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Balancing Body and Mind in Treatment

January 1, 2007
by Joe Eisele, CAC III, NCAC
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Centers see biochemical repair as a needed element for success

Long-term sobriety is the ultimate goal of addiction treatment, but high rates of relapse have demonstrated that talk therapy alone does not offer enough to accomplish this. Traditional addiction treatment originates primarily from a Minnesota Model that has remained relatively unchanged for decades. The model's cornerstone lies in the belief that addictive behavior results from psychological dependencies that cause a person to rely on drugs and alcohol. However, current research is supporting the view that those suffering from addiction have chemical imbalances that lead to physiologic differences. As we learn more about the types of chemical imbalances that can yield addictive behavior, we are able to address them through natural means.

Traditional treatment success rates of approximately 20% indicate plenty of room for improvement. In a commonly cited study, Vaillant followed a cohort of alcoholics over the long term and concluded that only 19% abstained from alcohol use after a one-year period and a dismal 5% abstained after eight years.1 A study by Walsh and colleagues found that 23% of alcoholics reported abstinence after two years.2 Numerous other studies report similar results, leading one to wonder why treatment methods have not evolved to improve upon existing techniques.

Addressing biochemical factors

Only recently have researchers begun to explore a more holistic approach to the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. Biochemical repair is increasingly being identified as the “missing link” in successful addiction treatment. Researchers have found that a number of genetic factors, nutritional deficiencies, and medical conditions contribute to the physical and psychological drive to self-medicate using drugs and alcohol. Over the past seven years, 98% of the alcoholics receiving services at InnerBalance Health Center in northern Colorado have tested positive for hypoglycemia caused primarily from a poor diet and overuse of sugar and simple carbohydrates. A person who does not correct this can experience some or all of hypoglycemia's symptoms, including depression, dizziness, and fatigue—eventually making it extremely difficult to stay sober.

Treatment centers that incorporate biochemical repair or restoration operate under the theory that addiction results from unbalanced chemical messengers in the brain. Researcher Kenneth Blum, PhD, described this as “reward deficiency syndrome.” Addicts seek out stimuli to make themselves feel better. Their brain chemistry requires different levels of stimuli to feel good than is the case for nonaddicts.

Talk therapy is a very important component in recovery but is ineffective as a single treatment strategy. Likewise, simply managing the biochemical portion alone is ineffective and does not equip a person with the mental tools and lifestyle improvements to maintain sobriety. However, a synergy of biochemical repair and talk therapy can result in tremendous success for addicted individuals. To enhance prospects for long-term success, nutritional and fitness counseling are also included in a comprehensive treatment program. Individuals are more likely to develop an addiction, or return to drugs and alcohol, if they suffer from underlying physiologic imbalances. Rather than correct these imbalances with pharmaceuticals, a growing number of centers are achieving success through natural means such as nutritional counseling, natural supplements, and personalized fitness plans.

Treatment programs such as InnerBalance are achieving outstanding success by giving clients tools to improve both their emotional and physical well-being. When complementary treatments are used in conjunction with group counseling, clients have a higher chance of long-term recovery.

Joe eisele, cac iii, ncac

Joe Eisele

“I was in and out of many centers for treatment, with some short-term help but no long-term solutions,” reports Bob, a former InnerBalance client. “The other treatment centers only focused on two things—the mind and the spirit—and completely ignored the body. Therefore, there was no success in the long run. InnerBalance was much farther ahead.”

Biochemical repair methods of replacement therapy involve the use of IV drips to supply amino acid, vitamin, and mineral supplements that rapidly restore health. Clients find relief from withdrawal symptoms and receive a boost to their overall health almost immediately. At InnerBalance, clients also receive a membership to a health club. Incorporating yoga, meditation, and exercise into the treatment plan provides clients with additional tools for managing stress.

Through these efforts, our clients report that not only are their cravings for substances significantly reduced, they also experience significant improvements in almost all aspects of their life. Armed with newfound confidence and improved health, they are much better prepared to handle long-term issues surrounding permanent abstinence from drugs and alcohol. They are educated on the benefits of nutritional changes and physical activity, and through talk therapy they receive the psychological support necessary to help them handle the stresses that life can bring.