Nutrition for Recovery 2019-10-09T11:37:27-06:00

Holistic Treatment of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Through Diet

My hope for the future of addiction, substance abuse, and mental health is that every client is encouraged and offered nutritional interventions and support as a basic component of their treatment

It’s Not Your Fault!  You heard correctly, your addiction and need to self-medicate is very likely not your fault.  In society today, there is entirely far too much emphasis on the effects of addiction rather than the underlying cause. Society erroneously believes addiction is a condition that can be controlled by self-discipline, will-power or a better set of morals. However, with every passing day research is showing that biochemical, digestive, and physiological issues underlie addiction. Individuals self-medicate by using mood altering chemicals and behaviors to overcome these issues. Most great ideas are simple. The foundation of recovery should always include educating and empowering people to understand the disruptive biochemical and digestive issues associated with drug and alcohol addiction, and the important role of nutrition.  

Most of today’s conventional treatment and psycho-spiritual programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or other addiction programs, do not educate or have the knowledge to address underlying health issues and implement nutritional protocols. Issues that, once addressed, lead the suffering back to a rejuvenation of energy, mental stability and physical health. In recovery, regaining health leads to a balance of mind/body/spirit and allows individuals to find renewed vitality; individuals can move on with their life.  This is where the services of Thrive can benefit you, no matter where you fall in the addiction spectrum (those recovering from addiction, actively abusing substances, or those at high risk due to family genetics, or those simply wishing to make a Full Recovery).   Nutrition and addressing underlying issues should always be the cornerstone of a comprehensive recovery program. For many, this can also give those struggling a place to start by realizing it is not an issue of morals or will-power. There may be a simple underlying issue that is Not Your Fault!  By addressing these issues Thrive helps restore the normal function of the body and leads individuals to a life of Thriving, rather than simply surviving.


Jeff Clemons (‘JC’) is a Master Nutrition Therapist (MNT) located in Lakewood, CO.  JC specializes in the holistic treatment of alcohol and drug addiction through diet and lifestyle, addresses mental health issues, and identifies underlying issues which cause individuals to self-medicate in order to feel normal.  With over 10 years of continuous sobriety, he is uniquely qualified to help treatment facilities, families, community organizations, and individuals find lasting sobriety through holistic nutrition and wellness services.  Everyone needs coaching sometimes, especially from someone who has been there and experienced their own journey of recovery.  It takes one to know one!  JC considers himself a ‘Nutrition Interventionist for Recovery’ by empowering and educating individuals to understand and address the underlying issues; taking away the guilt and shame that is often associated with substance abuse.  JC’s experience in getting and staying sober becomes his biggest asset in helping you make a Full Recovery and Avoid Relapse.

As individuals, we are all biochemically unique, what works for one person may not work for another.  For this reason it is important to work directly with a trained holistic nutritionist.  To meet the unique biochemical needs of each individual and help the body’s innate ability to heal itself, Thrive can perform an array of individualized testing and provide specific nutritional recommendations.  When it comes to the underlying issues, many are not recognized by conventional medicine because there is not “a drug for it.” Thrive’s specific testing can determine some of the following issues, many of which are due to genetics and environmental triggers and not a matter of will-power:

  • Blood Sugar Regulation Issues
    Hypo or hyper-glycemia (blood sugar fluctuations that lead to issues with mood, anxiety, decreased mental acuity, depression, confusion, cravings etc.). It is critical to figure out the root cause of this (adrenal, pre-diabetes, poor dietary habits, microbial overgrowth etc.)

  • Adrenal Dysfunction
    Together, with the hippocampus and the pituitary gland, the adrenals form an endocrine triad that influences every tissue and gland in your body. Their primary function is to mitigate stress, so they have a direct impact on your energy level and sense of well-being (critical that this function optimally for recovery).

  • Hypo or Hyper-Thyroidism (under or over-active thyroid)
    The thyroid regulates things like temperature, hunger levels and energy expenditure- thyroid problems can cause widespread symptoms if not addressed, including substance abuse.

  • Abnormal gut flora (microbial overgrowth and other issues)
    Gut microbiome imbalance can lead to an array of issues (problems with immune system, digestion and neurotransmitters etc.)

  • Pyroluria
    Involves deficiencies in zinc and vitamin B6. Leads to stress, addiction, anxiety, inner tension, depression, fatigue, learning difficulties, impaired memory or memory loss, poor mood, and overall poor physical and mental health (to name a few symptoms)

  • Issues with the MTFHR gene
    Responsible for making an enzyme that plays a role in processing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins (improper functioning can affect those with substance abuse issues)

  • Neurotransmitter Issues (imbalance of these ‘chemical messengers’ throughout the body)
    Deficiencies in any can lead to an array of issues and fuel addiction. An imbalance can lead to things such as having a lack of ambition or a sense of well-being.

By identifying and addressing many of these underlying issues, primarily with nutrition and natural remedies over pharmaceuticals, you can unlock the body’s immense potential for regeneration and healing.  Call today and begin to put addiction in the rear view mirror!  In doing this, you also dramatically reduce your chances of relapse as often the need to self-medicate is simply no longer there.  Thrive is now proud to also partner with Dr. Francesca Quinn (Naturopathic Doctor) at Vitality Natural Medicine.  Dr. Quinn’s experience and education with Naturopathic Medicine and as a licensed acupuncturist is a valuable resource in the search of ‘causative factors’ which underlie your issues with self-medicating and/or mental health issues.

Through individual case analysis, you will experience how addressing core physical and nutritional needs can greatly increase therapeutic results. You will discover the nutrients most essential to help treat addiction, mental health issues that often underlie dependency, and when necessary learn simple strategies that can be integrated with pharmaceutical interventions.  You will be given the tools and understanding necessary to immediately incorporate strategies into your daily living!

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“If you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become the bigger and better man.”

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Before getting sober I struggled for several years in and out or treatment facilities and 12-step programs.  I know all too well the struggles one can have within the world of conventional treatment, which did nothing to address the underlying biochemical and digestive issues which fueled my addiction.  Although I am approaching 10 years of sobriety, I found in the early stages that even though I was sober I was not physically or mentally well.  Based on my symptoms I had to look at underlying issues, and the important role of nutrition, that were inhibiting a full recovery. I was plagued in the early stages of sobriety with things like anxiety, insomnia, ongoing depression, restlessness, irritability, discontentment and many of the behaviors associated with being a ‘dry addict/drunk’.  And I traded one addiction for another when I was prescribed prescription meds that only made things worse with unpleasant side effects, dependency issues, ineffectiveness over time and gradually needing higher doses; never getting to the root cause and instead only treating symptoms. The conventional medical paradigm has trained patients to be passive recipients of medication, rather than active participants in their own care.)   However, I began to educate and empower myself to recognize and address the underlying issues associated with substance abuse, issues that fueled my addiction.  Part of recovery is taking care of oneself physically, including changes in diet and lifestyle, which ultimately leads to a holistic balance of mind, body and spirit; a formula for sustained sobriety and one that leads to a life of Thriving, and not just surviving.

Today, I live by spiritual principles as seen in various 12-step programs.  However, my experience has shown that psycho-spiritual programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which have a rate of failure of around 90%, are not designed to correct underlying issues which drive addiction.  AA literature was written 80 years ago and is the basis for most 12-step programs.  Over the last 80 years science has uncovered much of the driving forces behind addiction, which simply was not known when recovery literature was originally written.  Psycho-spiritual programs do an excellent job of providing spiritual and psychological tools.  However, these recovery programs are much more effective when the brain and body receive key nutrients which restore emotional well-being, allow the body to handle stress, and improve mental clarity.

Through personal experience, education, and research (American Medical Association) I have come to realize that addiction is also considered a brain disease as drugs and alcohol physically alter the brain and how the brain works.  Self-medicating is often due to issues related to mood and poor mental health.  It has traditionally been thought that addicted persons were weak-willed and morally defective, however, this new brain science is uncovering that they are suffering from something much deeper.  Thrive also realizes that brain dysfunction is often driven by the body, and that if you fix the body, a lot of the brain disorders get better; that in most circumstances addiction isn’t a mental problem, but it is a physical problem.  Self-medicating is an attempt to overcome functional imbalances of the body.  It’s shocking what happens when you look through the lens of functional nutrition and correct imbalances.  We are here to help you today with by sharing our own experience, strength, hope and helping you find the journey of recovery that works for you. The great news is working with us gives you a place to start, whether you are 30 years sober or not even sure you suffer from self-medicating issues. At Thrive, ALL our needs are met in love and service of you!

One of the most detrimental items in recovery, which leads to relapse, is The Standard American Diet (SAD) rich in unhealthy fats, refined sugars/grains, processed/genetically modified foods, and deficient in things such this as fiber from fruits/vegetables and vitamins and minerals which are needed for the normal functioning of the body). If you are like myself (JC), in recovery I never really considered what I ate and how it made me feel.  I began to tap into how nutrition made me feel 10 years ago, and by becoming more aware of this I was amazed to learn what and how I eat contributes to how I feel.  As with most, I had very little nutritional knowledge needed to make healthy food choices and behaviors.  I simply expected my body to cope with whatever I gave it and I would ‘live forever’.   I also made the mistake of thinking I could out-exercise a bad diet to find health and ‘manage stress’.  I learned the hard way that this approach does not work in recovery!  The good news is that great ideas are simple and it only makes sense to look at underlying issues. Incorporating solid nutritional protocols turned out to be the key to my recovery.

The following are a few keys to recovery which we educate and empower clients to embrace and implement:

  • Amino Acid Supplementation (amino acids are the smaller by-products when protein is broken down and help the creation of neurotransmitters. Targeted supplementation, determined through your lab testing and symptoms, is determined for you by trained nutrition recovery professionals at Thrive.
  • Rebalancing of Gut Flora- the key to health begins in the gut. Flora helps support the normal absorption and assimilation of nutrients.  Specific strains of flora are targeted for recovery.
  • Blood Sugar Stability- we teach you how often to eat, what to eat at each meal and what to avoid (PS- doughnuts in 12-step meetings might as well have a sign that says ‘continue your addiction here’)
  • Replenishing the brain and body with key nutrients targeted for optimal function and dramatic decreases in cravings and withdrawal symptoms; improving mood and sleep (two keys to recovery)
  • Recovery Diet- introduce a recovery diet that helps reset the body and provides the necessary amino acids, healthy non-inflammatory fats, vitamins, minerals etc.
  • Move- essential for stress management, helping with cravings, and many would say more

effective than medications for mood (Thrive meets you at your level when it comes to exercise)

Determining your needs, with a trained functional nutritionist at Thrive, is often handled through lab testing of underlying conditions.  Supplementation, particularly during the early phases of recovery, is often necessary to kick start the repair process and allow you to Thrive as quickly as possible.  On-going supplementation is sometimes necessary.  For years JC unknowingly nourished myself the wrong way in recovery.  Through experience and empowering education, we help you nourish your body the right way.  We know recovery is out there for you, let the nutritional recovery coaching assist!  I have seen this approach help many others Thrive in sobriety, rather than just survive.  It is a true passion of mine to pass this knowledge onto others, no matter where you are in the recovery process.

Dietary and Lifestyle Choices for Addiction and Recovery


Whether in active addiction or recovery, it is Thrive’s intent to educate and empower individuals to begin making different dietary and lifestyle choices.   If you do not know where to start with recovery, struggle with attaining a ‘full recovery’, or find yourself Surviving rather than Thriving, please do not hesitate to contact JC for a 15-minute consultation.  JC is always happy to discuss his own sobriety and answer any questions you may have.  Iron sharpens iron, just as man sharpens man (or woman).  We all need coaching sometimes, take it from someone who has been in your shoes!  And keep in mind when I look at you I am looking at myself, whether you are beginning or have 30 years of recovery, so you are treated like family.  The principle of attraction rather than promotion is utilized, there is no judgement or preaching; the goal is to empower and educate.  All our needs at Thrive are met in love and service of you!

At Thrive we love being a part of someone’s recovery journey, seeing lives transform and helping others to Thrive, not just survive, is such a beautiful thing!

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