Drug and alcohol dependence are disorders of the body, mind, and spirit. Wellness is the other end of illness. Wellness is about taking care of all aspects of the human condition. It is also about how they are connected—body, mind, and spirit. Any condition that messes up one area throws our being out of balance. It can make us sick.
The truth is we are much more than the sum of our parts. Our mind, body, and spirit work together to make us who we are. But they also connect us to others, our environment and to our higher power.
Overuse of drugs and alcohol affect us in many different physical ways. They interfere with the immune system. They cause damage to vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, lungs, and the brain. The primary target of mood-altering drugs and alcohol is the brain. Our thinking and emotions are impaired as well. In other words, addiction is a brain disease.
An old commercial says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” That is true. The best scientific evidence shows that teens who smoke marijuana are much more likely to develop a serious mental illness. This is compared to teens that do not use this drug. This was reported in Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals in the world. Other research shows that young people who use marijuana are three times more likely to drop out of school. This truth can no longer be ignored. If marijuana can wreak such havoc, imagine what crack, meth, or pills will do to your mind. It is simply devastating.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) came long before there were fancy treatment centers. This group of people with alcohol use disorder believed they would fail without a relationship with a higher power. The early members of AA called it a disease of the spirit. What did they mean? Overuse of drugs and alcohol affect a person’s judgment. It often leads them to do things they regret. The feelings of shame, regret, and even resentment are said to damage the soul. That is why spiritual healing is an important part of recovery. Forgiving yourself and others is perhaps the hardest thing of all. You cannot do it alone. Letting go of the past and giving your problems to a higher power will free you. It’s a process that takes time.
Covering all the bases
Recovery is a team sport. You cannot do it alone. Many have tried and failed. Because this illness affects your body, mind, and spirit you will need to look at all areas of your life. A thorough physical exam with blood work can be done by a medical doctor. She may refer you to counseling or treatment if she feels it is necessary. Lastly, but most importantly, you will need a sponsor. A sponsor is a trusted person you can respect. It is a person who can relate with what you are going through firsthand.
Recovery is hard. But the rewards are a well-balanced life, improved relationships, forgiveness, and even joy. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?