From the Inside out: Recovery & Nutrition.
Another Covid-19 inspired post.
So, I am self-isolating at home, sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself and eating yet another TV sized bar of chocolate. I have been ordering takeaways, feeling lethargic and unmotivated.
The last time I was eating like this was before my recovery and fitness journey, and these similar feelings of being sluggish and tired were coming back. It got me thinking about how important good nutrition is to everyone, but is it more important to those battling entering recovery?
RUMINATION: Chewing on the Past.
“Only cows ruminate Gary”.
I was told this at a recent training course, and it got me thinking about writing this blog post. SO, you may ask, what has rumination, addiction recovery and cows got in common? Quite a lot!
Rumination is the process by which the cow regurgitates previously consumed feed and chews it a second time. The re-chewed feed is then swallowed a second time. Cows usually spend more time chewing during rumination than they do when they eat.
In my early recovery I frequently ‘chewed’ over past event, past hurts and negative situations caused through my addiction in the insane hope that’ chewing’ it over would change things. I relayed and replayed and replayed stuff over in my head to the point that effected my mood and behaviour. I spent more time ruminating than reflecting.
The Void – Boredom in Recovery
This addiction business is quite a time consuming, exhaustive and all-encompassing thing.
If it’s not taking up most of your physical time; buying, supplying, using, or preparing – it most certainly will be taking up a lot of your mental resources; when can I use; where will I get it; how will I hide it?
One Size Fits All Recovery?
There are more choices today of paths to recovery than ever. These have all been driven by traditional approaches; tried and tested results, scientific research; but most importantly - individual preferences.
We are all unique, have experienced different things and developed our own view of the world. Sometimes when it comes to recovery we have been trying to - squeeze square pegs into round holes.
Despite our individuality the common denominator in our recovery is the need to changing one’s self, understanding that you cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Personal Responsibility in Recovery
“Nothing changes if nothing changes Gary. You gotta take responsibility”.
This was the wisdom I received upon entry to my first residential treatment centre. At this point, and with a bitter expression, the voice in my head was screaming multiple expletives at the counsellor.
“What did he think I was doing? I didn’t come to rehab for the craic. I didn’t ask to be here but I am so, keep your fancy quotes to yourself!”
That spell in rehab was my half-hearted and reluctant way of dealing with my long standing personal responsibility issue. It took another, much longer spell in treatment for that.
Christmas in Recovery
Christmas should be an enjoyable time for everyone filled with family, celebration and excitement. However, if you have a problem with alcohol / drugs or are in recovery staying clean can be a real minefield. You may find it more difficult to control your habit on festive occasions when drinks and drugs are easily accessible.
Burnout in Early Recovery
So, it’s 3-6 months after your last drink/drug. You have embraced the newness and excitement of recovery with both arms and feet. You have been attending meetings, various support groups, looking after your health, and training at ARC Fitness regularly (see what I did there?). You have also started to rebuild the relationships that were subsequently fractured during the hurricane of your drug / alcohol use. Things have been pretty busy.
Repeat Prescription? Exercise in Addiction Recovery
Eventually, addiction takes a real toll on the human body.
There are indirect physical effects that result as consequences from reckless and risk taking behaviours. I personally experienced; broken bones; dislocated joints; amputated digits; snapped vertebrae.
Also, drugs and alcohol weaken the immune system, damage internal organs and strip the body of the ability to heal itself. I too had to deal with; ongoing stomach problems, endless colds and flu’s as well as damage to my liver and heart.
Exercise can help those on the road to recovery start the process of healing by providing them with physical, emotional even spiritual help enabling them to move forward in their new positive approach to life.
Addressing the Bigger picture.
Recovery vs Detox
I have learnt many things on the road to recovery and one of the most important is this:
“Sobriety is very different to Recovery”
Sobriety is like the starting blocks in an 100m race. Once it is secure, it gives the runner the best possible start. If this wasn’t the case, the runner would slip and fall flat on their face. It’s the same in recovery.
While achieving freedom from drug/ alcohol use starts with cleansing the body through a period of detox, it’s important to realise that detoxification is not treatment or a cure. Anyone can get clean in the right environment if you remove the ‘means’ - staying there is the difficult part.
“Cold Turkey”, anyone?So, this post is very important!Traditionally people thought an abrupt stop to someone’s drinking or using was what was needed to ‘sort them right out’.Now, I played the ‘cold turkey’ roulette on many occasions throughout the years in my brave attempt to quit using substances. The last time was extremely memorable as I literally felt like I was literally going die (this is NOT an exaggeration).Because I was using alcohol or drugs in such an unrestrained manner, it seemed much simpler to just stop using that substance as opposed to trusting myself to reduce it safely over time. But it not just me, scientific study’s indicates that trying to quit cold turkey may be doing more harm than good.
Enabling – When help becomes unhelpful.Enable:“To give (someone) the authority or means to do something; to make it possible for”.Addiction not only affects the individual, it also causes ripple effects through the wider family unit. At times families are left trying to navigate the addiction merry-go-round trying their utmost to protect the person and eventually through frustration and exacerbation, protect themselves.Fundamentally, most families want to help when a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol problem, however, sometimes that “help” becomes enabling.Enabling comes in all different forms.
The Road to Recovery - Gaz's Story
It’s funny, I got unexpectedly nervous about writing this despite having done it countless times. Most people who know me now have met me at a time of my life where the following story can be hard to marry up. That’s a good thing, it’s shows that people CAN change; they CAN succeed and they CAN beat something that feels unbeatable to them.
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