The Road to Addiction OUD Recovery, Part 5: Healing From Within

In this article we discuss 1) the different types of talk therapy or psychotherapeutic methods that are currently in use to treat patients overcoming addiction, and 2) a review of the learning theories that can help us understand how the mind learns. By providing current curated information and making recommendations to support deeper knowledge, drug abuse can be more preventable, successfully treated, and dissolves the stigma caused by ignorance and lack of compassion thinking, "this is us and that's them" instead of "we are all in this together." Everyone plays a part.

an online virtual counseling session between patient and counselor.
Online counseling is gaining track.

Individuals struggling with substance abuse or any other form of addiction may need treatment for a long period of time before the change occurs in the behavior patterns that caused addiction in the first place. Going back in time even before birth is not uncommon. Much of our outlook in life is learned and passed on from one generation to another.

How is epigenetics connected to the development of addiction behaviors and addiction recovery?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our DNA genetic make-up increases the chances of drug addiction as much as 50%. More risk and prevalence of addiction is found in individuals with more vulnerability due to lack of protective genes against certain mal diseases that manifest only due to extraneous factors such as environmental or lifestyle ones. This is the case with heart disease, diabetes, and addiction. The term for this is Epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of functional, and sometimes inherited, changes in the regulation of gene activity and expression that are not dependent on gene sequence.6"Epi-" itself means "above" or "in addition to." Environmental exposures or choices people make can actually "mark"—or remodel—the structure of DNA at the cell level or even at the level of the whole organism. So, although each cell type in the human body effectively contains the same genetic information, epigenetic regulatory systems enable the development of different cell types (e.g., skin, liver, or nerve cells) in response to the environment. These epigenetic marks can affect health and even the expression of the traits passed to children. For example, when a person uses cocaine, it can mark the DNA, increasing the production of proteins common in addiction. Increased levels of these altered proteins correspond with drug-seeking behaviors in animals.

Therefore, disorders may go untreated for generations. But don't give up, The plasticity of the human brain is such and the power of intention so motivational that nothing is impossible. Healing is a miracle that happens daily.

Reading this enlightening epigenetics book will help you:

�� Find Out What Epigenetics Is & How It Can Affect Your Life

�� Deepen Your Knowledge On The Science And Development Of Epigenetics

�� Learn How To Take Full Advantage Of Its Mechanisms To Stay In Control Of Your Life And Change It For The Best

But there are steps to the process and SUCCESS depends on perseverance and motivation. We don't just become addicted from one day to another and we're not just victims of our genetic pool, nor of the environment. But combining the effect of these over time in a breeding ground for addictive behaviors and it becomes hard to break away free even after spending a several weeks in rehab.

Medication assisted treatment is important so that the body can detox from Opioids. Additionally, to start taking Suboxone you must have detoxed first. No one would be able to take both at the same time without major side effects and withdrawal symptoms or worse.

You are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose.

Addiction Treatment Programs Treat the Whole Individual

When you or someone you know with a substance use disorder is not under a comprehensive addiction treatment program, the chances of recovery are not being maximized. Taking the next step in recovery to wean off the MAT Suboxone, in the case of OUD, make take time. But mouth than 12 month is not advisable. When you're at the third stage of recovery, will cause withdrawals and therefore needs to be weaned off a little at a time. . Talk Therapy is the most widely used psycotherapy method .

If doctors are just handing over a prescription every two months, chances are the individual is also vulnerable to abusing the medication administered under MAT guidelines and patients with underlying psychological disorders may use other street drugs like Xanax to get high or to assuage the side effects of Suboxone. They may also abuse suboxone. This may complicate their situation even further.

Additionally, the side effects caused by long term Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), such as suboxone and co-occurring underlying conditions in the patient may in turn add a second or third drug to the scenario to mitigate the side effects and because the MAT is not abel to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression that may present as a consequence or as a root cause or both.

Unless patients receive mental health therapy, their road to recovery is dubious. Many choose to go the holistic way, Bravo! you are ahead of the crowd and you will be able to bloom as a whole human being faster because you will have more faith and greater wisdom. But holistic practices take time to work as well as perseverance and research study.

However, because medical insurance doesn't consider meditation or religious retreats as mental health therapies, yet (hopefully one day); so you must do your best with psychological methodologies for treating addiction related mental disorders such as PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder II, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, and other more serious ones like Schizophrenia. Each can seriously endanger a person's life and well being. And guess what?

Mindfulness is a therapy that is found embedded in each one of the methods used in cognitive behavioral therapies. Mindfulnes, becoming aware, helps us unravel our brain.

Through Talk Therapy we can express our fears and hopes with the support of counselors trained to implement cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT strategies and modalities provides the structure that our brain can use to abstain and retrain, so it can then develop mechanisms to heal based on intention and mindfulness. Your genes will thank you.

When mental health disorders caused by childhood trauma, accidents, loss (grief), war, displacement and disease, to name a few, are at the root of addiction, healing starts by diving into the story you have been telling yourself about your life before you can start to change its narrative. Sometimes is this can happen through art therapy, writing exposure, and other occupational therapies used in combination with CBT.



Every journey has a beginning, middle, and end, just like every story. EVERY story is a journey, The journey of recovery from addiction starts with awareness and never ends as long as we are living in mindfulness. To find, tread, and stay on the path requires love. It alone can give us all we need to persevere and turn our lives around.

First of all, getting on Suboxone takes a lot of courage. This is and the decision to get well which constitutes the first three steps in the twelve step process—the first step. This is not an easy process as there is no clear cut way of getting off this medication while the drug seeking addictive behavior continues to cause discomfort which translates into anxiety and depression. Suboxone may subdue the mind and keep it from craving and increasing tolerance. But it needs a support system. Addiction patients recover sooner when they are not alone. The risk os using other drugs may come into play making the hike up the mountain of sobriety twice as difficult.

Once a a doctor prescribes Suboxone follow directions to the T if you are going to start at home.

How to Start Buprenorphine-Naloxone at Home (pdf)

Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) home dosing: 3-day home dosing plan


How mental health therapy facilitates the addiction recovery process?

Recovery is a journey that requires guidance, introspection, and above all love, which is synonymous with will.

Is addiction a mental disorder or a physical one? Why do some people become addicted while others don't? Why do some people heal from addiction and others don't?

The relationship between addiction and mental disorder is described as having comorbidity by the National Institute of Drug Abuse , that's another way of saying they are codependent.

Mental health disorders and addiction are simultaneously present in patients. That doesn't mean one causes the other. The psychotherapy modalities, or talk therapies used to treat mental health patients with substance use disorders also vary.

What is talk therapy for addiction recovery?

What is Behavioral Therapy?
One of the most widely used of these therapies is the un-Jungian CBT and derivatives.

Behavioral therapy includes a wide range of therapies, including exposure-based, where you 'expose' the traumatic event through talk or writing, to overcome ones for anxiety. It utilizes relaxation techniques, assertiveness training, and more. Self talk is a very big part of talk therapy and the exercises in behavior will help you train your brain to think the thoughts that are necessary to feed the subconscious mind the right program. Although we are not animals in training, we must think of our brain as a machine that we can utilize for the greater well being of the self. Freedom from addictive behaviors is necessary to achieve freedom, and a healthy lifestyle starts with your attention to your intention, your behaviors and thought patterns.

Traditional Behavioral Therapy focuses on helping patients change their thought patterns for the attainment of better or more stable emotional states. Modern behavior therapy is usually part of a comprehensive treatment program that incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies. Its aim is to reduce the symptom of various mental health conditions. This is the most common form of talk therapy used in addiction treatment. Patients work with a mental health counselor for a number of sessions.

CBT helps patients become aware of their negative thought patterns and analyze their challenging situations more clearly and calmly. The outcome should be the ability of responding to negative thoughts in a more effective way.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 5 easy steps are:

1. make a list.

2. record unproductive thoughts

3. replace thoughts

4. read your list

5. notice more thoughts and replace

Self directed CBT can be effective. Studies have shown that self help reduces anxiety using CBT techniques.

Other strategies include:

1. Focusing on your thoughts. You may choose to discard the thoughts that hurt and suppress them. Instead, just watch the thought detached from its emotional hold on you as if you were witnessing your self. do this no more than 15 min at a time, two to three times a day.

2. Scheduling a manageable day. Wake up and smell the coffee or the tea, take 5 minutes to do at least one sun salutation (stretch your limbs and crouch and extend your body flat to the floor and back to standing on your arms and legs) (see below for a diagram)

3. Relaxation techniques (breathing exercises, meditation, music) at least three times a day. It doesn't have to be more than 15 min at a time. Just sit and listen to your favorite music, meditate, and/or simply follow your breath in and out slowly for 3-8 counts at a time. Breathing exercises can simply be noticing your breath.

4. Reframe thought patterns. When your mind goes to undesirable thoughts, catch it, replace them for ideal ones. You may think it doesn't work at first, but that's how we retrain the brains patterns of thought: we replace it with a predesigned one.

What is Cognitive Self-Talk?

Recognizing automatic thoughts

Automatic thoughts of catastrophe, shou and regrets, jumping to conclusions or making unfounded assumptions, and similar patterns of thought that may have been acquired from childhood are resurfacing from our subconscious mind and making us feel guilty, depressed, and/or anxious. First you learn to identify your thoughts and watc them wihout trying to change them. Then you learn to evaluate them. And lastly you learn to replace these thought for more accurate nes.

Replacing thought patterns

Self talk is a habitual way of responding to our experiences. We can be very negative and have a lot of prejudices against our own self. These are called cognitive distortions.

Based on the premise that how we feel depends on what we think, therapy offer a way to elf talk in a way that will support healing and making your goals attainable instead of just dreams.

Our thought patterns can be undermining our ability to succeed:

  1. Catastrophizing - nothing turns out right - things are expected to be worse than they really care

  2. Mind Reading - assuming - you think people are against you.

  3. Shoulds- regrets and remorse

  4. Polarizing - the world is black or white, good or bad, no middle ground..

  5. Personalizing - everything is your fault, it only happens to you. You blame your self and the stars that are against you.

The goal is not necesarily to have "positive thoughts", although that would be a lot better than the above. We can turn everything into0 a positive experience and that may be closer to realistic thinking than just wishful thinking. Replacing your thoughts for realistic ones that are based on positive outcomes may take time, and that's exactly what behavior therapy can help you expedite.

Self talk, your internal dialogue, can enhance your well being:

  • increased vitality

  • greater satisfaction in life

  • improved immune function

  • reduced pain

  • better cardiovascular health

  • less stress

Research suggests that positive self talk helps you solve problems, think outside the box, and have better coping skills.

"When you change the way you look at things the things you look at, change." Wayne Dyer introduced me to this model of thinkin . Helpful tactics include:

  • Surround yourself with positive people

  • Find the humor

  • Use positive affirmations to feed your subconscious

  • Identify negative thoughts as they surge

  • Check your feelings and turn them around as they arise

CBT Third Wave Therapies:

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: usually indicated for people with intense emotions or those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and co-occurrent drug addiction. It is a 6 to 12 month commitment that includes mindfulness practice, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.


  • Midfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: MBCT aims to cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to what you are feeling through your senses, thoughts, and emotions through meditation. Combined with CBT, it helps patients see their perceived reality in a new light. It helps you suspend judgment and approach life with more kindness towards yourself and others.

  • Acceptance Commitment Therapy: This is a type o action-based approach to help you stop avoidance and denial, conflicting inner feelings and emotions. It helps to accept the hardship of your life and move forward by committing to change. This is aso a form of mindfulness based therapy. It addreses your commitment to change and sticking to your goals.




We may not be able to change our reality but we can change the way we respond to it. We can transform our reality into a postive learning experience and be in control of how we act, think, and feel.

  • Cognitive Diffusion: also known as deliteralization, is when you become a witness to your thought. It is a method used in accetance and commitment and other forms of cognitve therapies. When we detach feelings from thoughts we stop being the mind's prisoner. Cognitive "fusion” is an automatic human reaction of attaching feelings and emotions to thoughts. The opposite of this is “cognitive defusion.” This is the idea that we can be aware of our thoughts and emotions but don't have to attach ourselves to said thought or emotion.

The difference between behavioral and cognitive therapies is that one is focused on the exterior actions and the other in the interior motivation for the behavior. How we produce thoughts.

  • Mindfulness: Being present NOW, here and not in the future or the past. Not asleep but awake and aware, knowing I am and my position in the world is devoid of and in spite of social and personal prejudices. This is the practice of stillness and sitting that quiets the mind and lets go.

  • Acceptance: The act of accepting is allowing without resistance. Once we accept we can begin to change by defusing our thoughts from emotions and feeling. Instead observing the reality without being overpowered by it emotionally.

With the help of a Talk Therapist, individually and in group

sessions, patients can identify their Negative Thoughts and practice: New Skills, Set Goals, Use Problem-Solving skills, and Make better Choices. Other CBT techniques include journaling, role-playing, relaxation techniques, and mental distractions or occupational therapy.

Occupational therapies include arts and crafts, music and writing.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and its clusters are widely practiced methods used for changing negative thought patterns and compulsive behaviors; it is used to treat addiction and its co-occurring mental disorders.