Enjoy my guest post from Ryan Randolph at Recovery Proud.
As an independent ebook publisher, Recovery Proud’s goal is to connect people in rehabilitation with tools that can help them get clean, stay sober, and build a meaningful existence. We work with authors who have dedicated not only their writing, but their lives, to improving the mental and physical well-being of those who are fighting this particular fight.
You probably know that 12-step based support groups are staples in addiction recovery treatments. Although they’ve helped millions of people overcome addiction, they also result in high rates of relapse. Recovering addicts may benefit from supplementing their treatment programs with alternative recovery methods that are more personalized and holistic.
When to Seek Alternative Treatments
Many people reject traditional addiction treatment because of its one-size-fits-all approach and lack of individual care. Others dislike the religious focus of 12-step programs. Drug addiction treatment typically involves medications and behavioral therapies. Though these medications can help reduce cravings and negative withdrawal symptoms, some people dislike the idea of replacing one addiction with another substance. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the best therapies are those that use a variety of treatment approaches.
Before you try alternative treatments, you should be aware that they aren’t backed by extensive research like traditional evidence-based treatments are. Avoid alternative practitioners who offer medical advice. Telling you to stop taking medication prescribed by your doctor is a red flag. People seeking herbal remedies should also be aware of possible side effects and interactions with their medications. Remember that modern medicine and evidence-based approaches are there to help you and should not be avoided altogether.
Swimming and water exercises are great alternative methods for those in addiction recovery and have many benefits. According to The Conversation, exercising in natural settings can help improve your mental health better than exercising in the gym or at home. Exercising brings restorative benefits to your mind and body as it encourages new brain growth and promotes mood enhancement. Plus, the gentle exercise provided by swimming is relaxing, calming and reduces anxiety symptoms. In fact, being in the water even slows down your brain waves. You can even keep track of how many calories you’ve burned by using water-resistant smartwatches such as the Series 5 watch from Apple and Fitbit Versa, though it’s important to dry them off when you’re getting out of the pool for the day.
Yoga can induce a natural state of anxiety relief in people who have an exaggerated stress response, common for those in addiction treatment. The calm, relaxed movements used in yoga tells the mind that it can decrease physiological arousal. Yoga is similar to other self-soothing techniques like meditation and relaxation exercises.
Meditation is a beneficial way to alter thought patterns, develop higher control over emotions, and cope with self-judgment. Studies have found that meditation can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, which is necessary during addiction recovery. Meditation increases the size of memory-based areas of the brain, helping addicts regain key cognitive functions such as emotion regulation. It may even reverse brain aging caused by substance abuse.
Massage, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Work
According to Psych Central, massage therapy can be effective in the recovery process. First, massage promotes relaxation which can help patients manage stress and reduce anxiety responses to addiction triggers. It can also provide relief from sleep disorders experienced by people in recovery. Similarly, studies have found that acupuncture may be able to help prevent relapse when used in combination with pharmacotherapies.
Neurofeedback or biofeedback involves teaching patients how to change the patterns of their brainwaves to reduce stress. Neurofeedback sessions teach your central nervous system how to recognize your brainwaves and regulate them. Practitioners of neurofeedback use computers to measure brain waves and direct your brain activity through sights or sounds. Studies have found that neurofeedback can increase the efficacy of normal addiction treatment.
Finally, nutrition therapy focuses on restoring nutrition to malnourished ex-addicts and improve brain functions. A nutritional therapist will ask for a history of your past and present health concerns, as well as information about your diet and lifestyle. They may also use biochemical laboratory testing to receive information about your current nutritional status. Then, you will receive dietary recommendations, which may involve taking supplements such as probiotics to boost your gut health (which has a direct effect on your mood). They’ll also advise you to avoid foods, such as sugar and caffeine that stimulate reward processing in your brain.
If you’ve tried traditional addiction treatment and it just doesn’t work for you, why not give some alternative methods a go? You may find a treatment better catered to your personal values and lifestyle. In the end, the treatment that helps you maintain sobriety and develop long-term health is the one that’s best for you.
Soulful Aging by Thomas Moore: As everyone knows, we are growing older all the time. But growing older is not the same as aging. Many people seem to grow older without going through the challenging life processes that make you a real person of substance and character. That kind of aging requires saying yes to the opportunities and difficult issues that life presents.
Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault: Centering Prayer is a simple, no-frills form of meditation in the Christian tradition. Since it was first developed by Christian contemplative monks in the 1970s, it has allowed tens of thousands of practitioners worldwide to “return home,” developing an authentically Christian meditation practice which not only delivers the healing and quieting of the mind typical of all meditation paths, but also reconnects directly to Christianity’s hidden treasury of mystical and transformational wisdom.
Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.
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Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.
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