For those going through recovery, overall health and well-being are crucial. Balance is the key to successful recovery. There are many factors that can affect sobriety. The acronym HALT, for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, is a well-known tool for understanding what outside forces and internal feelings increase vulnerability during recovery. Part of balance involves not only avoiding using but also ensuring that your body and mind are well.
Finding a balance in life ensures that we don’t become unhealthy. Balance can mean not trying to subsist on a diet of candy bars even though you are training for a marathon. Although your training runs will burn the sugar, you’ll lack proper fuel for optimal performance. The same applies to recovery. If you are running the recovery marathon, balance means adding components to your life that support your endeavor. These positive supports come in various forms, such as proper diet, self-knowledge about your addiction and exercise.
Nutrition is an often-overlooked component of recovery. Addiction counselors and other professionals may talk about the need for a healthy diet since junk food and poor diets often accompany drinking and using drugs. But the science behind how food interacts with brain chemicals explains a deeper need for healthy eating. Certain foods, such as those rich in protein are linked with healthier neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, dopamine and other brain chemicals. Those with healthy neurotransmitters have fewer feelings of anxiety, depression and other factors that contribute to addiction. Other foods that help regulate brain chemicals include complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and leafy green vegetables. So, consider shifting your focus to fresh foods — local farmers markets are good sources — or signing up for a fresh food delivery service, which will provide you properly portioned meals that can also help you lose weight and develop healthy eating habits.
When in recovery, it’s, of course, crucial to avoid using. For many, certain locations or old routines can trigger the temptation to drink or do drugs. To that extent, a major change in one’s lifestyle may be necessary. From work stress to family struggles, successful recovery can be assaulted on several fronts. It’s important to realize that these triggers will occur, but that there are ways to manage them. First, you must understand what external forces may prompt use. Common personal triggers may be walking by a bar you once frequented, or simply being bored. If you know your triggers, you can avoid the bar or other places serving alcohol or keep yourself busy so you have less time for boredom. One way to keep occupied is via fitness.
Exercise is a helpful tool for recovery. Many have used fitness as a replacement for the euphoria once provided by drugs or alcohol. This is because, according to much scientific research, the pleasurable feelings associated with getting high also accompany a workout. Although the feelings may not be precisely the same — people normally do not leave a CrossFit class hallucinating and slurring their speech — but from a brain chemical standpoint, a similar reward system is at work. Exercise can increase your happiness, too, which is why you should figure out ways to fit it into your daily routine, even if your schedule suggests otherwise. Even if you have to make an appointment with yourself, try to make time for exercise.
Replacing an addiction with an obsession may not be healthy for your recovery, even if the obsession is good for your body. Also, overdoing exercise can do more harm than good. Muscles need rest in order to attain optimal benefit from the exercise.
BRAIN TRAINING – NEUROFEEDBACK
Neurofeedback works with the brain disorder of addiction by helping retrain a person’s brainwaves. Teaching the brain how to be calm, focused, and relaxed helps a person think more clearly and rationally. As stressful incidents are a major cause of relapse, neurofeedback training helps build a solid base on which to build recovery. It helps teach the tools one needs to cope over the long term.
Medications may be helpful to begin change in the short-term, but recovery from addiction is a long-term process. Neurofeedback retrains the brain patterns causing dysfunction, giving a person with addiction the ability to succeed past the typical 30-day treatment cycle. In addition, for a person who has relied on a substance to manage daily life, medication may be just another substance.
HOW DOES NEUROFEEDBACK HELP END ADDICTION?
During times of stress, a person with addiction needs to be able to remain calm, reasonable, and rational in order to make important choices needed to stay clean and sober.
- Neurofeedback teaches a person’s brain to operate in a calm, rational state, even in stressful situations.
- It’s respectful, non-invasive therapy with no side effects.
- According to a number of research studies, integrating neurofeedback training into one’s treatment program yields higher rates of success and lower rates of relapse than treatment programs without neurofeedback, for all age groups.
- Neurofeedback clinicians report that more than 85% of their clients who train with neurofeedback improve their ability to focus, regulate behavior, and reduce impulsivity.
- Since neurofeedback helps a person manage emotions and mood and improve sleep, adding neurofeedback to an addiction treatment program gives people the necessary tools to help them be more in control, achieve success, and avoid relapse
HOW DOES NEUROFEEDBACK WORK?
Neurofeedback helps to correct dysfunctional brain patterns that contribute to addiction.
By using brain maps to determine the specific areas that are malfunctioning, a customized brain training plan targets and trains the regions with under- or over-arousal and connectivity. This helps correct some of the physiological aspects of the disease.
Neurofeedback helps replace maladaptive behaviors with more healthy patterns. People with addiction want to be free of this disease, and they want to learn new ways to manage it. Neurofeedback can help a person learn to be aware of triggers that lead to numbing and destructive behavior patterns, and eventual relapse.
With neurofeedback, a person receives real, physiological help, and the tools necessary to free themselves from the destructive cycles of addiction.
If you’re interested in learning more about how neurofeedback can help with addiction of prevent the chances of relapse, please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Recovery is helped through a healthy balance in life. Balance follows healthy diets, daily moderate activity or exercise, neurofeedback and a clear understanding of triggers and causes of addiction. Through knowing our bodies, we can regulate chemicals naturally, avoiding the temptation to do so through self-medication.