Tag Archives: diet

Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

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“Having only drank for one year of my life, I hardly consider myself an alcoholic. But I know how important it is for me to see it as any other drug so I am welcomed to AA as NA/CA just the same. I wanted to understand holistic approaches to alcoholism just as I understand the addiction. Turns out their not really much different. This blog can help not only a drunky but a junky too.” -Love, Robyn

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Alcohol addiction is a multifaceted brain disorder which is one of the reasons it is so difficult to treat and why a holistic approach to alcoholism is the prescription needed for craving-free and long-term sobriety

The roots of alcoholism lie in an imbalance or depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain that is caused by the alcohol itself, nutritional deficiencies, low blood sugar, allergy, poor diet, hypothyroidism, toxins in the environment, childhood abuse,chronic stress or many of the other things that disrupt neurotransmitters.

However, these biochemical roots affect every aspect of an individual’s life. It alters personality, cognitive functioning and spiritual connections. It impacts the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual levels deeply.

We’ll call these other issues, secondary contributors to alcoholism. Although they are not the core root, if they are not addressed they have the power to sabotage recovery.

The physical, emotional and spiritual elements are deeply intertwined. The biochemical/physical impacts the spiritual and the psychological and the spiritual affects the biochemical and psychological and vice versa.

When an individual addresses the true biochemical roots of their addiction with a holistic approach to alcoholism, physical healing begins and biochemical repair is essential to success in long-term sobriety. Deep spiritual and emotional healing can’t be complete without it. However, if one only addresses the biochemical and neglects the spiritual and emotional then they are still at risk of relapse or relapse.

The damage that is done on the physical level has a great impact on the psychological and the spiritual. When your brain and body systems aren’t functioning properly, it has a profound impact on emotional and spiritual health which is often exhibited in a variety of negative psychological symptoms.

Incorporating a holistic approach to alcoholism into your recovery plan helps the individual to heal on all these levels and therefore increases the success rates of long-term sobriety quite drastically.

Unique Aspects of a Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

Alcoholism is unique from other diseases in that it often destroys marriages or relationships or alienates family and friends. Family members and friends must often distance themselves from the alcoholic in order to save their own sanity and in some cases protect themselves emotionally and/or physically. When this occurs, the alcoholic is left in a position without much support. For those who stick around, there is usually a great deal of damage done to the relationship and healing is required.

Another unique component to alcoholism, is that after one engages in the alcoholic lifestyle for an extended period of time, it then becomes a learned behavior to some degree. They learn to respond to stress, pain, sadness, anger etc. by taking a drink or a drug. It becomes a habitual response without thought. These types of behaviors must be unlearned and replaced with healthier behaviors. Habits and routines must be broken. A new lifestyle needs to be embraced.

Alcoholism recovery is also unique in that there is likely to be a great deal of shame, guilt and remorse for actions and behaviors that the alcoholic engaged in while intoxicated, which must be dealt with in a healthy manner to keep them from interfering in sobriety.

Depending on factors such as each individuals background and how long one has been living with alcoholism, there can be a variety of other secondary factors that need to be taken into consideration and addressed, such as relationship issues, childhood sexual or physical abuse, impact on marriage, parenting issues and interpersonal skills. Many people who’ve lived with alcoholism for a long time may be lacking in a variety of social skills that are necessary to get through life. These factors will not apply to everyone, but for those who it does, this is where traditional counseling is called for.

And yet another exclusive aspect of alcoholism is that sometimes the individual goes through a grieving period when they begin recovery. Giving up alcohol is like losing a very good friend or a loved one. Emotional support is a crucial for those who have this experience.

With all these different factors weighing in the alcoholism recovery equation, to address only one aspect will not lead to successful long-term sobriety. All issues must be addressed simultaneously or they become possible triggers for relapse and undermine recovery.

A holistic approach to alcoholism may include the following:

1. Biochemical repairs that addresses the physical as well as the psychological:

  • Identify neurotransmitter imbalances and metabolic disorders
  • Nutritional support during detox and later
  • Changes in diet and nutrition
  • Recognizing environmental factors
  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies
  • Individualized diet plans
  • Dietary and nutritional counseling
  • Exercise

2. Counseling, groups or seminars for social and emotional issues:

  • Childhood physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect
  • Dealing with loss and grief of alcoholism
  • Coping skills
  • Parenting skills
  • Lifestyle adjustment
  • Communication skills
  • Assertiveness training
  • What to do with loneliness, boredom, too much time on your hands
  • Repair relationships

3. Discovering spiritual connections:

  • Developing a relationship with yourself
  • Connecting more deeply with yourself
  • Healing relationships
  • Engaging in spiritually fulfilling activities
  • Forgiveness of self
  • Activities that make you feel whole, complete and connected
  • Deep and meaningful activities
  • Mindfulness based meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Communing with nature

Another very important component in the holistic approach to alcoholism is that treatment is individualized and personalized according to each persons needs and issues.

One person may have many secondary issues while another individual may have none or only one. Treatment approaches will vary to some degree in the biochemical aspect as well as the emotional and spiritual aspects.

Someone who has been drinking for 20 years may have a lot more complex biochemical and social issues than someone who become an alcoholic two years ago after their husband died.

An individual who lived with childhood sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect may have more challenges to face than someone who had a loving childhood. Their alcoholism recovery plan would likely include a lot more focus on the counseling aspect.

One person may need a great deal of counseling and training in areas such as communication and assertiveness while others may be quite competent in these areas. Some people may adjust easier to a new lifestyle while another may struggle a great deal. All these details need to be taken into account and adjusted for specifically for the individual.

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6 Science-Based Tips For A Healthy & Happy Brain

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“This is an article from one of my favourite sites: http://www.mindbodygreen.com! They share some helpful and inspiring information about living a happier holistic life. I stubbled upon one article today that caught my eye. Having an addiction or disorder can send out brains into chemical imbalance. Thats why its important to change your diet to promote brain health. Here are some tips!” -Love, Robyn

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Our society is experiencing an epidemic of chronic brain problems. An estimated 40 million people in the United States experience some sort of anxiety-related disorder. As many as 30 million suffer from depression.

The use of antidepressants doubled from 1995 to 2005, and they’re now the most prescribed drugs on the market. There’s been a twentyfold increase in attention-deficit drug consumption over the past 30 years. Autism now affects 1 in 88 children. From anxiety, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and autism to brain fog, dementia, depression and mood swings, one thing is clear: we have a rapidly growing mental health problem.

What is the mainstream medical system’s answer? As with most chronic conditions, its solution is to diagnose a disease or condition and match it with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. In Functional Medicine, my goal is to clinically investigate the underlying, unlooked, and uninvestigated factors that are at play in chronic health issues such as these and to naturally address them.

Obviously conditions like these are complex, and there’s no easy answer. Below I’ve laid out some great pieces of the puzzle for optimal brain health. They’re a great starting point, and are not intended to be quick fixes.

The tips and tools below are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill advice that you’ve heard a million times. Most people know they should be eating more vegetables; that’s a given. I wanted to give you the best, fresh plan for promoting a healthy brain, and to push you out of your comfort zone and into optimal health:

1. Eggs

This incredible, edible superfood is one of the most unjustly and inaccurately persecuted foods, ever! The yolk of the egg gets a particularly bad rap, but the yolk contains the majority of the eggs nutrients. I see so many well-intentioned people throw out the yolk or buy egg whites because they’re fat-phobic.

From a health perspective, this is very misguided. The yolk is so rich in nutrients for your brain that a separate article could be devoted to the topic. The yolk is truly nature’s multivitamin. Organic, pastured eggs from chickens who roam outside in the sunlight offer us essential brain food like choline. Choline has a variety of functions for healthy brain function, including the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and cell-membrane signaling, which is needed for all hormone function. Symptoms of choline deficiency include fatigue, insomnia and memory problems. Pastured egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fats which are essential for a healthy brain.

As with all meat and dairy, not all eggs are created equal. Pasture-raised eggs have been shown to contain three times more of the brain beneficial omega-3 fats than supermarket eggs!

2. Organ meats

A second real food multivitamin is organ meat. Powerhouse superfoods, like liver, have been consumed by abundantly healthy societies throughout history, but now are eaten sparingly in modern Western society. The liver is a storage organ for many important brain nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. A great way to get these nutrients is through a liver pate. Fermented cod liver oil is also a great option, and comes in different forms like gels and capsules if you want to take it in a whole-food supplement form.

3. Bone broth

To have a healthy brain, you need to have a healthy gut! The two are inextricably linked through nerve pathways. It’s no coincidence that your gut is also called “The Second Brain:” 95% of your serotonin, your feel-good hormone, is made and stored in your gut. Conditions like leaky gut syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can have damaging effects on your entire body. The connection between your gut and your brain (gut-brain axis) has been linked to depression, anxiety and autism. Bone broth is one of the best foods you can consume for a healthy gut. This nutrient-rich liquid is filled with collagen, which acts like a healing ointment to a stressed-out inflamed gut.

4. Coconut oil

This amazing food can do wonders for your brain health. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggested that medium-chain triglycerides, like those found in coconut oil, improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. The amazing thing in this research was that cognitive function was improved almost immediately following ingestion of the medium-chain triglycerides!

5. Grass-fed dairy

Your brain is made up of 60% fat and contains more cholesterol than any other organ in your body, yet we were raised to avoid these two essential brain nutrients. In addition to this, the cell membranes of our body, where your hormones communicate, are lined with the same components of saturated fat and cholesterol. That’s why it’s important to acquire these nutrients through your diet, and high-quality dairy is a good way to do that.

Dairy should always be grass fed, organic, and preferably raw. Fermented dairy like kefir is also a good option. The healthy fats of grass-fed dairy are where all the brain food is, so avoid low fat! Two fats that your brain wants and needs are saturated fats and arachidonic acid, both of which can be found in grass-fed dairy. Another nutrient your brain craves is vitamin K2, which is critical for the formation of the myelin sheath and the nerves in the brain. We get this power nutrient from the fat of grass-fed animals, the very food that’s disappeared from our modern low-fat diet.

6. Sunlight

It’s no secret that a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D. Our culture lathers up with toxic sunscreens and avoids the sun like the plague. But moderate sun exposure is healthy for most people. Vitamin D has many jobs, and one of them is its critical role in making your endorphins.

If you live in places that don’t always have strong sunlight, or if you work inside a lot, then get your vitamin D from the foods you eat. When we consume the dairies and fats listed above, from animals who live outside in the sunlight, they will have plenty ofvitamin D in their fats.

As I’ve said earlier, these are pieces of the puzzle to regain your health, not the entire picture. Hormonal imbalances, food intolerances, chronic infections, toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies are all factors that need to be investigated for the individual. Acomprehensive health program tailored for you and your unique needs will be necessary to create sustainable results. In Part II of this series on natural mental health, I will give you the top things you will want to get rid of for a healthy brain.

Addictions Effect on the Liver Channel

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A lot of us learn that because of our use, we have damaged our body in sometimes irreparable ways. At times we have clenched over in pain, as though somebody was stabbing a sharp knife into our right side. What we don’t realize at first is that this pain is our liver trying to tell us something. And if we don’t stop using and keep ignoring these symptoms, it can lead to further problems such as Liver disease

Everyone pretty much knows that drugs and alcohol aren’t the best for the liver… Yet, we didn’t care. We seemed not to care about anything but our next fix. But now that we are working towards recovery, we can take time to repair our body, inside and out. While in time the liver does heal itself, by eating certain foods and modifying our diet, we can help accelerate the process. Below is a section from an article originally posted by the Huffington Post that lists the top 10 foods that help promote proper liver function.

Garlic:
Garlic helps your liver activate enzymes that can flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansingsays holistic nutritionist Hermeet Suri.

Grapefruit:
Eating or drinking grapefruit juice can help your liver flush out carcinogens and toxins. This fruit is also high in both vitamin C and antioxidant properties.

Beets:
Beets are high in plant-flavonoids, which can improve the overall functions of your liver.

Leafy Greens:
Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce have the ability to neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides that may be in our foods, and act as a protective mechanism for the liver, Suri says.

Green Tea:
Green tea is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, which have been known to improve the functions of our liver.

Avocados:
Adding more avocados to your diet can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials, Suri says.

Crucferous Vegetables:
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts also increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion, Suri says.

Lemons:
We all know citrus fruits like lemons are full of vitamin C, but lemons also help our bodies cleanse out toxic materials and aid the digestion process.

Turmeric:
Used as a spice, tumeric has been known to help our bodies digest fats and stimulate the production of bile. It can also act as a natural form of detox for your liver.

Walnuts:
Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which help support our liver through its cleansing process.

According to traditional Chinese medicine theories (or TCM), diseases of the liver pose far more importance in the body than just digestive benefits. The liver channel that is used in acupuncture and acupressure reveals it self in the following line throughout the body:
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As you can see, it travels all the way up from the outer side of the big toe, to the inner shin, up the inner thigh, passes up the pelvis, surrounds points around the livers location, goes on the outside of the pectoral region and curves, making its way to a slight medial area on the neck. What this diagram does not show is its energy around the face which travels in the center of the checks, around the lips, then up to the direct middle of the eyes and to the crown of the head.

This meridian can reveal signs of liver deficiencies and manifest itself through pain throughout the line. Having pain in the inner ankle, difficulty abducting the legs or tenderness in the pectoral region are all physical signs. There are even mental signals that normally appear through ones outer expression and emotion that are associated with the liver meridian. With imbalances, people tend to feel hopeless, desperate and worthless because they cannot find meaning or purpose in everyday life. They may perceive a certain polluted path to be correct and blindly follow it. However, when health in the liver is restored, people are able to see clearer and pull themselves out of even the darkest places.

If you notice any of the symptoms in your life, you may want to consider the possibilities seeking alternative care. I highly recommend seeing a licensed acupuncturist  and/or an Asian Bodyworker who has knowledge in TCM theories. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and be involved in your treatment. Something I would make sure to ask is what you can do everyday (beside changing your diet) to help boost productivity in the liver channel like incorporating certain yoga poses to your practice.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment below or message me on our Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/HippyHealing <

It Takes a Village

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“In the beginning, a lot of us thought we could do this alone. But as recovery programs such as AA, NA and CA prove; we just can’t. A great way people jump-start their recovery is through inpatient and outpatient treatments. These facilities (that can be independent or hospital run) are armed with people to help and guide you through a smooth and successful recovery. Offering therapies and skills that will offer you the chance to lead a happier life. I went to rehab at Gateway for a month and followed up with an intensive outpatient program. Now I have graduated that with over 65 days sober and seeing a therapist regularly (and of course finishing the 90 in 90!). It has been a long journey so far, but everyday I am reminded of my strength and perseverance. I will never give up on my sobriety because that means I would be giving up on myself. Something I never want to do again…” -Thank you, Robyn

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Types of Recovery Programs

Not all recovery programs involve a inpatient stays. Some programs involve daily attendance and participation in group programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. Some types of treatments that might be available in your area are outlined below.

  • Residential programs involve living in the treatment facility and attending groups, individual counseling and other activities. Long-term or extended programs usually last 90 days, and shorter programs require stays of 28 or 30 days.
  • Outpatient rehab programs offer a number of options, often treating individuals for several hours a day over the course of a few weeks.
  • Group support or therapy sessions can meet daily, weekly or at other intervals. This type of recovery program is offered by accredited facilities, volunteer organizations, churches and community centers.
  • Individual therapy with a Board Certified Substance Abuse Counselor can be the appropriate treatment for some patients and may also be part of an aftercare program following a stay in a residential rehab program.
  • Some addictions may require medical intervention, especially during the early days when physical withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous for the person attempting to become sober.

Who Should Consider a Rehab Program?

No simple formula exists for providers or patients to determine who should attend what type of drug treatment program. Drug addiction is not a simple issue, so you should ask for assistance from experienced medical or behavioral health professionals to design a treatment plan that is right for your situation. Trying drugs just once does not necessarily indicate an addiction. On the other hand, being unable to say no to substances, taking extreme actions to obtain drugs or finding yourself frequently taking drugs may indicate a need for treatment for drug and alcohol recovery.

Important Information for Effective Treatment

Research over the past 40 years has consistently identified some key information that has helped build effective treatment programs. It is important to understand the following drug recovery information.

  • Addiction impacts the function of your brain, which can alter your behavior. Guilt associated with drug-related behavior often keeps people from successful addiction recovery, but you need to be able to separate how you act on drugs from how you want to act.
  • Successful treatment programs provide for all aspects of a person’s life, not just a specific addiction. Learning new skills and sharing emotional troubles may help with recovery.
  • It is essential that you remain in treatment and comply with follow-up care. Drug addiction is a chronic disorder; some doctors have even compared addiction with asthma or hypertension. You would not stop taking your asthma medicine if it was helping to control symptoms.
  • Drug addiction is often closely related to mental illness. A rehab program that can deal with adual diagnosis is essential in these cases.
  • Treatment plans should be reevaluated and altered on an ongoing basis to seek continuous improvement. In most cases, the individual struggling with addiction should have the opportunity to provide some feedback.

When you are looking for a drug recovery treatment center, keep the above information in mind. You may also want to ask for a referral or request information about outpatient and residential rehabilitation programs from a counselor, social worker, doctor or psychiatrist.

Aftercare is Essential for Success

One thing that causes people to fall off the wagon after completing a recovery program is noncompliance with aftercare. Some people believe that drug addiction can be treated similarly to a traumatic injury such as a broken arm. The arm is set and it heals, the cast is removed, physical therapy is scheduled and life eventually returns to normal. In most cases, drug addiction cannot be approached in such a manner. Someone struggling with an addiction can appear to heal, only to relapse months or years later because of the chronic nature of the problem. Because of this, following aftercare recommendations, including involvement in group or individual counseling, is essential.

Compiled by Recovery.org

A Holistic Approach to Health in Early Recovery: Diet and Nutrition

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By Maura Henninger N.D from the Huffington Post

When it comes to the health of a recovering addict/alcoholic, the approach of natural medicine can positively alter the course of treatment — and definitively increase chances of getting and staying sober. In the first part of this series, I talked about withdrawal and insomnia, two of the most crucial problems that lead to relapse. I support my patients from several perspectives, encompassing mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. Detoxification, 12-step meetings, group and individual therapy, carefully prescribed medications, and family involvement are all integral to the success of a recovering addict in putting down his drink or drug of choice. But I’ve also found that the proper diet, along with targeted vitamin supplementation, can work miracles in the lives of early recovering addicts and alcoholics.

The link between sugar and alcoholism is not to be denied. The active alcoholic often typically consumes 50 percent or more of his or her total calories in the form of alcohol. Remaining calories are often in the form of junk foods: empty calories that actually deplete the body’s stores of essential nutrients.

Alcohol affects the body’s relationship with nutrition in several ways. First, it influences the cells of the midbrain that regulate sensations of appetite by suppressing desire for food while encouraging alcohol intake. [1] Second, it provides a lot of calories without essential nutrients so energy provided is short-lived and leaves the body without proper nutritional stores to draw on. And third, after the initial rush of energy provided by alcohol, there’s a severe drop in blood glucose levels that leads to fatigue, depression, and loss of energy and the subsequent consumption of more sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as caffeine, to swing the body’s energy back up. Because of this my patients who are recovering addicts often think they need sugar and caffeine to feel good — to even feel normal.

I encourage a diet free of sugar and all its forms. This is a departure from average recovery wisdom that tells recovering addicts to eat all the candy and ice cream they want. But this kind of sugar consumption leads to prolonged cravings, fatigue, anxiety, hormonal imbalance, diabetes and simply a new form of dependence. To stabilize blood sugar, I have my patients focus on eating complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest and therefore provide longer and more stable sources of energy with fewer cravings. My prescription is frequent small meals to regulate blood sugar: three moderate meals a day with two sizeable snacks in between.

The diet I endorse is 45 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat and 25 percent protein. The best complex carbohydrates grains are: brown and wild rice, oats, amaranth, millet, spelt, beans, and lentils. People often don’t think of vegetables and fruits as sources of complex carbohydrates but they are some of the best we have available. All of this fiber helps cut alcohol cravings, as well.

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For my patients, I can’t stress the importance of protein enough. Proteins helps the body repair tissue and the alcoholic/addict needs this in abundance to help restore organs affected by chronic abuse including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, and brain. Protein is also necessary for blood sugar stabilization. Eggs, lean red meats, chicken, fish, and turkey are all to be eaten in abundance. Nuts are the protein snack of choice among my patients. Proper and adequate intake of fats is essential for absorption of vitamins and nutrients and for cellular repair. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, butter, and avocado are good sources. These oils are vital, too, to provide essential fatty acids. Deficiency of these leads to a host of problems, particularly for the recovering alcoholic, most notably depression. [2]

Because it overstimulates the nervous system causing increased anxiety and insomnia, caffeine consumption is to be minimized if not completely eliminated. I ask my recovering addicts and alcoholics to try herbal coffee substitutes like Pero or Cafix to get the taste fix. If elimination is impossible, I recommend no more than two cups of caffeinated beverages per day. Decaffeinated coffee, which still contains some caffeine, is preferable.

I urge people in recovery to eat nothing artificial to ease the load on the liver, which has to struggle to break down chemicals and preservatives. Foods should be in as close to their natural state as possible. I have found great success in cutting alcohol cravings by eliminating common food allergens, most notably wheat and dairy.

B vitamins are essential during detoxification from alcohol and drugs. Supplementing with vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential, ensuring proper brain function and decreasing fatigue, brain fog and poor memory. Wernickie-Korsakoff syndrome, or alcoholic encephalopathy, is a pronounced form of thiamin deficiency. [3] Research has shown that vitamin B3, or niacin, helps alcoholics detox from alcohol. [4] Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, helps support adrenal function and also helps rid the body of alcohol. For the recovering alcoholic suffering from insomnia and anxiety, vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is crucial for the production of serotonin and melatonin. Commonly, I give my recovering addicts/alcoholics a high quality B-complex supplement, along with vitamin A and vitamin C, which they are usually deficient in.

It’s my goal, as a doctor, to facilitate a physical recovery so that the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of recovery have a better chance of succeeding. Food is a crucial medicine in restoring this balance of health. The sooner a newly-sober person feels great, I’ve found, the sooner he or she will begin to accept a life free of crippling attachments to substances — the life they are truly are meant to live.

REFERENCES:

1. Xiao, et al. “Effect of ethanol on midbrain neurons: role of opioid receptors.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Jul; 31(7): 1106-13.

2. “Deficiency of Dietary Omega-3s May Explain Depressive Behaviors.” Science Daily. Jan 30, 2011. https://www. Sciencedaily.com.

3. Martin, et al. “The Role of Thiamin Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease.: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2004. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov.

4.Cleary JP. Etiology and biological treatment of alcohol addiction. J Neuro Ortho Med Surg 1985;6:75-7.

For more by Maura Henninger, N.D., click here.

For more on natural health, click here.

Addiction and the Eating Disorders

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Although comprehensive theories of addiction recognize the etiological importance of environmental and cognitive factors, it has been widely accepted for many years that addiction is also a brain disease and that individuals differ in their susceptibility to this condition (Leshner, 1997; Wise and Bozarth, 1987). Explanations of the eating disorders have tended to eschew biological models in favor of those that focus on psychosocial and family influences-the most prominent models arising from psychoanalytic, feminist and cultural theory. It is not surprising, therefore, that although clear parallels exist between the abuse of substances and disturbances in eating, there has been a reluctance to accept that the two may share a common etiology. It is also probable that their similarities were obscured by dramatic differences in the social profile of the stereotypic drug addict and the patient with an eating disorder-the former typically associated with male criminality and social deviance and the latter with female submissiveness and social conformity.

In the past decade, however, there has been a growing paradigmatic shift in eating disorder research, with a movement away from explanations that rely solely on psychosocial factors, to a belief that disturbances in the function of brain neurotransmitter pathways are also highly relevant (Kaye, 1999). One outcome of this change in orientation has been an emerging and increasing interest in the links between eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Clinical and Biological Traits

It is generally agreed that the commencement of addictive behaviors can take two motivational routes: either the seeking of positive sensations or the self-medicating of painful affective states. While current research documents a substantial lifetime comorbidity between the eating disorders and other forms of addiction, there is less agreement on the reasons for this link (Holderness et al., 1994; Wiederman and Pryor, 1996). Some researchers have suggested that a common set of personality traits predispose an individual to a range of behaviors that have the potential to become excessive (Koob and Le Moal, 1997; Leshner, 1997). Support for this idea comes from evidence that anxiety and depression are frequent premorbid characteristics both of addicts (Grant and Harford, 1995; Kessler et al., 1997) and of patients with eating disorders (Deep et al., 1995; Vitousek and Manke, 1994). Our own research has also found that among eating-disordered patients, irrespective of diagnostic category, scores on a measure of addictive personality characteristics were comparable to those reported for drug addicts and alcoholics (Davis and Claridge, 1998). Complementary to this viewpoint, an addiction to one behavior reinforces a certain style of coping pattern that leaves the individual vulnerable to developing another type of addiction (Holderness et al., 1994).

Others have suggested that the eating disorders are, themselves, a form of drug addiction since their characteristics satisfy all the clinical and biological criteria for conventional addictions such as smoking, alcoholism and cocaine abuse (Davis and Claridge, 1998; Davis et al., 1999; Marrazzi and Luby, 1986). Foremost among these is the progressively compulsive nature of the behavior, even in the face of adverse consequences to health and safety (Heyman, 1996; Robinson and Berridge, 1993). Moreover, with continual exposure, individuals typically require more of the behavior to produce the same reinforcing effect (Berridge and Robinson, 1995). They also tend to experience an obsessively increasing craving for the behavior that can persist even after a long period of abstinence. Presumably that accounts, at least in part, for the fact that addicts have a strong tendency to resume the addictive behavior after treatment and for the chronic relapsing nature of addiction (Robinson and Berridge, 1993). These characteristics find direct parallels in the core eating-disorder behaviors such as dieting, over-exercising and binge eating, all of which tend to become increasingly excessive over time. Patients also report a strong compulsion to continue these behaviors despite serious medical complications, which is reflected in their prolonged morbidity and the high rate of relapse (Herzog et al., 1999; Strober et al., 1999).

At the biological level, similarities are also evident. We know, for instance, that strenuous exercise and starvation activate the dopaminergic (DA) reward pathway of the brain (Bergh and Sodersten, 1996; Casper, 1998). The resulting biological events underlie the auto-addiction opioid theory, which proposes that a chronic eating disorder is an addiction to the body’s production of endogenous opioids and therefore is identical to the physiology and psychology of substance abuse in general (Huebner, 1993; Marrazzi and Luby, 1986). In other words, starving, bingeing and exercise all serve as drug delivery devices since they increase circulating levels of -endorphins that are chemically identical to exogenous opiates, and these endorphins are as potentially addictive because of their ability to stimulate DA in the brain’s mesolimbic reward centers.

Via a different route, self-starving may have other biologically rewarding properties, albeit as a negative reinforcer. For example, in certain individuals, food restriction is reported to reduce anxiety. It has been suggested this might occur because of reduced serotonin activity in those with overactivity in this neurotransmitter system (Kaye, 1999).

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/addiction-and-eating-disorders#sthash.UckhnDog.dpuf

Diet in Recovery

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“According to Medline Plus, an addicts diet prior to recovery not only effects ones overall health but can lead to many diseases and disorders of the body and mind.”

The impact of different drugs on nutrition is described below.

OPIATES

Opiates (including codeine, oxycontin, heroin, and morphine) affect the gastrointestinal system. Constipation is a very common symptom of abuse. Symptoms that are common during withdrawal include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms may lead to a lack of enough nutrients and an imbalance of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and chloride).

Eating balanced meals may make these symptoms less severe (however, eating can be difficult due to nausea). A high-fiber diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, vegetables, peas, and beans) is recommended.

ALCOHOL

Alcoholism is one of the major causes of nutritional deficiency in the United States. The most common deficiencies are of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamine, and folic acid. A lack of these nutrients causes anemia and nervous system (neurologic) problems. Korsakoff’s syndrome (“wet brain”) occurs when heavy alcohol use causes a lack of enough thiamine.

Alcohol intoxication also damages two major organs involved in metabolism and nutrition: the liver and the pancreas. The liver removes toxins from harmful substances. The pancreas regulates blood sugar and the absorption of fat. Damage to these two organs results in an imbalance of fluids, calories, protein, and electrolytes.

Other complications include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Permanent liver damage (or cirrhosis)
  • Seizures
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Shortened life expectancy

Laboratory tests for protein, iron, and electrolytes may be needed to determine if there is liver disease in addition to the alcohol problem. Women who drink heavily are at high risk of osteoporosisand need to take calcium supplements.

STIMULANTS

Stimulant use (such as crack, cocaine, and methamphetamine) reduces appetite, and leads to weight loss and poor nutrition. Abusers of these drugs may stay up for days at a time. They may be dehydrated and have electrolyte imbalances during these episodes. Returning to a normal diet can be hard if a person has lost a lot of weight.

Memory problems, which may be permanent, are a complication of long-term stimulant use.

MARIJUANA

Marijuana can increase appetite. Some long-term users may be overweight and need to cut back on fat, sugar, and total calories.

Nutrition and psychological aspects of substance abuse

When people feel better, they are less likely to start using alcohol and drugs again. Because balanced nutrition helps improve mood and health, it is important to encourage a healthy diet in people recovering from alcohol and other drug problems.

However, people who have just given up an important source of pleasure may not be ready to make other drastic lifestyle changes. It is more important that people avoid returning to substance abuse than that they stick to a strict diet.

“We can take back our health and our life by following some simple guidelines…”

  • Stick to regular mealtimes
  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Get more protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful during recovery (this may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C)

People with substance abuse are more likely to relapse when they have poor eating habits. This is why regular meals are so important. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol often forget what it’s like to be hungry and instead think of this feeling as a drug craving. They should be encouraged to consider that they may be hungry when cravings become strong.

During recovery from substance abuse, dehydration is common. It is important to get enough fluids during and in between meals. Appetite usually returns during recovery. People in recovery are often more likely to overeat, particularly if they were taking stimulants. Eat healthy meals and snacks and avoid high-calorie foods with low nutrition (such as sweets), if possible.

The following tips can help improve the odds of a lasting and healthy recovery:

  • Eat nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Get physical activity and enough rest.
  • Reduce caffeine and stop smoking, if possible.
  • Seek help from counselors or support groups on a regular basis.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Out of the Room Recovery Chat App

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Whether you’ve been sober a day or a millennium, the app Anonymous Sober Chat by Pitashi is just the app to keep you focused on your recovery! Here you can join an assortment of chat groups specified by topics separated by your addiction (sex versus drugs), your motivations (like the workout and exercise thread), age (like young people in recovery) and living situations (like sober and single). These threads give you an opportunity to find support no matter who you are or where you are! You can vent about your struggles or help someone who is relapsing get to their next meeting. Its a great community full of so much potential to grow the recovering population because the more addicts support each other not only inside but outside the rooms, the less likely there is a chance of feeling isolated and wanting to use.

I started a thread titled Holistic Recovery and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in healing–not only their mind but body and spirit– to join! You can receive live comfort and motivation that will keep you on track for a successful recovery!

“Bellow is the first article I posted on the thread that talks briefly about the physical effects of our addiction to our health and how new lifestyle choices can help aid in our recovery.”- Love, Robyn

All addicts in active use of alcohol and drugs are malnourished.

In order to help people recover, it is important to understand the impact of nutrition. It is astounding to consider that only fat contains more calories per gram than alcohol. As a result, while drinking, addicts experience a sense of fullness having eaten very little or nothing. These “empty calories” lead to poor eating habits and malnutrition. Drug abusers experience a similar affect. Alcohol and drugs actually keep the body from properly absorbing and breaking down nutrients and expelling toxins. This leads to a host of health problems. (see sidebar, “How Drugs & Alcohol Affect the Body”)

Restoring addicts to physical, as well as spiritual, health.

The essence of recovery is changing negative behaviors into positive ones. Good nutrition, relaxation, and exercise all play an important role in successful change. Learning to make healthy food choices is important to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Because they have neglected their diet, addicts experience gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, an inability to digest foods properly, along with a poor appetite. As a result, they have a special need for foods that are high in nutrients to rebuild damaged tissues, organs and regain appropriate functioning of the various systems including the nervous and gastrointestinal systems.

Nutrition actually impacts cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Every newly recovering addicts struggles with craving to use alcohol and drugs. Research has show that a diet with the right types of high protein and high carbohydrate-rich foods can make a big difference.

Food affects mood. Along with amino acids, deficiency of nutrients like folic acid and the other B-complex vitamins also have a serious and negative impact. Sugar and caffeine can contribute to mood swings, so intake of both should reduced during the early stages of recover.

Alcohol and drug use prevents the body from properly processing two important amino acids, tyrosine and tryptophan. They are responsible for the production of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin. These compounds are neurotransmitters that are essential for emotional stability, mental clarity, and a general state of well-being. Decreased levels of these neurotransmitters negatively affect mood and behavior.