Came to Pass offers a Holistic Approach to Recovery. Sounds great right? After all, most of us would love a whole way to heal from the war that we have raged on our bodies and lives; however, this dream comes crashing down when we realize that relief does not occur as quickly as a pill, a hit, or a shot. It takes work. And when we desire to make a change, we face the difficulties that come with making that change. When the going gets rough, we may wonder, “Why am I doing this?” Thus, resistance ensues.
So why support this approach versus the standard abstinent, 12-step model that most treatments fashion themselves after? It is simple. Evidence has shown that those programs only help 4% of the population. They call for changing your life so drastically that you will eliminate friends, family, hobbies, or anything that could “trigger” cravings and lead to a relapse. Admitting that one is “powerless” over his or her addiction is just the start, and it is just admitting there is a problem. In realty, you will have cravings. In sobriety, you will experience unpleasant emotions, thoughts, and memories. If you did not, then quitting would be easy.
A holistic approach allows us to help you from a mind, body, spirit modality. Research supports the idea that interventions aimed at specific mental, physical, or spiritual states each affect the rest of the whole person. We help repair the physical damage through exercise and nutrition, calm fight or flight responses with medication and mindfulness interventions, and address the underlying issues through various therapeutic interventions. Within this model we find your recipe for success. How does it work?
Our minds are amazing! They contribute to our personalities, create magical futures, and hold our happy memories. But as the saying goes, our minds can be a blessing and a curse. They can show us images of sadness, loss, grief, and shame. They can repeat back to us the negative thoughts we believe to be true about ourselves and keep us from moving forward in life because of the fear they create about an unknown future. We can easily get caught up in a struggle with not wanting to have these emotions, thoughts, or memories; creating unnecessary anxiety, anger, or depression. This causes us to stay in a world of “known” outcomes. Although the alcohol, heroin, cocaine, etcetera cause us long-term problems, they have provided us momentary relief and escape. One of the reasons therapy is not always successful is that we cannot quiet the mind and stay present in the moment. Our fight/flight is activated, and we return to old habits to quiet the system and thus, reinforce the negative comments of the mind that we cannot have a different life; we cannot recover.
The use of medication interventions in early recovery can benefit the long-term process. If our minds are less active, we are more prone to learn and integrate the information to change long-term behaviors. This is key! Medication interventions are simply that – interventions. They are not always the only solution, and they are meant to be coupled with changes in behavior and environment. Some people remain on medications, but medications for anxiety and depression can become ineffective if the reasons for the depression and anxiety go unaddressed. It is like putting a cast on a broken leg. If we do not reset the leg, the cast will only do so much to isolate the fracture but not ultimately heal it.
Once a medication regimen is established to support healing, we introduce meditation, mindfulness, experiential therapeutic interventions, and psychoeducation. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are designed to support maintenance of the fight/ flight response. This allows us to look objectively at our thoughts without buying them as truth and then choosing the next appropriate action. The use of psychoeducation and experiential exercises to help the mind learn through teaching, movement, and metaphor, are designed to imprint the information.
In addiction it may feel as though we are carrying a monkey on our backs. Therapy allows us to put the monkey down, look at it, accept it is annoying and loud, and sometimes uncomfortable to be around. It’s no longer on our backs so we can be more objective about how we want to interact with our addiction monkey.
The use of physical interventions is not complicated. Research shows that twenty minutes a day is enough to promote cardio-vascular health and stimulate the immune system. Working out can take many forms, from walking to strength training, interval training and more. As we build our strength, the body begins to heal. The biggest barrier is in starting to move. Waking up at 6am when the body is used to staying in it is nice, comfy bed becomes the greatest barrier to healing the body. Once we get going, the mind has no where to go but follow (possibly still complaining) but the body is moving. Making this change is always met with resistance at first because despite the benefits, addicts/alcoholics come into treatment extremely tired. They have been through the battle of use, recover, use, recover; and have adapted to this lifestyle. Now, you are asked to break through that discomfort and walk, hike, climb, bike and interval train. The goal here is to expedite the healing of the body and promote structure and a sleep routine.
To aid the physical exertion, we incorporate a nutritional plan. During periods of active addiction, some of the most common effects include suppressed appetite, poor diets, overeating, gastrointestinal disorders, immune system malfunctions, malnourishment, organ damage, and hypoglycemia. Bodies that receive limited calories, empty calories, or missing key nutrients for body and brain develop an imbalance and can present as other mental health problems such as Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, or ADHD. Absorbing nutrient-rich foods and learning to cook healthy meals at home (on a budget) is another key to long-term recovery success. However, making this change can come with its own complications. When we are initially detoxing, we lack an appetite. The body is sending energy to heal the body and we feel sick. The abuse of substances deregulates the digestive system so we forget what hunger feels like or may mistake hunger for cravings. We may experience nausea or constipation, and vitamin deficiencies. The use of protein-based smoothies, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and vitamins such as Vitamin D, Zinc, Iron, Folate, and B Vitamins can help to stabilize the body in early recovery. As the body moves into stabilization, getting into the routine of eating healthy meals, increasing protein and fiber intake, limiting caffeine and sugar, and eating complex-carbs helps it to sustain energy throughout the day.
According to Brene Brown, “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other, a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion, and that practicing Spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” Given this definition, it will come as no surprise that it has become an integral part of recovering from addiction and has become so prevalent in self-help groups. The support group Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on this principal that only a “power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” So, why is this an important component of recovery?
The term Addiction is derived from the Latin word addicere, meaning “to have no voice” or “to surrender oneself to a master.” At the heart of addiction, we often find feelings of isolation, disconnection, shame, and pain, which render us alone and broken in spirit. According to the Psychiatrist Victor Frankl, “addiction is about feelings of meaningless, denial, and the attempt to escape ourselves.” When we experience pain or distress, regardless if it is emotional, physical or spiritual, we often seek relief from the discomfort through the use of substances like alcohol, drugs, or a combination. Although they do produce the short-term effects of relieving us from this pain, they can have long-lasting effects such as destroyed relationships, careers, and livelihoods, resulting in isolation and further disconnection from others, leaving you addicted and alone. Recovery from addiction is a process of reconnecting and finding your voice. One way of doing this is through identifying and clarifying the values you want to live by. Doing so begins a deep journey into self-awareness and self respect that can lead to a genuine relationship with yourself that may not have occurred before, or that you lost along the way. Connecting with supportive family, friends, community, and mutual support groups (Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, etc.), we find experience, strength and hope to continue our path of recovery.