If you’re struggling with addiction to a substance or behavior, chances are you’ve tried multiple times to quit. And it’s also likely that some of the things you’ve tried before haven’t worked out. That’s because, by the time something has become an addiction, it’s essentially wired into your brain. And the best way to make the changes you want – and get them to stick – is to undo that programming and create a new way of living.
Your reality is created by the way you think, act, and feel. If you want to change it, and start living a life that doesn’t include addiction, you’ll need to change your behaviors, habits, and emotions. And this far more possible than you may realize.
“So much has happened… more than I ever thought.”
One former Sanctuary client, Dave*, recalls what led him to seek help for his addiction:
“My life before coming to The Sanctuary was difficult. I felt I had lost touch with my center; I didn’t know what being centered felt like. I’d been running my numbing- and checking-out patterns for so long that they were automatic, and I had completely lost touch with myself. I knew it was time to seek help, and I really started to realize how I needed a holistic approach to what was going on in my life. Now, I feel so much has happened at The Sanctuary – definitely a lot more than I had ever thought.”
You might be feeling the same. And like Dave, you may be surprised to find out just how much is possible for you. Not only can you get off of the substance you’re using, you can also realize the life of your dreams. Read on to learn what that entails.
Change Your Brain
Addiction is, essentially, a behavior you can’t stop. And while the experience of addiction varies from person to person, it always develops because we’re trying to regulate our internal state. Life inevitably involves suffering, and we’re conditioned to believe that change happens outside of us. So when we’re uncomfortable with how we feel, we look to external sources for relief.
When that relief is temporarily found, our brain gets the message that we need to keep doing it. We decide certain things make us feel a certain way, confuse happiness with pleasure, and we lock ourselves into patterns. And because that behavior changes our internal chemistry, our brain is now wired to seek relief from it – whether it’s alcohol, drugs, sex, or food.
How Habits Become Addictions
Addiction changes the way your brain works by creating new neural connections that send you signals to continue using, despite its consequences in your life. Brain cells that fire together, wire together. That means the more you engage in a repeated behavior, the more embedded that pattern becomes. Eventually, people find themselves overwhelmed by their cravings and lacking clarity and judgment. Addiction also affects how well your bodily systems work, as well as your ability to control your behavior and emotions.
Getting off of an addiction, then, also requires you to change your brain. At The Sanctuary, we do this by stimulating the growth of new brain cells and repairing regions of the brain that make freedom from addiction possible. Forging those new connections and helping the brain work differently primes it for recovery. And when you change the way your mind works, you allow yourself to build a new, healthier life.
Change Your Gut
Some of your thoughts don’t originate in your brain at all: they’re signals being sent from your gut. New science from within the past few years show that the gut-brain connection is even more important than previously thought. Brain chemicals like serotonin, melatonin, and GABA help us stabilize our mood and feel good, and the majority of these are produced in the gut. In fact, research now shows that imbalances in the gut microbiome can cause mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
At The Sanctuary, we apply this knowledge to treating addiction and trauma. We do this via our in-depth nutrition program, which aims to:
- Get your gut microbiome back into balance
- Repair the damage your body has suffered from substance use or trauma
- Alkalize your pH to reduce inflammation and disease
- Populate your intestinal tract with good bacteria, and decrease the bad bacteria that causes cravings
- Educate you to better understand how your body works, and how to fuel it with the right nutrition
Using Food as Medicine to Overcome Addiction
Clients at The Sanctuary eat a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, prebiotics, and probiotics. You’ll also take a personalized supplement regimen to provide the vitamins and minerals that most modern food systems don’t, as well as address any issues specific to you. Many people say that this alone helps them feel dramatically different – like Dave:
“It truly is a holistic approach. The food has an important impact. The gut microbiome has a huge impact on all our feelings and how we go about our lives. The exercise and yoga, the tools like meditation, all the tools I’ve received here from the therapists, each one with their own expertise – I feel like I’ve gained a very complete toolbox.”
Ultimately, our goal is to empower you to take control of your own health.
Change Your Emotions
Thoughts in your brain become feelings in your body. And when this cycle is repeated over and over, it creates a state of being. That’s why, by the time we reach adulthood, most of us are simply running a program of memorized behaviors.
Once those patterns are in place, anytime we’re triggered, we go right back to those behaviors. Overcoming addiction requires us to undo that programming. If we want a different life for ourselves, we need to learn how to relate to our emotions in a new way.
“It’s not about eliminating the problems – that’s not reality,” says Dave.
“It’s learning how to navigate them and realizing what they bring up inside. I came in thinking I had a drug use problem, and that was just a secondary symptom to everything else. Having an awareness of what truly is going on, deep down inside, is life-changing.”
From Surviving to Thriving
We have a natural, built-in survival system designed to keep us safe. When we’re afraid or anxious, we go into fight-or-flight mode, which takes place in the limbic brain. While this does protect us from danger, the problem occurs when we get stuck there. And trauma has a way of doing just that.
When we’re in our limbic brain, we see the world as black and white. We don’t have access to higher brain functions that let us deal successfully with the complexities. We have a harder time making decisions that are in our best interest. And when we’re busy protecting ourselves, we don’t have the capacity to be creative, imaginative, and optimistic – all the things that are necessary to dream a better world into being.
The Sanctuary’s addiction treatment program aims to change this, by using healing tools to change the limbic brain. We can’t talk our way out of the limbic brain. But we can use ceremony, rites of passage, and body-based therapies to calm it and allow us to create change. By going beyond just how you think and tapping into how you feel, you connect to your inner guidance where the answers to your questions lie.
“One of my biggest takeaways from my experience at The Sanctuary is my awareness of my feelings. Being aware of what I’m feeling; analyzing and being curious with compassion. Before The Sanctuary I would jump directly into numbing out, to not feel pain or whatever it was I was feeling. Now I don’t make anger, sadness, or any of these things wrong, but try to understand where they’re coming from.”
Change Your Beliefs
We all have stories about who we are and why things in our life happen.
The way we perceive the world around us, and all the decisions we make, as a result, are based on our beliefs. Often when we’re dealing with addiction or other barriers to our happiness, it’s because of beliefs that formed as a result of trauma. The truth is, these beliefs are likely outdated. And if we want to exceed our self-imposed limitations, we need to change them.
The first part of your journey at The Sanctuary focuses on shedding your old stories, to make room for new potential. This is deep, foundational work. Clients who graduate from our program say they made a fundamental shift in the way they relate to life. That deeper-level change is what empowers you to be recovered for the long haul. You’re not simply remedying symptoms; you’re changing yourself.
“I have sought help before in getting treatment, but not as profound as what I received at The Sanctuary. I tried different methods, and also tried doing (retreats to help me reset), and two weeks down the line I was right back where I started,” says Dave.
So what was different at The Sanctuary?
“I came here with the mindset that I have 30 days to fix myself. I’m leaving with the mindset that this is a life journey with a completely different foundation. I’ve reestablished my foundation so that I can perceive things with more awareness, and approach life in a completely different way.”
When it comes to patterns as engrained as addiction, just changing your behavior isn’t enough. You have to undo the conditioning that has set in – and that starts with changing your unconscious mind.
Recovery – and so Much More – is Possible
Here at The Sanctuary, we help people quit their addictions. But that’s only the first step. Our mission is to help you tap into your own inherent wisdom; to awaken; to recover your soul.
You don’t have to keep looking for answers externally. You can learn, change, and create a new way of being. And you can do it all while feeling connected and inspired.
Dave says: “Coming to The Sanctuary has been the best decision of my life.”
It can be the best decision for yours. Contact us today to get started on the transformation of a lifetime.
*Name changed to protect anonymity.
He is the Founder, Administrator, Counselor at the Sanctuary at Sedona. He has a BA in Political Science and is currently Senior teaching staff at Four Winds Society, an international school of energy medicine. His credentials also include being an Ordained Minister; a Certified Shamanic Breathwork® Facilitator; a Founding Member Society for Shamanic Practitioners; a Member of Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology; a Member of the National Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies. firstname.lastname@example.org
He is the Founder, Administrator, Counselor at the Sanctuary at Sedona.