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Alcohol Addiction and the Holistic Alternative

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Alcohol addiction is the number one substance abuse problem in the US. Many people every year die from the effects of their substance abuse and addictions and many more die from the issues created by other people’s problems with alcohol.

When it comes to rehabilitation from Alcohol the success rate of all programs offered is extremely low.
There are many reasons for this. The biggest problem when it comes to rehabilitation from alcohol is that most all programs are not holistically structured. The most used method in dealing with alcohol addiction is Alcohol Anonymous. According to the tenants of AA you have to admit to the group that you are an “alcoholic”.
While in the meetings you at some point have to get up before the group, declare you are an alcoholic and tell them your “story” of your life and how alcohol has adversely affected you.

AA started many years ago when a couple of guys who were having problems with alcohol decided to come together and support each other. Over time the program expanded to provide mentors for people getting into the program. Despite how long it may have been since you used alcohol you still have to declare yourself an “alcoholic”. The stories are legendary of people going to meetings and despite the fact that they haven’t used alcohol in two decades or longer they still have to declare themselves an alcoholic.
AA is touted by many rehabs as the “only” method that works for alcohol addiction. Peer-reviewed studies peg the success rate of AA somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. That is, about one of every fifteen people who enter these programs is able to become and stay sober. That statistic is sobering in and of itself. Even with low success rates AA has helped thousands if not millions of people. And we applaud their success. But anything and everything can be improved upon if you spend enough time studying the problem and developing a  better approach to it.

I would like to present another more holistic approach to alcoholism and why someone would want to come to Sacred Space Retreats in Cloverdale, California, to deal with their issues of addiction instead of only the traditional methods of the AA model.

First, let me start by talking about my own personal family observations with alcoholism.

My first introduction to the problems of alcoholism came in the form of my family, in particular, my father.
As I have observed our family issues with it I find that for many people, particularly men in our society we have a similar pattern when it comes to predisposing us to alcohol addiction.

My Dad was in the military on active duty for 30 years. Then after he retired he “volunteered” for the military for another 30 years. And in so doing he is what I call one of the original “hard chargers”
For many years he had an alcohol problem as a lot of people in the military do as their way of coping with the tremendous stress they have.
As time went on I tried to get him to make some changes to his lifestyle such as taking more responsibility for his health and to do things at home like prepare more healthy meals for himself.
He was from the “old school ” for sure. He couldn’t relate to taking better care of himself and eating better. He left all the food preparation to my mother. He said to me once that “it wasn’t in his contract” to prepare his own food. I think he was also from the depression era and so for him, he thought I was crazy to suggest that he eat more, healthier ( in his mind more expensive) food.

For instance, he loved ice cream. And he would always go to the Air Force base not far from where he lived and he would get the cheapest ice cream they had. He would often brag about the inexpensive food he could get from the base commissary. I don’t even think it was real ice cream more like “ice milk”. Anyway, he could just not understand why someone would pay more for something he could get cheaper. Eventually, I gave up trying to convince him.

My father started to develop Alzheimer when he was in his mid 70’s. My mother was so wonderful in that she insisted on taking care of him there at home and not have him go to some convalescent home. In the end, it took quite a toll on her. Dad died in 2009.
The last 8 years of his life he continued to decline cognitively. At 82 he died not even knowing who I was or even who his wife of 61 years was.
It was quite heartbreaking of course for all of us but especially my mother.

I fully believe that part of his decline was all the years he spent struggling with alcohol. I think it damages a person’s brain that makes them more susceptible to these issues later on.
So as I look back on his life I swore I would do my life differently. I would make time to take care of myself.
I would not be a “hard charger ” like him. That is one of the reasons that I gave our motto here, ” To Retreat is Sometimes the Better Part of Valor”. Sometimes it’s better to Retreat then to just continue to charge ahead.

The issues of alcoholism is not an isolated issue unique to anyone of us. I see it as a pattern of our culture. Particularly for men in their own unique way and women in theirs.
If you look at most people we kind of follow a similar pattern. We go to school. Eventually, we leave school, get married or create relationships. Then we work like a mad man or woman until we retire or die, whichever comes first. Somewhere along the way, we loose ourselves as we put all our energy into everyone else especially our businesses and work. Everything except ourselves.

This is what Sacred Space Retreats in Cloverdale, California stands ready to support our guests with. It’s all a matter of giving yourself the time and attention and love that you must give yourself. You have to realize you are totally worth the level of time and attention it takes to figure yourself out and to learn to “master yourself”. We all make a choice; give ourselves time and attention or ignore your body’s cry for help and “charge ahead”.

For me personally one of the things that helped me out was that I started having health issues very early in life so I basically had no choice when it came to giving myself the time and attention that I needed.
In that respect, I believe we all have problems, it’s just that some people’s problems are just a little more apparent than others.

I could never get my Dad to consider coming Sacred Space because I believe he had a lot of pain that he just wasn’t ready to deal with. Being in the military and doing the ungodly things they ask you to do could only be a very painful experience. We can all see that now as our soldiers come back from war. Psychologically damaged.
So he never considered it. Of course, it’s hard for parents to accept guidance from their children.  I understand and accept that.

For the rest of the world, however, we are here to be that support for you. To create the environment you need to do this.
One thing I learned though my years and especially with my family ( two brothers who died from liver cancer from their addictions ) is that I am completely and utterly powerless to save anyone.
What I can do is save myself and offer myself as a good role model for others to emulate. No one can “fix” you. It’s really about you fixing yourself. And the only way I believe that is possible is giving yourself love ( time and attention).

One of the first issues you would have to deal with when it concerns alcoholism is the food you eat.
Most people are not aware of this and most rehabs don’t address it.

In fact, there is a common pattern that occurs when you go to rehabs for help with alcohol. They almost always load people up on caffeine, sugar, pastries, starches and grains.

When we eat starches, grains, sugars they are converted in our body into alcohol by an organism called Candida.
It’s a “yeast overgrowth”. So these programs simply feed them these foods which satisfy their craving for alcohol. Unbeknownst to them the Candida organism converts those foods back into alcohol in their blood stream ultimately keeping them at a higher blood alcohol level. That high blood alcohol level and the infestation of yeast leaves them only a step away from their next drink.
Most all rehabs ignore this critical issue and this, as a result, is one of the biggest reasons for their extremely low success rate.

Most rehab food is institutional food ( a common distributor being Sysco ) which is high in starch, sugar, grains like bread, pastry, pasta, cookies, etc.
Once as a Nutritional Consultant to Walden House Adolescent Facility I had occasion to go to their food pantry to see what they were serving them. To my disappointment, everything they served from the fish sticks to the ketchup to the corn or beans, had sugar in them.
So being on a specialized diet is important to help you get free of the cravings you may have for alcohol. The problem for rehab institutions is that very little resources are budgeted for their food. So to keep within their budget they get the cheapest institutional foods available to them.

Most rehabs talk about the psychological aspects of a person’s alcohol use but they don’t address the physiological part. Unless you address that then you may be unwittingly giving yourself your next drink just in a different form. In fact, your craving for alcohol, or sugar or grains or starches may not actually be coming from you. It is a well-known fact that in order for Candida Albicans to grow in your body it must be fed. So while a person may think they are craving alcohol or sugar, starch etc, it may actually be the Candida organism craving it for their growth.

If I was going to make beer, for instance, I would take some sugar, yeast, and a grain like hops. Put them all in a big pot. Then through a process called fermentation, the yeast converts those grains and sugars into alcohol.
That is precisely what is going on in your body.

Most all people addicted to alcohol eat a lot of meat.  So in addition to eating foods high in starch, grains, and sugars, they eat a  high animal protein diet. This creates additional problems for when you want to come off of alcohol because it creates an acidic ph of your blood stream and it is high in saturated fats.  This puts your body ill at ease to try to deal with that.  And strange as it may sound alcohol is actually an antidote to both. Acidosis is actually very uncomfortable. It makes the body more “inflamed”. That inflammation process makes it challenging to withdraw off of alcohol because alcohol is the “antidote”.  Checked your ph lately?  Don’t worry we will have you do it when you get here.  We will have you check it for 4 days, 3 times a day. That will confirm to you where your ph is and give you further understanding of why your body is doing what it is doing.  The same with the saturated fat aspects. Alcohol puts that saturated fat more into solution in the arteries.  Here at Sacred Space Retreats in Middletown, California, we serve a vegan diet.  A diet free of animal protein. You will be amazed that your craving for alcohol diminishes dramatically when you eat a vegan diet.  Does that mean you have to eat a vegan diet forever in order to be free of alcohol addiction? No. When you understand what is going on inside you, it will be easier to keep yourself in moderation once you leave here. While you are here you are being treated for your intense cravings for alcohol. Once that craving is gone and you are healthier you can eat meat but in more moderation and understanding of what it is doing to you physiologically.

Another physiological aspect of addiction that is related to that is the use of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.  These medications have grown more prevalent in the last 20 years.  One of the issues of using them is their tendency to promote the use of alcohol as a way of dealing with their unpleasant side effects.  These drugs, in particular, can give a person tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathisia.  Disconesia is uncontrolled movements of the body muscles particularly of the face and body.  Akathesia is internal tension and anxiety.  Many people after taking these medications experience this and may not even be aware of it.  Often times people will use alcohol as a means of self-medication.  All of these issues must be addressed if you are going to successfully defeat this demon.

This is why in order for anyone to successfully address alcoholism, you have to address the physiological aspect.
To be on a specialized diet like that is one of the reasons people come to Sacred Space Retreats in Cloverdale, California.

Understanding your Feelings and Emotions

If you are going to successfully address your issues with alcohol or any drug you really have to look at your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Alcohol especially is a real pain reliever. So you have to look at your pain and find its source and pull it out like a weed growing in a garden.

You really have to get to the core of how you process your thoughts and emotions. And for identifying when you are in a state of resistance that could lead you to seek out something like alcohol to deal with the stress that it creates.

When you are resistant to something that is happening or has happened in your life it causes your body to contract and you experience discomfort. That “resistance ” is stress. Stress will kill you if it persists.
The more you resist something the more stress you have and the more the problem persists. To cope with this stress and resistance people then turn to alcohol. But of course, it only has a temporary effect because it doesn’t stop you from being resistant. It just stops you from feeling the pain and discomfort of your resistance. Ultimately all of our problems start in the mind. The emotions and feelings we have is our bodies way of reflecting what our mind is thinking.

Attachment creates suffering.
Our program ultimately is about mastering oneself. Mastering one’s mind. And becoming One with oneself.
There is a story of how they catch monkeys in Africa. The way it goes is to say that to catch a monkey they take a large container that has a very small neck to it. Then you take some fruit and put it in the bottom of the container. When the monkey comes along the monkey looks inside, sees the fruit and reaches in and grabs it. Once he grabs the fruit he tries to pull it out but he can’t get it through the small opening at the top. Being attached however he won’t let go of it. So that is how they are able to catch him.

This illustrates well how we regard our thoughts. We are attached to them. And in out attachment to the thoughts, we have we create pain and suffering for ourselves.
Learning to let go of the things that we are attached to is the beginning of our healing and the end of our suffering.
Of course, to do this you have to be able to train your mind. Training your mind to not be attached to your thoughts from the past or future is a practice. One in which will engage in each day during our meditation practice and as you become more mindful of your thoughts throughout the day.

You will be surprised at how your stress level goes down and you are able to experience peace by training your mind to be present.

Are you an “Alcoholic”? 

One thing we don’t do is label you according to your illness. We don’t make you admit that you are an alcoholic. Because by labeling you as such then your behavior will never be more than the label you give yourself. We want to give you the most powerful sense of who and what you are. You are here to learn to “Master Yourself”.

Martial Arts
Martial arts can be an important tool in the rebuilding of your success. This involves exercises where we demonstrate some movements and you have to repeat and replicate the movement. Of course, you won’t be able to do it but in time and with practice you will. Your mind has a mind, and your body has a mind. The problem is that they are not always in alignment with each other. When you see a move with your mind, you ask your body to replicate the move. But your body has its own ideas about what it wants to do. By practicing the same moves over and over you cause for your body to eventually submit to what your mind is telling it to do. This makes you become more in alignment mind and body. And in this way, you get stronger from the inside out. To become ONE.

Abuse of alcohol leaves you open and vulnerable. It doesn’t matter if you go outside and someone hits you upside the head and kills you or if you start drinking alcohol and it kills you. Dead is dead. You have to learn how to protect yourself. Learning these movements will give you more confidence in yourself and help you protect yourself from anything that could hurt you. Rather than sitting in meetings all day listening to other people’s “drunk- a-logs” or even your own you could spend that valuable time learning to master yourself and protecting yourself.

By coming to Sacred Space Retreats in Middletown, California you will be giving yourself the gift of your own love, time and attention. And in so doing you will be giving yourself some new tools that can help you rebuild your mental, physical and emotional house. Our program is about “Self Help” and “Self Mastery”. It’s how to get your mind and body into alignment with each other.
Until you do that you will be “divided” between your mind and your body.
When you become unified with yourself then you step fully into your power. When you are divided you become weaker and more easily conquered. This is where the term “divide and conquer ” comes from.
We use tools to help you become more unified.

On becoming One

If you put ten people in a boat and they are all rowing in different directions then the boat just turns around in circles. If everyone is rowing in the same direction then the boat can proceed, “full speed ahead”. This is what happens when you commit to “Mastering Yourself”, to becoming ONE.
That is when you step fully into your power. “when your story ends your life begins”.
Everyone has a story of how they were hurt in the past. How they didn’t get what they wanted. You can either be stuck in your story or you can commit to your success.

Institutionalization or Private Retreat

Going to rehabs, taking medications and drugs from doctors can make you more and more “dependent”. The more dependent you are the weaker you become. The weaker you become the less successful you become.
Getting stronger has to be from the inside out not the outside in.
It’s a process. We have designed our program to be sure that you don’t feel like you are in some “institution”. Moreover, its designed to make you feel like you are in your own home. That way you can get to your most relaxed state.
And when you get deeply relaxed you can let your armor down and you can be more open to looking at yourself and understanding yourself.

We only take no more than three people because we want you to feel more like you are in a natural setting. We also want to bring to you the highest quality of service, which includes a more specialized and more vital diet.
Everything we have created here at Sacred Space Retreats in Cloverdale, California is by design. Its design is to allow you to give yourself the time and attention that you need in order to solve your problem.
That is why and how you will create success. And it’s why we have a much higher success rate than only going to AA meetings. Of course, if you really want to include AA in your program then we would be happy to accommodate you as well.  Any tool so long as it is supporting you in creating success is welcome.