Holistic Treatment


Happy couple
Addiction is not just a physical affliction nor is it only emotional or mental. When it comes to recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, a successful comprehensive plan should include ways of understanding and treating your body, mind, and spirit.

That’s why gaining the ability to stop using drugs and alcohol is just one part of the whole-person care recovery process. By the time you enter a treatment facility, your addiction has taken over your life and has consumed your every waking moment. Your personal, professional, and social lives have all been but damaged.

Whole-Person Care Approach

Because addiction disrupts every part of an addict’s being, treatment must address the needs of the entire person for it to be successful. The goal of treatment is to provide you with an environment where you can heal, restore, and renew your life.

Similar to a holistic recovery, the whole-person approach builds on the realization that addiction is only a symptom of a much larger problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the principles of effective addiction treatment is placing the emphasis on the multiple needs of a person, not just on his or her drug use. This includes a person’s medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal issues. It is also important to make sure the treatment is suitable to a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.

While no single addiction treatment is suitable for all addicts, this program works with the client’s preferences and ideas. Some courses of treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapies
  • Medication management
  • Detoxification
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Personal training and cardiovascular exercise
  • 12-step programs
  • Alternative therapies such as animal assistance, art, or sports
  • Meditation

Treating the Whole Body

This type of treatment combines traditional and alternative-based therapies with a slant toward natural treatments and remedies instead of relying solely on pharmaceutical ones. The whole person care approach focuses on treating:
Mind: Specialists work with you to determine what led you to seek out substances in the first place. You can learn a new skill set for handling problems and challenges in your life.
Spirit: Besides counseling for your recovery, you may also receive treatments to help with stress, depression, anxiety, or similar conditions. Treatment options may include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and spiritual instruction.
Body: Treatments such as nutritional education, exercise, massage, and a healthy diet help promote your well-being. Your body will probably be in need of repair and recuperation after being ravaged by alcohol or drugs. A strong body can help defend all types of illnesses and conditions.

How This Approach Works

The whole person care approach to recovery is a long-term treatment that focuses on self-improvement. It helps you identify the causes of your addiction, understand its triggers, and create a recovery plan. This program can help patients by:

  • Stopping the addiction earlier rather than later
  • Understanding the events that led to your substance abuse
  • Coping with triggers through relaxation, thought disruption, and visualization
  • Finding alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse

By working to bring the natural balance back to your life, empowering change, and building self-esteem, this approach has been shown to provide long-term recovery solutions instead of a short-term reprieve.

Addressing Other Health Issues

Those with addictions have the same medical issues as non-addicts, but their symptoms may be elevated because regular health care isn’t sought. About 45 percent of Americans seeking substance abuse treatment have been diagnosed with a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.

Dental care is another health problem often plaguing addicts. For instance, if you are addicted to opioids, you may wind up with a dry mouth since this is one of the side effects. If your body does not produce enough saliva, bacteria will grow and cause tooth decay. Oftentimes, you won’t be thinking about brushing your teeth when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. A whole-person approach to recovery will help address all related health issues, often by putting you in touch with other health specialists who can treat other concerns.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

meditationEach resident at St. Joseph will have a treatment schedule that can include fitness, yoga and meditation. Yoga offers amazing physical benefits–from increasing flexibility to building muscle tone–but more importantly, those who practice yoga and meditation learn how to manage stress and deal with negative emotions. Yoga sessions at St. Joseph are integrated with a practice called mindfulness. As described in our previous post, mindfulness meditation is more than sitting for a while in the cross-legged humming pose popularized by film and TV. It is a reflective activity in which the meditator reposes in a quiet place, engaging and then releasing any thought that comes to mind–including the most hurtful and negative considerations. This is a powerful technique for confronting the deep emotional harm addiction afflicts on individuals and families; it also empowers our residents to gain control of their emotions during the recovery process.

On the chemical level, yoga helps practitioners regulate stress by regulating the levels of two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. Imbalances of these hormones can contribute to addiction, as well as some of its root causes like anxiety and depression. A study in the Journal of Alternative Medicine found that practicing yoga can even change the brain’s chemical composition. In the study, those who participated in an hour of yoga had increased levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is associated with controlling anxiety and depression.  Both on a chemical and emotional level, yoga can help those who struggle with addiction ameliorate some of the difficulties of recovery, and combat the issues that contributed to their addiction. Tommy Rosen, a recovery expert and yoga instruction, explains in the Huffington Post: Of course, one can stay sober without yoga and meditation. It’s just that if you want to lift yourself up out of the energy of addiction and break through to a new level of strength and awareness, one will have to adopt a practice that continues the detoxification process on a much deeper level.” Yoga is a valuable part of the recovery process at St Joseph, and it is also essential to many of our residents long-lasting, comprehensive recovery.

This topic, and others related to health and nutrition, will be covered in more detail in future posts. You can also learn more using the resources below:

Tommy Rosen’s Article about Yoga and Meditation for Addiction Recovery: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tommy-rosen/yoga-for-addiction_b_3523111.html

Yoga Journal: Yoga for Addiction Recovery: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/higher-ground/

Chicken or the EggIf only life was a true reflection of the fairy tales our mothers read to us as small children.  There was a problem, with courage and determination it was overcome, and everyone could then live happily ever after.  The illusion was that there was only one problem, and that if it was resolved, everything else would be perfect.  Unfortunately, the myth does not mirror reality, and it certainly does not describe recovery from addiction.

It is often appropriate to ask whether addiction is the problem, or the symptom of something else.  This question does not discount the fact that addiction is a chronic disease, but acknowledges how other issues are often the triggers for drinking and using.  If these “co-occurring conditions” are not recognized and addressed, recovery is hard to achieve.  It is for this reason that St. Joseph Institute believes that “treating” addiction without an equal or greater emphasis on addressing these other issues in a person’s life is poor healthcare practice.  It is like placing a Band-Aid on a wound that has not been cleaned and medicated.  In the end, the patient does not get better and the condition may get far worse.

Not every issue that triggers the desire to use drugs and alcohol is a mental health condition that can be diagnosed and classified.  That is not what is important.  What matters is that something is causing pain or distress – both of which become invitations to self-medicate.

Listed below are some of the common “companions” to addiction that need to find resolution, so that recovery can become easier, and the temptation to use again lose some of its power.

Depression. Escaping feelings of sadness are a common reason to drink and use. Ironically, drugs like alcohol only make depression worse.

Anxiety. Studies on university campuses show the strong link between the social anxiety that accompanies modern life and the use of drugs and alcohol.

Pain.  Human nature drives us to escape pain with all possible haste, rather than learn ways of reducing pain through lifestyle changes or natural means.  Our aversion to pain has made the United States the world’s largest consumer of opiate medications.

Relationships. Nothing creates more emotional distress than relationships that are not working well. Rather than learning to build better boundaries, communicate effectively, or resolve conflict, many people simply medicate their relationships.

Bipolar. Some mental health conditions cause distress and the best medications are still imperfect.  Millions of America’s use their drug of choice to self-medicate their mental health issues.

Stress. Managing the stress of daily living should never be an optional activity.  However, all too often we let it build to unhealthy levels, and allow stress to feed addiction.

Boredom. A surprising number of people use drugs and alcohol to cope with boredom, rather than find activities, hobbies and other outlets for their pent up energy and frustrations.

Sex. For many addicts and alcoholics, their drug of choice has been an integral part of their sex lives.  Concerns about the impact of sobriety on inhibitions, performance, and the quality of the experience need to be resolved.

Self-worth. Guilt, shame, a lack of validation, rejection, are issues that can drive addiction in the hope that using will fill the mental void.

Trauma.  The deep “psychic” pain that comes with abuse, PTSD, and other forms of trauma become fertile ground for addiction.  Without resolution, these hurts often become the “justification” for using drugs and alcohol.

We must realize that addiction does not live in a vacuum.  It is fed by the events in life.  If the issues that have a powerful impact on our lives are not addressed, they become the constant “siren’s call” to use again.  Attempting to treat addiction in isolation is often a futile exercise.  Is it the “problem” or the “symptom?”  I suggest the answer doesn’t matter.  To find wellness the addicted person must deal with both the chicken and the egg.