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Natural Awakenings Magazine article by Brian McAlister

I called it partying

But it was self-destruction on a grand scale. What began in my teenage years as a pleasurable escape grew into a habit and ended in disaster. Looking back it is easy to see that my drinking and drugging were out of control long before I was aware I had a problem.  I am Brian McAlister and my sober date is August 2, 1990. In my experience as a recovering addict, best -selling author and CEO of the Full Recovery Wellness Center I have met many people who unwittingly strayed into a life of addiction as innocently as I did.  Luckily the day came when I hit bottom and became teachable.  If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction I want to let you know there is a solution.

Addiction is a physical, emotional and spiritual disease. All three components must be treated if relapse is to be avoided. Half measures will not achieve the desired result of long-term recovery. Nowadays, it has become popular in the medical community to blame all sorts of addictions on our DNA and medication assisted treatment is the new protocol.  Medication may or may not be appropriate to treat substance abuse depending on the individual’s situation, but speaking strictly from a common sense perspective, giving more medication to a drug abuser is doing more of what obviously hasn’t worked to begin with. It is like a man with a headache whacking himself in the head with a stick with the expectation of relieving the ache.  I believe the reason why people become addicts is far deeper than DNA or the physical components alone. Americans enjoy the highest standard of living in recorded history but apparently this is not enough.  Most addicts questioned will admit they don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. Feelings of anxiousness, fearfulness and being unfulfilled are ever present even in the midst material luxuries and technology that would have been considered miracles or impossible just a few short decades ago.  Low self-esteem and the lack of a true spiritual connection produce a sense of isolation. Seeking relief they begin self-medicating.  Escape via self-medicating can involve a wide variety of coping solutions including alcohol, narcotics, food, gambling, work and sex just to name a few. Of course, this only works temporarily because when the unhealthy distraction has run its course the problem still exists. Thus begins the endless cycle of addiction, relapse, depression and remorse.  So, if addiction can’t be overcome with medication, materialism or self-will where does this leave us?

Learning to live an abundant life is a process. It starts by admitting there is a problem and asking for help.  A problem can’t be solved with the same consciousness that created it. Let’s first address the physical component. Addicts, like most other people, seek instant gratification. Medical detox is recommended closely followed by integrating a holistic life-style of good nutrition and exercise. This is an easy way for the recovering addict to see and feel immediate and measurable results.  Developing a working spirituality through effective prayer and meditation is of vital importance to the recovering person.  All 12-step programs recognize the importance of connecting with a higher power of one’s own understanding. Prayer is speaking to God and meditation is listening for the response. A twenty year study has proven that recovering addicts who pray and meditate daily increase their chances for long- term recovery by eighty percent.  The importance of developing a personal spiritual regimen cannot be overstated. Finally, it is well accepted that a good coach, mentor or sponsor is valuable in developing any new skill and this is especially true when getting sober. The quickest way to success is to find someone who knows how to accomplish the task you want to learn and follow their suggestions,. The Full Recovery holistic approach to recovery is the new paradigm for a successful life in recovery.

Brian McAlister is a bestselling recovery author and CEO of the Full Recovery Wellness Center 333 Route 46 Fairfield NJ 07004.  973-244-0022

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