Addiction treatment and recovery – Move well | Eat well | Think well — these three elements – moving, eating and thinking well form the basis of Dr. Herby Bell’s brainchild, Blueprint for Recovery™. Dr. Bell is a Chiropractor, Recovery Coach and Founder of Recovery Health Care (RHC), offering continuing care for people in addiction recovery, as well treatment for people looking for an alternative to traditional rehab approaches.
I learned of Dr. Bell’s work a few years ago and have been a huge supporter of his approach and joined him in collaborative efforts because he uses science. Dr. Bell understands addiction for what is it – a chronic, often relapsing – but TREATABLE – brain disease.
To that end, Dr. Bell incorporates the 21st century brain science that proves the positive outcomes in the brain and body when one engages in nutritious eating, regular functional exercise and mindful, therapeutic and/or spiritual practices to change where and how one thinks. This holistic approach provides the underpinnings to a lifetime of wellness and recovery in a world where addiction is still viewed as a shameful lack of willpower and recovery is viewed as abstinence and perhaps a 12-step program (no disrespect to 12-step programs, BTW, as they’re a huge part of recovery for millions).
Dr. Bell has been working for many years, now, to help his clients, the treatment community and society-at-large understand that treatment and recovery are far more than abstinence because healing the brain to the extent that’s possible for one to really thrive – to fully step into the life they were meant to enjoy – requires healing the brain through moving well, eating well and thinking well.
So it is with great pleasure that I share my interview with Dr. Herby Bell to let him explain his Blueprint for Recovery™ and how it is relevant to addiction recovery, relapse prevention and treatment.
First of all – please tell readers a bit about yourself – how you became interested in addiction recovery and continuing care?
Thanks, Lisa so great to be here and as it is for many of us in the addiction treatment community, I emerged from an alcoholic family. My Dad and Granddad died from suicide as a result from addictive and compulsive disorders. No wonder why I have had a life-long quest to more fully understand these conditions.
I am also a man in long–term addiction recovery and one of my sons is a recovering person as well. So I have deep empathy for this work and feel as if I am doing my life’s work, that which I was born to find and do. I’m a lucky guy…
You are a Doctor of Chiropractic – how did your Practice influence you expanding your research into the role eating well, thinking well and moving well play in a healthy lifestyle – something you summarize as the “Paleo lifestyle?”
Chiropractic is a beautiful premise that simply endeavors to remove interference from an already pristine mind and body. Instead of simply treating symptoms, chiropractors are trained to “fire up” the already present wisdom of the mind-body, the innate intelligence we were all born with.
We can all identify with how functional and symmetrical movement is important from the core of the body (the spine) and outward, but if what we’re eating and thinking is adding to this interference, it has to be addressed–especially for the recovering individual.
All of my work is tied to a huge body of evidence-based work called, Ancestral Health Principles. In other words, the recommendations I make and practices I help people habituate have to do with how our species evolved and the successful practices our ancestors employed to deliver us our very lives today.
The principles stem from evolutionary biology and the Paleolithic record–the longest, largest scientific evidence based outcome studies in existence. That’s where the expression, “Paleo” comes from.
The principles have to do with the three “essential nutrients” required to optimize the genetic, inborn instructions for good health we inherited. The nutrients are movement, food and healthy thinking skills. While we don’t usually think of moving and thinking as “nutrients”–when it comes to how the brain works–they truly are nutrients–and essential nutrients for sure.
Our present culture has gotten so very far away from adequate movement with our sedentary lifestyles and the Standard American Diet (fast, processed foods) is causing more harm than we have time to elaborate upon here. And in the “thinking well” realm, we are stressed to the max in our modern lifestyles.
Suffice it to say that a thoughtful movement practice coupled with moving toward whole and nutrient dense foods along with good and consistent psychological/spiritual practices–including sleeping well, mindfulness and healing old trauma, are all essential components and typically missing in a recovering individual’s lifestyle. This is the Blueprint for Recovery™.
My practice mantra is then, “Move well, eat well and think well for some period of time, one day at a time–for a life time.”
Please provide more detail on the science of the Paleo lifestyle’s influence on the brain / body and how a person goes about incorporating it into their life, and from there, how it dovetails with addiction treatment, relapse prevention and long-term recovery?
Let’s start with the “move well” part of the mantra. As the brain science supports this assertion and is full of this evidence based research–all of us need to move regularly just like our ancestors did.
At Recovery Health Care, we begin the essential movement practice with passive, conservative, gentle chiropractic adjustments and then add a thoughtful exercise practice as people improve and learn first hand that they can indeed, feel great–naturally!
As you well know, the brain is the target organ for addiction. The brain absolutely requires movement of the body for its optimal functioning which then translates to overall, mind-body health.
We’ve also learned from evidence-based science that all of us need to greatly diminish the foods we consume that promote inflammation and increased insulin production. Processed and packaged foods high in refined carbohydrates/sugars not only lead to epidemics like we’re seeing with depression, obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease to name a few, but contextually here, cause cravings and low grade to full-on, fight or flight stress states that are in my assessment–and in large part–why we have the alarmingly high addiction relapse rates seen world–wide.
We give suggestions for moving toward more whole, nutrient dense, genetically congruent foods and moving away from quick fix, junk foods. This is done over time and that is why our Blueprint for Recovery™ is a 90-day program because it takes time as people begin to “up-regulate” their genes–really!! –And add to that discovery that they can again, feel great–naturally and don’t have to feel so edgy and jerked around by their old eating or sedentary lifestyle habits.
As the brain and extension of the brain–the body–begin to function to their potentials, the need to reach for something outside of oneself for a feel good “hit” through poor food choices, substances or behaviors becomes less important than the sustainable, no side effects, healthy lifestyle people begin to really appreciate, respect and want! A lifestyle that many did not know was available! Just watch mainstream television and you know what I mean…
Keep in mind that all of this is done–while working concurrently with a cognitive and emotional intelligence skills practice with a mental health professional(s) with whom I am communicating–with permission from my patient–regularly.
Recovering people begin to understand that they are providing their own lives with “wellness interventions” to uphold the necessary “wellness thresholds” for addiction recovery. Personal responsibility becomes more important than victimhood or hoping some magic pill or potion will come along to “save” them.
People begin to recover…their natural vitality, good health and wellness–our birthright.
We know that the longer people remain under care, the better the chances they’ll experience long-term recovery–the goal. So my patients are not “discharged”, they are released for maintenance care, which might translate to twice or once monthly and sometimes less frequently, because that’s what we do with all chronic illnesses like addiction. After all, a kidney dialysis patient doesn’t receive three months of care and then asked to go see “how they do”, right?
But the salient point here and perhaps more importantly, practicing wellness takes practice! And we do this one-day at a time, for a lifetime. If we don’t get away from the basics…we don’t have to get back to the basics!
I remember hearing your lecture on spirituality and was moved by how you explained the concept of turning to a “Higher Power as you understand him/her.” For many, that’s all it should take to “think well,” yet you also support therapeutic and mindfulness practices as important to the “thinking well” piece – please elaborate.
We had something called the, “Cartesian split” about 500 years ago. That’s when science and spirituality hit a fork in the road and well…split.
In the year 2013 most agree there is no “split” of science and spirituality–or mind and body, for that matter. It’s all the same, numinous, healing energy just manifested in different forms.
So…we all agree that there is some magnificent, orchestrating, organizing, intelligent force in and of our existence. From the proclaimed atheist who pays reverence to nature, to the devout religious person who identifies with a specific spiritual tradition, it’s all good and it’s all “God/Higher Power” or whatever language one wants to assign to “it.”
Every square centimeter of existence is FULL of boundless energy and intelligence. And so the central implication here is that all of us can tap into and be informed by that, “Higher Power” in myriad ways. The challenge is to “tune in” to one’s own channel or one that speaks to you! Not, “Higher Power or no Higher Power”, but what life affirming way, community and/or tradition works for you?
From mindfulness practices to my beloved surfing practice to receiving Holy Communion on Sunday to the AA meeting: All Good! And, what you’re looking for is looking for you!
Please explain the steps you take when you first interact with a new client.
Clients typically find their way to Recovery Health Care after they have received some kind of initial/acute care. Sometimes they’ll “arrive” with a multidisciplinary assessment from a treatment team at a residential treatment facility, but sometimes they remain in active addiction, by remaining “adequately” functional in their personal and professional lives, but want help.
Our first task is to assess where individuals “are” to determine if it is an appropriate, “stage of change” to take on the lifestyle suggestions and changes required for addiction recovery. As an old friend used to say, “You gotta have the want.”
If so, then orthopedic, neurologic and chiropractic exams are conducted, as well as an initial food inventory if indicated at that time. Sometimes we wait for a week or so for the food inventory to be conducted as people settle in with a new program. Food is a BIG deal…
Based upon a history and examination, recommendations are made commensurate with the individual’s “whole picture” and we begin care.
It is not uncommon for people to visit 3 times weekly for the first four weeks wherein a progress exam is conducted and when indicated, visit frequency is reduced as people take on the lifestyle suggestions as they see and feel the differences.
90 days is the required time frame, (brain science confirmed) for new practices to take hold. People are then released for maintenance care like any chronic condition requires.
Give us some your clients’ feedback about your approach.
I’d be glad to and here’s an easy way to view some feedback, so please visit our testimonial page at the RHC website.
How is your approach being received in the treatment field?
The approach is being received with enthusiasm and open arms. We really are at a place in addiction treatment where we realize we have to embark upon some new ideas and new combinations of approaches if we’re going to address this now, epidemic and number 1 public health challenge in America–addiction.
So yes, this integrated, multidisciplinary approach is getting the unanimous, thumbs up, “nod” in a very welcoming and supporting way from all who truly know and care about addiction treatment.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just that I am so grateful for being able to elaborate upon the work that means so much to me through your very popular and informative BreakingTheCyles.com. And that I am very enthusiastic about the life changing work that you are offering to so many through your world class blog, your books, your educational programs and national speaking engagements–and your thoughtful, caring mind and Heart, Lisa. Thank you, thank you!
Thank you so much for sharing your Blueprint for Recovery™, Herby!
To contact Dr. Bell, please call him at 650 474 9411 or email him at email@example.com. You may also wish to visit his Recovery Health Care website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. And while you’re at it, check out his selection of Sober Conversations at iTunes.