Ramadan – Service User Information

Ramadan is a time that many Muslims look forward to. However, the prospect of fasting for a month can also be frightening for some – especially those suffering from addiction. In this guide, we answer FAQ questions relating to Ramadan and Addiction.

 When is Ramadan? 

In the UK Ramadan is expected to start on around the 12th April and end on 12th May 2021 – although this may be different for some, please confirm with your local Imaam/ Mosque. 

What is Ramadan? 

Ramadan is the ninth and most holy month of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar. It is believed to be the month that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed. 

During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink between Fajr and Maghrib prayers (at dawn and sunset). 

But Ramadan is not only about abstaining from food, it is also a religious time when people tend to strengthen their faith through recitation of Quran and prayer. 

It is also a time for self-reflection when Muslims are no longer preoccupied by many of life’s distractions and it’s also good time to work on your recovery goals. 

What are the obligations for Muslims during Ramadan? 

Many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims will fast daily. Fasting is obligatory – and one of the five pillars of Islam. People that are exempt from fasting are young children, anyone who is sick, travellers, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating. 

This year, those who are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms are expected to be exempt too as this may hamper their recovery. 

If you aren’t able to fast 

Depending on your circumstances, Islamic teachings say there are other ways you can make up for any fasts you have missed. 

This could be: 

  • making up any missed fasts at another time 
  • giving food to someone less fortunate 
  • paying a sum of money in place of your fasts. 

Most mosques have a system in place to organise this. Ask your local mosque Imam for further details. An Imam may be able to give you advice on your individual circumstances. 

Service users in Recovery 

For some service users in recovery trying to fast during Ramadan can be overwhelming and stressful therefore we would advise to seek advice from your GP or recovery worker. 

Medication advice during Ramadan 

For those who are in recovery and on medication, fasting should not be an obstacle to continue with your recovery. Adjustments can be made to medications regimens to allow you to continue fasting. Service users must be sensitive to their health status and be prepared to break their fast if needed. This is important to prevent any unwanted adverse effects on your health & wellbeing. Always consult your doctor and recovery worker before making modifications of dose and time to take medication.

Some service users change their dosing regimen during fasting without consulting a doctor, recovery worker or pharmacist. Worse yet, some individuals did not want to take medicine during fasting which is extremely dangerous and not advised. 

During Ramadan service users that want to fast have expressed to come off daily supervised methadone/buprenorphine consumption and change to pickup, this would help them to take their medication for Ramadan on time. 

Benefits of discussing medicine schedule before Ramadan with recovery workers: 

  • Adjustments to your medication and therapies can be made early. 
  • Side effects and treatment failures, due to improper use of prescribed medications, can be avoided. 

To help you observe fasting during Ramadan, and maintain your medication intake, your Recovery worker /doctor/pharmacist will help you adjust: 

  • the times of your medication doses 
  • the number of doses 
  • the time span between doses 
  • the total daily dosage of medications 

Reminder: It is advisable to consult your doctor and recovery worker instead of changing your dosage yourself. Please seek medical advice before attempting any of the above. 

If I am taking medicines and decide to fast what do I need to consider? 

Take time and plan ahead for Ramadan. You need to review your medicines and you need to remember how important it is to keep your fluid levels up (drink plenty) and get re-hydrated outside fasting hours. Lack of hydration can also affect levels of certain medicines. Make sure you are getting enough sleep too, even if it may not be at normal times. This is important also if your medication causes you to feel sleepy and your normal sleep pattern is broken during Ramadan. 

Healthy fasting during Ramadan 

The necessary nutrients needed by our body during fasting remain the same and need to be fulfilled. The thing that sets it apart is the food intake time. Fasting can discipline someone to eat food at a certain time and for a certain quantity only. It is recommended to take a complete and balanced diet during iftar (breaking of the fast meal) and Suhoor (predawn meal) to keep a person healthy and active. 

What we eat and drink directly affects our health. Fasting during Ramadan can be good for your health if it’s done correctly. When the body is starved of food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. This can lead to weight loss. However, if you fast for too long your body will eventually start breaking down muscle protein for energy, which is unhealthy. 

Those observing the fast should have at least two meals a day, the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (Iftar). Meals should be simple and not differ too much from a normal diet. It is important that meals contain items from all the major food groups including: 

  • fruit and vegetables Ramadan service user information (001) KIKIT Pathways to Recovery CIC CGL – Change Grow Live 
  • bread, other cereals and potatoes 
  • meat, fish and alternatives 
  • milk and dairy foods 
  • foods containing fat and sugar 

Breaking a fast with a feast is not recommended and can cause weight gain, regardless of how long a fast has lasted during Ramadan. 

Where can I get advice? 

First talk to your CGL Recovery worker and Doctor who would be able to advise you based on your health and wellbeing. 

You can also find information on Ramadan from the following websites. 

  • Ramadan Health Guide 
  • Safe Ramadan Practices during COVID – 19 

Ramadan – service user information (001) KIKIT Pathways to Recovery CIC CGL – Change Grow Live 

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