Moving From Sick Care to Health Care | The New Addiction Treatment Paradigm

Addiction Treatment | From Sick Care to Health Care

I had the recent privilege of attending the 2nd Annual David E. Smith, M.D. Addiction Symposium in San Francisco. The event attracted addiction treatment professionals from all over the nation. We listened to seasoned clinicians and cutting edge thought leaders in addiction science and treatment on topics ranging from pharmacotherapy to spirituality. If I were to sum it all up in a nutshell, the common thread was that we actually are moving from sick care to health care with addiction treatment leading the way.

It’s All About Brain Health, Any Questions?

Good health starts with brain health.

Good health starts with brain health.

Time and time again I heard ultra credible, mainstream people saying that addiction treatment is all about brain health and brain health is all about ensuring the essential nutrients of eating, exercising, thinking, feeling and sleeping well.

Something inside stood up and cheered as I heard for example, the addiction psychiatrist and trend setter, Daniel Amen, M.D. say things like, “Why is psychiatry the only discipline that doesn’t ever look at the brain–the organ it is treating?” and, “Why do I get recommendations for a colonoscopy but never for a non invasive brain scan when brain health is what it’s ALL about?”

Each talk surveyed the literature and as pointed out, the research gets edited and updated about every twenty minutes. But the bottom line was this; every vetted approach works a little bit, however if people are not practicing the good brain health practices of eating, exercising, mindfulness and sleep–fogettaboutit’.

What’s really changed in the way people think and talk about addiction treatment is that we’re getting calls to action–and I mean seriously–people standing up in solidarity and declaring we cannot practice addiction treatment in the compartmentalized, symptom suppression way we’ve been trying for decades. Rings a Herby Bell in my, “experience of one” in addiction recovery…Yes!

Monetize Wellness: NOW

I love my squishy brain...

I love my squishy brain…

As I sit here between thoughts and squeeze my palm sized, squishy brain the Amen Clinics distributes as marketing tools, I realize we really are on the brink of commitment to delivering a new paradigm of healthcare because we’re learning how to market and monetize wellness.

Yeah, there are a lot of fancy ways to get into the practices of this new paradigm–healthcare–and it takes what it takes. How about a “single photon emission tomography scan” or better known as the SPECT scan? A test that takes a snapshot of how the brain is working to determine what practices of–you guessed it; eating, exercising, thinking, feeling and sleeping well will best serve that brain.

So what about all the other high powered, high tech, biochemical/mechanical approaches that we’re so used to hearing about “curing” us? Fantastic stuff all of which can be used for the far end of the sick care spectrum when indicated. But for the remaining 85% plus of the population, let’s evangelize the brain health basics up the yin-yang and develop services and practices that offer healthcare to the masses, shall we?

Live Long and Drop Dead

What we’ve learned the hard way, (and another refreshing, repeated point stressed at the symposium) is the longer people are in addiction treatment, the better. Another way to think about it is that people need to stay in healthcare for life, because nobody gets out alive. How we facilitate this current inconvenient truth remains in the storming and forming phases, but people, we have ignition!

As more people are taught by doctors, (Latin; to teach) to take on the “experiment of one” by practicing good brain health, my mentor and colleague, Mark Sisson‘s adage makes more and more sense; “Live long and drop dead.”

Take a hands-on approach to taking care of your brain

Take a hands-on approach to taking care of your brain

Okay, so while we’re still in the interim space of being sold on the idea that one’s gotta have symptoms before learning to take care of oneself with good brain health practices, it’s an important step toward a better way to be the self-regulating and self-healing humans we already are.

Here’s to the time when we all realize that symptoms are an indication we have not been “in” or practicing healthcare–a time when we’re all taking a hands-on approach to eating, exercising, thinking, feeling and sleeping well–as matters of fact and practice.

A special thanks to Dr. David Smith who has been writing, saying and practicing all of the above for decades and who will be an upcoming guest interview on Sober Conversations. My deepest gratitude to you, Dr. Smith for all of the gifts bestowed upon so many at your symposium. I look forward to learning more from you very soon.

Dr. Herby Bell is a Recovery and Wellness Coach and owner of Recovery Health Care, an integrated approach to wellness and addiction recovery in Saratoga, California. For more information please call 650 474 9411 or Email: herbybell@me.com.  Connect with me online too:  Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • cmwilk says:

    I love the concept of, “Prevention,” in addiction. As Dr. Bell would say, “Eating well, moving well and thinking well.” People change when they hurt enough and have to or when they learn enough and want to. Why is this not taught to our children in schools? Copying with life’s issues should be class taught early and often in students curriculum; understanding displaced behaviors (compulsions/addictions) and direct behaviors-assertive healthy behaviors. God knows stress is inevitable.
    The quick fix or mood changer of drugs and alcohol seems like a no-brainer when you are a kid. Life should be without pain and require little effort. This is the core of addictive thinking these days. Why do we have to find out the hard way-like I did.
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  • HerbyBell says:

    Thank you for your validating comments, Chris. And I love your ending inquiry as I think it’s high time–I’m sure you agree, we change your very good question into a declarative, “We do not have to find out the hard way.”

    I always appreciate your honest and insightful comments.
    HerbyBell Wants You To Read…Moving From Sick Care to Health Care | The New Addiction Treatment ParadigmMy Profile

  • The symposium sounds informative, Herby and I’m glad that you attended and shared. This is important to note, “Another way to think about it is that people need to stay in healthcare for life, because nobody gets out alive.” Continual good brain health makes the difference and I’m hopeful that we are on a path that recognizes the idea of lifelong care. Thanks for sharing!
    Cathy Taughinbaugh Wants You To Read…How to Have the Courage to be Truly Free This 4th of JulyMy Profile

    • HerbyBell says:

      Thanks, Cathy. And as inferred from the symposium content, I think the hope we share has become “the writing on the wall.” Recovering from addictive and compulsive disorders in all of their manifestations, including the systemic family piece–is all about our culture coming up to speed with brain health by returning to integrated living. Here’s to the Renaissance! Thanks for being here.

  • I love how you captured the essence of this with this line, “every vetted approach works a little bit, however if people are not practicing the good brain health practices of eating, exercising, mindfulness and sleep–fogettaboutit’.” Brain health and wellness is at the root of it all. You’ve long been out in front on this, Herby, and I’m thrilled you had the opportunity to attend 2nd Annual David E. Smith, M.D. Addiction Symposium and hear so many of the “greats” talking about what you’ve been talking about.
    Lisa Frederiksen – BreakingTheCycles.com Wants You To Read…LGBT Pride Movement – Lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement?My Profile

  • Hey, Dr. Herby Bell. You’re always bringing us such current and alive stuff, ya’ know? I’d have enjoyed being there with you, as the creative and cutting-edge information flow would have been hot! So many very cool developments in the works, and so much of it just makes good common sense. What I also find so encouraging is it seems folks have had enough. Sufferers, family member, friends, clinicians – they’re all saying no more nonsense – let’s get down to saving some lives (your words in a comment on one of my posts). Always enjoy stopping-by Herby’s house – well worth it. Thanks, man…
    Bill
    Bill White, Licensed Counselor Wants You To Read…The Cost of Not Caring | Stigma and Discrimination Hit Hard and ColdMy Profile

  • R Johnson says:

    This is absolutely fascinating information. The idea that prevention is key to current and future health shouldn’t be a novel concept but rather common sense. Also, thank you for linking to Ms. Frederiksen’s SPECT scan article. Understanding what the brain scans look like (pre-recovery) will, hopefully, give hope to those that have a chemical addiction.

    • HerbyBell says:

      Thank you for your comments and yes, 21st Century addiction medicine coupled with a more holistic approach to health will give hope and help to millions more who need it. Thanks again for visiting RHC.

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