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Holistic Approaches to Addiction Treatment: How Exercise and Diet Help Overcome Addiction


It’s easy to write off the holistic approach to a lot of things in life as silly or even naïve. But the truth is, a holistic, all natural approach to drug and/or alcohol recovery really does work. The reason it works is because what most people think of as holistic as actually not an accurate interpretation of what it actually means or is. Holistic approaches to drug addiction are simple, straightforward, and yes, they really work.

How Eating Right Can Cleanse the Body and Mind

Most of the time, those who have been addicts for months or years on end did not eat well, and may not have eaten enough. In these instances, jump-starting their bodies with healthful, high nutrition meals that are rich in protein, high in quality, organic fibers, and naturally loaded with numerous minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that support the regrowth of cells, increasing blood flow, improving brain function, and in some cases, even helping neuropath ways heal and create the old, healthy connections they once had.

There is a lot of argument over which kind of diet is the best for recovery: some say vegan or vegetarian, while others argue a Paleo diet or even ketogenic diet, which burns ketones as the person steers clear of carbs. The idea that a ketogenic diet could work for recovery is not altogether crazy; after all, many toxins are stored in fat, so by decreasing fatty cells and using the liver to create energy through the creation of more ketones, one could suggest that detoxification could be expedited.

Cardio and Aerobic Exercise to Cleanse the Body and Create “Happy Chemicals”

Yes, it is true that aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping creates those “happy chemicals” you may have thought were mythological. They are very real, and when an addict in recovery uses exercise as part of his or her daily routine, s/he is creating accessible “happy chemicals,” including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and most importantly for mood stabilization and a consistent sense of happiness: endorphins! When an addict in recovery engages in stimulating activities like running, swimming, aerobics, spinning, or even high flow yoga, s/he will begin to release endorphins at the highest levels they have in years. The combination of reactivating neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine creates a huge improvement in overall health, heart and brain function, muscle function, alertness, and so much more.

The Truth About Holistic Recovery: It Works!

Despite what you may think about holistic recovery — or more importantly what you think you know about holistic recovery — the bottom line is that there are reams of data to suggest it works. At Luminance Recovery, we believe in holistic methodologies for healing, detoxing, and just getting to a place of normalcy again. So often, addicts had completely forgotten what it felt like to have a “runner’s high” or feel happy just for winning a race or engaging in a fun, communal exercise activity.

The Basic Breakdown of What Works in Diet and Exercise

The key to a recovery diet is to follow these rules:

  • Eating high nutrient, organic, raw, and unprocessed foods
  • Dramatically decreasing sugar intake, salt intake
  • Steering clear of artificial carbs (white bread, biscuits, etc.)
  • Eating lots of leafy greens, legumes, and raw, unsalted nuts (almonds, cashews)
  • Drinking a minimum of 10 eight-ounce glasses of water per day
  • Completely cutting out all sodas and sugary drinks
  • Decreasing high fat red meat intake

The key to a recovery exercise program is to follow these rules:

  • Push yourself when your mind is saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore”
  • Switch up exercises daily — do not repeat the same thing constantly — rotate what you do
  • Use a rotation of high intensity, moderate intensity, and low intensity workouts
  • Use calming, soothing workouts like yoga for the mind, body, and soul
  • Use hardcore workouts like spin or sprinting to break a serious sweat to release toxins
  • Those with back or neck injury, don’t push through exercise that hurts in an unhealthy way
  • Learn what “good hurt” vs. “bad hurt” are: feeling the burn = good, feeling your ACL start to tear = bad
  • Take a day off to let your body recover, replenish, and heal from any intense workouts
  • Engage in exercise that utilizes the brain, such as team sports, field day type activities, etc.

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