Addiction Treatment at The Sanctuary Helps People Become Fully Recovered
At The Sanctuary at Sedona, we define “recovery” differently than how it is defined in traditional addiction treatment centers, 12-step programs, or the allopathic medical paradigm. In the traditional paradigm, recovery describes the process of combating a disorder. The word implies an ongoing diseased oriented process. You are always trying to get something back and you never succeed. In recovery you continue to be the victim of genetic predisposition, brain disease or some other diagnosis. In the new paradigm, we believe recovery is the process of regaining something that has been lost, given away or has been taken from you. We believe that addictions and disorders are symptoms of underlying issues.
The holistic addiction treatment at The Sanctuary helps you identify and resolve these issues and move into a state of being recovered. Being recovered means that you manage the difficulties that inevitably come along in life and see them as growth opportunities, which you can do something about, rather than your disease, this implies that you are a victim. Being recovered means that you are no longer defined by or identified with a disease.
Addiction Treatment for Alcohol and Drugs: The Current Science
The mainstream addiction treatment paradigm is that addiction is an incurable and chronic disease. The American Society of Addiction Medicine, “ASAM”, issued a Public Policy Statement on August 15, 2011, defining addiction, in part, as “a primary chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” In another public policy statement for the treatment of addiction, the ASAM states that addiction is a “chronic disease” and requires a “life-long” management of disease remission maintenance protocols, similar to treating other “chronic relapse illnesses”, such as diabetes and hypertension.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug dependence “NCADD”, a nonprofit public health organization, also defines addiction as a “chronic, progressive, and incurable. NCADD specifically defines “chronic” as “lasts for life” and “incurable” as “so far, science has given us no cure for alcoholism and/or drug addiction”.
So, the latest accepted belief in the mainstream addiction treatment community is that 1) addiction is a chronic and incurable disease, comparable to other such labeled diseases as asthma, diabetes and hypertension, and 2) that the addiction treatment is a life-long symptom management program that includes some combination of pharmaceutical drugs, behavioral and cognitive therapies.
What if this Alcohol Treatment Science is Incomplete or Outdated?
What if this belief, well-meaning as it is, is incomplete or even wrong? What if a person can be healed of the disease of addiction? What if addiction treatment can be completely effective and allow a person to not just “function” in the world, but to really tap into vitality, creativity, meaning and purpose in their lives? What would this mean to a person suffering from addiction?
We understand that this can sound like nothing short of a revolutionary statement, as it is the commonly held belief at the moment that addiction is an incurable chronic disease. However, as with many diseases that were once considered incurable and that are now curable, such as polio, chicken pox, smallpox, malaria, measles, tetanus (just to name a few), isn’t it at least possible, that addiction is curable as well?
The New Science of Addiction Treatment
Scientific discoveries in biology and neuroscience have provided new data that show we can change our DNA, create new neural networks and grow new brain neurons throughout our lifetime. This is a huge revolutionary, or more to the point, evolutionary, paradigm shift in our understanding of how our bodies and minds can heal. Rather than viewing our genetic code as a fixed blueprint for our lives, or that the brain is a hardwired, programmed organ unable to adapt and change or grow new brain neurons, the sciences of Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis have proven otherwise.
What is Epigenetics & How Does it Affect Addiction Treatment?
Groundbreaking new discoveries in biology called “Epigenetics” have shown that our genes are not locked into a predetermined and unchangeable blueprint at birth. Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief, clearly explains that beliefs and perceptions of ourselves and our environment—including our consciousness — actively influence our genes. So if you change your beliefs, you can release the cellular memory regarding your self-destructive behaviors, thoughts and patterns. If you change your beliefs, you can re-inform your own DNA to heal and shape your own biology and create the life you want. This means the old adage “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” may not be true.
New discoveries in neuroscience are also challenging and disproving the old paradigm that the brain is a fixed and hardwired organ and that it is limited to a set number of neurons in one’s lifetime. Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D and David Perlmutter, M.D., F.A.C.N., in their book Power Up Your Brain, provide compelling new scientific data about Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis.
What does Neuroplasticity Have to Do with Addiction Treatment?
Neuroplasticity shows that the brain can rewire itself and create new neural networks, which allows us to overcome traumatic instinctual and emotional responses as well as adapt to brain injuries. Following a specific regimen which can include meditation to alter brainwave activity, supplements that feed the brain as well as with specific, focused and willed mental activity, a person can alter their brain hardware.
What Does Neurogenesis Mean For Addiction Treatment?
Neurogenesis means that the human brain has the ability to create new neurons throughout a person’s life and allows for the possibility of healing neurodegenerative disorders preciously considered incurable such as Alzheimer’s. A brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protective brain hormone, is important in the creation of the new neurons, as well as protecting existing neurons. External stress caused by drug abuse and environmental toxins as well as internal stress has been scientifically proven to be a cause of brain degeneration. Science has proven it is possible to increase the levels of (BDNF) through non-pharmaceutical, holistic interventions. This means that the brain, like other organs in the body, can regenerate itself.
Addiction Treatment and the Possibility of Healing
If one were to look at the data used by the ASAM and NCADD, one may conclude that addiction is chronic, progressive and incurable. If however one were to look at data being generated in the fields of Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis, one may agree that, like other brain diseases, addiction can be healed. Based on the new scientific data, one cannot debate the fact that it might be possible to heal from addiction. This new paradigm for addiction treatment opens the doorway to new possibilities for a person with the disease of addiction. If you suffered from addiction, wouldn’t you want to explore the possibility that you can get better and ultimately be free from your disease? Wouldn’t you want to explore your life as unlimited and open to possibility rather than your life defined ultimately by a diagnosis or disease?
Read more about Our Holistic Addiction Recovery Program