Sustained recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), remains a significant problem, with 40 to 60% of recovering individuals relapsing within 12 months. Individuals in recovery often have nutrition-related disorders, including malnutrition, poor mental health, and altered body composition. Despite this, there is a lack of nutrition programming in recovery programs.
This study aimed to determine the role of nutrition in recovery programs as well as what is prioritized in recovery through the perspectives of recovery program directors and individuals in recovery.
Two recovery programs, 1 collegiate recovery and 1 sober living house, participated in this study, with 2 program directors and 16 recovering individuals completed cognitive interviews/focus groups and surveys.
Thematic analysis using NVIVO 12 software was conducted separately for program director and recovering individual responses.
Fifty-three themes and 30 subthemes were generated. Overall, directors and recovering individuals in the collegiate recovery program emphasized a holistic approach to recovery with a focus on wellness. Sober living participants expressed a desire to achieve independence and normalcy. All participants stated the value of social support in being integral to maintaining recovery. Collegiate recovery program directors had the strongest support for nutrition. All recovering individuals noted nutrition's importance in recovery, but that it becomes a priority later in the recovery process. All recovering individuals expressed the desire to learn life-skills, including budgeting and eating healthily in order to improve their chances of long-term recovery.
This research can help to improve the quality and offering of recovery programs by informing potential nutrition and life-skills interventions for recovering individuals.