Complimentary Therapies Enhance Addiction Treatment
Biochemical restoration is the “missing link” to why traditional treatment for addiction is ineffective.
by Joe Eisele, CACIII, NCAC – Clinical Director
Long-term sobriety is the ultimate goal of addiction treatment, but high rates of relapse show that talk therapy alone is not enough. Traditional addiction treatment primarily originates from the Minnesota Model developed during the late 1940’s and has remained relatively unchanged over the past decades. The cornerstone of the model relies primarily on talk therapy and that addictive behavior is the result of psychological dependencies which cause a person to rely on drugs and alcohol. The belief is that addiction is the sole result of mental needs. However, current research is supporting that those suffering from addiction have chemical imbalances that lead to physiological differences. As we learn more about the types of chemical imbalances that lead to addictive behavior, we are able to address them through natural means.
InnerBalance Health Center in Northern Colorado along with other similar types of treatment facilities are achieving outstanding success. This contrasts sharply with the traditional treatment success rates of approximately 20 percent. In a commonly cited study, Vaillant (1983) conducted a long-term research project following a cohort of alcoholics and concluded that only 19 percent of the alcoholics abstained from alcohol after a one year period and a dismal 5 percent abstained after 8 years. Another study by Walsh et al. (1991) found that 23 percent of the alcoholics studied reported abstaining after two years. Numerous studies report similar results which leads one to wonder why abstinence rates are so low and why treatment methods have not evolved to continually improve upon existing techniques and treatment effectiveness. Clearly, there is room for improvement.
Only recently have researchers begun to explore a more holistic approach to the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. Biochemical Repair has been identified as the “missing link” in successful addiction treatment. Researchers have found that a number of genetic factors, nutritional deficiencies and medical conditions contribute to the physical and psychological drive to self-medicate using drugs and alcohol. Over the last seven years 98% of the alcoholics at InnerBalance have been tested positive for hypoglycemia coming primarily from a poor diet and the overuse of sugar and simple carbohydrates. If a person does not correct this, they can have anywhere from some to several to all of the 64 symptoms of hypoglycemia—including depression, dizziness and fatigue–eventually making it very difficult to stay sober. Traditional addiction treatment focuses solely on the psychological and emotion issues leading to drug and alcohol use. Talk therapy is a very important component in recovery but it is ineffective as a single treatment strategy. Likewise, just managing the biochemical portion alone is ineffective and does not equip a person with the mental tools and lifestyle improvements to maintain sobriety. However, this synergy of biochemical repair and talk therapy has resulted in tremendous success among addicted individuals. For long term success, nutritional and fitness counseling is also included in a comprehensive treatment program. Individuals are more likely to develop an addiction, or return to drugs and alcohol, if they suffer from underlying physiological imbalances. Rather than correct these imbalances with pharmaceuticals, more and more centers are achieving success through more natural means such as nutritional counseling, natural supplements and personalized fitness plans.
Treatment programs like InnerBalance Health Center seek to assist clients by giving them tools to improve both their emotional and physical well being. When complementary treatments are used in conjunction with group counseling, clients have a higher chance of long-term recovery. “I was in and out of many centers for treatment, with some short term help but no long term solutions,” reported Bob, a former client. “The other treatment centers only focused on two things—the mind and the spirit—and completely ignored the body. Therefore, there was no success in the long run. There was no comparison to the other type of treatment center. InnerBalance was much father ahead.” Biochemical repair methods of replacement therapy involve the use of IV drips to supply amino acid, vitamin and mineral supplements which rapidly restore health. Clients find relief from withdrawal symptoms and receive a boost to their overall health almost immediately. At InnerBalance Health Center, clients also have membership to a health club. Incorporating yoga, meditation and exercise in the treatment plan provides clients with additional tools for managing stress.
The transformations we see with patients are remarkable. Not only are cravings significantly reduced but our patients report significant improvements in almost all aspects of their life. Armed with this new-found confidence and improved health, our patients are much better prepared to handle the long-term recovery of permanent abstinence from drugs and alcohol. They are educated on the benefits of certain nutritional supplements and physical activity. Through talk therapy, clients have the psychological support necessary to help them handle the stresses that life can bring.
Treatment centers that incorporate biochemical restoration practice in the theory that addiction is the result of unbalanced chemical messengers in the brain. Researcher Kenneth Blum described this as “reward deficiency syndrome.” Addicts seek out stimulus to make themselves feel better. Their brain chemistry requires different levels of stimuli than non-addicts to feel good. In biochemical repair, clients receive individualized medical assessments and customized biochemical treatment regiments. Initially, a series of medically supervised laboratory test are run to identify problematic factors such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies or toxicities, excessive metals, food allergies and histamine levels. Amino acid and hormonal imbalances are also identified. The test results are interpreted by physicians and individualized health plans are created to correct imbalances. Symptoms of these imbalances include: inability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, poor memory, headaches, blurred vision, indigestion, nervousness, mood swings, racing thoughts and fatigue. Appropriate vitamin, mineral, amino acid and hormone replacement therapies are then used to correct deficiencies and provide relief from the symptoms. For example if a person has high histamine, neurons in the brain fire excessively which causes racing thoughts resulting in insomnia, extreme anxiety, difficulty concentrating and compulsive behavior. To address this condition, a patient would be given the amino acid L-Methionine to bring down histamine levels which dramatically reduces or eliminates the symptoms. These treatment formulas are natural chemicals essential to good health.
Biochemical repair can trigger dramatic changes in the body and improve total health and well-being. “I am sober, healthy and happy now,” said Linda. “I can really enjoy my life again.” People struggling with addiction have a better chance of maintaining long-term sobriety when treatment centers employ a complete recovery plan incorporating biochemical repair, talk therapy and strategies for a healthy lifestyle including nutrition and exercise. For decades, many treatment centers have been relying solely on talk therapy and have accepted the dismal success rates. By incorporating the “missing link” of biochemical repair, success rates can be significantly improved.
~ Joe Eisele is a nationally certified alcohol and drug therapist and the Clinical Director of InnerBalance Health Center in Fort Collins, CO.