Cocaine treatment and weight gain: Tyson Fury bewareWritten by Lee Cleveland
In October, lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury was forced to relinquish his titles, and his boxing license was subsequently suspended.
Fury, of course, is expected to go on a hiatus while being treated for cocaine addiction.
And while some in boxing insist Tyson will return better than ever, addiction recovery can be challenging for obvious reasons.
Fury's body will yearn for the pleasure chemicals produced in excess by cocaine. When his body doesn't get that 'high' it so desperately wants, and 'low' of sorts sets in and an addict may temporarily plunge into a chemically-starved depression while experiencing bouts of fatigue, slowed thinking and sluggishness.
One often-overlooked side effect experienced by recovering addicts is profound weight gain. And given Tyson struggled a bit with his weight earlier in his career and sometimes gets flabby between fights, the recovering champion certainly may not be immune to this peculiar yet sometimes profound side effect.
Weight gain is a common complication of treatment for cocaine addiction, and an athlete's potentially negative reaction to their increasing body weight doesn't make avoiding relapses easy.
It's inevitable, and perhaps healthy, for someone to gain a few pounds during the recovery process. However, athletes without the gift of ultra-charged metabolisms, like Tyson Fury, must be wary about the prospect of gaining too much weight. Not only is it unhealthy, the weight becomes yet another obstacle a recovering addict must overcome, especially if someone is a celebrity and/or is already conscientious about their body image.
Why the weight gain?
For starters, cocaine use speeds the metabolism while inducing appetite suppression and a preference for high-fat foods. Hence, an addict may consume only 1,200 calories of junk food daily but she/he losses weight because their daily caloric intake (when using cocaine) is 1,000 calories less than their typical (pre-cocaine) diet, and they benefit from the drug's ability to naturally reduce fat.
“We were surprised how little body fat the cocaine users had in light of their reported consumption of fatty food. It seems that regular cocaine abuse directly interferes with metabolic processes and thereby reduces body fat. This imbalance between fat intake and fat storage may also explain why these individuals gain so much weight when they stop using cocaine,” Dr. Karen Ersche from the Behavioral and Clinical Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cambridge told MedicalDaily.com.
(Cocaine, however, can eventually stunt a person’s metabolism following long-term use)
After use of the drug ceases, an addict's normal appetite returns and the body’s metabolism slows, returning to its normal function. However, a cocaine-induced preference for high-fat foods lingers for some time, according to a March 2015 report in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse from the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge.
In sum, the addict's body, which had become accustomed to functioning off of 1,200 calories daily, is temporarily shocked and overwhelmed when a recovering addict starts consuming 2,200 calories daily, again.
Couple that with the lingering craving for high fat foods, the loss of a super-charged metabolism and reduced physical activity due to lethargy, and it's easy to understand why weight gain often accompanies cocaine treatment.
“Notable weight gain following cocaine abstinence is not only a source of major personal suffering but also has profound implications for health and recovery,” added Dr. Ersche.
“Intervention at a sufficiently early stage could have the potential to prevent weight gain during recovery, thereby reducing personal suffering and improving the chances of recovery.”
During Tyson Fury's road back, his team shouldn't underestimate the importance of keeping his weight gain to a 'healthy' minimum; Especially given the champ seemingly already has a mild penchant for being a little chubby.
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.