Tag Archives: therapy

Positive Thinking

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“While too much positive thinking— as in sitting on a pink cloud—  can turn toxic, it is crucial in recovery from addiction. This article outlines everything from unlimited benefits to cautions. You can follow the links to other articles on hippyhealing.wordpress.com to find more information on certain topics as well as one of my favourite positive thinking tools; gravitation journaling.” -Enjoy, Robyn

positive thinking

The Importance of Positive Thinking in Addiction Recovery

The way that people think impacts the way they will experience the world. Those who are prone to negativity not only experience life through a grey cloud, but they are potentially setting themselves up for further misery in the future. There is strong evidence to suggest that positive thinking can improve people’s mental and physical well-being. This mode may not be the answer to every problem in life, but it can be a great help. Positive thinking can be particularly beneficial to those who are trying to build a new life in recovery from addiction.

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

There are plenty of good motivations for positive thinking including:

  • People who focus on the positive are far less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression
  • Some research indicates that positive thinking can boost the immune system. This means that people will not get sick easily as their body is better at fighting off infections.
  • Those who think positively may be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. This is because positive thinking has been shown to reduce levels of stress and inflammation in the body.
  • Thinking this way can help people live longer.
  • People who think positively are able to handle problems and stress a lot better.
  • It improves quality of life as the individual will feel more at ease.
  • Positive people have a lot more energy to do the things they want to do in life. Negativity sucks energy away.
  • If the individual feels positive they will be more likely to achieve their goals.
  • Positive people are just nicer to be around.

Positive Thinking and Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to the belief the individual has in their ability to achieve a goal. The higher their self-efficacy the more likely they will be of achieving something. This is closely related to positive thinking. Self-efficacy can be increased by:

  • If people are able to accomplish something once, their self-efficacy towards that particular task will be higher the next time.
  • If a peer manages to accomplish the task, this can raise self-efficacy. This is because of the tendency to think if they can do it then so can I.
  • The individual can have their sense of self-efficacy increased by a convincing argument provided by other people. In therapy this is referred to as motivational interviewing.

The Dangers of Stinking Thinking

Stinking thinking occurs when people are overly negative. They may feel anger and resentment about their life. They may tend to be pessimistic about the future. This mode of thought is particular dangerous for people in recovery because:

  • It increases the risk of relapse back to addiction.
  • It prevents the individual from finding happiness in sobriety.
  • People around them will suffer because of all this negativity.
  • When people are locked into negativity they experience the bumps in life to be more painful and stressful.
  • Negative thinking can prevent people from seeing the real cause of their suffering.

Negative Thinking as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

A set-fulfilling is where just predicting something helps cause it to occur. This is because people will change their behavior in light of the prediction. They may unconsciously create the conditions that allow the event to happen. For example, if the individual predicts that something they need to do is going to be too difficult, they may worry excessively about it. This worry alone may be enough to make the task more difficult. If they had a more positive attitude then perhaps the task would have been easier.

The Limitations of Positive Thinking in Addiction Recovery

While there is little doubt that positive thinking can improve life it is probably dangerous to see it as the panacea to cure all life’s ills. Positive thinking combined with unrealistically high expectations can lead to suffering, particularly if the only real action the individual takes to achieve a goal is to think positively. Positive thinking can even be dangerous for people in recovery when:

  • When it causes them to become overconfident. This is particularly likely to happen in early recovery. The individual is on a high because they believe that they are now cured of their problems. They can develop pink cloud syndrome and are full of optimism about the future. When reality catches up with them it can be painful.
  • Some people develop a type of magical thinking in regard to positivity. For instance, the individual may become convinced that if they think positively about winning the lottery, this will cause it to happen. When their numbers do not come up they feel disappointed. They may even blame themselves for not being positive enough. This type of magical thinking can be particularly harmful when people choose positivity over medicine to cure disease or injury.
  • The individual may use positive thinking as a replacement for action. This would be like somebody becoming convinced that they are going to win the lottery but not even buying a ticket. Positivity without action is useless.
  • There are many reasons for why things do not work out in life. To blame everything on lack of positivity is unreasonable and unhelpful. Just because something goes wrong in the life of the individual does not always mean that they are doing something wrong.

How to Develop a Positive Outlook

It is possible to think of positivity as being like a seed; the more people water this seed the more it will grow. Here are just a few of the ways that the individual can develop a more positive outlook in life:

  • Keeping a gratitude journal can be highly beneficial if people wish to develop a more positive outlook. This is where they will write down all the good things that are happening in their life. This will help encourage a good frame of mind that will stay with people throughout the day.
  • Make an effort to regularly spend time with inspirational books, audio, and video. What people put into their minds can be just as important as what they put into their mouths. Inspirational material can motivate people and greatly increase positivity.
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The Pink Cloud

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Many people like to criticize a person who is in early recovery and flying high on their ‘pink cloud.’ This is a word used to describe that possessive positive feeling when your in the first months of  recovery. I know a lot of people say I am sitting on a pink cloud. They like to remind me that relapse is possible— as though they don’t think I know that! I absolutely hate when I am in a meeting, smiling wide and so excited about my bright future in sobriety and someone glares me down, rolling their eyes at my optimism. I understand they’ve most likely ‘been there and done that’ but whats wrong with being happy for me and encouraging more excitement?  Is too much positivity a bad thing?” -Robyn

pink cloud The Joy of Recovery

Getting free of drugs or alcohol is something to celebrate. Addiction destroys lives and escaping this hell is certainly a wonderful achievement. Enjoying the freedom and newness of early recovery is to be encouraged. It is a time for waking up to the possibilities of life and benefiting from improved relationships with friends and family. The nightmare is over so there is plenty to smile about. Sometimes though, the newly sober person can feel so good that it becomes dangerous.

People may feel exceptionally good for weeks, or even months, in early sobriety. This pink cloud period is undoubtedly enjoyable, but it can also be risky. Some will come back down to reality with a bang, and that can be painful. It can also lead to overconfidence which could put people at increased risk of relapse. The individual is feeling so good that they fail to do the things they need to do to stay on track.

The Pink Cloud Defined

Early recovery is often referred to as a rollercoaster ride because it involves a mixture of great highs and great lows. Emotions that have been anesthetized with alcohol and drugs suddenly awaken, and feelings can be particularly intense. As the body and mind adjusts to this new life, there can be rapid changes in mood. There will usually come a time though, when the individual hits a smooth patch. Life will feel wonderful and the future exceptionally bright. Staying free of addiction now feels effortless and the individual may wonder what all the fuss was about.

The term pink cloud tends to be used negatively to describe people who are too high on life. They are individuals who have lost touch with reality and are now living in a fantasy land. The emotions that this person is experiencing do not properly reflect their actual situation. The pink cloud syndrome in addiction recovery was first described by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Dangers of the Pink Cloud

It might seem odd to claim that there would be any disadvantages to feeling good. The addict may have spent decades battling their problem so it seems reasonable that they should get to feel great now. While it is true that life in recovery should be about enjoying life, there can be problems if people become too confident and complacent. They may conclude that their problems are over, and that there is no need to do anything more to maintain their sobriety. There is also the risk that when the pink cloud period ends, it will lead to huge disappointment.

Relapse is most likely to occur during the first few years of recovery. It is particularly likely to happen during the first few months after leaving rehab. The most usual reason why it occurs is that the individual stops putting enough effort into staying free of addiction. They start ignoring their problems and stop asking for help. The relapse process describes how people begin the road back to addiction as soon as they hit a point in recovery that they fail to get beyond. The risk then is that those who are on a pink cloud may feel so confident that they become stuck.

If an individual experiences a particularly pleasant period in recovery, then it can be disappointing when it ends. Life is full of ups and downs, and nobody can stay up forever. Emotions eventually settle down as the body adjusts to recovery, and the highs and lows become less intense. The individual can respond to the end of the pink cloud by assuming that they have done something wrong. They can begin to lose faith in those tools that have been keeping them away from alcohol and drugs. They may even start to question if recovery is that worthwhile after all. People can feel cheated when the super highs of early recovery are replaced by more modest emotions.

Criticisms of Pink Cloud Syndrome

There is no denying that people in early recovery do tend to experience periods when they are emotionally high. There are undoubtedly risks associated with feeling overly confident, and the comedown can be harsh. The main criticism against pink cloud syndrome is that it can be used negatively to describe people in much the same way as dry drunk is used. This could mean that the individual feels guilty about experiencing positive emotional states. The problem is not feeling good in recovery, but with staying on track.

How to Change Your Playground

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“Everyone in the recovery rooms suggest that you don’t make any major life decisions/changes within the first year of recovery however, they do tell you to also change your playground. That means; people, places and things. These guidelines are made for a good reason but I found in order to do one thing, I had to discount the other. I moved to Florida for a fresh start. I changed everything. Here, I know only family members that support my recovery and other than that, this place is like a foreign land. I have found that, despite the major change, changing my playground has been the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. It keeps me on track; no distractions, no temptations. Here are some tips of how you can make the change without going miles away!” -Love, Robyn

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One of the most crucial components of a successful addiction recovery is changing your lifestyle. This most often includes distancing yourself from old drinking friends and haunts, such as a favorite bar. Addiction recovery usually entails making new friends. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s something we all do throughout our lives. Healthy friends are important to our emotional and physical well-being, and they can impact someone’s recovery by decreasing the risk of relapse.

Here are some tips from PsychCentral.com on how to find new friends while in addiction recovery:

  1. Making friends is not just for the young. Most friendships don’t span a lifetime, so many people are continually looking to replenish their group of friends. Remember that looking for friends at any age is normal.
  2. Pursue your passions to find friends who share similar interests. If you’re just starting to realize your passions during your new life in recovery, pick a hobby or try out a few. Look for local and online communities that are involved in the same activities.
  3. Put yourself in situations where you see the same people routinely. For example, the gym, a class, club, political group or volunteer organization. It’s often casual acquaintances that set the ground for new friendships. Start conversations and follow-up with people. Show you’re interested in others’ lives.
  4. Don’t shy away from online communities or websites, such as www.girlfriencircles.com orwww.meetup.com. Athletics, book clubs, films, gardening, or pets. Find people who are interested in the same things you are and there is potential for developing a new friendship. Enjoy friendships online and/or offline. Join neighborhood or apartment building listservs to try and meet those around you.
  5. Be prepared that not every person you try to befriend will turn into a friendship. This is a healthy and expected part of life.

Be patient. Friendships don’t just happen over night. Give it time and don’t give up if at first it feels awkward or intimidating. There are many rewards to growing new friendships while building your new life in addiction recovery.

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.

Character Defect Meditation

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“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

When thinking about step six, even if your not there yet, it can be troubling. Who wants to name all of their character defects? Its not nice to point out other peoples flaws and its certainly not fun pointing out your own. Thats why I went looking for another way we can handle working through this step. Something that will give us courage but most importantly: serenity. Below you will find some adjectives that you might use to describe any number of your faults. I suggest picking a few of the most dominant traits to start with. Then there is a step-by-step guided meditation practice. Give it a look over and try it out loud first. Then, when your ready , you can really dig deep and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Relax and observe yourself. There is no fear, there is no tension. It’s just you and complete, utter, honesty.” -Best of luck, Robyn

List of Possible Character Defects:

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

From a blog by Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Meditation

Step Six Meditation:Uncover and detach from our defects

1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power

  • Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  • I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing and feel the tension release from your body, your emotions and your mind.
  • I let go and I let God ( or use the word – Love).  Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to your Higher Power. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to Higher Power and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
  • “I offer myself to my Higher Power.” Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what images you can use to support this affirmation.

2. Dis-identification exercise

  • “I have a body, but I am not my body.  My body may find it self in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my SpiritSelf, my real ‘I.’ My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good physical condition, but it is not myself. I have a bodybut I am not my body.
  • I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.  These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my SpiritSelf, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand, and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct, and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
  • “I have desires, but I am not my desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alterations of attractions and repulsions. I have desires but they are not myself.
  • “I have a mind, but I am not my mind. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my SpiritSelf. Ihave a mind, but I am not my mind.

3. Let’s begin our work with one of our defects. I suggest that you select 1 defect to reflect on in each meditation. You may need to work for a number of meditations on one specific defect to help detach from it. Hold in your mind the defect that you wish to share with your Higher Power in the Sunlight of the Spirit.

  • have (this defect), but I am not (this defect.)  Visualize this defect as separate and detached from you. Repeat this affirmation adding any visualizations or emotions that will help to support this for you.
  • Next let’s work to replace this defective quality with a higher, positive spiritual quality.   You may substitute any word for the spiritual quality or virtue that expresses the opposite of the defect into this affirmation.
    • “I am the “(insert spiritual quality)” of my Higher Power in action.”  Repeat it over and over with in rhythm with your breathing in your meditation. You may wish to add a visualization to accompany the affirmation that reinforces and imprints the energy of the quality within you.  In this way we begin to weed out the defects within our Spiritual Garden and replace them with the fruits and flowers of our virtues.

4. I am a Spiritual Being. Imagine being free of all that is weighing you down emotionally, mentally and physically. I am one with my Higher Power, connected in my heart center, I now rest in this conscious contact and oneness with my Higher Power.

5. End your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and look around the room. Sit quietly for several minutes.

Please do not get discouraged and give up. This is practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, , emotional sobriety, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. Stick with it.

From 11th Step Mediation, The Sixth Step

Massage and Recovery from Addiction

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“This article was written in 2005 and since then there have been hundred of other studies that have shown the same results: massage helps people. You don’t have to be at a resort or use the excuse of you Birthday to get a massage. The simple excuse of being human is enough. Everyone can benefit from the holistic treatment of massage therapy. And I’m not just saying this because I am a certifiedcpractitioner, I’m saying it because its true. Massage has not only physical but mental benefits as well. In this article you’ll find how massage therapy can help promote a greater sense of well being while in recovery from active addiction. The informat of is backed up by facts that are hard to ignore. You may want to consider taking the money that used to be spent on drugs and alcohol to put towards a weekly treatment. Look for a local massage therapist and ask them about possible discounts that can be given if you schedule a regular session. Let them know your condition and work with them to start your healing process.” -With endless love, Robyn

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Substance abuse is a major public health problem. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs our nation more than $484 billion per year. This includes costs related to crime, medical care, treatment, social welfare programs, and time lost from work.

Comprehensive treatment for the addicted individual is the key to turning this health crisis around. In the October 2003 edition of Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN gives us the fuel to propel massage therapists into the realm of drug and alcohol treatment. In her article “Massage: Hands Down, a Treatment for Addiction”, Kosakoski gives us a clear and concise analysis of massage’s benefits for this population and its place in addiction treatment.

Incorporating massage into a substance abuse program is advantageous in all of the stages of quitting an addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. The physical, emotional and spiritual components of recovery all can be directly benefited by the healing power of therapeutic touch. The nurturing contact of massage utilizes skin as the translator of the therapist’s intent. Skin, the largest sensory organ in our body, is our primary sense for connecting information from our external surroundings to our internal environment.

The Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida has performed scientific research documenting the physiological effects of massage on the body. Kosakoski reminds us of some of their findings on massage such as decreased pain, diminished autoimmune response, enhanced immune response, and increased alertness and performance. These effects appear to be related to massage’s ability to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, as reported by the Touch Research Institute in 2003. Several of the Touch Research Institute’s studies positively document the ability of massage to decrease anxiety, depression, agitation, and cravings.

In order to understand the connection between massage therapy and its benefit in addiction treatment, Kosakoski explains the neurological biochemistry of addiction: “Much attention has been directed to the mesolimbic reward system, the so-called ‘pleasure pathway’ of the brain. The area is activated in part by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the chemical messenger responsible for making us feel good when we engage in any pleasurable activity. It is well known that dopamine is significantly involved in addiction and that dopamine levels are lower than average during the withdrawal process and into early recovery until brain chemistry normalizes.”

In 1998, the Touch Research Institute published the findings that a regular massage regimen produced long-term results of increasing dopamine levels. The fact that massage naturally increases dopamine levels, and decreases cortisol levels makes it a perfect addition to a standard detoxification program.

The neurochemistry of an addict takes time to get back into balance, so massage treatments after the initial detoxification phase is crucial. When a person uses a substance to feel good, his/her body stops manufacturing its own “feel good” chemicals, (endorphins), and the substance takes over that task. Therefore, when a person quits using an abused substance, they lose their source of feeling good. Since it takes time for the body to start manufacturing its own endorphins again, this is a challenging interim to endure. This interim is the recovering addict’s most vulnerable time to relapse.

In the 1989 edition of General Pharmacology, Kaada and Torsteinbo of Norway reported on study results that massage therapy increased the amount of beta-endorphins in the blood by 16 percent. The release of endorphins during a massage allows the recipient to feel normal, even fantastic, without the aid of a drug. This can be a powerful, even life-changing experience for the client.

On a physical level, the circulation that occurs with massage is also a desired occurrence during the detoxification process. Therapeutic massage’s invigoration of blood and lymphatic fluid allows for a more efficient exchange of oxygen rich nutrition into the body’s tissues, and the delivery of toxic waste products out of the body’s tissues. Kosakoski adds that “All systems of the body function more efficiently with improved circulation and a reduction in tension of the soft tissues and musculature…”

On an emotional level, part of an addict’s recovery process is learning to identify and manage the triggers that cause them to desire escape. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of his or her own body, including where and when tension exists. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing one’s own resistance, which can lead to healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings and stress. In addition Kosakoski says that “Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, which provides a safe, non-threatening opportunity to begin the process of recovering long-buried emotions and memories.”

On a spiritual level, the deep relaxation of a massage can provide a still inner place for the recipient to connect with themselves. Being grounded, centered and fully present can be experienced when receiving therapeutic touch from a grounded, centered and fully present practitioner. A recovering addict has a whole new world opened to them when they acknowledge that they can simultaneously be anchored, present, feel good and be substance-free. As Kosakoski explains, “To allow oneself to surrender to the practitioner’s hands — to breathe fully and easily, to acknowledge and receive the gifts of nurturing, surrender and relaxation ….is an invaluable addition to the newly recovering person’s repertoire of relapse-prevention skills.”

Massage has the unique ability to affect all of our layers of being — from the spiritual plane all the way up to and including our body’s chemical composition. In the process of abandoning an addiction, these many parts of ourselves become fragmented. It is merely a matter of time before all addiction and recovery treatment programs recognize massage’s ability to mend the mind-body connection. When that happens, therapeutic massage will be integrated into addiction treatment, and clients will be optimally prepared to succeed in their recovery.

From IntergrativeHealthcare.org

Taoism and Addiction

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“As I am going to study philosophy next year, I often think of how religions and other theories of life might view addiction and recovery. Is it acceptable? Is there a reason? Is there a cure? To start my regime on educating myself with the various opinions I took a look at some articles. This one is written by Elizabeth Reninger from About.com and it gives some insight on addiction using the practice of Taoism. If your interested in “The Way” (as tao the ching is translated), or are even struggling finding your Higher Power, this article may shed some light on the matter. Keep in mind, Taoism is not a religion, its a philosophy, a “way” of life.” -Love and light, Robyn

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Any kind of addictive behavior makes it really difficult to conserve our “qi” — to garner a beneficial surplus of life-force energy — for the simple reason that addictive behaviors, with their corresponding mental/emotional patterns, almost universally drain our qi.

Can Taoist practice help us unwind addictions?

I would say: yes! I’ve touched on this in my essay, Addiction, Habit & Ritual — making a distinction between, on the one hand, flowing with the (seemingly repeating) patterns of the Tao, in a way that is awake and responsive; and, on the other hand, becoming a slave to the unconscious impulsive dictates of an addiction.

On a very practical level, there are ear-acupuncture protocols (NADA and ACACD) which have been hugely beneficial — in conjunction with counseling, education and group support — in resolving addictions.

Here a recovering alcoholic, in expressing how, as an atheist, he was able to make 12-step programs work for him, articulates quite beautifully the process of realigning with the rhythms of the natural world, a quintessentially Taoist approach to sanity:

“But, you might ask, if there’s nothing there, no sentient god, how do you get restored to sanity? Again, simple. A tide lifts a boat without being asked and without being sentient. Meet the conditions: place a boat on a tidal body of water. Wait. Then it happens. Be open to understanding the principles that govern your world and do your best to act in harmony with them, do your best not to waste your energy in trying to change the things you cannot change, turn your efforts to identifying and changing the things that can be changed, and the tide will lift your boat. Simple, no?”

Aligning with the elemental wisdom and rhythms of the natural world can be hugely supportive in transforming addictive behavior and perception. In doing so, we establish a perspective or view that’s in alignment with reality, and supports spontaneously “right” — healthy and harmonious — action.

In Buddhist practice, a similar notion is spoken of in terms of Samma Ditthi or Right View. The Pali word Samma was, as I understand it, originally a musical term, and points to a kind of “right” that means “attuned” — in tune with the contexts unfolding in the present moment. It’s about becoming sensitive to our surroundings, and our relationship to them, in a way that allows us then to act skillfully — rather than out of unconscious (e.g. addictive) preconceptions.

Written by Elizabeth Reninger from About.com

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

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Going into a detox facility during withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is not only safer but highly recommended to those who are trying to stop using because you will receive a lot of support. Commonly, after one goes through detox, they will be able to work with staff to determine the next steps in their treatment. This can include inpatient or outpatient programs that will help educate and inspire a life of sobriety. 

“You don’t have to go through withdrawals alone. It can be scary not understanding whats going on with your body. Below are a list of symptoms to look out for to assure that, yes, you are going through withdrawal and yes, you need to seek help. 

“I know that I had no idea that I was going through withdrawals when I first experienced it. I was in denial about my addiction and I wish I sought help immediately before I decided to simply replace my drug of choice, thinking they weren’t as bad as the ones I was using before. ” -Love and light, Robyn

withdrawal

When it comes to alcoholism and drug addiction, going cold turkey is not the right option. Supervised detox is usually safer and may be the best route for you or your loved one.

Treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction involves undergoing therapy to help you mentally and physically recover from theaddiction. In order to get better, you must physically “cleanse” your body of the substance. To avoid a life-threatening reaction brought on by withdrawal from alcoholism or drug addiction, it’s best to seek professional help instead of trying to go it alone.

Ending Drug Addiction: Withdrawal and Detox
Withdrawal — stopping alcohol or drug use — can be extremely dangerous if done on your own, which is why a carefully administered plan for detoxification is the safest way to end your drug or alcohol addiction.

According to James Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and research scientist at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, “Everyone is going to have to go through detoxification to withdraw from a substance. The question is, when is it medically dangerous and when does it require medical oversight?”

Withdrawal from many drugs can bring symptoms such as agitation, sweating, an inability to sleep, and high blood pressure. Opiate and narcotic withdrawal symptoms can be among the most difficult. Opiates and narcotics are classes of drugs that include heroin, codeine, Demerol (meperidine), and Oxycontin (oxycodone), which are taken to achieve a sense of euphoria in those who abuse them.

Other substances that tend to cause more severe withdrawal symptoms, and potentially life-threatening symptoms, are barbiturates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, according to Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction psychiatry specialist in New York City. “Withdrawal from these substances should be handled in a hospital.”

Drug Addiction: Symptoms of Withdrawal
Symptoms of withdrawal depend on the object of the addiction. The following symptoms may result:

  • For alcohol: sweating, anxiety, tremors, fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate, seizures, delirium tremens (the “DTs” — a state of extreme agitation, hallucinations, hyperactivity, tremors, and confusion), psychosis and, adds Dr. Gilman, “ultimately death if not treated by a professional.”
  • For opiates/narcotics: anxiety, insomnia, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting.
  • For stimulants, such as cocaine: excessive tiredness and depression.
  • For barbiturates (such as Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal): nausea, fast breathing, increased heart rate, tremors, muscle pain, insomnia, hallucinations, convulsions, and delirium. If withdrawal is not monitored, the consequence could be death.
  • For benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Librium, Valium): delirium, muscle twitches, hallucinations, sensitivity to light, sound, taste, and smell, ringing in the ears, tingling, numbness, and insomnia.

Ending Drug Addiction With Medication
Another reason detox in a controlled setting is important: Medical professionals can administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Ironically, sometimes these are the same drugs that are being abused.

From http://www.webmd.com by Linda Foster, MA and medically reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD

9 Ways to Heal Depression Holistically

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“This was an article I stumbled upon from Natural News a few days back. Its written by Mike Bundrant who was able to compile this brilliantly inspiring list of ways to heal depression on the physical and psychological planes using holistic methods. Including reasoning that has been discussed within several strong sources, Bundrant explores the concepts of transforming mind and invigorating the body through 9 simple steps.” -Enjoy, Robyn

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As you pursue natural remedies for depression, it is important to understand that depression has both physical and psychological components.

To be happy, healthy and enthused about life, you must get both your mind and body balanced. Falling into a depressed state, however, only requires that one element of your body or mind is out of balance.

The following nine natural ways to combat depression are broken down into physical and psychological elements.

Healing psychological components of depression

1. A future worth embracing

Your perception of the future has a lot to do with your emotional state. An exciting future naturally produces feelings of enthusiasm. A blank future can produce feelings of uncertainty or anxiety. In fact, panic is often called a complete ‘future blowout.’ The future is gone, which means it all ends right here!

People who suffer with depression often report a seeing a future in which they do not want to participate.

This factor alone is enough to make anyone feel down. If you took the healthiest person and mentally installed an unacceptable future into her mind, she would immediately begin to feel discouraged and eventually depressed.

If your future is not what you want it to be, then it is imperative that you consider your options.

What are your goals?
Are you living someone else’s idea of the good life?
Do you feel you deserve to create the life you want?
What skills, training or education do you need to feel excited about your future?

You may wonder if depression causes you to perceive an uninspiring future or if an uninspiring future creates a depressed state. BOTH are true.

2. Relationships that fulfill

The evidence is in. Bad primary relationships correlate with high depression. It doesn’t appear to matter how good your physical health is. If you are in a stressful, unhappy relationship, you will be stressed and unhappy.

Being in great physical health does NOT mean that you make good decisions about people, money, business or other factors that also determine your quality of life and state of mind.

A happy mood goes with fulfilling relationships and vice-versa. Learn the relationship skills that support happiness. Don’t get stuck or cling to bad relationships! They wear on your psyche and your body.

Sometimes, in the throes of a painful relationship, you blame yourself and think you are broken. I did this for years. It was the untenable relationship that was the source of my angst. Yes, I was still participating in the problem, but when I finally ended that particular relationship, I was freed.

You can’t just blame others, but you should absolutely consider that feeling trapped in a relationship is depressing in its own right. Check out some of the little known reasons why people stay in bad relationships.

3. A friendly mind

It seems to be universal – the human tendency to self-condemn. Do you live with a critical voice inside their head that punishes you and warns you (irrationally) that you will fail?

Does it feel like no matter what you do or where you are, you ruin your mood with inner negativity and pessimism? This is your inner critic at work.

Healing that critical voice in your head requires making friends with it. This is a part of you that won’t rest until you come to terms with self-sabotage. Most people need help with this, but here is a video you can watch that offers a great little method to calm down your inner critic.

4. A present mind

Most people live inside their heads, with thoughts that meander in the past and the future. You worry about what might happen in the future. You obsess about what already happened in the past. You do anything but enter the here and now.

Interestingly, many people simply do not know how to enter the present moment. Getting to the Now is easily achieved by grounding yourself through sound. Best of all, you don’t need special equipment.

Your environment is filled with white noise. The hum of your computer, the sound of a blowing fan or running refrigerator, the smooth sounds of running water. All these and more are actually hidden portals into the present moment.

When you tune in exclusively to white noise, your brain responds in the most amazing manner. The brain’s Default Mode Network, responsible for self-referential, autopilot thinking, switches OFF. Then, your brain grounds itself in a new consciousness that is clear and peaceful.

This is has been proven through fMRI scans, which you can read about in the March 2010 issue ofScientific American magazine.

Natural remedies for physical depression

5. Vitamin D fights depression (and so much more)

Vitamin D is said to be one of the most underrated nutrients of all time. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. As you can tell, this is an essential vitamin the body needs to stay healthy.

In 2006 the CDC concluded that one fourth of the population is Vitamin D deficient. Canadian researchers have done 14 studies with 31,424 participants that all prove the strong correlation to Vitamin D and depression.

In 2006, a study on 80 elderly people showed that those who lacked Vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression – a number that is shocking, considering most people would never link this vitamin to such a serious disorder.

Safe sun exposure may help raise Vitamin D levels. Being outside with no sunscreen can actually be good for your body. Of course, supplements can also be taken and are proven to help as well.

6. Omega 3 fatty acids

Researchers have noticed that a sharp rise in depression occurred as people consume less omega 3 fatty acids and more processed foods.

A Columbus University study analyzed 59 patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, 18 of which also suffered from Cormobid Anxiety Disorder.

Low levels of omega 3 prevailed among the study group, but were most pronounced in those suffering from anxiety and depression. Although is it not on the front line for treating depression, it is a way to attack it from another angle.

By treating a different area of the brain associated with depression, it can be an effective method for the right patient.

7. Sam-e

Sam-e is a naturally occurring compound found in almost every element in the body. It helps the immune system, maintains cell membranes, and produces and breakdown chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine.

Research indicates that Sam-e treatment is more effective than placebo in treating mild to moderate depression. It works more quickly and is just as effective as prescribed medications without the headaches, sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and other side effects that occur.

Unfortunately. Sam-e cannot be found in food, but it can be prescribed in capsules if you consult with your healthcare provider.

8. Heavy metals – a rarely discussed cause of depression

Heavy metal toxicity can disturb brain chemistry, which can cause anxiety and depression, and can also weaken your immunity.

Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, mad aluminum affect different chemicals in your brain that are associated with depression. Examples of these would be GABA, which contributes to anxiety and a dull intelligence, dopamine, which gives the brain energy and motivation, and acetylcholine, which makes the brain sharp and have good memory.

Ridding the body of the excess heavy metals that harm vital brain chemistry involves balancing mineral antagonists. This dislodges the metals from the tissues into the blood with cheating agents that bind the metals in the blood and prevent them from being re-deposited elsewhere, so the kidneys can properly excrete them.

9. Amino acid therapy to balance brain chemistry

Depression and anxiety can occur when there is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, and amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters.

By giving the body specific therapeutic doses of amino acids, we are giving the body the raw materials it needs so it can feed the pathway of neurotransmitter production and balance out the chemicals in the brain.

For serotonin, 5-HTP or tryptophan can be used. For GABA, doses of GABA can be used. Both of these help soothe and calm the brain, which is helpful with depression, anxiety, and also insomnia.

Amino acid therapy is a method that was discovered in the early 1900’s and used up until the 1980’s when other methods, such as SSRI’s became more popular.

Amino acids can be used in place of antidepressants and don’t have the harsh side effects. With a doctor’s supervision, it is proven to be a powerful method in overcoming depression.

One Word at a Time

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When I came back from India, where I hit my rock bottom, I wrote some journal entries and some poems. Grant it, I was still in psychosis for a month, so much of my writings are teetering on questionable madness.. but at least I have documentation of my unraveling thoughts. I have spoken to many people who see me in meetings jotting quickly —and mindfully— everything interesting that someone might say. They come to me after, questioning and prodding. “What are you doing? Why do you do this?” Inspiration, I say. For the future. To distract my mind all the while keeping it focused on the purpose of me being here. I reflect on these words somedays, these phrases that are jotted down in a penmanship only I can make out, it lifts my heart.

My journals on the other hand, don’t always do the same. People question me about this too, saying, “I don’t journal. I’ve tried. I just can’t get into it. Where do you start? What do you say?” I simply reply, anything. Everything. Theres no judgement but your own. Its just you and the paper/the keyboard, whatever. You just let your guard down and scream through the only words that come to your mind in that moment. You let it out. You get lost in the present as the words slip out of your hands and manifest themselves in front of you.

I find it healing. I also find it necessary to let go of all the thoughts that collect in the back of your mind. You make them real when you scribble them down. Something tangible that you can reflect on in the future. You start to realize how crazy you are. How human you are. You can map your progress, track your emotions and notice the moments in time that you let yourself fall and the moments you picked yourself up.

Its unlikely that I ever write on a good day. I am far too merry and cheerful and I often think I sound like a idiot. My ambitions are bloated and my head is held too high. I sometimes get scared when I observe this. It makes me think of mania… But its on those good days that I like to spin the clock back and see where I’ve been. Remind myself of the way life was regarded before I woke up with this smile on my face. I can see clearly that all things will pass. There is evidence of my mind when I felt I was stuck. Where time didn’t exist and the idea of life moving on to send me into the unknown was far from my imagination.

Today is one of those days to reflect. Not that I am in the best mood in the world; my thoughts have wandered here and there, sending me on a whirlwind of inspiration and thought provoking questions. After spitting out the ideas that were trapped in my mind (untangling them enough to make sense), I took a break. I shifted my attention to a long lost entry written when I got out of rehab, it read:

 

“Nothings doing it for me; running, Spongebob, Facebook, reading. Nada. Nope. I still feel like a heavy lump sits in my throat, a thousand butterflies wish to come up from my stomach, my body aches, my head spins, my eyes droop lazily on my clean face. I’m at a loss. I’ve been out of rehab for a few weeks now and plans of moving are becoming more official by the second. Halloween comes closer to reality. I just want to move. I just want a job. I want to go to school again. Some grandiose voice in my head tells me to study philosophy and be a professor. Write a bunch of books. Be a success. Be a success? Why am I always wishing for success? I can hardly handle failure. And I am such a great failure. The essence of depression wreaks from my veins today. Taunting me through every controlled breath. Gently caressing me, telling me things will look brighter. Don’t use. Don’t use, I tell myself. Moments like this, these receding moments that have lasted over 12 hours… they are the ones that make me want to use. Make me want to just pass out and sleep to wake up to a new day that has more purpose, more umph in my step. Where are those days? How do they come to me in my life? How do they even exist? I know that they have before, I can remember the ease of those days. Where did they go? What brought me here? I digress.”

Writing

As I sat there and read these lines I saw a glimpse of my past. Grateful to be here in the  future/present. Though I can’t say much has changed. I still get the occasional craving, though I try not to bother my mind when things are working out. I remove myself, not allowing my thoughts to unravel, revealing nothing but increased anxiety. Stop, I say. Don’t go there. You know how you’ll feel when you go there. And surely I do. You do to. You know how it is when your mind gets caught in a single thought. How it spins down, causing you to loose control, throwing you into a black hole. Thats no fun. Certainly counter productive. But its during these times that we have to remember to do only two things. Only these two things (from my experience) seem to work; prayer and journalling.

We need to take a step back from those winding thoughts and give them to our higher power to answer. “This too shall pass,” God most commonly replies. Then we have to let it out. Its no good bringing someone else down by removing them from their busy lives to complain and ramble on comically about nothing at all. At least, thats what we feel in these moments… So, instead of locking it up inside to save it for a rainy day, you got to just write it out and give it to yourself to listen to. Once its all down and you hand hurts from the process, you can read it over. Wow, you’ll think. Thats it. Thats me—right now.

You’ll feel better. Trust me. I know it may seem hard at first. Maybe time consuming. But it really isn’t. Once you lose yourself in the rapid collection of your thoughts, you’ll pull back feeling a weight lifted from your shoulders. You’ll realize that everything that had concerned you in those moments that were just vented seconds ago were actually real. There for you to decode and “digress,” as I say. Its out, your free. Free from those emotions that once felt like they were going to take over and drag you down so low that there would be no way you could get up. The feelings where you felt like you just wanted to give everything up, just to use, now seem like foolish memories. You thank God they’re gone.

I recommend to everyone I meet to journal whenever they are bored, alone or confused. Sometimes I find myself coughing up broken sentences and take those opportunities to write poetry. They don’t always have to rhyme, you know. None of that it matters. You have to keep in mind that these entries are for no one other than yourself. Of course, if your proud of your creation you can always share it, barring in mind that not everyone can or will relate. I certainly keep that in my mind every time I post a blog that is actually written by myself. I have never been trained in the art of English, but I enjoy it. I know that not many people (or no one at all) will actually read the things I put out there. I don’t let that bother me. And you can’t let it bother you. Let any shred of doubt be transformed into emotional release. Because writing is like a form of meditation; you focus your thoughts on present, reflecting on the things you feel and the anxieties that are stressing your mind — then you breath— and let it go; one word at a time.