Harm Reduction in Heroin Use:

a fact sheet on nutrition

People often blame malnutrition on heroin use when malnutrition is actually often the cause of the *lifestyle* of the drug user and the economic hardship created by the addiction. Here are a few tips on maintaining nutrition while using heroin:

* Protein shakes can be incredibly helpful as they provide essential vitamins and minerals and require no time or energy to prepare. It will be cheaper to buy protein powder and mix it with milk or soymilk. Other soft protein sources such as tofu are easier to digest than meat or beans and it’s less likely to be thrown up due to heroin related nausea.

*Heroin related nausea should not prevent you from eating. You should eat no matter how sick you feel. Good foods that can be kept down easily are unbuttered toast, broth, ginger ale, rice, and other simple foods.

*Look into free food sources when your income is being depleted by the high cost of heroin.  The Survival Center in Northampton offers free groceries and the Survival Center in Amherst offers a free lunch some weekdays.  If you live in a rooming house, you may also qualify for Single Room Occupancy Outreach, in which case your SRO outreach worker will dispense free food from time to time and offer rides to the Survival Center and other food pantries.  Also, it’s looking into whether you qualify for food stamps.

*Remember to include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.  It’s difficult to think about non-immediate essentials like maintaining variety and nutrition in your diet while also hustling for drug money and drugs and it may seem easier to grab something at a convenience store.  However, fresh fruits and vegetables are oftentimes cheaper then shelf groceries and will help you avoid malnutrition and boost your immune system.  

*Anecdotal evidence reveals that heroin users often report more incidents of ulcers than the rest of the population. This is probably related to malnutrition and can be avoided simply by eating better.