Holistic recovery: Why aren’t many addicts getting better over time?
Have you ever wondered why long term recovery rates are so low? Have you noticed that many people who do manage to stay clean and sober for an extended period of time never seem able to achieve the same level of success in other areas of their lives? They continue to struggle financially or in their family and personal relationships. Others aren’t able to hold on to a working spirituality. Some refuse to keep the same open mindedness that allowed them to get sober when it comes to eating, smoking or exercise and continue to suffer the burdens of ill health.
These real-life challenges are rarely sufficiently addressed in recovery programs and are often contributing factors to relapse. So, how can we frame holistic health and make it the center of our recovery? We explore here. Then, we invite your questions and comments about holistic addiction treatment and recovery at the end.
A 20 year exploration into the questions
For over 20 years I have been studying success and human nature as it relates to addiction and recovery. By way of personal experience, I have discovered if I don’t keep moving forward I start slipping backward.
Way back in 1990 as the fog of my early recovery lifted I became acutely aware of a few things. I was 33 years old and my life was a mess. I was married with a 10-year-old son and racing toward divorce. I was deeply in debt and had no marketable skills. My physical and mental health was shaky at best and my outlook for the future bleak. I was unaware at the time that the adversity I was encountering in early recovery was actually enormous opportunities for growth in disguise.
As days turned into months, my 12-step program sponsor and other mentors convinced me that honesty, open mindedness, and willingness were essential qualities to possess if I was to remain clean and sober. I was given suggestions like: Stick with the winners!
Find someone who has what you want and follow their suggestions!
I followed these suggestions and remained sober, yet I soon began to wonder why many of these mentors did not practice the same disciplines beyond sobriety. They were still suffering the burdens of financial insecurity enduring uninspiring work and personal relationships.
New definitions of “quality of life”
As my time in sobriety increased my idea of a quality life in recovery grew and changed. I had the realization that the same concepts of mentoring and sponsorship I used to get sober could work in all other areas of my life. Thus began my quest to live a Full Recovery of unlimited abundance and prosperity beyond sobriety.
To accomplish this feat required letting go of old beliefs and remaining honest, open minded and willing to examine every facet of my life.
How can you achieve holistic health?
The world’s libraries and, of course, the internet are a treasure trove of information. I have discovered that success in any endeavour leaves a roadmap that anyone can follow. Just like in recovery, stick with the winners and find someone who has achieved what you want to achieve. The 12 Steps gave me a roadmap to recovery but to become successful in ALL areas of life I needed to broaden my horizons and this is when I heard about living a holistic life.
When I first learned of a holistic approach to recovery I recoiled like from a hot flame. I had many old beliefs, preconceived ideas and prejudices that needed to be overcome. I thought holistic meant living on seeds and twigs and a lot of chanting. How wrong I was.
What “holistic” really means…
Simply put holistic means “pertaining to totality, or to the whole”. Addiction is a disease of selfishness, isolation, separateness and division. It is the opposite of holistic. Attempting to compartmentalize our life in recovery with walls, rooms and boundaries can produce frustration and disappointment.
We may achieve a level of sobriety and abstinence but much of the joy will be lost. This experience we call life is never static it is constantly changing. We are part of the ever changing and expanding universe This is a foreign concept to many in recovery.
Why not wish for something better?
For example, in early recovery I was told we don’t promise you will get your family back, find love, get on your feet financially and so on, we just promise if you work the steps you won’t drink. It may be true, but that type of negativity and self-imposed limitation is certainly not productive or inspiring. I find it more encouraging to help people learn to stay present, don’t project future outcomes, and if you do project why not project something good.
I am an alcoholic/addict. I was born with the “more” gene. Of course, a quality life is built upon my ability to stay clean and sober one day at a time but I wanted “more.” It is part of my God given personality traits. I believe that if God gave me this trait then surely it can be put to good use.
Our Full Recovery Wellness Program
Addiction is a physical, emotional, spiritual, financial psychological and social disease. Abstinence from mind altering substances and sense of spiritual connection is simply the beginning of recovery. The Holistic program at the Full Recovery Wellness is unique in that it addresses all these areas in a complete and holistic manner.
Many Holistic programs focus heavily on one specific area such as diet and exercise or prayer and meditation. These are definitely important but no more important than the ability to find meaningful employment or pay the bills. Of equal importance is our mental health. Medication is often the first choice to treat PTSD, depression and addiction but is the best solution? Many times the drugs used to treat these conditions mask the symptoms rather than help the client make meaningful, long lasting improvement.
Talk therapy, EMDR for treating PTSD, exercise, diet, hypnosis, spiritual development and more often, a well-designed combination of these disciplines, is proven to be more effective for the majority of people than medication alone in all but the most severe cases. It takes a little more time, empathy and commitment than drug therapy but produces a more enduring and satisfying result.