“Substance abuse” or more specifically drug/alcohol addiction is a degenerative condition in which the mind, body as well as spirit get affected. According to “The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment (2007)” by Carlton Erickson, addiction can be described as:
A ‘biopsychosocial disorder characterized by compulsive use of the drug (behavioral); obsession and preoccupation with the drug (psychological); loss of control while using more than intended, despite conscious efforts to control use (biological); high risk or frequent episodes of relapse after abstinence (biological, social, and psychological); plus serious consequences due to use (social) and continued use despite the consequences.’
The definition clearly highlights the contribution of behavioral, psychological, and social factors towards substance abuse, which culminate in a chronic addiction of drugs or alcohol.
In addiction, the impulse for getting intoxicated is so powerful that nothing else matters such as relationships, possessions, health, interests etc. Such a state of being is indicative of the obsession, which is deeply buried somewhere deep inside the mind of the person who is an addict.
How addiction impacts mind, body, and soul
The first place where addiction finds a safe refuge and operates from is the mind. Addiction changes the mind in such a way that brain’s activities literally get altered, which creates such a strong emotional dependence.
As the frequent indulgence of substance abuse ensues, the brain gets hijacked into believing that nothing else but acquiring and using a particular drug or alcohol matters. The cravings and restlessness get exacerbated during the peak of addicts’ compulsion to use – especially if they don’t have access to their drug of choice.
The worst effects of addiction on the mind are decision-making abilities, knowing right from wrong–and acting accordingly–are changed.
The impacts of substance abuse on the body could be far-reaching and lethal. These effects can be categorized into short-term and long-term. Depending on the substance in question, they may induce fatigue, weakness, soreness, nausea and beyond. Meanwhile, actually withdrawing especially from alcohol use can be intensely painful as the body reacts negatively to the withdrawal.
An addict has to go through a series of worst alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable and unavoidable at the same time. Too much substance abuse alters a person’s physical systems since his body now needs the substance to function. In addition to that, due to continuous substance abuse, a person may develop many life-threatening diseases like kidney failure, liver damage, cancer, and heart disease.
The effects of substance abuse on the soul or spirit are more nuanced. Addiction kills a person’s will to live, love and be loved. Addicts start isolating themselves from people who care about them and get surrounded by those who are also involved in substance abuse.
The spiritual connection of the person to the almighty gets broken and takes a backseat, while the addict pursues nothing other than the feeling of induced euphoria. Furthermore, people who indulge in chronic addiction often find that their sense of self-worth and their ability to connect with others is severely compromised.
How to heal your mind, body, and soul after addiction
If you are suffering from addiction, then your road to recovery involves a holistic overhaul by providing nutrients to your mind, body, and soul. Though rejuvenating the mind and revitalizing the body and spirit is not an easy task, but it is a fulfilling nevertheless.
Healing the Body
It is the first step of the healing process in which your body is cleansed of the harmful chemicals and toxins accumulated due to drug and alcohol abuse. This stage is generally carried out in rehab centers, where you are carefully monitored to ensure your health and safety.
2. Proper nutrition
Because of frequent abuse, your body may have lost essential nutrients for its proper functioning, so you need proper nutrition and supplements. It may be difficult to consume a sufficient variety of foods to get all the vitamins and minerals, thus you should always check with your doctor before taking any.
Getting regular exercise will help reduce depression which is common for people recovering from addiction. Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good.
Healing the Mind
Mental health can be reinvigorated by addressing low self-esteem, guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety because these issues are more or less associated with addicts.
1. Improve Self-esteem
It’s time to change your negative thoughts by making conscious efforts to enhance self-worth. Positive self-talk can help you focus on your positive qualities and strengths.
2. Address Guilt and Shame
It is not uncommon during the recovery process to feel guilt and shame because they serve you a realization that something wrong was done. To alleviate the guilt, you can do something good to a person harmed or the community.
3. Overcome depression and anxiety: Depression can prove to be severe if not addressed, so try not to dwell in the past but focus on the happiness that is in your way. Think of it as a new beginning where you are now able to bring amendments and make your life more productive. Anxiety can be cured using relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga.
Healing the Soul
1. Spend Time in Nature
There are many ways with which you can enjoy after going to the lap of nature – sit by a lake, going for a hike, and explore the woods. This relaxes your body and renews your spirit.
2. Clarify Your Values and Beliefs
Spiritual recovery is all about cleaning your thoughts from inside out. It’s a time of assessment with the very real possibility of transformation. Strengthen your core beliefs, seek new possibilities and choose new attitude.
3. Practice Gratitude
A simple “thank you” to the almighty will shift the awareness towards what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. It will create a positive energy inside and all around you. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a powerful defense against the addictive behavior.