The concept is not new. William James, a famous psychologist from the 1800’s said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives,” (from The Miracle Method, by Scott Miller and Insoo Kim Berg, 1995). But others have discovered in more recent times how much chemistry plays a role in the brain as well. Our brains essentially run off of a crucial balance of “positive and negative” neurotransmitters.
My own personal “cure” from alcoholism has been a result of 2 main things: 1 – how I think about “addiction” and being “powerless” over alcohol, and 2- balancing my brain chemistry.
Change your Beliefs
As you may have read in some of the information about me and MODER8®, I battled with alcohol for most of my teenage and adult life. It was almost certain that if I drank, I was going to drink to access. So when I went to AA in my early twenties, I thought I had “come home” in a sense, because I felt everyone there understood me. One of the things that was taught was that we are “powerless” over alcohol, and like some strange type of allergy, one drop of alcohol would send me into a binge. For 2 years, I believed that if I as much as ate a bite of tiramisu made with real alcohol, I would go into an uncontrollable binge. But then I began to question that philosophy, wondering things like why people with food addictions could (and had to in order to live) still eat.
In the popular new book by Dr. Daniel Amen, Change Your Brain Change Your Body, Dr. Amen discusses negative thoughts and their impact on your brain and ultimately your actions. Essentially, if you believe that you have no control over something, for instance in this case – drinking, then you won’t have control. And just think about what a great cop out that can be: “It’s genetic – I have no ability to control how much I drink – my father was an alcoholic, my grandfather was an alcoholic, and so I am an alcoholic. I HAVE TO drink this 12-pack of beer!” Don’t misunderstand me – I do believe there is some sort of genetic link with alcoholism, whether it be our personalities, our brain chemistry or our learned behavior, but I don’t think we can use our genetics as an excuse.
Through reading MANY books, including the one quoted above, The Miracle Method, I determined that I was not “powerless over alcohol,” but rather I lacked the skills to deal with the issues that were causing my drinking problem. I didn’t get cured overnight, however, and it wasn’t easy. It took me a couple of years of analyzing and writing in my journal, even after I had been drinking (now if that isn’t a sign of a true “science geek”), to discover some of my issues. Although I felt I had made a lot of progress, there was still something missing. I continued to have that “out of control” feeling and the drive to drink more after the first drink. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I needed to balance my brain chemistry.
Balance your Brain Chemistry
Supplements: In the previously mentioned book, Change Your Brain Change Your Body, Dr. Amen offers an in depth look at the brain and the roles of the neurotransmitters. MODER8 was formulated based on a few of these – the primary ingredient being GABA. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and GABA boosters function to “turn off” the excess firing of nerves, resulting in feeling more calm and in control. MODER8 contains a fairly high level of GABA, 700mg., in order to address the controversial blood-brain barrier (BBB) issue. At high enough levels, certain substances are able to “leak” through the (BBB) and do not require active transport. MODER8 also contains 5-HTP (a serotonin booster – which produces the feelings of peace and happiness), and L-Theanine and Vitamin B6 to boost GABA levels. I also supplement my MODER8 intake occasionally with additional 5-HTP and L-Tyrosine.
Exercise: In addition to the supplements, I have noticed that physical, aerobic exercise is invaluable in producing that euphoric, joyful feeling that I used to seek when I was abusing alcohol. And I don’t mean an easy leisurely walk (although that definitely has its place in feeling at peace and tranquil), but rather getting your heart rate up and sweating a little!
Meditation & Hypnosis: Meditation & hypnosis, as well as activities such as listening to a babbling brook or water feature, watching a fire burn in the fireplace, taking a relaxing stroll on the beach, all help to increase feelings of peace and well-being. It also gives you the opportunity to calmly think through negative thoughts, a chance to daydream and think about your goals & passions, and to feel grateful for the positive things in your life. It provides you with the setting and mindset to get in touch with yourself and your spirituality (however you think of it).