Addiction Recovery Through a Wellness Recovery Approach
I found my own path to recovery from 40 years of prescription drug addiction which is very different from the way most people recover. I chose to educate myself on alternative living which consists of holistic practices through using natural and organic modalities/solutions for everything from anxiety to managing chronic pain, and even learning new and healthier behaviors to promote sound mental health and mindfulness, and increasing my daily spiritual practice.
I am approaching my third year of sobriety, and have definitely had physical health challenges, and even challenges with anxiety. I have been able to employ the many different modalities to manage all of my symptoms holistically and successfully to sustain my whole healthy recovery. Organic nutrition is an important part of my daily regimen as well, and I enjoy cooking, baking and creating new recipes that are gluten, dairy, sugar, and grain free.
Gluten is the protein in wheat, barley, etc., and its genetic modification has made it stronger and more concentrated in the grains that we eat. This higher concentration of gluten in our food has been linked to an increase of food allergies over the last few decades because gluten is a fairly new component of our diets. Grains are also linked to a decline in brain health. Due to the “modernized and hybridized wheat crops” that are manufactured today, there is a major change to the genetic, structural, and chemical properties of the grain that we eat as opposed to the grain that our ancestors consumed. Brain dysfunction/impairment is predicated on the inflammation from consumption of gluten and sugar molecules known as carbs, including fruit. A diet high in carbs is related to atrophy which is deterioration of the brain.
Zonulin is present in 100% of humans. Gluten in wheat leads to the production of Zonulin in the gut and increases the permeability of the intestinal wall, (Leaky Gut) allowing proteins to leak from the gut into the bloodstream. These proteins cross the blood-brain barrier, also promoting “Leaky Brain” which cause symptoms such as confusion, brain fog, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, etc., causing chronic inflammation in the brain. These proteins then challenge parts of the immune system and other types of white blood cells that increase production of inflammation-related chemicals resulting in “Leaky Gut” and “Leaky Brain.” If we are eating gluten, processed foods, and taking toxic substances such as prescription pills in lethal amounts the way I was for 4 decades, it promotes more inflammation, and for me, it nearly took my life.
Processed foods which are foods altered by manufacturer ’s often have all of its fiber and many of its nutrients removed. Grains are so processed and are foreign to human digestion causing disease and causing “The Grain Brain,” which causes neurological impairment and disorders. Processing foods is done to give these foods a longer shelf life, and for some foods, elasticity and flavor. Choose natural foods, and grains that are naturally gluten-free and safe such as Amaranth, Millet, Quinoa, Lentils, Coconut flour, and Almond Meal.
Our immune system sees gluten as foreign when a lot of large pieces get into the bloodstream when the immune system goes on high alert and produces antibodies to attack it. When these antibodies attack the gluten, they mistakenly attack our tissues as well. This is called molecular mimicry and is one-way gluten is believed to cause autoimmune disease. Molecular mimicry is NOT specific to gluten. It can occur when your immune system mistakes your own tissue for any foreign substance, including drugs and alcohol.
Something else called Immune Complex Disease are antibodies that bind to the gluten and form a complex that travels around the body. These are called immune complexes and are a common and important way that your immune system deals with foreigners. You need these complexes for the normal functioning of your immune system. Normally the immune system clears these complexes out of the blood, but if there are too many of them, they settle in different organs causing local inflammation, tissue damage and autoimmune reactions which can cause swollen, painful joints, and is thought to be one of the processes for developing rheumatoid arthritis. I found that once I detoxed from the pills, my diagnosis of a rare blood disorder, MGUS, and Lupus were no longer accurate, and I no longer needed any treatment. These pills, or “foreigners”, were promoting inflammation in my organs, in my blood, and crossing the blood/brain barrier along with gluten, dairy (which is inflammatory and which I have an allergy to), sugar and the unhealthy grains that are processed which I was eating. All together, this was a perfect cocktail for causing Leaky Gut and a Leaky Brain, autoimmune, and a “short circuit,” or disconnect, in my neurotransmitters and caused me to suffer a “break” from reality. It has recently been scientifically documented that in order to have a healthy brain, we need a healthy immune system. If we are feeding our bodies with toxic substances, we are not promoting wellness, but only dis-ease.
In my Holistic Health Practice, I suggest following a diet based on ones blood type. It has been scientifically proven that if we eat foods that are incompatible with our blood type, it causes disease. Overall, high animal-based foods such as dairy and beef (that is not organic/grass fed) can promote inflammation and throw off the balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract. To ensure promoting a healthy immune system, eat foods with Vitamin D, like fatty fish, goat cheese, egg yolks, Vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin and needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption. High vitamin A foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, wild fish, liver of organic grass-fed animals, and tropical fruits. Also eat foods rich in Selenium, like Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, eggs, tuna, turkey, chicken and ground beef which are grass fed/organic, and Zinc, which is found in organic chicken, grass-fed/organic beef, and are high in protein which is also good sources of zinc. In addition to these high-protein meats, whole grains, legumes, and nuts provide good amounts of dietary zinc.
Healthy fats are a must to promote a healthy immune system and brain and should include coconut/coconut oil, avocados, goat cheese, dark chocolate, nuts, full-fat organic yogurt, chia seeds, fatty fish (wild), and whole eggs. This is extremely important when detoxing, and then continuing as a healthy lifestyle change.
Research now shows that cholesterol in eggs doesn’t affect the cholesterol in the blood of most people. What we’re left with is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world! Whole eggs are actually loaded with vitamins and minerals. They contain a little bit of almost every single nutrient we need. They even contain powerful antioxidants that protect the eyes, and lots of choline, a brain nutrient that 90% of people don’t get enough of each day.
Eggs also promote weight loss. They are very fulfilling and high in protein, the most important nutrient for weight loss.
Remember to eat foods rich in Polyphenols every few hours. Polyphenols are antioxidants from plant foods that work to enhance overall health and help to control blood sugar spikes after meals. This will help to curb cravings for sugar. Polyphenol-rich foods are berries, artichoke hearts, flaxseed meal, black/green tea, dark chocolate, pure apple juice, apple, hazelnut, red wine, organic soy yogurt, raw cacao powder, and pure pomegranate juice.
We must also rebuild our good gut bacteria that is destroyed by toxins such as drugs, alcohol, gluten, dairy, sugar, and grains. It is imperative in the way our food supply is today, and especially for our aging population, that we take probiotics every day and digestive enzymes. This promotes balance in our gut flora and helps to rebuild a healthy immune system, which in turn builds a healthy gut (our second brain and where 70% of our immune system lives), and a healthy brain. I LOVE experiencing whole healthiness, and I am living proof that there is a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life on the other side of addiction. All you have to do is ask for help, and then work hard in maintaining your sobriety, and in my opinion, my “Wellness Approach to Addiction Recovery” offers a great opportunity for achieving a lifelong successful recovery.
REMEMBER: CHOOSING ORGANIC FOODS WHENEVER POSSIBLE IS BENEFICIAL TO MAINTAINING A SAFE AND NUTRIENT-DENSE DIET.
Regular exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, supports GABA production and promotes dopamine which is the “happy hormone!” This is a natural “high.” Finding a spiritual practice that resonates with you is the icing on the Gl-Airy Free cake :). I find that daily prayer and some form of meditation helps me to stay focused on the important things, and to remain grateful for all that I have been given in my sobriety.
I encourage you to surround yourself with healthy loving relationships/people as I do. It makes a huge difference in one’s mindset. My children and granddaughter are the most important people in my life along with my boyfriend. My children and I have truly rebuilt our relationships and just enjoyed a beautiful and meaningful Thanksgiving together. I also have the most wonderful man in the world to call my life partner and best friend. His positive outlook, love of life and family, his unconditional love for me, and his fun-loving spirit has made a huge difference in my own life. Rather than being with someone who is always down and finding negative in everything and everyone, and dragging me down with him, I am enjoying all of the beautiful offerings that God and the Universe have graced me with through love, laughter, family, friends, joy, and peace, and it’s even sweeter because I get to share all of it with my loving and wonderful children, Matthew, Nicole and Olivia, and my amazing granddaughter, Rosie, and the love of my life, Steve.
I also surround myself with wonderful and loving friends and other Holistic Practitioners for ongoing support. We all need support in our lives, and as addicts, we think we need to isolate and do it all alone…not true. Whenever I need professional advice, I speak to my relationship/empowerment coach who is also a CSW and practices a holistic lifestyle and my Holistic Health Coach/Practitioners. I also have a Functional Medicine Physician and hope to further my career in this field as well. I have so much support that I didn’t have three years ago and I didn’t know how to ask for help. I was all alone with no guidance or support. I never feel alone anymore. Find at least two people that you know you can count on to have a dialogue with each week. It’s important to share! Share the good and the not so good! That’s what friends, family, and practitioners are for!
Having a career that I love and am passionate about also enhances my sobriety. Being a Holistic Health Practitioner is my greatest passion….(and so is music. :)) It’s important to find your passion and either practice as a hobby, or if you are blessed as I am, make it your career.
This is my new “normal.” I have gone through a metamorphosis that has been both enlightening and sometimes painful, but I have experienced so much growth from it all. After 4 decades of dysfunction and not feeling like I fit in, it feels good to be “normal.” I have found balance through organic nutrition, healthy relationships, exercise, spirituality, love of self and others, and being of service to others. I found it all in my own way, through trial and error, and educating myself which has empowered me to live the life that works for me…my “Wellness Approach to Addiction Recovery.” It works for me, and it can work for you.
My other passion is to share my message with others who are struggling with the disease of addiction to raise hope and awareness, and I do this through sharing my experience and my journey through my seven steps of “R.O.A.M.I.N.G. in Addiction Recovery.” Please contact me for more information at email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be publishing an article on my “R.O.A.M.I.N.G. in Addiction Recovery” model in the near future.
Please visit my websites, harmonioushealth4life.com, blissfullyglairyfree.com, and therxdiaries.com for more information on my addiction recovery journey, my Gl-Airy Free(gluten and dairy free) recipes and holistic resources, and my health and wellness information. Making wellness a part of your recovery is a way to be proactive on your journey and to learn a variety of natural and organic solutions that will resonate with you. Once you find specific ways to manage your recovery as an individual, you will have a greater chance at a lifelong successful recovery. Being proactive, asking questions, being open to new ideas, sharing your feelings, practicing patience with yourself, and listening to your intuition telling you what YOU need allows you to heal, to grow, and to learn new and healthy ways of living. Recovery is possible and there is an awesome life on the other side! It’s up to you to design, create, sustain and live! Enjoy this beautiful gift of life!
I was given a second chance at living, and this is how I CHOOSE to live my life!
Wishing you Harmonious Health 4 Life!