The Neurological Malfunction...
Recover Strong views addiction as a neurological malfunction rather than any moral failure. Substance use is a chemical process in the brain. The brain has basically been tricked into a pattern of functioning where the brain views the substance as necessary for survival. This creates a pattern of over learning and attention to the substance that outweighs other patterns of thinking. To most of the world, especially those people such as loved ones and family members, the addict looks like they constantly make bad choices intentionally. The addict also appears uncaring to these people. The Recover Strong and Granite Mountain perspective considers this a situation where the addict fails to inhibit behavior that has become reflexive. The prefrontal cortex of an addict is not able to override actions despite knowing better. Motivation or lack of motivation is also related to brain chemistry and brain signals which depend on healthy and reliable pathways. Which is why attempting to improve motivation without considering the neuro-chemical process often leads to failure and the patient feeling like a disappointment and a failure. This is the entry point for the Recover Strong program.
The neuro-chemical process of exercise produces countless benefits for neuroregeneration, nervous system regulation, social engagement, improved self image along with improving cognitive capacity and problem solving skills. Recover Strong is considered a tool, much like medication is a tool to support the recovery process for the addict. The process of exercise is extremely beneficial because it works from both what is considered “the top down” and “bottoms up” approach. The “top down” approach relates to evidenced-based therapies like Cognitive Behavior Therapy which focus on thoughts, and beliefs, and begin in the area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. The “bottoms up” approach relates to the limbic system and the brain stem. This area is the focus of anti-depressants. Intense physical exercise produces an effect in both areas of the brain simultaneously. Another extremely beneficial result are the growth factors that are produced during exercise which as Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey says, “are like miracle-gro for the brain”.
Growth factors are critical in helping the brain develop and fire new connections that are not related to addictive patterns. Recover Strong maximizes this biological process by incorporating cognitive strengthening exercises during the class, includes evidenced-based therapies when the brain is optimally primed for learning and developing new synapses and pathways, specific scheduling of treatment processes that align with the neuro-chemical effects of physical exercise. Some people may be asking if they need to be an athlete to benefit from this treatment model?
NO! This process does not require you to be an athlete. In fact, this process is accessible to all ages, body types and demographics. It actually works extremely well for the person who has neglected their physical body and is considered “out of shape”. This process requires only willingness to try something new and for a person to step outside their comfort zone and follow the guidance of experienced, compassionate, knowledgeable experts as they discover their inherent power and resiliency.