Pasadena Health and Wellness Program for Addiction Recovery
Addiction often entails serious consequences above and beyond merely misuse of substances. That’s why we incorporate health and wellness practices into all our addiction recovery programming at our Pasadena treatment center: it can teach you how to care for yourself and your symptoms, change your physiology through intentional practice, and ease the burdens that substance use disorders place upon the mind. Through proper nutrition, meditation, grounding practices, breath work, and trauma-informed yoga, you can return to holistic health at Annandale Behavioral Health.
One of the unfortunate side effects of addiction is a tendency towards malnutrition and poor eating habits. Over the course of a substance use disorder, multiple factors contribute to these patterns: money is often allocated to drugs or paraphernalia over food, time that could be spent preparing healthy meals is instead allocated to the pursuit of substances, and many drugs lead to a suppression of a healthy appetite or an influx of empty calories.
In addition, serious health consequences such as liver disease, cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have all been linked to substance use disorders. Many of these complications can be reversed with adequate nutrition and targeted meal planning, and intractable diseases can see some of their symptoms relieved.
Regardless of whether your substance use has contributed to metabolic disease, nutritional deficiencies that are common in people with substance use disorders can create substantial barriers to recovery. Several recent publications have shown that the gut-brain connection plays a large role in our emotional wellbeing, and disruptions in gut health are associated with an increased risk of anxiety or depression.
To treat nutritional deficiencies and improve holistic health, our treatment center provides a private chef and extensive nutritional education. Our culinary staff provides balanced and healthy nutrition plans to set you on the right track, while our nutritional education leaves you better prepared to manage your gut health after leaving our care.
Meditation practice can be immensely beneficial for addiction recovery. Several clinical studies have shown that mindfulness practices can:
- Reduce cravings
- Improve treatment outcomes when combined with standard addiction treatment
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Foster a greater sense of emotional wellbeing
These incredible benefits are why we include meditation as a core part of our health and wellness program.
The formal meditation practice involves sitting quietly and examining the contents of your mind. In this context, you can learn that thoughts and impulses don’t necessarily demand your immediate response. Instead, you can simply let them go and return to a meditative state.
With enough formal practice, meditation can result in substantial changes in your thought process throughout the day. Intrusive or self-deprecating thoughts can be dismissed as transient and not requiring your attention or action. Psychologists theorize that through this awareness, people become less likely to act on cravings or impulses to return to active substance use.
Grounding work refers to a set of exercises that allow you to exert power over a racing mind by getting in touch with your body. People recovering from substance use disorder are often bombarded with intrusive thoughts and cravings that compel them to return to active addiction. Left unchecked, even those with the strongest willpower can eventually cave to the overwhelming pressure of these thoughts.
A grounding practice alleviates these symptoms by focusing your attention on your body and sensations, robbing the intrusive thoughts of their power. It can also lead to feeling more connected with the world around you, rather than being enraptured by the contents of your mind.
Connecting to our breath can be a powerful tool for fighting stress, anxiety, or withdrawal symptoms – and can also help to increase our focus and improve athletic performance. It accomplishes this task by giving a measure of control over the autonomic nervous system through specific breathing techniques.
The autonomic nervous system has two main components – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system:
- Is arousing, preparing the body for danger
- Involved in the fight or flight response
- Increases your heart rate and adrenaline levels
- Gets activated by anxiety, stress, or trauma
- Is overly active in people who use central nervous system depressants, like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opiates
In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system:
- Is calming, allowing you to relax
- Reduces your heart rate and relaxes your muscles
- Allows us to digest food and repair muscle tissue
Research into breathwork has shown that specific breathing techniques can give some control over which part of the nervous system gets activated. When feeling stressed or anxious, practicing breathing techniques that emphasize exhalation will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to relax. Techniques that emphasize inhalation will trigger the sympathetic nervous system, giving us a boost in energy levels and concentration on demand.
Yoga synthesizes the components of meditation, breath work, and grounding exercises outlined above through physical practice. Trauma-informed Yoga teaches you how to find peace and calm despite triggering thoughts or emotions, lending a greater capacity to cope with the symptoms of trauma.
The hallmark characteristic of post-traumatic stress is an overactive sympathetic nervous system. This leads to the feelings of hypervigilance, anxiety, and reactivity that trauma survivors must cope with daily. For many people, these symptoms can become overwhelming and lead to substance use as a form of coping.
A Trauma-Informed Yoga instructor is trained to help people manage the symptoms of trauma through breath and body work, developing healthy coping strategies that extend far beyond the mat. Trauma-informed yoga can strengthen the mind-body connection, calm the nervous system, and empower survivors of trauma with a sense of control. It can also serve as being an excellent source of physical exercise, which can have substantial benefits for people new to sobriety.
The Goal of Our Health and Wellness Program
Health and wellness practices aren’t enough to stop addiction alone, but they provide powerful tools for managing symptoms that could otherwise lead to relapse. By combining nutritional education, breath work, trauma-informed yoga, and grounding exercises into our programming, we equip people new to recovery with techniques that can make their path to recovery easier and enhance their emotional wellbeing. These tools extend far beyond helping people quit substance use – they can help you to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives in recovery.