The role that nutrition plays in recovery and coping with substance use disorders and addiction is in the news. This article is about making rehab more about your whole life and focusing on avoiding toxins and being more fully nourished, not simply replacing a harmful and illegal addiction with a less harmful, legal food addiction (e.g., candy). It is useful to really be able to overcome any addictive potential within us.
When we are stressed and abusing substances to cope with our life, we want to look at these habits and make appropriate changes. As long as we are willing to put the effort into eliminating certain destructive patterns, be it excessive alcohol or other drugs, it makes sense to look at our entire life and address many aspects that can contribute to improved health. Don’t replace alcohol with sugar and caffeine, or nicotine with candy, or hard drugs with poor food habits, starting to smoke, and drink more coffee. Make positive changes that can improve your entire life. Make this an opportunity for healing! Make it work for you.
Most of America has SNACC habits, which stands for the daily use of Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Chemicals. Although we can handle most of these substances, when we use them daily or become dependent, they can undermine our health. I have written about each of these and how to recover from them in my book, The Detox Diet. When I see people at my office and review their health history, often the first approach or level of treatment is to look at whatever habits exist. It’s wise to “take a break” every so often from whatever we do, especially if we are drinking coffee many times a day for energy, drinking alcohol nightly to cope with emotions and depression, using sugar as an fuel source, hooked on nicotine, or have much chemical exposure from foods, cosmetics, or household cleaners. Most of our country, more than 90% based on my research, has at least one daily SNACC habit, and more than 50% of us have two or more. Although most people can handle some, the daily use over years and decades is what undermines health.
As we embrace the desire the overcome undesirable habits and addictions that bring our life down, let’s make it a big change and address as many aspects of our life as we can.
No one can say that this is an easy task. It helps if we look at our challenges as opportunities for growth.
Detox means many things to many people. It may mean focusing on getting off of alcohol, cocaine, or heroin. It is also a general term for cleaning up our body and life. Let’s embrace that aspect. As suggested, even if our main focus is a particular substance, we can make this an opportunity to address our whole life. When we struggle with abuse and addiction, it often gets down to core self-image and attitudes.
The way I suggest beginning with my patients and detox groups is to start with a new attitude and the affirmation, “This is the only body I have, and I am going to treat it with love.” When we embrace this, we will care more about what we do and what we feed ourselves, our fitness program, our emotional behaviors and stress, our work plans, and everything, especially the loved ones in our lives.
Tips for Healthy Detoxification and Rehab Program
- Have a FOCUSED PLAN to clear the specific substance issue or issues; also have a bigger picture for what you want to accomplish with your health, in your life, and the goals for who you want to be.
- Start with a HEALTHIER DIET plan. It doesn’t help to replace one bad habit with another. Make sure you focus on good FOODS and limit the amount of TREATS you consume. For example, foods are fresh fruits and veggies, grains and beans, nuts and seeds, and quality proteins like eggs and fish. Treats are mostly processed foods like candy, cookies and other baked goods, chips, fries, and sodas. These may be okay for you in small amounts, yet not as a main part of your eating plan.
- Work EMOTIONALLY to change habits. Consult with a therapist within or outside your program. Group support is also quite helpful.
- EXERCISE totally supports the detox process and helps you come more fully into your body awareness. It also helps you be more positive as one of the best treatments for low-level depression and sleep issues. Find a balanced program of stretching for flexibility, weights for strength, aerobics for endurance and body cleansing, and this all helps with greater relaxation and stress release.
- STRESS management is valuable and it’s wise to engage in new behaviors. Learn how to relax and study techniques for lessening stress and tuning into your body needs.
- BREATHING is a way to shift energy and attitude. Come into your body for a minute, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Ask yourself to relax and support yourself from the spiritual strength you have. Know and believe that you can do this and overcome your life challenges.
- Start with LOVE, for YOURSELF. That helps all of us make the choices to live as healthy as we can.
- Take an ATTITUDE refresher. Yes, there are a lot of clichés and ideas here that are commonly seen—change diet choices and habits, exercise regularly, manage stress, etc. It helped me when I began to put more energy into what I did, especially as “treats,” and to get more joy from less intake. BE POSITIVE and know that you can overcome these challenges and embrace the life you envision.
In review, make your life work for you. Even if you can only embrace a couple ideas from this article about your health, that’s a good beginning. Start from where you are and take one step at time.