Tag Archives: skill

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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Yoga for Addiction: Sequence by Holly Hay

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Today I was doing my daily practice and began to wonder if any of the moves I was in were benefiting to eliminate my addiction. I know enough about the lines found in traditional Chinese, Indian and Thai medicines but I never fully thought it through. Before I post my own sequence on the blog, I thought I’d share this sequence made by Holly Hay on YouTube.com that addresses certain poses by their relation to the 7 chakras (something I will post on later today!). A couple of the poses might be a little tricky at first. You may feel intimidated or afraid to even try… But you can’t give up! Just like your sobriety, you have to take things one step at a time. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what your capable of, and if you fail, at least you can say you tried! So give it a go, its short of 10 minutes but should really be longer so try and hold the poses for 30 seconds (even transitions) so you can get the most out of your practice. Best of Luck!

P.S. Yoga is one of the best coping/grounding skills out there. If your struggling with PTSD or an mental disorder, you may want to further your practice by stepping outside and looking for a local studio that you can join!

Saying Goodbye to Your Drug

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“While I was in rehab, I cried, and cried, and cried. The first few days were nothing special, I was trying to get the lay of the land and understand where the hell I was. I had no expectations whatsoever and never gave any thought to what rehab might be like. But after I began to settle in, something happened. Something clicked inside and I just couldn’t pinpoint what I was feeling. Then one girl came up to me, consoling me and said ‘Your mourning…’ I looked up, confusion clearly painted on my face. ‘For your drugs of choice. Your starting to realize you are here to learn how to let them go. You will never be with them again.’ I stared at her, jaw dropped. Was she right? Is this why I was so depressed? ‘You should write a letter… to your drug… to say goodbye.’

It took me two months to gain the courage to say goodbye to my top two drugs of choice (I didn’t have one, so you could just write one letter. Or you could write a letter to every drug you’ve ever had if you feel up for it!). But once I did, an incredible sense of relief was lifted from my heart. My drugs were my lovers, my obsessions. I didn’t need anyone but them. When I realized that our relationship was toxic, I had to let them go.

Below is an article written by an addict named Kelli Athas. She does an amazing job outlining this therapeutic writing technique which is commonly used in treatment centers as a  coping skill. She also offers her own personal letter that she wrote which is not only relatable but incredibly moving.” – Enjoy, Robyn

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Many treatment facilities have clients write a “Dear John” letter to their DOC (drug of choice). A counselor will use this tactic of theraputic journaling in order for the addict to direct their anger at the real culprit, the drugs. Like relationships, many addicts have a love-hate relationship with their drugs. Moments of clarity will come about & the mind races on with the shame & control their addiction holds over them, They realize it is a miserable existence but the pull is so strong that they retreat to using to cover up those feelings & thoughts. Most addicts stay high 24/7 in order to keep the thoughts of remorse & guilt at bay. When they aren’t using they occupy their minds by thinking of ways & means to get more. These are the times that can be the most dangerous for an addict. Depending on what phase of addiction they are in they will do almost anything to get the drugs that literally controls their minds. That’s why an exercise such as this can be a freeing experience for an addict. And sometimes they realize some resentments & guilt they were harboring should’ve been aimed at the addiction itself.

I’m including an excerpt from an addict’s “Dear John” letter.  I’m fortunate  to share this with you…….because the letter is mine.

Dear Junk,

We’ve been together a long, long time. It started out casual & fun. Nothing serious. I thought I’d move on after high school or college….that maybe we’d even stay casual friends. BUT you led me on…showing me the fun, spontaneous side….showing the euphoria you could bring….Like many relationships everything changed, you even let my boyfriend throw me out in the rain (he was with you too & you wouldn’t let go) I was denying all you were doing: the weight loss, missing school, my disappearances, & lying. I was compromising all my standards. The euphoria you gave, it never would last & you never said what I’d do for it to last….I lost my child & my friends. My mom was the only 1 who fought, but you said she’d never understand so I couldn’t get caught…I was different before you came. I laughed & loved & cared about others. But I had to isolate so know one would see us & I now I had to have you just to feel right. I was sick of your control but too tired to fight. You had me roaming the streets, hardly having a thing to eat…..sometimes scared to sleep. You reminded daily of the shame I carried, so many times I thought it would be best if I was buried. I lost respect for myself & couldn’t look in the mirror. The devastation you’ve created can NEVER be forgiven…

I cringe to think of you now…waiting on your next victim. What ruse will you use to reel in this one?

BUT you didn’t kill me, as hard as you tried. God intervened, I faced my family & I survived. I’ve been given the strength & willingness I needed to tell you all I’ve been thinking…First get out of my life, STAY OUT OF MY MIND! You’re not welcome anymore…I’m learning about your kind! God saw it fit for me survive this addiction and NOW I KNOW I HAVE PURPOSE & MEANING!

Goodbye Forever,

Kelli

Those were the main parts, I edited very little. This was written about 7 years ago & I still get a freeing feeling just from typing it out again & I actually wasn’t intending on it rhyming like that…but I remember it poured out. There’s no format for something like this. It may be theraputic for many of you to write letters to a loved ones addiction or anything you’re struggling with. If anyone feels like sharing their own letter or  sending us a letter for feedback please submit a reply. Let me know if you want it published on our blog or want it kept private.

If you have any other comments, questions, or concerns submit them here or call us…night or day! And always remember to take care of you!

Sincerely,

Kelli Athas

5 Steps to Begin Your Yoga Regime!

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“I have spoken to a lot of people about what keeps them going in their recovery and what keeps them stable (if they struggle with anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar and/or schizophrenia). Many of them mention exercise and yoga but fail to mention any regular practice. Always noting how they may not have time, aren’t flexible enough or just have a hard time getting in that state of mind. But these are just excuses! The fact is that anyone can do yoga and it doesn’t have to even be an hour long practice. We should try our best to take time to zone in on your presence, inside and out. Bringing such awareness is a form of meditation and one of the most popular ways to cope with disease and addiction. However, addict or not, this kind of centering can start a day on the right foot with a positive outlook on life or end the day in bliss and serenity. Take a look at these 5 tips that will get you started with your regular practice. It’s worth a trial run and I think you may be able to see what so many others have discovered about themselves through this method of holistic healing.” -Love and light, Robyn

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1. Remember that there’s no such thing as being “good at yoga.”

Being “good” at yoga postures (asana) is something that doesn’t exist. Remember, yoga is a practice that helps us to deeply explore ourselves while learning to quiet the mind. Allow yourself to grow with your asana, with your practice, and just let go! There’s enough pressure everywhere to be good, to be perfect, to get it right — let yoga bring out the wild reckless abandon of your heart! Close your eyes, and flow.

2. Don’t think; just practice.

This gem, whispered into my ear by Sri Dharma Mittra while I was avoiding crow, has transformed my life. I have found that talking about going to yoga usually keeps me from actually going to yoga. Turn on autopilot, get yourself there, and let the rest come. Showing up is the hardest part!

3. Know that no one is judging you.

If, as you first enter a studio, you feel the vibe doesn’t suit you, kindly and gracefully leave (before class begins). Yoga is energetics, and it’s your right to feel comfortable and welcome in the space you’ve chosen for your practice. You’ll be able to tell as soon as you walk in if it’s the place for you.

If you’ve found the perfect space but still find yourself worrying during down dog that everyone is judging you, remember that others are also practicing and are unable to look at you, let alone judge you. Breathe into the collective consciousness and let your mat to be a personal and private oasis.

4. Be kind to your body and yourself!

Ease in! The way we treat our bodies during yoga is a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t be unkind to your hamstring because it’s tighter than you’d like. Instead, grant your muscle compassion and breath, and it will open. There are times I don’t practice for a week, and when I begin again I’m not as strong or flexible. That’s OK! I allow myself to be exactly where I am, and before I know it, my strength and flexibility return. Only the internal dialogue of chastisement can keep you from enhancing your practice — nothing else! Simply start and be kind to yourself.

5. Practice non-judgment, presence and patience.

Choose to go into your practice with an open mind and an open heart. The first class I went to was pure torture and I wanted to leave, but I stayed out of respect for the teacher and other students. I’ll never forget leaving that first practice, thinking, “I’m NEVER coming back.” But then I found myself on the city streets, feeling something vital had taken place and that already I was different. I haven’t looked back since.

Don’t judge the practice, don’t decide it’s not working or that nothing is happening, Welcome yoga in and let the poses take you somewhere magnificent, just as they’ve done for thousands of people for thousands of years. You have every right to a holy yoga practice! You deserve to communicate deeply with your body, to strengthen inside and out, and to change all that does not serve you.

Steps from MindBodyGreen.com

Dreaming by Tennis

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Tennis is an upbeat band composed of synth/piano, guitar, bass, drums and a lovely vocalist. The sound is poppy and the background vocalization really adds something sweet. The artists voice is soft and beautiful, sure to put you into a frilly, happy mood. This particular song I picked today puts me in a peaceful state of mind. I look at her lyrics and relate it to my higher power. Whatever or whoever he/she/it is, I see myself searching and I see my prayers answered all around me. I find light in this serenade when she sings about believing, “I can still believe in you.” I know I gave up hope when I was the lowest in my addiction, but I’ve gained faith and I’ll never give up again so long as I know I am not alone.

Lyrics:

I’ve searched high and low
I’ve looked deep inside
But how can I know

For such a long time
I’ve hoped for a sign
That one day I’d find
We’d been and found
Either inside or out
I have to take time
You’re meaning contained
Your valued displayed
By speaking your name

You revealed yourself in a dream
Then you told me how to believe

Dreaming, I’m dreaming
I can still believe in
I’m dreaming I can still believe in you

I’ve searched high and low
I’ve looked deep inside
But how can I know

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

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Who doesn’t love this song? Its a fabulous song for anyone, in and out of recovery. Just remind yourself of all the beauty in the world by giving this song a listen. Lyrics are on the video, enjoy!

On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons

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After you get over the lows that you first experience in early recovery, something will start boiling up inside you. Its like a feeling of none other; a mix of excitement and pride. You might just say you feel your “on top of the world!” You’ve traveled a journey so uniquely embroidered with your own struggles and fears, but now look where you are! This is an awesome upbeat song that reminds you how you got in recovery and where your going. The catchy rhythm and lyrics keep you focused on a positive day, letting you know that things have gotten so much better than before. Check out the lyrics:

If you love somebody
Better tell them while they’re here ’cause
They just may run away from you

You’ll never know quite when, well
Then again it just depends on
How long of time is left for you

I’ve had the highest mountains
I’ve had the deepest rivers
You can have it all but life keeps moving

I take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

I’ve tried to cut these corners
Try to take the easy way out
I kept on falling short of something

I coulda gave up then but
Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something

I take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

Oooooooo… OoooAhhhhhOoooAhhhhh[2x]

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

Let it Fall by Lykke Li

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As addicts we find ourself completely lost when it comes to expressing our emotions. For years we would push our feelings down, masking ourselves with our use… but now that we are in recovery, we start to feel those emotions coming up and it can be hard to deal with them. This song reminds me that its okay to cry because sometimes we just got to let it fall.

Follow along with the lyrics:

Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall
So I weep, so I weep
So I weep, so I weep

In weakest moments I weep
‘Cause I like the way tears fit my cheek
In darkest moments I cry
Oh, how I love the way tears suits my face

I like it salt, I like it wet
Like my makeup in a mess
So I cry hard to let it fall
And I won’t stop until my tears are all shed

So I weep, so I weep
So I weep, so I weep
So I weep, so I weep
And I won’t stop until my tears are all shed

Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall

In joyous moments I moan
‘Cause it feels so good when I let my water flow
Drip, drop and I cannot stop
Can’t stop, no, I said, no
Drip, drop and I cannot stop, can’t stop

I cry for you, cry for you
I cry because I cannot help it
So it runs, yeah, it falls
And ain’t no stopping at all

I like it salt, I like it wet
Like my makeup in a mess
So I cry hard to let it fall
And I won’t stop until my tears are all shed

So I weep, so I weep
So I weep, so I weep
So I weep, so I weep
And I won’t stop until my tears are all shed

Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall

So I weep, so I weep
So I weep
And I won’t stop until my tears are all shed

Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall
Let it fall, let it fall, let it fall

Yoga for the 12 Steps

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That right! Through the practice of yoga, many people have been able to strengthen not only physically but spiritually and mentally in their recovery. There are a lot of great programs out there for recovering addicts that want to integrate practice with working the steps found in AA/NA/CA. Yoganonymous and Yoga for 12 Step Recovery are both great resources to find specific teachers and classes that use the 12 steps as a guide through yogic exercise. You can look for meetings on there websites and learn more through their intensive programs too!

Box of Dreams

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When I got home from rehab I felt completely lost. Out of work and nothing to do, I turned to one of my favourite coping skills: ART. My mom had  told me she made a box and filled it with symbols of her hopes and dreams and one day they all came true in there own way. So I became inspired to do something of the same…

I took an old shoe box and collaged as much as I could! Anything like inspiring or uplifting images and words all toped off with a bit of glitter! Instead of filling it with objects, I left it empty with a single notebook inside. Now everyday when I wake up, I head into my dream box and write down what I’m grateful for. Some days I’ll even get a card in the mail from someone I just wrote about that same day! Its a great reminder of your goals and aspirations all while growing the relationship you have with your higher power through this small meditation! Try it out on a rainy day and keep the box someplace where you will always be reminded.Share your photos too!

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What you need:

  • A box
  • Old magazines or newspapers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • GLITTER (optional 😛 )
  • A notepad/notebook to fit inside
  • A pen
  • A desire to change!

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Whats next?

Wake up every morning and get creative again! Thank your higher power, write what your grateful for, write about your dreams and aspirations, or inspiration you find at meetings! Return the book in the night and do it all again tomorrow! You can even do as my mom suggested by placing small items of symbolic importance in the box and hide it under your bed. Every night before you drift off to sleep, count off all the items in your head as you pray to your higher power.

This is a great coping skill to practice, from making it to using it everyday. You will find your spirits uplifted and heart fill with love as you recount all the things that make you happy in life.

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Peace and Love, Robyn