fright-wigs!
One of the things that are universal to addiction is lank hair. There are many reasons why alcohol impacts hair texture and shine. Heavy drinkers and drug users rarely have a balanced diet; alcohol is a diuretic, and hair is like a tissue that needs constant nourishment and hydration. Alcohol raises estrogen levels, and elevated estrogen causes hair loss.
Also, alcohol misuse lowers levels of zinc and vitamins B and C. These are essential for healthy hair growth. Likewise, drinking alcohol causes folic acid to drop. Folic acid is vital for strong hair follicles. But it is inspiring to see the confidence come back when people stop drinking/using and have hair regrowth. For gorgeous locks, eat your leafy greens. Drink lots of water and eat foods rich in zinc, like Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, avocado, and okra.
3. WHO NEEDS BOTOX? SKIN
Sallow, puffy, or red skin? Check, Check, and Check.
It’s not nice to abuse your liver. Drug and alcohol use is tough on the organ that filters and processes the blood as it circulates through the body. Also, alcohol depletes nutrition and electrolytes and steals good hydration from the body. Broken blood vessels, rosacea, red spots, wrinkles, puffiness, and dryness, are only a few of the maladies substance use can cause.
If you want to put the glow back in your sober skin, start with the inside (and the obvious). Health is wealth for beautiful skin, and although a facial helps with enlarged pores and puffy eyes, there is no substitute for clean living. Avoid caffeine and processed foods or sugar. Instead, exercise for fun, drink lots of water, and get eight hours of sleep. Add a “cocktail” of Vitamins A and C, Calcium, and fish oil or flaxseed oil, and you can see the difference with those bright and shining eyes you now have. Sobriety makes you beautiful.
4. OVERALL HEALTH – Happy is Beautiful
Much of what I have described about drug and alcohol use is not rocket science, but it is health science. Unfortunately, when actively using, we tend to forget the simple rules of good health and beauty. It is beautiful when someone has quit drinking or using, and their hair has grown back, their eyes are bright, their skin is glowing, and they feel good. Look in the mirror and see for yourself. Who needs Botox? Sobriety makes you healthier and more attractive inside and out – naturally.
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