Aside from the mental and physical effects addiction has on humans, it can also take a toll on your senses. According to a study by PLOS One, olfactory impairment is a common symptom among those struggling with addiction, particularly with alcohol abuse. To support this, Oxford University academic research has shown that 16 out of 30 test subjects have had lower scores when screened for olfactory ability, and these 16 individuals had alcohol dependence issues.

Olfactory impairment is often linked to a decreased quality of life and can negatively impact a person’s ability to socialize, work, and enjoy day-to-day activities. Not only does it affect the way one smells things, but it can also make it difficult to taste and appreciate food, which can lead to either weight loss or gain.

How Alcohol Impairs Sense of Smell

The olfactory system is closely linked to the limbic system responsible for emotions and memories. With it, the sense of smell can trigger certain emotions and memories. This means that when your sense of smell is impaired, it can also lead to problems with emotional stability and memory recall. This is how powerful the sense of smell is. Not only does it disrupt how you process information, but it can significantly affect your overall quality of life.

When a person drinks alcohol, it not only impairs their ability to think and make clear decisions, but it can also affect their sense of smell. Apparent changes in the sense of smell are one of the earliest signs that a person is developing an addiction to alcohol.  This is because when alcohol is consumed, it disrupts the communication between the olfactory receptors and the brain. As a result, you may not be able to smell as well as you normally would. In some cases, it may result in anosmia or the complete loss of smell. This impairment can last long after the alcohol has been metabolized and can sometimes be permanent.

The Effect of Drug Abuse on Sense of Smell

Aside from alcohol, drug abuse can also lead to a decrease in your sense of smell. This is because different drugs work in different ways, and some can damage the olfactory system over time. Cocaine, for example, can cause you to lose your sense of smell within two days of use. Other drugs, such as methamphetamine and ketamine, have also been shown to damage the olfactory system. Additionally, excessive marijuana use can result in a decreased sense of smell, and this impairment may last long after you’ve stopped using the drug.

How Being In Recovery Can Help

The good news is that your sense of smell can be healed. Just like how the body can repair itself from the damage caused by addiction, so too can the olfactory system. However, this process takes time. If you’re in addiction recovery, it is important to be patient and give your body the time it needs to heal. Being surrounded by triggers can delay the healing process, so it is important to be in a safe and supportive environment.

Working with a professional can also help speed up the process. They can provide guidance and support, as well as teach different techniques to help improve your sense of smell. During recovery, therapists will help you learn how to cope with cravings and triggers. They will also help you develop healthy coping skills so that you can better manage your addiction in the future.

As your emotional, mental, and physical state heals, so too will your sense of smell. It is a gradual process, but it is possible. With time, patience, and professional help, being in addiction recovery can restore your sense of smell and improve your quality of life. There are also many ways that you can heal your olfactory sense naturally while working towards sobriety.

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to promote healing. Essential oils can be used in a diffuser, added into wax to make a scented candle, or applied topically. Being volatile in nature, essential oils are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and then transported to the olfactory receptors in the nose. There are many different essential oils that can be used for aromatherapy, each with its own set of benefits. Some of the most popular oils for aromatherapy may include but are not limited to lavender, rose, peppermint, and chamomile. All these oils have been shown to be beneficial not just for the olfactory system, but also for the mind and body as a whole.

The Right Foods, Herbs, and Spices 

Certain foods are also known to help improve the sense of smell. Garlic, onion, and leeks are some of the most popular items. They contain sulfur compounds that help to cleanse and stimulate the olfactory receptors in the nose. Other beneficial foods include fruits such as grapefruit and oranges as well as green leafy vegetables. Eating these foods, along with a balanced diet, can help to improve the sense of smell.

Meanwhile, herbs and spices are not only great for adding flavor to food, but they also offer a wealth of health benefits. Some herbs and spices that can help improve the sense of smell include basil, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs contain compounds that help to open up the nasal passages and allow for greater airflow. They also help to cleanse and stimulate the olfactory receptors.

Recovery is a process that takes time and effort. It is not easy, but it is worth it. With time, patience, and the right support, you can heal your olfactory system and have an improved quality of life. There are many different ways to achieve this, so try different methods to find out which works best for you.

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