Welcome, Hay House Listeners

Why “Integrative Psychiatry” Is So Helpful In Overcoming Addiction

Why “Integrative Psychiatry”
Is So Helpful In Overcoming Addiction
Dealing with Stress:
Mind, Body and Spirit
Guided Practice
Overcoming addiction is among the most difficult challenges a person can face, since addiction affects you on every level — physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually. My years of medical training and additional time specializing in psychiatry and addiction medicine provided the scientific and interpersonal framework for helping people to transcend their addictive behaviors but I felt that Eastern approaches and natural medicine could also be of great value. I spent an additional two years doing a fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil, who is (I think it’s fair to say) the world’s most highly regarded integrative medicine physician.

Though many people use the term “integrative medicine,” I have found that few really understand what it is and why it’s so important. Where mainstream medicine relies (exclusively) on a scientific understanding of the body and how it works to treat medical problems, doctors who practice integrative medicine draw freely from many different disciplines (also science-based and heavily researched) to treat the whole person. In integrative medicine, we use nutrition, exercise and lifestyle change to help people become as healthy as they can be – not merely to get rid of symptoms. 

The principles of integrative medicine, as taught by Dr. Weil and other specialists, are:

  • A partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process. 

    What this means to people with addiction: No one can help someone who isn’t ready to be helped … but it is never too late. Treatment works. We start with abstinence so the body, mind and spirit can heal. Recovery is the next phase, when you understand that you are better off not indulging.

  • Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response. 

    By understanding how the brain supports addiction, we can use medications to get biology on your side so that you can begin the recovery process. We also use vitamins, nutrition and alternative therapies, including acupuncture and massage, to support you through the first 90 days of abstinence so that the brain can begin to function normally once again.

  • Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body. 

    Getting to the point where you are ready for “recovery” means tracking down the motivations for your addiction – whether to drugs or alcohol or to a behavior – in the first place. What feelings could you not process? Why wasn’t your life working? We work to understanding the role of love, family, the community and living with integrity and purpose.

  • A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically. 

    Since every person is different, the treatment strategy must be uniquely suited to each individual’s needs, beliefs and motivations. We use the tools that what we believe will work, evaluate them and measure progress to make decisions based on safety and efficacy for you.

  • Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms. 

    In combination with evidence-based medicine, an openness to new ideas and ancient and traditional healing therapies enhances the likelihood of successfully overcoming addiction.

  • Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible. 

    The first premise of medicine is to do no harm; integrative medicine takes this principle a step further by emphasizing natural treatments that encourage you to heal yourself, body/mind/soul.

  • Use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease. 

    An important aspect of treatment is education in caring for yourself so you can get and stay healthy, which includes psychological self- awareness, an understanding of how your “story” affects you and a willingness to learn how to transcend it: You are more than that!

  • Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development. 

    I and everyone who works with and for me is engaged in continuing evolution as a human being.

Dealing with Stress: Mind, Body and Spirit

Addiction is one of the most stressful experiences a human being can endure – and chronic stress can accurately be described as a form of mental illness. It is a constant state of fight or flight, in which the metabolism, heart rate, breathing and brain activity all shoot up – and the only way to stop that cycle is to relax.

Even when relaxing seems impossible, there are things that you can do to free your mind, body and spirit – and they work. Here are three to try that will (not may – will!) reduce the stress in your life:

Mind: Stay Serene

Think about the people in your life who make you feel upset, anxious or sad. Uncover the link between your thoughts and feelings. Are you in reaction? 

Some people drain or even poison you. Are there people in your life who fit that description? Who are they? Consider freeing yourself from them and the stress that they bring to you. Schedule them “gone!”

Stop judging and start accepting other where they are – they are not you!

Body: Build Activity into Your Life

Design an exercise program that is specific, measurable and most important – realistic. Make sure that you don’t set yourself up for failure by asking too much of yourself or not making clear what you hope to achieve. Twenty minutes of light to moderate walking three times per week is a good starting point. Always talk about your exercise plan with your physician before starting.

Spirit: Connect with your Soul

Start a daily spiritual practice. It can be a five-minute period in the morning, afternoon or evening. Close your eyes. Relax all your muscles, one by one. Sit quietly and on each exhale, repeat a mantra of self-worth (such as “I am more than this” or “I am a whole human being.”)