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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 November 5, 2019

          How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

          How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

          Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

          “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

          But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

          Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

          1. Always Have a Book

          It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

          Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

          2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

          We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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          Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

          3. Get More Intellectual Friends

          Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

          Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

          4. Guided Thinking

          Albert Einstein once said,

          “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

          Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

          5. Put it Into Practice

          Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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          If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

          In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

          6. Teach Others

          You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

          Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

          7. Clean Your Input

          Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

          I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

          Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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          8. Learn in Groups

          Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

          Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

          9. Unlearn Assumptions

          You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

          Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

          Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

          10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

          Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

          Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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          11. Start a Project

          Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

          If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

          12. Follow Your Intuition

          Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

          Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

          13. The Morning Fifteen

          Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

          If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

          14. Reap the Rewards

          Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

          15. Make Learning a Priority

          Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

          More About Continuous Learning

          Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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