If you’ve made the decision to kick your addiction, congratulations! A happier, healthier world is awaiting you. First, though, you have to get through the withdrawal period.
Many people have multiple addictions, and may find it easier to tackle the most serious of them first—alcohol before tobacco and tobacco before chocolate, for example—but following the program for one addiction may well put you on the road to recovery for others as well.
If you are eating a healthier diet and supporting your body with herbs and supplements, you may find that by the time you have dealt with the more serious addictions, the others have almost resolved themselves.
For some people, withdrawal symptoms don’t amount to much, while for others they pose a serious challenge. And withdrawal is more than simply enduring cravings for a particular substance; you may feel jittery, irritable, or depressed, and you may have physical symptoms ranging from headaches to tremors.
It can take a year or more before you feel completely healed physically and stable emotionally. But it’s well worth it! The road to recovery brings you revitalized energy, health, and happiness. You’ll feel better, look better, and live better. All you have to do is make the decision—and stick with it!
Addictive substances disrupt the body’s normal processes and the mind’s normal thought patterns. To kick an addiction, you must detoxify both body and mind, first by cleansing, and then by rebuilding.
- Cleansing means avoiding the substance of your addiction, drinking teas and eating foods that help cleanse the body of toxic wastes and drug residue, and giving up the psychological dependency.
- Rebuilding involves supporting and nurturing those bodily organs and systems that have been weakened or damaged by the addiction, learning new, healthier habits that can replace the unhealthy behavior of addiction, and building networks of emotional support to help you through the withdrawal period.
Physiological effects from substance abuse are almost always reversible. But when you make the decision to free yourself from an addiction, your body does not return to its natural state overnight. Have patience.
Be Open with Family and Friends
Beating an addiction is hard work, and you’re most likely to be successful if you have the help of those who love you.
It’s imperative to keep your blood sugar levels stable during the detoxification process. Unstable blood sugar levels drain you of energy and can contribute to cravings. To stabilize blood sugar levels, eat four or five small meals a day. Have a healthy snack before bed and then eat again early in the morning.
Green leafy vegetables provide ample amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Their high nutrient content nourishes the body and promotes regeneration of damaged systems, their chlorophyll helps the body better utilize oxygen, their fiber content aids in the elimination of toxins, and the calcium content helps to calm.
High-sulfur vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower also aid in detoxification. They are full of antioxidants, which help protect the body against free radicals.
Protein is also important during withdrawal, because it can reduce cravings. Good protein sources include legumes, tofu, tempeh, poultry, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Fish is an excellent source of protein and is rich in the raw material the body needs to make its needed neurotransmitters. Do not eat sugar—as a super refined carbohydrate without nutritional value, it will keep your body in an addictive mode. Reduce your intake of refined foods. Choose organic foods whenever possible.
Those who experience digestive distress during the withdrawal process may fare well with easy-to-digest foods such as high-protein baby food, blended soups, and pureed vegetables.
To minimize shaking and tremors during withdrawal, eat adequate protein and plenty of whole grains such as oatmeal, millet, and brown rice. Be sure to drink plenty of pure water so that wastes may be more effectively carried away. Have a drink of water whenever a craving arises. The addition of a bit of lemon juice to the water you consume can be even more effective: its sour flavor stimulates liver cleansing. Diluted unsweetened cranberry juice is also cleansing to the liver and kidneys. If you experience diarrhea or vomiting, be sure to drink electrolyte rich beverages to help re-hydrate and replace lost trace minerals.
Skin is often referred to as the third lung, and dry-brushing the skin can aid in the detoxification of the body by boosting circulation and improving lymphatic flow. As a side benefit, after regular practice you’ll end up with soft, glowing, healthy skin.
Skin brushing should be done with a soft vegetable-fiber brush just before you bathe. Disrobe and, starting with your feet, gently brush the skin in a circular motion. Work your way up the legs, then the hands and arms, and finally the torso, both front and back. The entire procedure should take two to three minutes. Be especially gentle over the breasts and avoid the genitals. Then shower or bathe. End with cool water to give yourself a forced circulatory massage.
Soaking in a tepid bath to which three pounds of Epsom salts have been added is not only relaxing but also helps detoxify your system and draw out old drug and chemical residues. Neutral temperature baths (between 92 and 98 degrees) soothe the nervous system and promote detoxification.
Sauna baths, sweat lodges, and steam baths also speed the release of toxic substances through sweating. They can have profoundly healing and spiritually opening effects if you enter them with the intention of releasing and purifying. They should, however, be enjoyed with a buddy, because the intense heat can lead to lightheadedness and dizziness.
After a detox bath or sweat therapy, rinse off, get covered up, and enjoy some bed-rest. Those with high blood pressure should consult their doctor before using any bath or sweat therapies.
Excerpted with permission by the publisher, Inner Traditions International. InnerTraditions.com from Addiction-Free Naturally by Brigitte Mars, AHG, © 2020, 2001, Healing Arts Press, Available at B&N.com, Amazon.com, InnerTraditions.com, or your local bookstore.
Brigitte Mars, AHG, is an herbalist and nutritional consultant with almost fifty years of experience. She teaches herbal medicine at Naropa University and the School of Health Mastery in Iceland and has also taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, and the Mayo Clinic. A founding member of the American Herbalist Guild, Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs including The Natural First Aid Handbook, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome! https://brigittemars.com/