You don’t have to do much research to confirm that our country is facing a massive crisis of opioid abuse, alcohol dependency, and addiction to both legal and illegal substances. The justice system and health-care industry have targeted addiction in different ways, but unfortunately, most methods of “recovery” are largely ineffective.
One reason for the uselessness of traditional addiction recovery is that it focuses mostly on surface issues and symptoms, when true solutions have to target the root causes. Further complicating the issue, these root causes must be attacked from a variety of angles.
Although every individual responds differently to treatment, recovery specialists have reason to believe that the most effective method for dealing with addiction recovery and preventing relapse is to target the mind, body, and soul simultaneously.
As doctors, therapists, treatment centers, and policymakers examine the various ways to handle opioid addiction and alcohol abuse in what will likely be a record-breaking year, the ones who assay the mind-body-soul approach are finding the most positive results. Take a look at the value and application of each part of this approach as they apply to addiction recovery today.
Mind: Meditation to Shift Focus
Meditation is the key to slowing down, healing the mind, and preparing for logical processing on a cognitive level. Despite its effectiveness, some addicts in recovery are turned off by it, perhaps because of the notion that it’s an Eastern Asian religious practice.
But the fact is that meditation takes an array of forms and is by no means necessarily tied to religion. As long-term recovery expert Kelly McClanahan explains, “Meditation can be a wide variety of things. It is the time devoted to practicing a period of ‘mindfulness.’ Simplistically, meditation can be likened to ‘paying attention’ very closely to no specific thing, idea, or situation.”
Meditation helps in addiction recovery by creating a divide between thought and action. Most addicts have poor self-regulation habits, and have become accustomed to moving from emotional discomfort to coping mechanism (drugs or alcohol) immediately. Meditation forces a person to slow down and process thoughts independently of taking action.
In addiction recovery, individuals find it wise to schedule regular meditation sessions throughout the day. It’s also a smart move to practice impromptu meditation when certain triggers loom.
Body: Exercise to Promote Action
It’s imperative for recovering addicts to take action. Becoming physically active not only requires time – which shifts focus away from acting on addictive impulses – it demands significant energy.
When all your energy is being employed in physical exertion, you don’t leave yourself much room for destructive behavior. Exercise isn’t just a method for distraction and energy depletion, though. It releases endorphins and makes you feel better physically, as well.
“Not only does exercise release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the body, but it also helps rid the body of harmful toxins that have been brought on by addiction and withdrawal,” Resurgence Behavioral Health explains.
“Exercising to the point where you are sweating, even moderately, can rid your body of things it doesn’t need. This can help with the recovery process, strengthen cardiovascular muscles, and improve a person’s well-being ten-fold.”
What addicts have to be careful of is that they don’t replace one addiction with another. Exercise should be pursued in moderation as well, or it too can become physically harmful. Limiting exercise to 45-90 minutes per day is ideal – with at least one day off per week.
Soul: Spirituality to Find Meaning
When asked about the role of spirituality and religion in addiction recovery, Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, once said, “For we have not only been mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”
Recent research seems to justify this idea. Some people will prefer one religion over another, or a particular religious practice instead of something else, but a focus on any kind of spirituality appears to have a positive effect for the addicted individual.
A high level of spirituality throughout recovery has been known to have a range of benefits, including lower levels of anxiety, higher resilience to stress, greater social support, and a more optimistic approach to life. Most of these benefits seem to be rooted in the fact that spiritual people shift their focus to a greater meaning in life, rather than the physical circumstances they currently face.
Conquering Addiction From Multiple Angles
It’s probably impossible to design an addiction recovery plan that works perfectly for every individual. But it’s evident that certain approaches work more effectively across the board.
Since addictive behavior originates from so many sources in our ultra-connected world, many are realizing the three-pronged approach of mind-body-soul addresses addiction at the source, rather than the surface. As this strategy becomes the standard, the odds are we will see a decline in relapse numbers in the not-too-distant future.