The Fabulous Four (areas of life) And How Addiction/Recovery Effects Them All (part 1 of 9, Intro)

Welcome back to a new article series for the rest of 2014! I hope you enjoyed our series on the Promises, prior to this one. Don’t worry if you’re just joining us, the Promises series and this one has nothing to do with one another, so you should be able to jump right in. As the title suggests, we are going to talk about the “fabulous four” as related to addiction/alcoholism and recovery. The “fabulous four” are the four main areas of life. Everything that we do, say, think, experience, and everything that anyone else does, says, thinks, or experiences, for that matter, can be put into four main categories or areas. They are: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Quick clarification here that we will revisit later when I say spiritual, I don’t mean religious necessarily. I don’t even necessarily mean God, at least in a traditional sense. There are many different definitions of spirituality but the one I like bests simply proclaims spirituality to be something we know is real but cannot see or touch. Love, for instance, is very spiritual. We all know love is real, but you’ve never seen some love floating around. You see results of love all the time, but you cannot see the “substance” of love. Make sense? Anger would also be spiritual(it doesn’t always have to be positive). For a more tangible example, think about a river current. There is no debate that the river current is real, but you’ve never seen it. You’ve only seen the water moving. I hope that at least one can get us to a place of not letting terminology disrupt the main point that will be made. Anyway, back to the big four. For something to have real meaning in our lives, it needs to affect us simultaneously on all four levels. I can prove this to you pretty easily. If I ask you to tell me what you had for dinner on February 9th this year, you have no chance of recalling that. February 9th is a random date I picked and if you happen to celebrate a special occasion in your life that day, then throw that out and go back another month. Back to the example, you simply cannot remember what you had for dinner on that date. I have zero chance of recalling that(not kidding, I am trying to right now). As a matter of fact, as I type this on May 28th, I don’t think I can tell you what I had on May 9th. Or May 19th for that matter. You see, dinner, as good as it really only effects us physically. The dinners we remember(birthdays, holidays, etc)we generally don’t remember because of the food, but rather the event that we celebrate that effects us on another level. Now I’m going to use another scenario that I can’t be as specific on because many people read this and I don’t know the details of all of your lives, but bear with me and this will make sense. I want you to think back to a major accomplishment in your life. Getting married, the birth of your child or children, the start of your career, whatever it may be. Okay, think about that one event and then start to remember the details. Chances are great you can recall with relative ease, every detail of that scenario. For instance, I can tell you for a fact I had chicken wings and french fries from Long Wong’s(an AZ wing place)on March 8th of 2009. I was at home watching the World Baseball Classic after dinner. I can recall these details because later that evening my first son was born. You see that affected me physically(sweating during, tears of joy after), emotionally(Um, do I really need to explain this? Good, because I couldn’t anyway), mentally(immediately starting thinking about my new role as a parent), and spiritually(ever since then I have thought that if someone doesn’t believe in a higher power of some sort, they need only to have children for that to change. Do not take this as advice to go and have kids). All of the “fabulous four” were covered.

There are many examples of things that affect us on all four levels and not nearly all of them have to be as majorly life changing as having a child but they do all need to hit on all four. Now, you may be wondering how this is linked to a treatment center website and I am about to tell you exactly that. You see, for someone with an addictive personality, drugs and alcohol effect them simultaneously on all four of those levels. Physically(the body high, cravings), mentally(thought process change, drugs affect the brain directly so this is pretty easy to connect), emotionally(they call it getting high for a reason, that high is generally emotional), and spirituality(many examples of this but for one, people who take hallucinogenics often state they feel closer to God when on mushrooms or mescaline). All the ingredients are there as all of the four criteria are hit. This is why for an addict or an alcoholic, their use is more than a bad habit. It is a love affair based on their perception that their lives are being altered in a positive way by the drugs they consume. This is a powerful opponent to all trying to help a person see the depth of their issue and actually seek help for that problem. When someone does seek help, they better find a way of life that allows for and provides recovery that effects them on all four levels. If any of the four are missing, recovery will not stick for a true addict or alcoholic. This is the main reason, in my humble opinion, so many one track modalities or programs fail. For instance, let’s say you take your loved one who has a drug problem to a nutritionist. The nutritionist “prescribes” a new diet and some new healthy foods. Your loved one soon feels great physically and may have even put together a few days or weeks sober. But they aren’t getting any help for their mental, emotional, or spiritual side. They are bound to use again. So you take them to a priest who gives them a heavy dose of spiritual remedy. The same thing happens. So a few months later you try a therapist only. Rinse and repeat. Finally, you plead to the mental side by overloading them with books and info. Same old results. See the problem is not with any of those or any other individual modality. The problem is those all have to co-exist for someone to have a real shot at recovery.

For the reasons above, I believe it is imperative for people to seek treatment that addresses all four of the main components, often broken down to “mind, body, and spirit”. Only when those components are working together can someone have a shot at real recovery and a real life worth living. Over the next few months, we will break down the positive and negative side of how drugs and recovery effect all of the “fabulous four” so you can get a detailed look at the world of addiction and recovery. Join us next month when we begin with the physical side of addiction.

Try to stay cool and have a great start to your summer!

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