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Holistic Rehab – Choices in dealing with addiction

Holistic Rehab – Choices in dealing with addiction

If a member of your family is suffering from addiction you will know the pain and suffering that it causes. A feeling of helplessness, loss of control and ill health can be just some of the symptoms. More seriously the life and death of stars including Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Amy Winehouse show that addiction can often bring an unhappy and untimely end.

Whether it is drugs, alcohol or any one of a number of addictive conditions it can be difficult to understand how someone can become addicted. A lot of the blame for addiction can be placed on our own bodies, specifically our limbic system. The limbic system controls our brain’s pleasure response. For example, when someone uses a drug for the first time they will experience an increase in pleasure caused by a rush of dopamine released in the brain. Once this has happened the brain chemistry is changed, reflecting the new higher levels of dopamine. Therefore, someone can quickly require the addictive substance just to bring their dopamine levels up to normal again and require considerably more to get the increased level of dopamine that’s required to reach the pleasure high again. This cycle drives the individual to seek out the substance thus forming the addiction. The compulsion to keep taking the substance can cause severe issues with their life, soon leading to a point where a crossroads is reached where recovery and rehabilitation becomes a must.

Breaking The Cycle of Addiction

There are few people who can just stop taking an addictive substance, a process commonly known as ‘cold turkey’ where their abstain from the substance which they have been addicted to. There are numerous risks with suddenly stopping the intake of an addictive substance, especially if they have been taking it excessively for some time. Symptoms of sudden withdrawal can  include anxiety, visual and auditory hallucinations, convulsions, whole body tremors, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, shakiness and convulsions as well as the risk of more serious conditions including heart failure.

Taking a cold turkey approach is also not very effective, with studies showing a high individuals relapse rate, specifically over 90% of heroin users and 84% cocaine users.[1] A better approach is to engage in a combined detox and therapy program which addresses both the substance addiction and any potential mental illness or other concerns which may go alongside it.

Traditional Rehab Options

There are a number of options for rehabilitation, however, the basic program will encompass the following elements:

  • Detox – to wean the individual from the addictive substance
  • Counselling – to support a change in behavior
  • Medication – particularly for alcohol, drugs or tobacco addiction
  • Treatment – for any underlying mental illness
  • Follow up – to prevent relapse

Most rehab programs take place in a clinical environment and are generally highly effective, however, there are some individuals who would rather undertake treatment in a different environment or use a more holistic rehab approach.

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Beyond Clinical Rehab

A clinical or hospital style rehab program will not suit everyone; there are countless people who would rail against spending time in such environment and this could hold back their treatment or cause them to leave the program before their full treatment has been completed with obvious ramifications for their recovery.

There are, however, a number of rehab providers who can provide a non-clinical environment from ranches to beach side retreats. It provides more of an encouragement for the individual to persevere and remain committed to the program as well as the treatment generally being more effective.[2]

Of course this is not an option open to everyone; those who can go through this route will find that there will be a higher clinician to patient ratio, a totally personalized treatment program and the benefit of surroundings that positively encourage rehab with small groups and beautiful locations allowing relaxation and distressing to play a key part of a successful rehabilitation.

Non-clinical rehab allows patients to engage in a wider range of activities to support their rehabilitation, acknowledging that every individual is different; they can find a methodology that gels with them directly beyond the clinical processes. It allows the patient to find new techniques and habits to support their life beyond rehab, and can overall create a better quality of life going forward.

Holistic Rehab

    What is Holistic Rehab?

    Holistic rehab is a process of rehabilitation that blends a unique program of holistic techniques including yoga, art therapy and acupuncture. The flexibility allows a program to be developed with the individual and their needs in mind.  There are a range of holistic treatments available. Some of the most often used techniques are as follows:

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    Yoga

    The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning “ to unite or integrate”; it uses meditation and movement to promote the harmonious union of the three components of a human being that are the body, mind, and soul.  Yoga is said to be the holistic way of life to make a prayerful discipline, creating unity between the body, mind, and soul.

    Sat Bir Khalsa, director of the Kundalini Research Institute and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School wrote a study on an Indian pilot program which featured yoga as the main intervention in a substance-abuse treatment. “When people take substances, they’re seeking a certain experience, whether it’s escapist or transcendental or just wanting a different psychological state, to get away from whatever is making them unhappy. Yoga is an alternative, a positive way to generate a change in consciousness that, instead of providing an escape, empowers people with the ability to access a peaceful, restorative inner state that integrates mind, body, and spirit.”[3]

    Holistic Rehab - Yoga

      It has been found that yoga can increase immunity. A recent Norwegian study showed that yoga can have an effect at a cellular level. [4]

      Also a Harvard study has found that yoga can counter insomnia and improve sleep quality.[5]

      This is alongside the marked improvements in flexibility, weight loss and reduction of stress which can be found in yoga and meditation programs.

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      Art Therapy

      Art therapy allows individuals to use their imagination and creativity to express themselves in a way which they may not vocalize. SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Group Therapy guide states that “art therapy as a type of expressive group therapy that can help people express their thoughts and feelings that they may not be able to say with words. It expands the ways a person can convey ideas and emotions and provides an opportunity to explore, understand, and resolve issues in a person’s life that he may not feel comfortable talking about in a regular conversation.” [6]

      Holistic Rehab - Painting

        Art therapy can encompass a wide range of artistic outlets such as drawing, painting and sculpture as well as music and dancing. It can provide an outlet for relaxation which does not depend on drink or drugs and can enhance the individual’s self esteem.

        Equine Therapy

        Allowing patients to work with horses is a powerful technique as gaining the trust of these large animals is a two way street and can allow individuals to develop relationships as well as reducing anxiety and stress and improve anger management. Horses do not judge and can sense an individual’s feelings very well, requiring the development of a relationship based mostly on nonverbal communication.

        Holistic Rehab - Equine Therapy

          Additionally, a study by the University of Rostock in Germany shows that human-animal interactions increase levels of oxytocin which can trigger an increase in trust towards others as well as enhancing empathy and learning, and even improving pain management. This is all of particular importance to individuals who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol and may have low self-confidence or trust issues. [7]

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          Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

          EMDR was first developed by American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980’s as a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute. It is a psychotherapy technique said to heal people of symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Eye movements are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his/her eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.

          Brain Paint

          Brain Paint is a process that uses a machine to measure activity within the patient’s brain. A monitor is attached to their head which shows the brain-waves comprised of beta, sensory motor rhythm, as well as alpha and theta waves which are shown on the screen with short bursts of sounds.

          Beta waves are associated with problem-solving and concentration; alpha waves, relaxation; theta waves, sleep; sensory motor rhythm waves link the functions of the body and brain. The patient undergoes meditation to enter a relaxed state and are instructed to keep their concentration on the color spectrum of continuous wavelike motions set against short, yet continual, bursts of sound. The idea is to allow the unconscious mind to learn new behaviors.

          According to the BrainPaint System website, 77% of substance dependent subjects remaining sober one year after treatment as compared to 44% of control subjects.[8]

          These are just a few of the many treatments which can be used to support traditional 12-step programs and medical interventions ensuring the most effective and successful rehabilitation process for every individual.

          Image Credits: Yoga, Relaxation, Artist and Horses images from Pixabay.com

          Reference

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

          18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

          The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

          1. Understand Yourself Better

          Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

          Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

          2. Keep Track of Small Changes

          I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

          Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

          3. Become Aware of What Matters

          As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

          You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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          4. Boost Creativity

          The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

          When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

          You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

          5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

          A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

          Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

          6. Process Life Experiences

          When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

          Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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          7. Stress Relief

          In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

          Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

          8. Provide Direction

          Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

          One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

          9. Solve Problems

          Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

          Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

          When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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          10. Find Relief From Fighting

          Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

          Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

          11. Find Meaning in Life

          Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

          12. Allow Yourself to Focus

          Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

          13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

          When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

          14. Let the Past Go

          I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

          15. Allow Freedom

          Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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          16. Enhance Your Career

          Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

          Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

          17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

          All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

          18. Catalog Your Life for Others

          No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

          We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

          Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

          Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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