Christ-Centered Treatment Also Includes Biological & Psychological Components
We often read about someone who has found God, becomes saved or born again, or maybe experiences a complete “deliverance,” meaning their addiction is immediately and ‘completely’ gone. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. In all the deliverance cases I’ve seen, the person was undergoing a spiritual and psychological change in their heart and mind as God was working on them before the identified specific deliverance experience and the person was partially open and cooperating. The acute deliverance happened when they finally admitted they needed to be completely humble to a higher power and submit to God’s guidance and instruction for their life.
It is important to remember that in addition to the significantly powerful spiritual aspects forming the foundation of recovery, some very important medical and psychological components are necessary to build the recovered and transformed life on top of the spiritual foundation. Here are the top five biological and psychological components to recovery.
Detox. If you are dealing with an addiction, your physiological body as well as your psychological functioning, decision-making, and coping have become dependent on the addiction object. Whether it is a physical substance like caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or heroin, or a behavior like eating, gambling, or pornography, the body doesn’t react very well when it no longer has access to the addiction object. In order to recover, you must go through a detox process that will lead to physical withdrawal and a psychological/emotional withdrawal. These withdrawals are very uncomfortable, but alcohol and benzodiazepine (tranquilizers like Ativan, Xanax, and Valium) withdrawal can actually be dangerous or deadly. The supervised medical setting allows for the safest and most comfortable medical and psychological management of this very distressing and predictably painful withdrawal process.
Nutrition. When you have been fixated on your addiction and addiction object, you start to neglect many aspects of your own healthy functioning. One basic but critically important aspect is nutrition. In order for your brain circuitry to work efficiently and accurately, it needs the right nutrients. This allows the repair and growth of damaged brain cells while having enough neurotransmitters (the messengers that allow different parts of the brain to coordinate and communicate with each other) to be able to stop the addiction and facilitate the learning of healthy decision-making and life-management skills.
Sleep and Exercise. Similar to neglecting nutrition, an addiction usually destroys sleep patterns. In order for the brain to work well, it needs to get proper rest so that it can accurately process, consolidate, and store all of the events of the day. If you are going to learn new skills to live life in a healthy way, you need to be well-rested so your brain is attentive and working well during the day. You also need to have a good sleep period to organize and store all of the new information you’ve learned that day.
Another important component is exercise. You need good exercise to develop strong circulation, which optimally carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Exercise also is a great stress reducer and antidepressant to help deal with the psychological difficulties you are fighting and processing in your recovery.
Psychiatric Medications. As I’ve discussed in the past, an addiction doesn’t come out of the blue. Addictions are our maladaptive coping efforts to deal with a deeper hurt, wound, uncomfortable feeling or experience, or psychological struggle. Often times, these underlying psychological struggles or disorders can be helped by psychiatric medications. The psychiatric medications will not cure the problem, but they are often helpful in reducing some of the distressing and overwhelming symptoms to allow you to more effectively deal with those inner issues in healthier ways instead of running to your addiction to ‘self-medicate.’
Written Karl Benzio, M.D.
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