Tackling Addiction and Mental Illness Holistically

Addiction is multifaceted, impacting our entire lives and affecting us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. We develop toxic thought patterns, limiting beliefs and recurring thoughts, as well as crippling mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These issues are matters of emotional health as much as mental, and they are often considered co-occurring disorders alongside our addictions, causing us overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear and hopelessness. Physically we have to contend with all kinds of effects, from pain to discomfort, to physical sensations of restlessness and uneasiness. Addiction and mental illness are often considered spiritual diseases, in that our spiritual disconnection, both from our inner selves and our higher power, can be a huge contributing factor. Since addiction and mental illness impact our lives in so many different ways, it makes perfect sense to tackle them holistically.

Often our approach to treating disease isolates one malady from another rather than healing the whole person. We separate out symptoms and take a different medication for each one. Rarely do we look simultaneously at all of the factors that might be causing our concerns. Our approach, therefore, is divisive and disconnected. It’s the opposite of holistic. Confronting our addictions and mental illnesses holistically means healing every area of our lives, every element of our health and well-being, and treating ourselves as whole people rather than as segregated, separate, isolated diseases and symptoms.

Let’s use depression as an example. Our most common medical approach to treating depression is to prescribe antidepressants to correct our chemical imbalances. We don’t usually examine the factors that might have caused these chemical imbalances in the first place, such as our emotional responses, our stress responses, our reactions to trauma, our sleep patterns, our diet and eating habits, our exercise routines, our interpersonal relationships, etc. We sometimes recommend therapy, but it’s not often that we try regular, consistent therapy before going on medication. We don’t usually try natural remedies, which can often be just as effective if not more so than antidepressants. We don’t look at our vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. For example, a deficiency in vitamin D can often contribute to depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. We don’t analyze imbalances in our organs. For example, anxiety can be directly correlated to imbalances in the kidneys, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be associated with imbalances in the spleen. We don’t look at all the ways in which we are internally contributing to our own depression – the self-destructive thought patterns we’re perpetuating, the toxic relationships we’re choosing, the difficult life circumstances we’re embroiled in.

Treating our addictions and mental illnesses effectively means tackling them holistically, treating our illnesses as the multifaceted issues they are and ourselves as whole beings rather than as isolated symptoms. We stand a much better chance of recovering successfully when we confront our issues thoroughly and fully, looking at all of their different layers and complexities and approaching all of them, together.

Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.