Addiction (chemical dependency or compulsive-behavioral) results from the reward pathway gone awry and is not a disease of morality. The neurobiology of addiction is often interwoven with psychiatric disorders and can also cause physical health problems. Dual diagnosis (addiction + mental health disorder) is common but can be challenging to tease-out and treat effectively. I have over fifteen years of collective experience serving roles as as a psychiatrist, medical director, and consultant for several local community organizations providing comprehensive and integrated services for adolescents and adults with serious addictions and related psychiatric and medical conditions.
"Fall seven times and stand up eight." —Japanese Proverb
Holistic or integrative psychiatry blends principles of allopathic (traditional) psychiatry and functional medicine. Functional medicine focuses on pathways of cellular metabolism that are influenced by nutrition, movement, mindfulness, sleep, and emotional regulation. Creating balance among these pillars often leads to optimizing health and wellness, can minimize the number or dosing of medication(s), and can even result in resolving psychiatric and related physical health issues.
During the initial assessment, elements of emotional, mental, and physical health are explored to best understand origins of concern or dysfunction. Thoughtful consideration of psychiatric and physical symptoms in the context of current quality of nutrition, relationships, stress, productivity, and spirituality (or self-reflection) is essential for optimizing treatment plans and goals for health. Integrative psychiatry works best with active- collaboration between the provider and client/patient, because treatment plans often nudge toward active changes in behavior(s) and/or perception(s) that can assist with healthy and sustained changes in the brain and body.
"We turn not older with years, but newer every day." —Emily Dickinson
Violence, trauma, and abuse often result in functional impairment and are linked to serious health issues that affect both the body and the brain. Those who have experienced violence, trauma, and/or abuse may experience psychiatric, cardiovascular, autoimmune, addiction, and hormone disorders, among others. Resolving trauma-related symptoms allows for improving function and often healing the neurobiological pathways associated with the long-term effects of unresolved trauma. Integrating therapeutic principles, medications, and functional medicine can optimize healing, allow recovery.
Collaborating with therapists who are skilled in trauma-resolution techniques is often part of the treatment plan when complex trauma is present. Most importantly, learning to treat one's self with gentleness and kindness allows for deeply integrated healing.
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." -Maya Angelou
Recovering from traumatic experiences, addiction, and personal circumstances is an opportunity for growth and healing. Opting in for healing is the first step for building resilience. This choice and commitment to heal strengthens and deepens our ability to connect with and love others and ourselves. Mindfulness practices offer techniques and skills that calm neuro circuitry, restore hormone cascades, and repair the immune system. Alignment and balance of these systems increases overall health, clarity of thought, and surrendering to the possibility of deeper experiences of acceptance, belonging, and love. Through the process of overcoming the past by transforming grief into growth, we cultivate resilience, and we discover more of our abilities and identity. We learn to trust ourselves and others.
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” - Eckhart Tolle
For those seeking deeper healing through their spirituality:
From the perspective of a follower of Jesus Christ (non-denominational), resilience resides in full surrender to God's unconditional Love. Working toward forgiveness (of self or others) is a conscious and necessary choice for overcoming ourselves. Relinquishing our limited human-ability to the Supernatural-ability of God’s Love, we open our heart to profound healing of our shortcomings (self-doubts, stubbornness, fears, relapses, etc.) that harm and separate us from Him. This means surrendering (nailing to the Cross) every protected fear, negativity, and doubt that resides as a precious wound within the heart. And it means trusting that our meager human heart, the comprehensive expression of who we are with all the good and all the not-so-good, is wanted and made worthy by His sacrifice for us. Being humbled by Love is what I like to call this beautiful state of grace. It is only through relationship with Him, that we discover our belongingness and the fullness of our identity. Transformation of the heart from fear into serenity is the hallmark of His protective resilience and limitless Love. (What do you have to lose? Nothing. And, you have everything to gain. I wish I had not resisted so very long.)
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." - 2 Timothy 1:7
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