Author: Justin Mckibben
Every once in a while there is that daunting cliché you may hear in the recovery community; that relapse is a part of recovery. It may come from someone who has experienced a relapse themselves, or it may come from someone trying to reassure an individual who has relapsed that they still have a place in recovery. It is never meant to be harmful or frightening. In fact it is typically a phrase used to comfort people who have tried to get clean and sober but sadly found themselves again using substances.
It is an idea used to remind those who slip and fall on the path to recovery that they are still in the fight; that they still have a chance. A lot of people do experience relapse in their journey to get off drugs or alcohol. So, is it true? Is relapse a part of recovery?
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: What is Relapse?
When looking at the basic definition or relapse, we can break it down a little to show some depth.
- In general – a relapse is to suffer deterioration after a period of improvement.
- In medicine– relapse, also referred to as recidivism,is a return of a past condition.
- With the context of drug use (yes, including alcohol) – relapse is a reinstatement of drug use and drug-seeking behavior. It is the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of
So the common thread here is that a relapse is when someone:
- Is able to start a period of improvement…
- Is healing from a previous condition…
- Has a period of abstinence… THEN… they use drugs or drink, which ends their period of abstinence and they fall back into drug-seeking behavior and using; activating their condition which can undo their overall improvement.
While some people might have a drink or take a pill and call it a “slip” it is essentially a relapse. Some would say having “recovery” means making improvements to behavior beyond just abstinence, so they might say the real relapse actually starts before you even use drugs; when your behavior regresses to the old destructive or compulsive patterns.
Whether you believe the relapse is the behavior or the actual physical manifestation while getting high, it may determine what your views are on the question is relapse a part of recovery.
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: What is Recovery?
Before we have discussed that some people will define recovery differently. We will note that in general, recovery is:
- a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administraion (SAMHSA) there are 12 “Guiding Principles of Recovery” stating recovery:
- There are many pathways to recovery
- Is self-directed and empowering
- Involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation
- Recovery is holistic
- Has cultural dimensions
- Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness
- It’s supported by peers and allies
- Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude
- Involves a process of healing and self-redefinition
- Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma
- It involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community
- Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen
All these definitions emphasize the fact that recovery is about healing, and some even concede that there are many paths to recovery and many different beliefs around how people can successfully recover. Now some people may not like it, but hear me out.
Relapse is not a part of recovery.
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: Why Not?
Now before anyone gets upset and drops a few choice words in the comments, let me explain.
This answer isn’t so black and white. It is just one way to look at the question and try to answer in a supportive and logical way. Because when we say “is relapse a part of recovery” we are not asking about the general concept of recovery as a whole, but about the definition, and specifically the requirements for “recovery”.
To elaborate; relapse is an option. Relapse is a reality many of us face. I have been sober over 3 years myself… after I had a relapse. My opinion is not meant to exclude people who have relapsed. I do not intend to say they weren’t in recovery. I don’t intend to say they aren’t recovering now. What I am saying is that relapse is not a requirement for recovery. While it may be a part of my recovery, it is not a defining feature of recovery. Recovery can exist without relapse.
Let’s say I have a car. If the car has a sun-roof, then of course the sun-roof is a part of that car. It adds a new element to the experience that not every car has… but if the car doesn’t have the sun-roof… does that make it any less of a car? Is the car considered incomplete without it? Some cars come with accessories and features that not all cars have, while having wheels and a gas pedal is a standard. And that is what this whole conversation is about; setting standards.
A relapse is a similar concept. Plenty of people in the world of recovery from drugs and alcohol have never relapsed. Hopefully they never will. They are recovering the same as the man or woman who has relapsed countless times.
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: Make it Count
The point of all this is to put forth the idea that maybe we shouldn’t put forth the idea that relapse is part of the recovery process. Surely it is a possibility for everyone, and surely some will consider a relapse one of the most critical moments in their recovery, but that does not mean people should minimalize or “normalize” the idea that relapses are the standard.
Setting higher standards is crucial to lasting change. We don’t want to kick anyone while they are down or fault them for their relapse(s)… however we also don’t want someone who has never tried to get clean before thinking they are going to relapse because it is “part of the plan” and everyone is doing it.
This is especially important because a lot of people have died because of relapsing after periods of abstinence. When the body goes without such potent drugs for longer periods the body is no longer as tolerant to them, and when people relapse and don’t realize their threshold has dropped they often overdose and die. If we let people assume they will have to relapse eventually in order to really get it right, they might never get the chance to get it right again.
We should stop telling people relapse is part of recovery. We should continue to tell them there is recovery after a relapse, but once you stop you never have to start again.
Have you completed treatment but went back to using drugs and alcohol? Have you relapsed more than once, maybe even been labelled a “chronic relapser?” If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Detoxing after a prolonged period of substance abuse or addiction can be the hardest part of getting off drugs or alcohol. Most people want to find the easiest, quickest way to get through the process in a comfortable and healthy way. Some people assume the easiest way to cleanse their system is with a healthier diet, and so they ask- what food can detox my body from drugs?
While it is important to try and nourish your body as best you can, there may be some misgivings as to how this will help.
What Food Can Detox My Body from Drugs: Is food enough?
The first thing we need to emphasize is that a “food detox” alone is not a sufficient enough strategy to treat any real substance use disorder. Without medical detox to provide support for adverse health effects, or to monitor in the event of new complications, it can be dangerous.
In fact, there are many substances, including alcohol, that have incredibly dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Some are even potentially fatal. So to rely on a clean, strict diet as the only means of detoxing the body from the effects of drugs or alcohol is an unnecessary risk.
Without the therapeutic assistance and support of addiction specialists, it can be an incredibly stressful and overwhelming process. While some aspects of a healthier diet can help gradually clear the mental fog, that alone is still not enough to deal with co-occurring issues like:
We will talk about some foods that can help, but we also want to let it be known to anyone who may read this that a better diet isn’t going to solve the problem.
What Food Can Detox My Body From Drugs: Diet tips that may help detox
Detox is often a different experience depending on the individual. The kind of drugs you used and for how long will determine the kind of damage the body has to bounce back from. Food is not a complete plan for a safe detox and should always just be one aspect of a comprehensive recovery plan.
Still, we want to include a few kinds of food that can aid in the comfort level and progress of detoxing from drugs. Fruits and vegetables are huge and pretty much all are helpful, but here are a few examples.
Ok, so it may not be a “food” as much as a beverage, but it is essential to life in general. Experts do suggest that 9-12 glasses of water a day can help clear the kidneys and liver of built up toxins.
For an added bonus- include lemon. According to the World Health Organization, citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant de-limonene, a powerful compound in the peel that stimulates the enzymes in the liver to help flush toxins from the body.
Curcumin, a compound derived from the bright-orange spice Tumeric, works as a powerful anti-inflammatory in the liver. A study in the journal Gut states that enhancing you diet with curcumin could significantly reduce bile duct blockage and limit scarring (fibrosis) by interfering with the chemical reactions of the inflammatory process.
Some research trials have also suggested Tumeric can be used as an anti-depressant. A recent study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research with 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), such as manic depression, showed that patients found cucumin as effective as Prozac for managing depression.
While there are very few human studies, this research was the first clinical evidence to suggest Tumeric could be used in this capacity.
This green vegie (great with a side of steak) is not only credited as a hangover cure, but the amino acids and minerals in asparagus may also protect liver cells against toxins. This natural diuretic is said to also flush the excess toxins from your system.
Yes, even these roots are great detoxifying foods. Beets contain a type of antioxidant called betalains that help repair and regenerate cells in the liver. You may notice you keep seeing the liver as a repeat customer on the list. That is because the liver is the body’s primary detox organ, so any food like beets that provides it with extra support can help ease through cleansing the body.
Again, this one is all about fixing up the liver. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found a clear connection between increased vitamin E intake and a decrease in liver cancer risk.
In a study the participants who consumed the most vitamin E in almonds, which came to about 15 almonds, displayed a 40% lower risk of liver cancer than those who consumed less.
While these can be substituted for almonds as a good source of fiber, they also provide a decent dose of magnesium. This mineral keeps blood pressure normal, maintains steady heart rhythm. Many drugs can do some serious wear and tear on the heart and blood pressure, so in the process of trying to regulate these while detoxing, sunflower seeds can do some good.
Since there are those who are opposed to any meat, we won’t pretend meat is the only source of protein. However, given the amount of stress the addicts body can experience, protein is big on helping repair tissues and cells while restoring organs. Go with fish and chicken, or go vegie with stuff like
- Rice and Beans
You can also look for more natural protein supplements.
Fish, nuts, avocados and certain oils contain fats that can help satiate the body. They’re also high in Omega 3. This fatty acid is believed to not only help avoid feelings of depression, but some also say it relieves the cravings associated with addiction.
Seaweed and Algae
Now you may be thinking- wait, these are food?
Yes, and they are a powerhouse supply of good stuff for a detoxing body. They are rich in a source of nutrients and antioxidants, including:
- Vitamin B, C and E
They fight inflammation and damage to tissues caused by free radicals. Seaweed and algae are also rich in:
- Protein and amino acids that help the body to fight infections
- Fiber that encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut while maintaining bowel regularity and removes toxins and fats from the body
They also help detox our body by protecting the liver from toxic damage. Seaweed and algae are a good source of:
- Iodine, which is essential for metabolism
- Magnesium and potassium which protect blood vessels and fight the effect of stress
Nutrients in seaweed and algae also support the health of adrenal glands, which can suffer constant stress, resulting in chronic fatigue, mood changes and damaging the immune system. Seaweed and algae do a lot of amazing stuff for a detoxing body.
What Food Can Detox My Body From Drugs: The Best Way?
Again, there is a great deal of good a more balanced and healthy diet can do when recovering from substance abuse. The above list provides a few examples of some great additions to your diet while trying to build better physical health.
Yet, it is important to remind the reader that food in itself is not the best way to detox the body from drugs.
Drug addiction is a very complex disorder, and it impacts the individual in unique and devastating ways. While a strong diet may help with comfort through the detox period, the body and the mind will typically need much more support. A safe medical detox, complete with a clinical staff and therapeutic support, is best for building a foundation for holistic healing. Empowering the body by being nourished is a big bonus. A safe medical detox facility should provide a balanced and supported diet while helping the individual with any needed medications and other support.
Addiction treatment centers like Palm Partners that recognize the important nutrition plays health living, and in addition to addiction treatment we use this knowledge to help clients not only to sustain a healthy recovery but also a healthy mind and body. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Using needles to heal addicts is nothing new. Those who practice and promote holistic healing are often familiar with the concept. In recovery, the needle can mean something totally different than what it meant in addiction. For some it opens up a new world of medical treatment they never knew was possible. Acupuncture itself is actually much more powerful than some may realize, and a recent study only magnifies the usefulness of going under the needle for chronic pain and mental health.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library now features a report where the researchers show there is significant evidence to demonstrate that acupuncture provides more than a placebo effect.
To clarify, a placebo is a substance or treatment with no active therapeutic effect. These kinds of treatment may be given to a person in order to trick the recipient into thinking that it is an active treatment, meaning the answer is all in the mind.
This new data suggests there is an active therapeutic element to acupuncture.
Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Pain
Professor of Acupuncture Research, Hugh MacPherson, helped bring together this research with a team of scientists from the UK and US. The data is strung together using the results of 29 high-quality clinical trials. These trials specifically reviewed patients treated with acupuncture, alongside standard medical care.
For most of the clinical trials, patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture and standard medical care were tested against those who were provided with standard medical care alone. The standard medical care includes treatment such as:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
Those examined were approximately 18,000 patients diagnosed with chronic pain of areas such as:
- Lower back
According to the published reports, the addition of acupuncture to complement standard medical treatment has a few powerful effects. Acupuncture was able to:
- Significantly reduce the number of headaches and migraine attacks
- Reduce the severity of neck and lower back pain
- Reduce the pain and disability of osteoarthritis, which led to patients being less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs
Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Depression
The teams report also includes a new clinical trial for the impact on depression. During these trials acupuncture or counselling was compared to the effectiveness of antidepressants and related medications.
Researchers sourced from 755 patients with depression in the North of England. The new study shows that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depression. Not only did they reduce the severity, but the benefits were generally continuous for up to 12 months after the initial treatment. So the long-term implications alone are pretty exciting to see.
Professor MacPherson, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, has said:
“The front-line treatment for depression in primary care usually involves antidepressants; however, they do not work well for more than half of patients.
“In the largest study of its kind, we have now provided a solid evidence base to show that not only can acupuncture and counselling bring patients out of an episode of depression, but it can keep the condition at bay for up to a year on average.”
Professor MacPherson believes that because patients and health professionals can now make decisions on using acupuncture for treatment with more confidence, this new data provides a significant step forward in managing and treating chronic pain and depression.
Clinic Trials: True Acupuncture VS Sham Acupuncture
As stated in the beginning, many believed acupuncture’s benefits to be at least partially associated with placebo effects. With this doubt hanging over it, the uncertainty of it’s clinical effectiveness has stunted its growth.
Professor MacPherson says that this new research provides definitive evidence that acupuncture can work to treat chronic pain; that in doing so the reductions in pain are substantially more than those measured from what is called “sham acupuncture.”
Sham acupuncture is only for clinical trials for research purposes. This “sham” method involves inserting needles at the ‘wrong’ locations, or using non-inserted needles (fake needles) at the correct locations. Having data to attest that ‘true’ acupuncture has significantly more effect in reducing pain than ‘sham’ acupuncture offers evidence that it is not simply a placebo effect.
This research also asserts that this kind of treatment is cost effective. With the value for money being rated as less than the threshold of £20,000 cost per quality of life year; a metric for measuring cost-effectiveness used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). MacPherson went on to state:
“There has been a question mark for many years over whether policy and decision makers should or should not provide wider access to acupuncture. Our aim was to bring together data from high quality clinical trials and provide a robust evidence base that will help reduce this uncertainty and support commissioners and health professionals in making informed decisions backed up with research.”
Professor MacPherson insists that not only is it more cost effective than medications, but acupuncture reduces pain levels and improves mood levels, which could reduce over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects, such as physical dependence or abuse.
In the world of addiction, pain and depression are often simultaneous with substance use disorder. Many people who battle with addiction also fight to overcome depression, and countless people have become addicted to opioids as a result of prolonged dependence on prescription pain medications. As we move toward more innovations in prevention and intervention, innovations in treatment are more important than ever.
For years Palm Partners has believed in the healing power of acupuncture and offered the opportunity for people struggling with substances to have access to this powerful resource on their path to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In the past, eastern medicines, theologies and practices have been observed by the western world with a heavy hint of speculation. There was a time science was limited as to what it could and could not prove through technical studies what scriptures like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or the Bhagavad Gita, both sacred and valued text in connection to Indian and Hindu philosophy, told us about the mind, body and spirit. However as time and science has caught up with the claims made in the ancient manuscripts we have discovered more of the remarkable catalogs of evidence to support eastern medicines and practices… especially yoga.
Yoga has become more mainstream over the last decade plus, and it would seem that since its inception into western culture there have been compiling examples of how gurus from hundreds or even thousands of years ago have actually been telling us all along about the healing power in the science of spirituality.
Today, health and human service providers across America have shown a mounting interest in using yoga as a form of holistic healing, especially as an option for treating people with mental health problems. There is a multitude of reasons why the aspects of yoga would benefit those struggling with depression.
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Exercising physical health promoting mental well-being
- Emphasis on detachment from negativity and connection to higher self
The list goes on and on… let us make a few points about how yoga can be amazing medicine for depression.
UNC Yoga Study
A recent study published in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found there are some exceptionally encouraging benefits to using yoga to help address mental health disorders, specifically when coupled with other forms of holistic healing and intervention.
Rebecca Macy is a researcher who works with violence and trauma survivors. She also helped lead the study at the UNC School of Social Work on utilizing yoga to treat mental health disorders. In a statement about the study Macy said she was especially interested to really know what the evidence said; is yoga something healthcare providers should be suggesting to people who struggle with various mental health problems, such as:
Overall, the researchers determined that yoga holds a high potential for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma.
Depression, Posture and the Heart Chakra
Truthfully, any asana (posture) from the yoga practice has the potential to make a drastic difference when trying to overcome depression. Yoga engages the physical body to focus the mind and create space for intuitive introspection or spiritual reflection. Every pose can make a strong contribution to rewiring the patterns in the brain, while systematically utilizing an individual’s biology to alter their mindset.
That being said, I will promote one of my favorite types of asana when it comes to changing the mood- Heart Openers!
Research does show that sudden emotional stress can actually release hormones in the body that prevent the heart from pumping normally, which of course has an adverse ripple effect. So if we can scientifically say that emotions affect the body so acutely, it would only seem logical that the body could in fact be used to influence our emotions. If you open your heart, give it space to breathe and be beat, it might just surprise you.
Back-bends are some of the simple heart-opening poses that ease breathing and reduce stress by releasing tension held in the tissues of the whole chest and lung region of the body. A variety of back-bending postures are great heart-openers, here are just a few examples:
- Bhujangasana- Cobra
- Ustrasana- Camel
- Anjaneyasana- Low Lunge
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana- Upward-facing Dog
- Dhanurasana- Bow
Physiology has a very real impression on our psychology, and it has been said that opening the heart in some yoga poses has a way of letting positive energy make its way into our system. Warm up your body, warm up your heart and start to change the language of your life by engaging in yoga that heals.
Of course a yoga teacher and a believer in the power of yoga, I am a little biased… but that’s besides the point…
In yogi traditions the heart chakra, Anahata in Sanskrit, is located in the center of the chest at the heart level. Anahata is thought of as the wellspring of love, warmth, compassion, and joy that moves love through our lives. It is said to act as an integrating focal point of energy and as love is often thought of in most spiritual practices as the ultimate element of healing, the heart chakra is thought of as the healing center of the body. So when we talk about opening the heart we are tapping into the healing inside us all.
Mindfulness is Medicine
There has also been past research suggesting that mindfulness and meditation could be considered as alternatives to anti-depressant medications, or could also be used to combat the side-effects of medications.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may now offer a welcome alternative for people wishing to avoid long-term use of anti-depressants, and mindfulness and meditation are bread-and-butter with the practice of yoga.
The list goes on and on as to the benefits of practicing yoga for the individual struggling with mental health disorders such as severe anxiety or depression, and I could sit here and write all day about studies and strategies closely connecting yoga to incredible outcomes in recovery from mental health and addiction issues.
My personal experience itself can support the idea of using yoga to overcome depression, as I am someone who has struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction chronically in my lifetime. As someone now in long-term recovery I can say that one of the most amazing experiences I have been given is to practice yoga and cultivate an intimate understanding with how unifying the mind, body and spirit has helped me dramatically reduce anxiety attacks, overcome suicidal ideation, and even helped me find new passion and serenity while rebuilding a life devastated by drugs and alcohol. My testimony is just one of countless accounts of how yoga transforms lives in recovery, so if depression is an obstacle in your life yoga can be a means to overcome it.
At Palm Partners, we believe in treating and healing the mind, body and spirit as equally important and unified parts that make up the whole person, and yoga is one opportunity offered as part of an innovative and restorative personalized treatment plan to creating lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Feeling down? Lift your mood by “spicing up” your life!
Saffron, an extravagant herb commonly used in Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisine, is gaining popularity as an alternative treatment for depression.
Research has linked the red grass-like spice as a powerful tool in regulating mood and mental health. Several clinical trials show that saffron improves mild to moderate symptoms of depression.
Saffron is a flower that must be carefully hand-picked and dried. The process is extremely laborious making saffron one of the most expensive spices in the world. Luckily, it does not take much of the spice to make a huge difference in your health.
The Benefits of Saffron are Endless.
Saffron has traditionally been used for its healing properties in treating asthma, insomnia, Alzheimer’s disease, joint pain and dry skin. Women have found the spice to be beneficial for menstrual cramps and some men use it to boost fertility.
However, what really stands out is the spice’s proven ability to reduce depression and anxiety.
Saffron for Mental Health: A Depression Fighter?
Researchers determined in clinical trials that saffron improves mild to moderate depression symptoms. Patients were given 30mg of saffron a day over a period of six to eight weeks. The outcome was that saffron was equivalent in effectiveness to therapeutic doses of antidepressants.
What Does This Mean for Mental Health?
- Depression is a major health problem affecting 1 in 10 adults.
- Drug antidepressants are taken by 11% of Americans for mental illness and depression.
- Close to 90% of Antidepressant users suffer from various side effects like abnormal bleeding and sexual dysfunction.
- A natural alternative could be a great way to combat depression without those hindering side effects.
Although researchers do not know why saffron produce antidepressant effects, researchers believe the high antioxidant content of saffron could have something to do with it.
Sexual Dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of using antidepressants and in a 2012 study, results show that using 15mg doses of saffron along with antidepressant medication could improve sexual function in both men and women.
You should also consider looking at alternative methods of treatment that also can improve your mental health such as:
- Optimizing your Vitamin D
- Getting Plenty of Sleep
- Proper Nutrition
- Taking Omega 3 fats which have been proven useful for mood regulation.
Interested in Using Saffron for Depression?
- Make sure you are buying 100% real saffron from a reputable dealer.
- Ensure that the saffron only consists of the red filaments as those are the most beneficial.
- Soak the saffron in broth, milk or warm water before you cook with it. This increases the potency and makes the saffron more effective.
- An alternative way to use saffron would be to add it into a tea or some milk to consume. Combine at least ten strands of the saffron into your drink with some sweetener of your choice. Mix it well and enjoy.
- When taken at night, Saffron can also help treat depression that is associated with insomnia.
In addition to the mood-lifting properties of saffron, it also can help control compulsive eating. In 2010, a clinical trial showed that the mood enhancing properties of saffron could contribute to decrease snacking habits.
If you tend to reach for a snack when you are feeling down, try taking saffron as a way to curb those urges. Saffron mood boosting properties could help aid in maintaining a healthy exercise and nutrition regimen.
What the Future Holds for Saffron
Saffron continues to be researched for its antidepressant properties. The properties in saffron could be beneficial for treating mental illnesses like Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and other emotional and cognitive conditions.
Only time will tell where this ancient form of treatment will fit into our modern world.
Saffron is a great option for those looking for alternative treatment options for mild to severe depression symptoms. Remember to always talk to your doctor before making any changes in your treatment plan and medications. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135