Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health issues are often criticized for being too much like a spa or a treat. Alternative treatment methods like acupuncture, massage, and reiki, with yoga classes, meditation, organic meals, and more, sound like a vacation more than work. Treatment programs offer all these healing therapies as supplement to the intense and often exhausting clinical therapy taking place. Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction takes time on a spiritual journey. Full service treatment programs which offer multiple forms of spiritual healing are successful because they provide a retreat for the spirit. After years of abuse, running from the past, and neglecting needs, each client is in need of a deep healing and spiritual transformation. What brings an addict or alcoholic to treatment is considerable compared to what might inspire people to attend a spiritual retreat or spa vacation. Restoration of the mind, body, and spirit, feels life changing. According to Bustle, it truly is life-changing because it can change the brain.
Published in Religion, Brain & Behavior the study is possible the first of its kind to examine the effects of taking a spiritual retreat on the structure of the brain. Studying the neurophysiological effects of spirituality is becoming a more popular field in science as people increasing lean toward the spiritual rather than the scientific.
Participants, aged 24 to 76, attended a 7 day spiritual retreat which had Christian ties. Using clinical scales and questionnaires, the participants were interviewed before the retreat as well as a week after. A brain scan was also conducted before and after.
The retreat included hours of meditation, personal reflection, prayer, mass, and working with a personal spiritual mentor. After the retreat, participants felt less tension and fatigue in their lives, while expressing feeling more spiritual beliefs than they did before. As for the neuroimaging, there was “a drop of between 5 to 8 percent in dopamine and serotonin binding, meaning that even more of these feel-good chemicals could be accessed by the brain.” Both serotonin and dopamine are associated with happiness, emotion, mood, and even spirituality.
Creating spiritual meaning in life is essential for addiction recovery. The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are called a spiritual program of living, where one can grow along spiritual lines. Finding a spiritual healing in recovery creates purpose and meaning, while reducing the painful effects of addiction. Research has proven that physical pain is registered as more intense depending on the negative mood someone is in. Spirituality changes the way the brain regulates positive emotions, helping clients become more resilient to emotional pain, physical pain, and the pain life can sometimes cause. Spirituality in treatment isn’t about retreat, it’s about stepping fully into life, clean and sober.
Enlightened Solutions brings together traditional clinical treatment with holistic alternative therapy and 12 step philosophy. Healing mind, body, and spirit, we strive to show clients how to start their recovery as a new way of life. For more information, call us today at 833-801-5483.