Monday, June 8, 2015
We (body, mind and soul) were made to restore and heal from just about anything. There is no reason to believe our bodies and minds can’t completely eradicate addiction. Up until this point though, we have only used a tiny portion of the tools our body and nature supplied for us. When I started my coaching practice over 20 years ago, it was after discovering my perfect storm, which I believe was brought on by a childhood trauma. My symptoms included ADD, memory loss, fluid retention, severe mood swings, gastro problems, acne, "auditory imperception" (a hearing disability), sensitivity to noise, sugar addiction, negative thought patterns and much more. I went to many medical doctors and various practitioners to try and “fix” all the physical ailments, but after many tests, we had no diagnosis. At the same time, I heard about a bio-chemical nutritionist who worked with amino acids and food to get people back on tract hormonally. I also suffered with emotional distress my entire life, so I decided to go to a psychologist who discovered I had PTSD from the childhood and adult trauma I experienced. I thank God for that diagnoses because I thought I was going crazy. When I set out to find these doctors, it was out of necessity and frustration. I was at a point where I would have done anything to get rid of the symptoms that no one in the past was ever able to help me with. Turns out, no “one” could. I needed at least three.
Although all these practitioners never even met, they were unknowingly working together to help me. I was taking their findings, test results, and diagnoses and putting together the pieces of the Donna Martini puzzle. And trust me...I was not initially aware that I was embarking on a “new age” odyssey of holistic healing. No, I will admit to being dumb as a stump, but necessity dictated. As a newly divorced mom, I needed to be strong and whole for my kids. I needed to provide for them. Bottom line, our survival depended on me being "fixed." That was my prayer, and this is how God decided to help me. He gave me a gift far beyond spontaneous healing. He gave me knowledge I could take with me to help myself and eventually to help many others. And so where the story ended was also the beginning of what I call a FISHing expedition: A Fully Integrated Synergistic Healing of the body and mind. If it took many factors to create my perfect storm, it made sense to believe I needed to heal out of many factors in order to calm it.
That was over 20 years ago and since I made such strides, others came to me for help for their undiagnosed issues. I was happy to lead them to my doctors and my findings. Without effort, a coaching practice emerged, and since what I was finding out was not something you could learn in school, I decided not to get any type of degree. Instead I documented everything the doctors and I were doing with each person and came up with some consistent findings in all the addiction cases: Imbalances in organs and glands (most significant being the adrenals and thyroid), deficiencies or excess of hormones (most important being cortisol, estrogen and testosterone), bio-chemicals and neurotransmitters (of course there was always a dopamine issue), amino acids, vitamins, minerals (most specifically aspartic acid and glutamine, but all essential and non essential nutrients). These physical imbalances perpetuated addictive tendencies and kept people trapped in their mental and emotional trauma. So trauma started the imbalance in the body and the body wanted resolution. That is what self medicating is all about!
Some practitioners use psychotropic drugs to try and balance the mind and body, but it is like a game of “try and seek.” The rhetoric goes something like, “If this one (pill) doesn’t work, we can try another.” I have a problem with this. Unless someone is so bad off only a drug will keep them from harm (I have seen this a few times in my practice), why aren’t we investigating the entire body as a whole BEFORE we attempt to put another substance that may imbalance something else? Why aren’t we going for complete restoration instead of bandaids? A fully integrated system (body/mind/soul) needs a fully integrated approach. The mind can’t function properly without a clean body. The body can’t function properly without clean, powerful fuel and a clear head. Nothing can happen without the will and we can’t get and keep the will without a fortified body! A vicious cycle! And let’s all think about this: We are taking drugs so we can change the body. Why would we try that before we try to get rid of what changed the body in the first place?
I hear and read about treatment centers that take a holistic approach (YEAH!), but the majority are still using and replicating traditional methods that are only working on a portion of the population (and I am sure that is why so many insurance companies don’t want to pay for them.) In addition, we need to upgrade our beliefs on what addiction really is. With AA being established in 1935, way before we understood anything about our bio-chemistry and genetic predisposition, shouldn’t we be open to a more full-spectrum approach to healing that incorporates the body as well as the mind and spirit? If AA is working on the spirit and expecting the body to come around, that might be why it isn't working on every person.
As far as I am concerned, if a program like AA or any treatment outlets are only working for a percentage (be it large or small) of addicted people, we shouldn’t be blaming the addicted people who can't hold onto sobriety for not being able to stay sober. We should be addressing the programs. Should we be blaming someone for not having the will to attend or stick with a program when the number one symptom of the condition we are trying to treat is not having the will to stick to a program?!? Put this way, doesn’t our approach sound a bit inane?
Like everything else, nothing is one size fits all. Since we only know a tiny percent of what we should know about the human body and mind, we can’t take anything for granted...not the cause, the effect or the method we use to bring people out of it. But again, not to blame any person or agency. I am not blaming, judging or faulting. And I will note that every practitioner I meet is fully entrenched and dedicated to helping people. What most were not considering (or taught) is that we need to bring EVERYONE from every facet together and be open to all discussion...willing to work together to heal each person and the epidemic as a whole. I send people to AA for spiritual direction, so that is proof that I believe in the 12 steps, but expect me to be "in your face" if you tell me AA is the only way. It was and is “the” way for many, but it was not “the” way for most or we would have no addiction issue. My point being, if there is an epidemic in a macro system, we have to address the macro as if there were many, many micros, and each micro is in and of itself a macro! With the millions of people we treat, we have 1,000 times that in variables for each person's body. How can we think we can heal everyone with one methodology?
Next, Part VII...The 12 Steps and a few strides: How we can address the body and mind as we lift the soul.
I always say, we can’t have a clear head without a clean body, so let’s start with asking, “Are we clean?” By understanding that we are all working at a deficit (meaning, we live surrounded by sabotaging factors our bodies were not made to handle), we can begin to unravel the not so mysterious answer to addiction. Do I have to list them all from exposure to radiation, electronic and microwave emissions to inhaled and ingested plastics, chemicals and nutrient deprived foodstuff? Suffice it to say, we are not living wholesome. As adults we can manipulate our bodies out of some of these influences, but thousands of negative influences in a day, week, month then years...? And what of a child’s body...while it is in the process of growth, are we kidding ourselves about how compromised they are? To make it even harder on our physical selves, we aren’t being fortified daily with nature’s offerings, exercise and truly wholesome, nutrient rich, chemical-free fuel. So we have much working against us and not much working for us. Where would our minds go from there?
And then there is the biggest trigger...one that is evident in 100% of the people I have worked with and (proven to be) well over 90% of those treated by professionals; namely a traumatic episode. Experts will agree that trauma altered the mind, but many have yet to link the fact that it imbalanced the body enough to sabotage it (which makes it the key to healing the person). In children (and adults) the trauma can trigger addiction to a substance or to a behavior like anorexia, cutting and picking the skin or hair. While at a conference on anorexia, I listened to this testimony from counselors. I was excited to hear their discovery (I already knew this from the countless people I was coaching), because I thought they were going to talk about new methods of treatment. When they finished speaking and there was no mention of the physical effects the trauma might have caused; namely, cortisol imbalance, I asked them why. I also asked, “What is being done about it?” The answer I got was, “We are looking into it.” This is not what I was expecting! I will keep asking questions, though, to all involved in addiction treatment...those with the wherewithal and doctorate, “Why aren’t 100% of the addiction population being tested and treated for cortisol imbalance? Why do we think we can mentally talk someone out of physical addiction?”
Whether it was a big trauma like sexual or physical abuse, exposure to death and despair, a life changing event like divorce, or what I call a “Little T” (not to diminish any trauma!), like a car accident, loss of a pet, bullying at school, etc., it all plays out in a similar way in the body. Stress and trauma produce a cortisol pump, putting the body in a cycle that never ends until we attempt to re-balance it. We know now that some bodies are already at risk (genetically predisposed) to addiction before a trauma is introduced, and then there are many people who go through severe trauma and don’t become addicted...or do they? Beyond drugs and alcohol, pot, cocaine and heroin, there is love and sexual addiction, computer games, food and gambling to name a few. Some don’t consider overactivity of something seemingly good for you to be addiction, but in my practice I see addiction to exercise, sports, religion, even Facebook! Some have a constant need to seek out metaphysical practices, like going to psychics, and one of the biggest issues...a need to constantly reiterate events from the past. (I call that being a re-call-a-holic.) Negative thoughts about past events can keep re-instigating trauma in the body and fuel the fire of addiction.
Depending on all ancillary factors like how we were taught to deal with life’s episodes, how well we are supported, how our minds perceive it, and the healthy or unhealthy state our body is in...our perfect storm gets created, and in order to calm it, we have to recreate ourselves, mind AND body, or the storm just keeps going, creating more and destruction as it passes through.
Next Part VI: The Common Denominators of Addiction and how to eradicate them. There is more than hope!