The Importance of Healing the Body in Addiction Treatment

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Treatment March 26, 2024

The Importance of Healing the Body in Addiction Treatment

“MĀLAMA” is a traditional word that is used on Hawaii’s Big Island, which means “To honor, to protect, and to care for.” Many people may hear this and only think of protecting and honoring others. While this is true, “MĀLAMA” is also about honoring oneself and what makes one complete and whole. This includes the physical body and how important it is to also heal physically while in addiction treatment.

The Importance of a Multi-Angled Approach to Addiction Treatment

A multi-angled approach to addiction treatment has to do with using as many means, methods, and modalities as possible, which both directly and tangentially target issues associated with the mind, body, soul, and spirit. Also, a multi-angled approach will want to ensure that there is a specific tool being used for all the necessary components of recovery. 

For example, a multi-angled approach might utilize psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat one’s mental health. The approach may then utilize experiential therapy, like nature immersion therapy, to address one’s emotional health. To round it out, there may be yoga to address one’s physical needs and meditation to incorporate a spiritual practice into one’s recovery. This plan represents a multi-angled approach that not only addresses direct issues but also utilizes modalities that overlap one another and work well to address addiction as a whole. A multi-angled approach is also one of the quickest ways to attain optimal healing at the cellular level.

What Is Healing at the Cellular Level?

Healing addiction at the cellular level is all about getting to the root/core causes of one’s addiction. Rarely is addiction just about the alcohol or substances that one uses, which is also why simply putting down the drink or drug is rarely enough. 

It is often said in many recovery circles that “alcohol and drugs are but a symptom of deeper issues.” The issues are often buried down under the surface and make up the root/core of the problem. These core problems may be from unaddressed stressors from one’s work or home life, untreated or undiagnosed mental illness, or instances of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

There are a lot more individuals struggling with issues of trauma and PTSD than many people may realize. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.” Also, “About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.” These instances of PTSD and trauma must be addressed if one is to not just heal from addiction but to do so at the cellular level. This includes healing the body in addiction treatment.

A Focus on Healing the Body in Addiction Treatment

Physical healing is sometimes the only focus and, at other times, an afterthought. For example, when someone first enters a detox, their physical state must be addressed so they can be well enough to continue the treatment process. However, once an individual is deeper into treatment, it is not uncommon for physical wellness to take a backseat to cognitive and emotional therapies.

Healing the body is an essential component of healing at the cellular level. This is because if the body is not functioning at its most optimal levels, neither will one’s thoughts or emotions. Now, this is the theory of that multi-angled approach that was discussed earlier. It is the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. If one is not well, none will be well. Perhaps the most basic (yet also often overlooked) way to heal the body at the cellular level is with proper nutrition.

Optimal Addiction Treatment: Healing the Body With Nutritional Therapy

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have a maxim that we stand by; “Food is medicine.” This is because the right nutrition can set up the foundation for a successful long-term recovery. 

Nutrition is particularly important for people struggling with addiction because their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are often dangerously low when entering a detox and/or recovery center. This can be particularly true for people struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the journal Alcohol, Clinical and Experimental Research, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A … Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.”

Yes, people who are extremely depleted of nutrients at the start will often need to be replenished initially by means other than food. For example, at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we can use both pharmaceutical-grade supplements and infusion therapy, which can ensure that nutrients enter directly into the bloodstream. However, once that takes place, optimal nutritious and nourishing food is the next best step toward healing the body at the cellular level.

Nutritional therapy is not just about what goes into the body; it is also about what is left out. According to the peer-reviewed Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “Nutritional Therapy uses food to prevent and reverse diseases that plague most western societies: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. In order for food to be therapeutic, it must be nutrient-dense, measured in part by the nutrients and anti-nutrients, contained in consumed foods. Nutrients are plant and animal sources providing macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, probiotics), and fiber,” and “Anti-Nutrients are food products that have no biological necessity.”

It is also important that food is not only nutritious but also satisfies one’s desires when it comes to food. Even if the food is extremely healthy, if it does not make the individual happy when they eat it, then it will not be as effective as one thinks. Also, it is hard to stick to a nutrition regimen that one dislikes. This is why we here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab only offer the best organic, locally sourced foods curated by professional dieticians and nutritionists and prepared by world-class chefs.

Optimal Addiction Treatment: Healing the Body With Nature

When one comes to the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, it is hard not to be taken by the breathtaking landmarks and landscapes that encompass the whole region. These are some of the most magnificent waterfalls like the Rainbow and Akaka Falls, beautiful beaches like Spencer, Carlsmith, and Richardson Beach, and outstanding overlooks like Laupahoehoe Point. There is even a live volcano, which is sacred to the area: Kilauea Volcano.

When it comes to healing the body with the nature of Hawaii’s Big Island, it can be hard to know where to start. For example, one can run along the trails through the countryside, do yoga on the beach, swim with manta rays and tropical fish, or surf or boogie board out in the clear blue Pacific Ocean. Of course, many other benefits can be had from the nature of Hawaii’s Big Island other than just physical wellness. This is especially true with nature immersion therapy.

The Benefits of Nature Immersion Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Nature immersion therapy is an experiential therapy that focuses on connecting one’s internal self with one’s surroundings. It is all about exploring nature and seeing what it brings up cognitively and/or emotionally. These thoughts and feelings are then discussed with a professional experiential therapist to see what they mean and how they might apply to one’s addiction recovery.

There are also many benefits, other than physical benefits, that can be garnered from nature immersion therapy. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Besides physical health improvements, nature exposure can bring about positive influence upon psychological constructs such as boredom, friendliness, well-being, and liveliness.” Also, “Besides improvements to physical and psychological well-being, exposure to natural environments has been shown to bring about positive impacts on cognitive functioning… While cognitive restoration and physiological well-being are the prominent and renowned benefits of nature exposure, there is one important construct that is often overlooked in environmental psychology research studies – that is, the human-nature relationship; also known as connectedness to nature (CN).”

Of course, the landscape of Hawaii’s Big Island is not the only nature that can be utilized to help the body heal. There is also exclusive access to the Pacific Ocean off of the Hamakua Coast.

Optimal Addiction Treatment: Healing the Body With Surf Therapy

Many people don’t get an opportunity to heal the body via surfing. This is simply because many people don’t have access to amazing surf breaks like the ones surrounding us at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. In fact, one of the best surf breaks on Hawaii’s Big Island is a mere 15-minute journey from our luxury 30-acre property, Honoli’i. This is an ideal place where our clients get to heal their bodies and engage in surf therapy.

As with nature immersion therapy, surf therapy also has many benefits that go beyond physical wellness. According to the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychology, “[T]here is increasing evidence suggesting that participation in action and adventure sports, such as surfing, is meaningful and life-enhancing. Participating in action and adventure sports is said to create opportunities to foster positive psychological outcomes such as resilience, self-esteem, positive affect, and relatedness. A growing body of evidence worldwide has validated the use of surfing as a therapeutic mediator to achieve positive change such as increased well-being.”

However, the list of benefits does not end there. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “[S]pending time in nature, especially by water, reduces the production of stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine, reducing stress and anxiety. The calm sound of water and waves crashing against the shore also has a calming effect as well as the negative ions with which the ocean water is filled. This suggests that water sports may be particularly suitable for improving mental well-being.” 

Optimal Addiction Treatment: Healing the Body With Massage

It is also important to note that healing the body does not always have to be so active on the part of the individual. This is where healing the body with methods like massage comes in.

Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with chronic pain. If this chronic pain is not addressed, then the recovery outcomes tend to be less than ideal. This has actually been shown in studies. 

According to a study in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, “Chronic pain patients had more extensive addiction treatment histories, more severe opioid cravings, earlier age at first opioid use, and more psychiatric and health concerns. Individuals with dependence on opioid analgesics reported higher levels of chronic pain and stated that their pain contributed to their addiction… Chronic pain was associated with negative treatment outcomes, such as medical and psychiatric comorbidity and counselor frustration.” For many of these patients, “massage therapy” reduced their chronic pain and thus elevated their treatment outcomes. Yoga has also been shown to exceptionally help treatment outcomes, especially when it comes to healing the body at the cellular level.

Optimal Addiction Treatment: Healing the Body With Yoga

Yoga can be more than an exercise; it can be a life force. The renowned Yogi and spiritual teacher B.K.S. Iyengar once said, “As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of divine essence, we are among the stars. [However], as human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon the earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound.”

Yoga has been practiced for over 3,000 years, and it is still going stronger than ever. Now, yoga originated solely as a religious or spiritual practice but has since moved into the realm of addiction care and physical therapy.

The physical benefits of yoga include better flexibility, more strength, better posture and bone structure, a healthier respiratory system, and reduced chances for heart disease and diabetes. But, physical benefits are not the only type of benefits that yoga has to offer.

According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional, and spiritual pain, suffering, or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” While not all benefits are specific to healing the physical body, they are all crucial to healing from addiction at the cellular level.

Healing the Body at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

When one takes care of their body, they are taking care of their whole essence, and that is essential when it comes to getting to the root/core causes of addiction. Healing the body after active addiction is a crucial part of what it takes to achieve long-term successful sobriety and recovery. If the body is overlooked and is not taken proper care of, then the rest of the recovery process will not often fall into place.

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we believe in healing the whole mind, body, and soul. By doing so, we know that we are ensuring optimal recovery on the cellular level. Also, we are ensuring a recovery that can last long into the future.

The Buddha said, “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” Also, it is about showing oneself the honor and self-respect that one deserves, and at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab on Hawaii’s Big Island, it is all about “MĀLAMA.”

Many people lose sight of how depleted the body can become when struggling with addiction and/or mental illness. That is why it is crucial to replenish the essential vitamins and nutrients the body needs, as well as bring a focus to physical activity and wellness. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, these activities include surfing, swimming, boogie boarding, hiking, and yoga (just to name a few). If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the positive path to recovery. For more information on the importance of healing the physical body in recovery, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.