“The body is a boat that floats the soul in space and time.” – Saroj Aryal
As people who are in recovery from substance abuse, there are a number of dimensions of our physical selves that need daily attention, if we’re to ensure we’re “covering the bases” properly. Besides the typically mentioned elements of our wellness and health—getting sufficient rest, eating healthy food, and making regular time for exercise and getting outdoors (which are covered in the blog-post, “Rehab 101: Self-Care = A Multi-Dimensional Relapse Prevention Tool”)—there are other important aspects of our physical selves to consider and care for, as well; one of these is an illness.
Whether we bring illness with us into recovery—for example, some ailment that occurred as a direct result of our drinking or using—or we develop some illness while in recovery, it will be wise to look at how we can adopt the healthiest approach to dealing with such.
Certainly, how we handled illness when we were drinking and/or using drugs may affect our present attitudes and behaviors toward it, especially early on in our recovery. In the past, we were likely unconcerned or barely noticed the emergence of problems with our bodies, given our main focus was on “the getting and using and finding ways and means to get more” of whatever we were ingesting (alcohol and/or drugs). If we were sick in any way, many of us would refuse to ask for help and would often simply ignore the symptoms as long as possible, typically until a medical emergency arose. Only then would we seek out the care of a doctor or other healthcare professionals.
Now that we’re in recovery and wanting to live a new way of life free from active addiction, it’s vital that we begin practicing principles that replace our old attitudes and behaviors. In the case of illness, we must strive to be honest, open-minded and willing to look at, identify and properly address any health condition that arises, if we’re to make progress in the healing of our physical bodies.
In practical terms, that means we don’t delay or avoid taking appropriate action when any symptoms of illness arise, and we don’t judge ourselves; we simply ask for help. This can take various forms:
- If we’re currently in treatment for addiction, we talk with a staff member or counselor to let them know about our specific health condition, asking them to help us schedule an appointment with a doctor;
- We’re open with those in our recovery network about our illness, asking for their support, care, and (when necessary) assistance;
- If we’re not in treatment, upon recognizing the symptoms we have require attention, we immediately contact a doctor or healthcare professional for a diagnosis (when the cause of the condition is not known) and prescribed treatment;
- If significant pain accompanies our illness, we let our doctor or healthcare professional know we are recovering from substance abuse and would, therefore, like to avoid, whenever possible, any use of addictive pain medication – and if pain medication is prescribed, we openly and honestly inventory our pain and our motives with members of our treatment center staff, our recovery network and our sponsor (more about dealing with pain in recovery will be covered in Part Two of this 2-part blog-post);
- Whatever our doctor or healthcare professional(s) prescribes for us or instruct us to do, we diligently follow their directions and act responsibly during the course of our illness, so as to regain our health as swiftly as possible.
The bottom line for us is well summed up in this statement: “When something is going on with our health, we have a choice to accept what is happening and deal with it, or pretend it is not there.” Just for today, let’s all commit to taking good care of ourselves on every level, our physical selves included.
Treatment at BoardPrep Recovery in Tampa, Florida meets the highest standards in the field for drug addiction help. Our treatment program aligns with national best-practice guidelines prescribed by leading researchers. At BoardPrep, a multi-disciplinary team of experts performs each assessment. BoardPrep offers all available levels of care, thus tailoring the treatment to the individual need.
BoardPrep includes treatment for other mental health problems. For instance, depression, anxiety, and trauma often play a big role in substance use disorders. Therefore, BoardPrep’s addiction psychiatrists continue to see patients at least weekly for the first month of day-night treatment. Also, treatment addresses family and environmental risk issues. A licensed and experienced therapist performs weekly webinars with the families and schedules family sessions as needed.