Is there a holistic treatment for addiction?

photo: Pink Sherbet Photography
What are you addicted to? We’re all addicted to something, right?

It’s a bold, but likely accurate, statement. In today’s episode of The Chopra Well daily series ASK DEEPAK, author Deepak Chopra, M.D. contends that addiction is essentially the memory of pain and pleasure. For the most part, human beings seek out pleasure and strive to minimize pain. Even when that which pleases us also brings us pain, the memory of pleasure calls to us over and over.

When I reach for my coffee mug every morning, what drives me is the memory of bitter and slightly sweet warmth filling my throat and shocking my system into alertness. I can also recall headaches, restlessness, and fatigue from days I skipped the java – things I would rather forget and bury under steaming mugfulls.

I do not intend to trivialize other, more serious addictions — addictions that destroy relationships and end lives. But there is a spectrum of addictive behaviors. Our task, according to Deepak, is to first commit to changing our behavior. Then we can begin to create new powerful memories to overcome the ones that shackle us to our addictions.

In the video, Deepak explains that memories are stored in our core consciousness as “seed consciousness.” That is why they can never be fully erased – although new research suggests there may be ways to chemically suppress negative emotions associated with painful memories.

Short of chemical intervention, there are only spiritual remedies for addiction. These remedies transcend modern medical and psychological treatments to situate healing in the sufferer’s own hands. We can thus tap into higher consciousness, expand our awareness, and witness the vast array of responses and behaviors that are available to us. Here’s how.

If you can’t get rid of the memory, Deepak suggests you overshadow it. Create a new memory that is stronger than the one causing the addiction. He outlines three steps that will set you on the right track to holistic treatment:

1.     Transcend addiction through meditation. Go beyond the field of memories to the field of pure potentiality, which characterizes the meditative state.
2.     Plant new seed memories of joy, love, and pleasure. Music, massage, aromatherapy, physical detoxification, and color therapy can be effective treatments. And remember, alcohol and all other substances are poor substitutes for love. Reach out to someone and work on developing meaningful relationships.
3.     Deepen your meditation practice. Explore forms of contemplative, self-aware, transcendent, introceptive, and vipassana meditation. Deepak assures us that through meditation we can begin to detach ourselves from toxic emotions and habits.

Other components of holistic treatment for addiction may involve creative expression, sacred dance, Ayurvedic nutrition, yoga, and exercise. Explore Intent Blog, The Chopra Center, and Deepak’s website for more inspiration.

By embarking on a holistic treatment plan, are we just substituting one addiction for another? Coffee for meditation. Alcohol for exercise. The key is to remain connected to “the source,” as Deepak explains, which is the soul or higher consciousness. As long as we remain conscious of our emotions and memories, without letting them control us, we stand a fair chance of living a healthy, free, and fulfilling life.

More Resources:

For a comprehensive, residential addiction treatment program, visit Paradise Valley Wellness Centre in Vancouver, Canada, partnered with The Chopra Center

Read Freedom From Addiction by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D., which covers medical and spiritual dimensions of addiction treatment.

Can I Reduce Physical Pain? Ask Deepak!

Motivation and Hardwiring the Brain | Ask Deepak!

Start your meditation practice TODAY with The Chopra Well’s daily show, THE MEDITATOR.