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Exploring The Recovery Journey: The Importance of Being Fulfilled

“I understood, through rehab, things about creating characters. I understood that creating whole people means knowing where we come from, how we can make a mistake and how we overcome things to make ourselves stronger.”

Samuel L. Jackson

Recovery is a process

For individuals who have a history of addiction, some of whom may have checked into a rehab, it’s important to recognise that recovery is a lifelong process. An alcoholic, regardless of how many months or years they’ve been sober, will always struggle to have a healthy relationship with alcohol (thus the need for abstinence). Similarly, an individual in early recovery from an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa will need to be mindful of their attitude towards food and their behaviour for the rest of their lives (no one is ever entirely “cured” from anorexia, nevertheless a healthy and fulfilled life can be led with a strong support system and recovery programme). Addiction is a chronic brain disorder, and relapses are very common in the recovery community, so it’s best to approach recovery as a life-long process, taken one day at a time. Depending on one’s life span, there are potentially (and hopefully) many years to work on one’s recovery and personal growth having successfully arrested an addiction.

This is why our team at Addcounsel ensures that each individual client is provided with a holistic recovery programme designed to build a lifelong foundation for their journey. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of being fulfilled in recovery and look at different ways to achieve this. Being in long-term recovery, learning more about one’s motivations, making peace with the past, and reconnecting with those we love more intimately is truly priceless.

Establishing what really matters in recovery

Typically, when a person overcomes their physical dependency on alcohol another mind- and mood-altering substance, or begins to build a new healthier relationship with food, it’s perfectly natural to take inventory of the past, and consider how to create a better future. This internal exploration can be done with the help of a mental health clinician and a recovery support system, and of course, a spouse/partner and close friends (although it is important to bear in mind that rebuilding a forgiving relationship with oneself is crucial before involving other loved ones in the process).

With so many examples of brilliant individuals succumbing to an addiction, and/or crashing/burning out, it stands to reason that a close examination and re-evaluation of certain lifestyle choices/situations is of paramount importance to ensure a brighter future, or in other words, “If nothing changes, nothing changes”. Arresting a dependency on a drug, or ceasing to follow through on an urge, really is but the start of one’s recovery.

It’s almost a cliché for a successful individual in their 50s to take up yoga or get a bug for long retreats and become much more philosophical about the human experience and their place in the world. The good news is that this psychological and emotional exploration can occur at any time in one’s recovery journey regardless of chronological age. A twenty-year-old can do this, as can an eighty-year-old in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. An individual in recovery will hopefully take a close look at themselves and discover that their newfound identity no longer bears any resemblance to the person they thought they were, now that their mind is so much clearer, and they no longer exhaust all their energy trying to sustain an addiction or addictive behaviour. As the English guitarist, singer, and song writer, Eric Clapton once said: “My identity shifted when I got into recovery. That’s who I am now, and it actually gives me greater pleasure to have that identity than to be a musician or anything else.”

A pertinent question to ask oneself in early recovery is, “What really matters to me?” This could be a marriage, spending more time with family, creating a new startup to solve a problem in society, or experiencing different cultures in other countries. It’s a deeply personal question, but one that is all too often overlooked by many before life forces them to stop, regroup and rethink their trajectory. Regularly asking this question with loved ones and supportive fellows in recovery, say once or twice a year, is a wise investment. Depending on one’s stage in life and circumstance, the answers may change, but overall, an underlying desire to be fulfilled and live one’s best life drives the answers.

At Addcounsel, we work with individuals who aspire to this, firstly by addressing an addiction and/or mental health issues, and then making the necessary adjustments to live healthier, happier, and prosperous lives. It was the author Donna Goddard who wrote: “Everyone has a purpose, and fulfilling our purpose will make us happy. Whatever our individual purpose is, it will always be to use our abilities to add something good to other people’s lives and thereby add to our own.”

What does fulfilment look like in long-term recovery?

Let’s look at just a few of the multifarious ways an individual can propel themselves into and maintain a joyful, sustained recovery:

Eating well and staying hydrated

There’s so much great data published online with respect to how to enhance health and longevity by focussing on optimal nutrition. Making sure one has the right nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, fibre, fresh water etc, will not only repair and sustain the human body but will greatly enhance mental health. We literally are what we eat, which makes sense when you break down what the body is made of. We know that 99% of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, calcium, carbon, and phosphorus. The food we eat will greatly impact the chemicals in our bodies.

In an article titled Weirdly True: We Are What We Eat published by Harvard Business Review it states that: “Our gut or gastrointestinal tract (also known as our second brain) is home to billions of bacteria. The food we eat directly affects our gut health (or the balance of good and bad bacteria) and influences the production of neurotransmitters (our body’s chemical messengers that are constantly carrying messages from the gut to the brain).” The article continues: “One straightforward recommendation for keeping our moods even and balanced, especially in the work environment, is to consume foods that promote good bacteria in our guts. This means consuming fresh vegetables and foods high in probiotic content (e.g., plain yogurt or kimchi), and reducing the intake of alcohol or simple carbohydrates (like sugar).”

Staying hydrated is so important and has been proven to enhance mental health, by reducing symptoms of anxiety and even mild depression. Clarity of thought is much easier to achieve when the body is hydrated. CNET reports (along with many credible publications) that: “Studies have found that people who regularly drink less water have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. The combination of dehydration, zapping the brain’s energy and cutting down serotonin production can increase depression symptoms. The same is true for anxiety.” The article concludes that: “When dehydrated, the body is stressed, which causes the adrenal glands to kick into overdrive and releases excess cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone our body uses to fight perceived danger. An increase in cortisol will result in physical responses of higher heart rate, muscle tension and a general feeling of uneasiness. Drinking enough water doesn’t magically cure anxiety and depression. However, it nourishes the brain and helps combat the symptoms you may experience.”

Getting (and staying) fit

As well as maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet and staying hydrated, getting, and staying fit in recovery will serve an individual in so many ways. The physical benefits are well known such as strengthening bones and muscles, although recent data has shown how regular strenuous exercise (along with other lifestyle applications) can also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases. Alzheimer’s Society writes: “Regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 28%. For Alzheimer’s disease specifically, the risk was reduced by 45%. These numbers come from an analysis that combined results of 16 studies into exercise and dementia. There is some evidence to show older people can also reduce their risk of dementia with regular exercise. One study looked at the amount of daily activity of older people. The ones who exercised the least (the bottom 10%) were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the ones who exercised the most (the top 10%).” Physical fitness makes living a fulfilling and purposeful life possible. In many cases, hiring a coach will make sense if the motivation to exercise is lacking.

Spending time with and investing in those we love

Arguably the world’s most impactful investor, Warren Buffett was asked about what where the most important things in life as he approached his nineties. He said: “Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. Buffett continued. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is — your life is a disaster. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.” Investing quality time and resources in those we love makes for a fulfilling life. An individual will feel empowered and validated if they continue to work on their most valued relationships.

A fulfilling career and authentic ways to be of service

In the West, we often look back to the ancient Greeks and compare their lifestyles to ours. Our most highly regarded intellectuals and philosophers look to the likes of Stoicism and the teachings of Alexander “the great”, Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, for pearls of wisdom. If we look back at the ancient Greeks, we’ll see the word “virtue” repeated, especially as it related to the “good life”. However, virtue according to the ancient Greeks, meant to perform one’s work with excellence, therefore going beyond what we think of as moral thinking. Similarly, many wisdom traditions encourage maximising our potential to live abundantly and to serve others well.

As humans, we draw self-esteem from participating in a positive way to the human species, regardless of how much impact our achievements have. People need to feel relevant, and perhaps one of the best ways to do that is to do what we’re most naturally fitted to do, however that manifests. To excel in one’s vocation, career, and philanthropic and/or creative ventures is a necessary component to fulfilment and will make life that much sweeter.

Contact us today to start your recovery

When you check in to our discreet central London rehabilitation facility, you’ll be embarking upon a personalised treatment programme tailored to your individual needs. We offer luxury private accommodation for the duration of your stay, with 24/7 access to a team of world-class experts headed by one of the UK’s leading psychiatrists.

Our multi-disciplinary team boasts a wealth of mental wellbeing knowledge and expertise in every aspect of your recovery. Dedicated psychiatrists, nutritionists, therapists, and addiction specialists will create a comprehensive process designed specifically for you. Our focus isn’t just on your mind; we understand the important roles that genetics, nutrition and lifestyle can play in the development of alcohol or drug dependency, and in the process of recovery.

Experts will assess the factors that led to your substance misuse or mental health condition, leverage the world’s most extensive menu of therapy services to help you recover, and create a robust aftercare programme to support re-integration into your family and lifestyle.

Our bespoke and private treatment takes place in an intimate, one-to-one setting – no groups, no other patients. At Addcounsel’s luxury rehab and mental health clinic in the UK, your comfort, safety, and privacy are our priority. We can treat a whole range of conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, gaming addiction, porn addiction, and substance abuse addiction. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

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