In substance abuse and addiction treatment, we observe various levels and depths of illness with each client. Every man, woman, and child has a spirit, a mind, an emotional center, and a physical body. Addictionologists, psychologists, and others who work in the field, are well informed in the physical dynamics of certain medicines on the body, and how the mind works, both with their corresponding emotional manifestations before, during, and after treatment.
The human spirit in the United States is a neglected topic, yet it is the spirit within that gives rise to our emotional state, controls our mind, and promotes our bodies to remain fit or to become out of shape. Every culture worldwide possessed their own unique medical systems which treated the patient’s spirit first, though manifestation of disease, including substance abuse, would occur physically in the body, an imbalanced mind, and erratic emotions. Summarizing how dysfunction in the mind, body, emotions and spirit affect us, will give insight into the treatment protocols needed for each:
Our spirit is housed within our body and makes up who we are. We have heard of people having a broken spirit which can be revealed through sadness, anger at injustice, or even by lashing out at others. Those struggling with alcohol abuse display all these emotions and behaviors and, in a family context, it is the patient’s relatives who receive the brunt of the pain that occurs when dealing with the patient. Co-dependency is the result of this, and the family unit must now invest their own emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical capital into acknowledgment and treatment of the issues at hand.
In African culture, the family unit is of primary importance in building and maintaining a strong sense of self and community. It is believed that without a strong family, the individuals within the unit will suffer and die prematurely. In Chinese culture, it is believed that each person receives ancestral qi,(pronounced “chee”), from their mother and father which is an unseen genetic code passed down to their child at conception. This qi makes up the constitution of the child and determines how strong in spirit, mind, emotions, and body they will be during their lifespan.
These facts reveal the primacy of family involvement in conception and healing from substance abuse if it occurs. It is through the family that we arrive and are raised in our respective environments, and it is the family who acts as the first line of defense during times of duress and illness.
In Part 2 we will examine the family dynamic and their role in the healing process more in-depth. Part 3 we will examine the emotional aspects of substance abuse.