Abuse, exploitation, mental health problems… there many reasons why people might become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Equally, there are many and varied methods that could aid someone in their recovery journey.
I’ve been working to support people across Plymouth at different stages of their recovery journey – and most recently with women who have suffered judgement and shame, some of whom have also battled to keep their children while they address their addiction issues.
And there’s one thing that I believe can help as they fight their battle. Food.
I’m not saying that a particular food will miraculously ‘make addiction disappear’ – there is very little available evidence on the nutritional intake and role food plays for women in recovery, something that my dietetic dissertation students are researching this year. But the notion of food, what it means socially, culturally and creatively, can potentially help to empower women as they continue to strive and succeed.
I led an exploratory ‘food dialogue’ activity with 25 women from Trevi House and Longreach in Plymouth, laying out food images and asking them to select one they ‘liked’ and one they ‘disliked’, then discussing their images. This creative approach generated diverse and varied narratives uncovering the meaning of food for these women.
For example, one woman wrote:
“I like chocolate I am really really bad….It’s like swapping one addiction for another”
Others were transported back to their childhood food experiences and emotional episodes they associated with it. This approach brought about so much from people who may well have frozen up if asked ‘how are you feeling?’