Staying Hydrated in Detoxification Key, Especially for Athletes, Experts Say

Staying hydrated in detoxification and addiction recovery is vital, especially for athletes, according to experts from the American Addiction Centers (AAC).

Fluids flush toxins out of the body through perspiration and the urinary and digestive systems. Cravings subside quicker when the person drinks plenty of water every day, reducing withdrawal symptoms.

Paul Little, Medical Director for American Addiction Centers in San Diego, says hydration benefits the body overall, but hydration in detoxification is key when someone is consuming drugs and dealing with addiction.

“Dehydration is not good for anyone, especially athletes,” says Little. “Being dehydrated may actually make the drug more potent, so to speak. Additionally, if you are dehydrated, your body will shift away from making urine, thus the drug could be in your body longer causing adverse effects.”

Dave Marlon, Vice President of Nevada for American Addiction Centers, also says hydration plays a major role in detox.

“Hydration reduces some detox symptoms, so hydrating is an important factor in medical detox,” Marlon says. “As for dehydration playing a factor in whether or not someone becomes addicted to drugs, there is no science or medical research that supports that.”

All humans have to drink plenty of water, but those recovering from addiction need more. The combination of proper hydration and nutrition makes the body efficient during detox and withdrawal.

Athletes can resist drug addiction by using better tools to deal with pressure and pain when they’re performing.

“Athletes may feel additional pressure to perform and hence a tendency to utilize pharmacological solutions that could lead to even higher substance use disorder rates,” Marlon says, also referring to injuries.

“There is a confidence, clarity and strength that come from being drug-free. Athletes should utilize helpful tools like meditation, mindfulness, and other holistic alternatives to deal with pressure. Speaking with mentors, coaches, or therapists can relieve a large amount of stress and pressure caused by a hectic life.”

Dr. Little says the best way for athletes to deal with pressure is by “being in shape–not just being muscular, but also being in good cardio shape–will definitely help [them] deal with pressure. Deep breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques such as visual imagery of calm, serene environments—the forest—will help as well.”

“In our eyes,” Little says, “everyone is treated specially and with their unique needs in mind. In this case, we would allow an athlete more exercise time. For example, some of our patients are runners. They are given special permission to run every morning.”

The AAC “has relationships with many professional sports teams and leagues,” says Marlon. “We protect the unique confidentiality of individuals and make sure that the quality of care reaches the unique physical and dietary needs of athletes.”

Some athletes may be reluctant to seek help for an addiction but denying they have a problem will lead to more serious issues, says Little.

“Athletes, like everyone else, need to admit they have a problem. Acceptance is an important factor because some patients are in denial about their problem. An athlete may think they are in excellent health and thus they can rationalize and justify their drug use minimizing the negative effects of the drug,” Little says.

“When someone admits they have a problem the natural inclination is to get help for the problem,” he says. “If a doctor diagnoses someone with hypertension and diabetes, they are going to get help and be compliant with diet and exercise. The same thing applies to addiction. A lifestyle change is needed to stay in recovery . . .”

“AAC has long-term team members like Earl Hopkins,” says Marlon, “Who understand the sensitive nature of these high profile clients.