Recovering from addiction isn’t just a matter of getting sober or staying clean. It’s an ongoing process that involves healing on all levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. Evidence-based addiction treatment programs offer resources that address all of these aspects of your health, so that you can regain your energy, vitality, and hope for the future.
Why Is Wellness So Important to Recovery?
Unlike other chronic conditions that can undermine your health — such as diabetes, hypertension or heart failure — addiction has only recently been recognized as a disease that requires a full course of holistic treatment. In the past, addicted people were told that their compulsive substance abuse came from a lack of willpower or a failure of moral character. Today, addiction is acknowledged as a chronic physiological disorder that affects the body and mind.
Wellness isn’t just a state that you reach after finishing detox or graduating from a rehab program. It’s a continually evolving process of self-discovery and growth that will continue long after you finish the first phases of treatment. Wellness is a process of making positive choices that contribute to your overall health.1
When substance use or compulsive behavior is a big part of your life, making positive choices can be difficult, even impossible. Addiction treatment should give you the therapeutic tools you need to make decisions that lead to a rewarding, healthy life, such as:
- Choosing foods that nourish your body and give you energy
- Getting exercise that strengthens and fulfills you
- Participating in social activities that give your life meaning
- Practicing mindfulness in day-to-day living
While addiction is a cycle of self-destruction, recovery is a process of self-realization and transformation. Addiction prevents people from caring for themselves or others in loving, nurturing ways. As you move through the stages of treatment, you’ll learn how to nourish yourself with daily practices that help you heal on all levels.
Most addicted people enter recovery feeling exhausted, sick, and anxious or depressed. In a misguided effort to medicate themselves, addicted people often focus on getting and using their drugs of choice, while neglecting their nutritional needs.2 Substances like alcohol and drugs often prevent nutritional absorption and deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals.3
Addiction leaves the body malnourished and dehydrated. If you are in active addiction, you may choose substances over healthy eating. People who are driven by an addiction often don’t take time to make healthy choices, and their budget doesn’t often allow for healthy eating, while their schedule doesn’t allow for healthy food prep.2
For instance, alcohol interferes with the body’s absorption of nutrients, causing malnutrition even in alcoholics who appear outwardly healthy. Alcoholics often lack many of the essential vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, E, D, K, and the B vitamins. Because addicted people often forget to drink fluids, they are frequently dehydrated as well as undernourished.
When you are trying to recover, you can’t fully focus on healing until you have restored your body through healthy eating. In this sense, nutritional therapy is fundamental to recovery. The role of nutrition in addiction treatment includes:
- Addressing nutritional deficiencies
- Rehydrating the body
- Replacing depleted vitamins and minerals
- Restoring a healthy weight
- Teaching self-care through healthy food choices
Treatment programs like Black Bear Lodge offer organic meals prepared with wholesome, local foods, as well as nutritional counseling services to help you rebuild your body and restore mental clarity.
Adam S. shares his recovery story at www.HeroesInRecovery.com: “I realized that the act of preparing a meal that promotes health and wellness is an act of self-care and self-love,” he says. “I was saying to myself that I was choosing to become a healthier version of myself today than I was the day before. Those are the actions of a person who is actively engaged in their recovery, even in the smallest of daily actions. That is a daily reaffirmation of recovery.”
The mental world of an addicted person is characterized by anxiety, fear, paranoia, shame, and anger. Life is chaotic and filled with stress. In some cases, addicted people constantly obsess over how, when, and where to buy drugs or alcohol. Once the substance of choice has been obtained and used, the cycle of craving and drug-seeking begins all over again.
Mindfulness is a state of awareness that allows you to be fully focused on the present moment. Instead of obsessing over the future (“How will I get more coke today?” “How much wine should I drink tonight?” “How can I pay the rent and still buy drugs for the weekend?”), you will learn how to quiet your mind and center your thoughts on your recovery goals.
Mindfulness-based therapies teach you to deal with stressful situations and emotions in healthier ways. Therapeutic modalities like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focus on helping each person cope with both addiction and mental health issues.
Practical techniques for achieving a mindful state include:
- Individual behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Meditation practice
- Exercises that unite body and mind, such as yoga or tai chi
Physical exercise is more than just a matter of getting in shape. It’s a way to recover a naturally induced sense of energy and joy by challenging your body in healthy ways. Chronic substance use leaves many people with a state known as anhedonia, or an inability to feel real joy.4 This may be reversed through fitness activities that make you feel invigorated and refreshed.
Physical exercise encourages the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine — the same brain chemicals that are affected by drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin and alcohol.5 By stimulating the natural production of these neurotransmitters, exercise can elevate your mood and restore your energy without the devastating effects of drugs. At the same time, getting fit can restore your self-esteem as you build strength and endurance.
Comprehensive rehab programs incorporate time for physical activities like strength training, hiking, swimming, and yoga. These activities also facilitate the detox process, helping your body release toxins and rebuild itself on a stronger foundation.
Self-awareness is one of the most important aspects of optimal wellness. It’s impossible to heal from the disease of addiction if you aren’t conscious of the way this chronic condition affects your body, mind, and spirit. Addiction education groups provide in-depth instruction on the risks and consequences of substance abuse. Taught by experienced substance abuse therapists, these courses provide a structured, supportive environment where rehab clients can learn about their disease. The goals of an addiction education program include:
- Teaching the client about the causes of addiction: physical, psychological, environmental and genetic
- Instructing clients about the effects of addiction on overall health
- Informing the client about the health benefits of a drug-free life
- Giving the client the resources needed to make healthy, positive choices
- Providing education on how to manage stress and avoid relapse
Recreation and Team-Building
Self-isolation is one of the primary symptoms of addiction. As the disease progresses, the addicted person separates herself from friends and family in order to spend more time with her drug of choice. Self-isolation encourages depression and increases the risk of suicide. Quality treatment programs aim to draw the addicted person out of isolation and encourage healthy, supportive bonds with others.
People who have experienced addiction or trauma often have difficulty forming positive friendships. Peer group therapy and 12-Step facilitation builds positive, trusting friendships with others. Recreational activities like group hikes or experiential therapy provide a natural source of pleasure while reinforcing self-esteem and promoting trust.
Group therapy is one of the core components of a holistic addiction treatment program. In group counseling, the members of a session share their experiences, fears, and strategies for success. They develop social skills by learning how to communicate openly and respectfully with other members. Group therapy is a powerful recovery tool that provides a number of important benefits:
- It allows participants to see proof of others’ recovery.
- It helps participants share their experiences and emotions honestly.
- It creates a positive, healthy culture of recovery.
- It teaches the participant important coping strategies for dealing with the triggers and temptations of the outside world.6
Health and Wellness at Black Bear Lodge
The individualized treatment programs at Black Bear Lodge are designed to address all the aspects of health, so you can achieve your optimal level of wellness. Located in the foothills of northern Georgia, our forested surroundings nurture your spirit while providing the opportunity to exercise your body. We offer a full range of holistic addiction treatment services, including:
- Intensive individual therapy drawing from evidence-based treatment modalities (DBT, CBT and ACT)
- Group counseling with other patients who are seeking overall wellness
- Family counseling to educate and support your loved ones
- Experiential therapy, expressive therapy and yoga
- Outdoor recreation and team-building activities
- Nutritional counseling and fitness therapy
- Grief/loss counseling
If your goal is to achieve true transformation, Black Bear Lodge is the ideal setting for your recovery. Away from the stress and distractions of daily life, you’ll find solace and healing in a resort-like atmosphere. Call our admissions coordinators at 706-914-2327 to learn more about how our holistic approach to rehab can help you find the total health you deserve.
1 University of California Davis. What is Wellness? Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.
2 Taite, R. The Connection Between Nutrition and Addiction Recovery. 20 May 2013. Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.
3 Firth, G., Manzo, L. How Alcohol Affects Nutrition and Endurance. University of California at San Diego. Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.
4 Garfield, J., Lubman, D., Yucel, M. Anhedonia in substance use disorders: A systematic review of its nature, course and clinical correlates. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Vol 48, Issue 1, pp. 36 – 5. 22 Nov 2013. Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.
5 Meeusen R., De Meirleir K.Exercise and brain neurotransmission. Sports Med. Sept 1995. (3):160-88.Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.
6 Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41). Accessed 15 Dec 2017.