Most people see different types of addiction in the same light that many people view the apparent duality of mind and body. For example, most people think drugs are either psychologically addictive, like amphetamines, or physically addictive (as well as psychologically) like opioids.
Things just aren’t that simple. Without getting into how emotional and mental changes are all regulated by complex (read: biological) impulses and neurotransmitters, I think it’s important for people to start paying attention to the way that the mind and body actually work together – for better or for worse.
It’s been known for many years that your thinking has a huge effect on your body. Few people realize that what your body feels is an expression of your current mental state, or vice versa. Sometimes diseases emerge as a result of negative thinking patterns; sometimes unhealthy thoughts accompany an injury. Regardless, the important thing to know here is that you can’t deal with any disease completely unless you address both the mental and the physical part of it.
If you’ve been addicted to hard drugs, then you’ve probably experienced a change in your body’s feeling when you’re thinking about drugs when you’re not using them. A craving, or an intense longing for drugs, is known to trigger physical responses – increased heart rate, sweating, agitation, etc. Some people who have been addicted to heroin for many years report feeling mild withdrawal symptoms when they’ve thought about using it, even if they’ve been clean for many months. These physical symptoms are known as psychosomatic symptoms.
The term psychosomatic is a medial word that refers to conditions or illnesses that are either caused directly by, or greatly influenced by a person’s thought pattern. This usually has a fairly negative connotation, but in looser terms, psychosomatic can simply mean ‘of or relating to the interaction between mind and body.’ That gives you some room to work with the positive potential of psychosomaticism.
What might that positive potential be, you ask? Well, there are some methods of working with addiction that make use of what one might call the ‘reverse psychology’ of the traditional sense of psychosomatic conditions. They encourage people to elicit positive emotional states in order to heal their body, and results so far have been very promising.
Somato Emotional Repatterning
The Somato Emotional Repatterning technique is a fairly advanced healing technique that’s been adopted in recent years. It’s most often used in the field of addiction by holistic coaches or medical practitioners because it’s a process that involves healing on a broader scale than most traditional methods. It works to incorporate mind and body and recognizes that the two seemingly separate parts of our body are actually intertwined and should be treated together.
Many recovery workers simply describe the Somato Emotional Repatterning (SER) technique as a method of helping to cleanse the body of anxiety and stress surrounding financial, personal or emotional situations. These feelings are, in many cases, a huge contributing factor for addicts and if they are eliminated, the addiction itself can also be eliminated.
The process of SER is considered a powerful tool in reducing stress in both the mind and the body. Its main function is identifying and eliminating residual emotional patterns (such as those that lead to self-destructive behavior) that have emerged as a result of past trauma or difficult situations. These emotional patterns can either cause, or be a result of imbalances in your emotional body or in your neurotransmitter system.
SER makes use of the knowledge of psychosomatic conditions. A large part of the SER process involves recognizing that emotions have physiological manifestations, and can be rather easily identified – even if a person isn’t showing any outward signs of feeling an emotion – by observing their body.
Long-term physical expressions can also emerge as a result of continual emotional trauma, and these can form blockages, both physically and emotionally. These are known as neuro emotional complexes, and they are what SER seeks to eliminate.
The process of SER is very useful for helping the body overcome these natural stresses in a natural way. Though there may be physical assistance in the form of massage or other therapy, this is a much more effective way for the brain and body to heal than by taking more chemical drugs – especially if the person is trying to overcome an addiction!
As an example, let’s say a person experiences a breakup. This event leads to the person turning to drugs — the act of getting the drugs, as well as the decision to use them, all appear to be on auto-pilot. SER aims not just to turn off these automated stress responses, but to turn these into more positive responses. Just like your body learned to respond to stress by getting drugs, it can unlearn that behavior and learn to go for a walk, do some yoga, or make a cup of tea just the same.
You can read more about the Somato Emotional Repatterning technique here.
The typical methods of treating addiction – therapy, counseling, and complete abstinence – have proven successful for many people, but in this day and age it’s important to start thinking about the ‘other’ group of addicts who want to recover: those who don’t respond well to traditional treatment.
New methods like Somato Emotional Repatterning explore the complicated link between the mind and the body, and use that to help people struggling with addiction to overcome their demons.
If you think you need help with your addiction and are not enthused by therapy and group sessions, you should find someone willing to work with this natural, non-invasive holistic technique. Call my office at (805) 644-0461 for more information.