The news this week of the apparent drug-related death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman brings into question the efficacy of programs that seek to support healing and recovery for addicts and substance abusers. Hoffman, who had struggled with substance abuse issues throughout his life, had checked himself into a 10-day rehab program in May 2013 in an effort to treat his developing addiction to prescription pills and heroin. Upon his death, authorities reportedly found his apartment filled with bags of a dangerous, often deadly formulation of heroin.
Many recovery veterans state that recovery from addiction is a long-term, lifelong process. A short stint in a treatment program does not indicate that someone has truly broken free of the addiction. Sobriety must be a lifelong commitment, and for those with the tendency toward addiction just a single use of the substance can unleash a quick downward spiral into out-of-control substance abuse. It is for that reason that recovery programs such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) insist on commitment to total abstinence
Addiction is something that comes in many forms and affects most of the population. Some addictions are more socially acceptable than others and less destructive to the body than others, yet the underlying psychological factors can be the same. People seek things such as pleasure, stimulation, relief from pain or anxiety, escape from reality or stress, and social belonging and approval. When one finds a psychoactive chemical substance, or an activity or pursuit that triggers the release of one's own internal mind and emotion-affecting chemicals, those can provide the feeling or sensation we desire and we can become attached to the drug or habit as our means of managing our mood or mental state.
Holistic approaches to addiction treatment seek to address a full range of factors that are involved in the process of addiction. This can include rebalancing the physical chemistry (diet and nutrition and detoxification are important here). It also involves working on the energetic level to restore healthy, balanced energy flow. This includes the use of energetic healing modalities and exercises, such as acupuncture, reiki, massage, and yoga. Then, addressing the psychological and spiritual factors underlying addiction is important for long-term recovery. How do we feel about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, and our sense of meaning and purpose in life? Prayer, meditation, support groups, spiritual exploration, cognitive restructuring, trauma healing, and other psychospiritual resources can be used to help address these deep issues that are often covered over with addictive habits.
According to author Stephanie Marohn in her book The Natural Medicine Guide to Addiction, "Substance abuse has become the number one health problem and the leading cause of death in the United States." This statistic was derived in 2001 from a report by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. Marohn points out that in addition to substance abuse, addiction includes behaviors such as overeating, gambling, sex, shopping, and use of Internet and electronic media devices. She states that "The war on drugs has done nothing to end the epidemic of substance abuse, It has only resulted in filling prisons." She makes the observation that "only by considering the well-being of the body, mind, and spirit can comprehensive healing take place, which is evidenced by the far higher success rate of this model."
Marohn's book provides an overview of 5 levels of healing: physical, electromagnetic, mental, intuitive, and spiritual. By examining this full spectrum of our being we can see how a range of treatments can be helpful - from diet and supplements, herbs, flower essences, and massage, to energy healing, energy psychology, family constellations, hypnotherapy, and psychic healing. If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, be aware that there are resources which can provide effective help and lasting resolution of these addictive patterns. The process of healing and recovery is a process that is worth choosing.