The spiritual principle behind Step Three is faith, and that word can be a struggle for agnostic or atheists since it is so often associated with religion. The definition of faith, however, is: “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” So, here I am in a 12-step fellowship, and on the third step of that process. I obviously have faith in this program, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing the actions suggested. So, here we are at Step Three.
As an agnostic, I don’t turn my will and life over to a perceived creator, so who do I turn it over to? For me, I turned my will and life over to my sponsor and the program in the beginning.
I saw what my sponsor had gained from working a program of recovery, I had faith that she could guide me to the same results, and I had faith in her experience. I hear many people have experiences of their sponsors relapsing, so I feel it is important to include faith in both the sponsor’s experience and in working a program of recovery for yourself. If one of those is missing, the results will often vary.
The phrase “trust the process” encompasses this step for me. In the beginning, the painful beginning, the results were slower to come than I would have liked. I found myself working steps, practicing principles in my life, and wondering when the “finish line” would come. I wondered when I would experience the “miracle” that everyone talked about or have the white light moment. It’s a funny thing, if you’re around someone every day you don’t notice their growth compared to if you don’t see them for a few months. I had been growing, changing and experiencing the miracle, but I didn’t notice it until one day I looked back and realized how drastically my life had changed – for the better.
After working a program of recovery and getting significant sobriety time under my belt, I added another thing to my list of faith: my sober, higher self. I now had undergone a psychic change from living the steps in my daily life and obtaining continuous sobriety. I made sound decisions, I knew right from wrong, and could act in a way that aligned with my values. Today, I still need the other two things, my sponsor and the fellowship of my choosing, but I no longer need advice for every decision I’m making. That being said, it is imperative for me to also remember the only thing I do have control over is my choices.
Step Three meant and continues to mean so much more to me than checking a box that says, “Yep, I turned my life over to the program, let’s move onto the next one.” Step Three is something I like to equate to meditation – it’s something that has to be practiced every day in order for my ability to strengthen. The second I start trying to control things outside of my choices, chaos erupts in my life. However, if I turn my will and life over to the fellowship (meaning, if I live my life in accordance to the spiritual principles of the program), then I create serenity in my life. I can always tell if I’m living this step appropriately by asking myself these questions:
Am I worried or anxious?
Am I being angry or judgmental?
Am I acting impulsively?
If I answer yes to any of these, I know that I need to buff up my Step Three work. The program works if you work it, so don’t lose hope if you catch yourself slipping.
Yoga isn’t just a passing trend fueled by branded yoga pants and fitness fashion. In fact, the practice has been passed down through generations for over 5,000 years. Throughout history, yoga has represented many different ideas, beliefs, and practices that often contradict each other but the foundation of physical and spirituality activities for inward and outward benefit persevere.
Yoga is split by four different periods. There is pre-classical yoga which was developed by the Indus- Sarasvati in Northern India.This form of yoga entailed sacred texts, mantras, songs, and rituals. During this period the purpose of yoga was for the sacrifice the ego through self-awareness, action, and wisdom for a higher self. Classical Yoga follows, which covers eight different stages of self development towards enlightenment. Post classical yoga birthed Tantra and then Hatha yoga which is is meant to cleanse the body and soul.
Modern Yoga starting in the late 1800’s was brought into western culture where Hatha yoga is most practiced. Hatha while having both physical, mental, and spiritual benefits is in modern day most sought after for exercise. Modern yoga embraces both the spiritual and the physical and it is up to the practitioner which direction to go after.
The original intention of yoga was to bring a person closer to their spiritual nature and find peace in a chaotic world. Practicing yoga has been shown with certainty to improve your mental health and wellbeing as a person navigates their emotions and thoughts. Below will highlight five reasons why a regular practice of yoga has such amazing benefits for your mental health and stability. It’s not as big of a stretch as you think!
Step One: Self Confidence
According to multiple studies, standing sequences in yoga help increase the body’s energy and therefore raise a sense of being empowered, positive, and in control. Practicing yoga teaches you to be less critical and more accepting of yourself. This helps you better appreciate your strengths and capabilities versus being overly critical and obsessive over flaws. Not only will you strengthen your mentality but there are also clear benefits for your body. You will gain strength and muscle tone which will better your overall shape. Improved confidence in one’s abilities will help overcome feelings of insecurity.
Step 2: Releasing Fear
Breathing exercises consistently go alongside yoga practices. Pranayama yoga is centered around breathing techniques and sequences. This form of breathing allows for the release of fear and anxiety. For example, the deeper into the yoga sequences one gets and after fully surrendering a person will reach be beyond the superficial level of a busy conscious mind. You will understand how to be aware of and analyze different thoughts and their relationship to your emotions. This is the result of delving into the psyche and better understanding yourself and the layers of fear you have developed over your life. Being aware of what lies beneath your surface will help you identify, face, and eventually release them. Fear is a big impediment for recovery, facing this will help a person move on to the next stage of their life.
Step Three: Getting Better Rest
Do you have difficulty falling asleep and feeling rested after a night’s sleep? Symptoms of poor mental health are often fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia. Being restless causes impulsive decisions late at night which inhibits a peaceful state of mind. Studies show yoga creates a more restful state in the body than other methods of relaxation. When performing yoga you are able to better relax and be able to fall asleep quicker, get into deeper sleep, and therefore wake up feeling fresh and ready for the day. Waking up rested is big step to keeping a positive light on the day.
Step Four: Improving Focus and Discipline
When going through yoga sequences you must silence the noise and clear the clutter in your mind. Try balancing while your instructor is walking you through different poses with a busy brain. It very difficult. This is why yoga helps you be able to sustain focus for a longer period of time.
A study between active children and focus showed that children became more adept at ignoring distractions, multitasking, and holding and manipulating information in their minds after taking up a form of physical exercise. Building your ability to focus in yoga will better equip you to focus when performing any type activity. This discipline of the mind is critical for fighting addiction and preventing relapse.
Step Five: Reducing Stress
Performing yoga releases the body’s stressors while improving respiratory, and cardiovascular function. The National Institute of Health explains that yoga helps lower blood pressure and your heart rate. The release of stress from the body is only one advantage. The meditative nature of yoga also helps you be able to release what is taking up too much space in your mind and causing unhealthy worry. Being present in the moment, releasing toxic thoughts, and keeping the body’s chemical level balances plays a vital role in attaining peace filled moments in the day.
A study conducted on the effects of yoga on addicts’ reveals “Yoga has a positive and significant effect both on depression and state anxiety level of addicts in rehabilitation period.” A person’s mental state will determine whether he/she will be in a healthy place to move on with his/her life. When someone’s mental health is lacking you will see it leak into many other parts of that person’s life. Having your mental health in order is step one to getting the rest of you in line with your best self. Getting through yoga classes will require mental and physical attention through which both will receive benefits that will keep serving on and off the mat.
Step threein recovery calls us to ACTION! It requires us to do a few things, but first and foremost is make a decision. Okay, but what decision? Well, the decision is whether or not we believe the higher power of our understanding has our back.
Frankly, step three was a lot more difficult than I anticipated due to my very shaky belief system. It’s not that I didn’t believe in some sort of higher power; I honestly just didn’t care one did or didn’t exist! I was raised in the Church, but at a young age witnessed a congregation meeting to hold a vote on whether to keep our pastor because he was unfaithful to his wife on several occasions. It was difficult for me to take what these pastors preached to heart because they literally were not practicing what the preached. However, I continued to go to church there because my parents made me. So when I heard the word “GOD” in Step Three, I didn’t use it as an excuse to say the step won’t work for me, but rather the challenge was trying to work through my childhood feelings towards organized religion and God.
My sponsor and I discussed all of this and he said, “yeah, but Ryan, your higher power can be whatever you want it to be.” That hit me between the eyes because my higher power was already giving me no excuse or logical reasoning not to practice the program! The cool thing is now I was no longer afraid to say “I am a believer.” While it might not be in what other people envision God to be, it is my God – an endlessly loving, all-seeing, super chill God, who in my opinion spends way too much time at the beach!
My sponsor and I continued our conversation, and I had to accept this: “I can’t, He (my God) can, so let Him!” We talked about willingness, and how important this is to Step Three – being willing to let go of what you think you have control of and let Him take care of it. For me, this was not an excuse to not care about the outcome of things, but rather being able to accept it as being just the way it is supposed to be, whether I like it or not! Accept it! So we both knelt down and said the third step prayer on page 63. I didn’t care who or what I was praying to because I just wanted help from anyone or anything that could help me.
One of my favorite passages in The Big Book reminds me of a similar quote/ belief system from the movie Matrix Reloaded. If you have not seen the movie, you are going to have to follow me closely on this because it could be tricky to understand. There is a scene in which the main characters of the movie, Morpheus, Trinity and Neo, are in an elevator after meeting with “The Frenchman,” one of the bad guys in the film. The meeting didn’t go how they anticipated, which Trinity points out to the rest of the group. “Maybe we did something wrong, or didn’t do something,” she says. Morpheus’ reply is where you truly see his belief system and understand his trust in something other than himself, “No, what happened couldn’t have happened any other way.” The pair look at him confused. Morpheus lays down the hammer saying, “We are still alive.”
Now I know you are thinking, “Ryan, what does this have to do with the third step and how you worked it!?” Well, it helped me understand there is a greater force in the world at work. I don’t have to understand it, I don’t have to define it, and I don’t have to explain it to anyone – it is MY conception of a higher power. Page 417 in The Big Book says, “Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.” This is so true. I try to seek God’s will for me every day. Every time I pray, I surrender my will to him. That is the action, and it is how I have and continue to work Step Three on a daily basis.
Three times. That’s how many times Clyde died over the last two months of his addiction. Three times.
The first time Clyde was in his car, just blocks from his heroin dealer. Fortunately, a cop had stumbled along, saw Clyde slumped against the steering wheel, and broke the car window with his flashlight. Fortunate too that the officer had been equipped with Narcan and was able to bring Clyde back to life.
The second time Clyde died he was in the bathroom at a McDonald’s on the highway just outside of his hometown. Clyde’s dealer was dry, so he had to drive one town over to buy his morning wake-up. It wasn’t that far really. Four miles or so. But it was too far to wait to get straight. Clyde awoke on the greasy linoleum floor of the fast food restaurant’s men’s room with a squad of first responders hovering over his body. Again, Narcan brought Clyde back to life.
The third time Clyde died it was Christmas. Clyde remembered the frosted snow on the medicine cabinet mirror. And he remembered it matching the snow outside the bathroom window. Clyde also remembered the mistletoe hanging over the head of the first responder who’d administered the Narcan that once again brought him back to life. He remembered thinking “I could kiss you for this.” It was almost funny.
The look on Clyde’s grandfather’s face wasn’t funny though. And neither were the worried eyes of his grandmother. Yep. You guessed it. The third time Clyde died he was at his grandparents’ house. In their bathroom. Amid the lace curtains and scented soaps and lavender soap dish. Beneath that frosted mirror. Right by the window that looked out over the well-kept yard covered in chalk white snow.
Later that Christmas night, in the hospital emergency room, Clyde’s parents and grandparents surrounded his bed and gave him his gift. It was an ultimatum:
“You either get addiction treatment or you get out of our lives completely. We’re sick and tired of watching you die.”
Turns out Clyde was sick and tired too. Sick and tired of chasing drugs, losing jobs, and alienating friends. Sick and tired of betraying every member of his family, over and over, again and again. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, as they say.
Mostly though, Clyde was sick and tired of dying. Not just from the overdoses (though there was that). But sick and tired of the slow, incremental death that comes from addiction. Forget the high drama. Clyde really died a little every day, in every way. And pretty soon there’d be nothing left even to live for.
“Yes, please,” said Clyde. “I want treatment. I need treatment.”
Clyde’s family turned to the internet for help. It was a process of education, as well as elimination. They read about how people, places and things can be hazardous to recovery. So no addiction treatment center close to home. They read about how girls can lure a vulnerable man back into drinking and drugging (and vice versa). So no co-ed addiction treatment center for them. They read how the 12-Step program provides a blueprint for sobriety, as well as for living a full and sober life. So no addiction treatment center that didn’t play by the Big Book.
Finally, Clyde’s family read that recovery comes best from those who’ve been there and done that. Men who have developed empathy and compassion and strength from their experience. Men who’ve traveled down that deepest and darkest of roads and have seen their way clear. So no addiction treatment center whose staff wasn’t themselves in recovery.
Clyde’s family confronted him with all this newfound knowledge. They weighed the pros and the cons of each aspect of their recovery research right before his very eyes. They were assured. And they were convincing.
Clyde’s family also had their minds made up. They’d found a facility that met all their criteria and then some. And by the time they’d laid it all out, Clyde had his mind made up too.
“Why Clyde,” said the family, finally able to smile. “We thought you’d never ask.”
Clyde’s been at Recovery Boot Camp for nine months now. He completed all three phases of Basic Training and has become a trusted and respected RBC alumni. He’s found a reputable job, an outlet for his energy and a cadre of close sober friends. And Clyde’s been happier than he’s been in a good long while. Too long a while.
Clyde’s also discovered something in himself he thought he’d lost for good. Character.
When RBC asked Clyde why he wanted to share his story with the world, his reason was quick and matter-of-fact:
“I don’t want other men to have to die three times just to be able to live.”
My name is Jackie and my sobriety date is 2/13/17. It took a lifetime of chaos and misery to get to this point. I am an only child and grew up feeling like an outcast. I had the glasses, the braces and was slightly overweight. All that made me the perfect target to be bullied throughout my school years. This led to severe depression. At the tender age of 14, I tried my first attempt at suicide. Obviously, God had another plan for me because I am here to tell you my story. I ended up in the first of many institutions after that. I was diagnosed with depression and OCD. After that, I saw several different psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, etc. I was given medication for the depression and anxiety. I slowly developed the mentality that I needed to be medicated to be “normal”. That there was something wrong with me that only medication would fix.
This mentality coupled with deep rooted insecurities and the overwhelming longing to be accepted by my peers led to a long road that ended up in addiction. At first, I used and drank to feel “a part of”. Eventually, it became a dependency and I no longer had the choice to pick it up or set it down. It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up, if I went to sleep that night. It consumed me and brought me into the deepest darkness I’ve ever known. I ended up in more institutions and then jails. I was empty, shattered and broken. I would mutilate myself to feel a different kind of pain to escape the internal, gut wrenching pain that emanated from the bottom of my soul. It has taken me a few times of going back out and coming back in to recovery to get to where I am today.
Stepping Stones was the first place that I truly saw a glimpse of what recovery would lead to. I met people that could actually relate to what I was going through. That blessed place planted a seed that would eventually sprout up and grow. I wasn’t truly ready at that time to change my ways because I was unwilling to do what others did to get and stay clean & sober. This time around I am willing and am doing what is suggested to stay sober. I go to meetings, reach out to my network, work on my relationship with God, get involved in service work, work steps and have a sponsor that I rely on to walk me through this program of recovery.
If anyone is struggling, please know there is hope. Life doesn’t have to be a series of events drowned in regret.
If you are truly tired of being lost in the absolute misery of addiction, there is a way out. It took what it took to get me to where I am now, but God knew I needed all those moments to become truly willing. I don’t do any of this perfectly, and no one is meant to because we’re all human. I make mistakes and today that is okay because I can use those mistakes to learn how to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday. I’m learning how to handle life on life’s terms in constructive ways and how to be there for others when they are going through tough times. I used to believe my life was meaningless, but today I believe that it’s not. I know that God is working in and through me and I have purpose in my life today. You can too. Just keep coming back. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
As we prepare to start the step three, many of us are placed in an uncomfortable position again. Here we see “God” actually mentioned for the first time in the steps. For some, this is easy to accept. However, more often than not many of us begin to shy away at this step if the mention of a “higher power” in Step Two did not already. As we take an honest look at where our addiction has brought us, we are able to understand that we were powerless over alcohol and our lives were unmanageable. Then we know we cannot solve the problems we have created on our own, which leads us to put hope into a Power greater than ourselves returning our sanity. Now we are faced with having to turn our lives over to God – don’t be afraid or let that word turn you away from the process! It is only being asked that you have faith.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The last four words of step three are placed in italics for a reason. It is to emphasize that we need only place our faith in our own conception of a Higher Power. We have already come to believe there is something greater than us; now our only requirement is to turn our problems over to whatever that concept may be. More than anything, this step is asking if we are willing to quit trying to run the show. As addicts, we tried to remain in control of every aspect of our lives and the lives of those closest to us to ensure that we were able to get exactly what we wanted. This misguided perception of power and control over our lives and others is what got us here. If we are willing to make this commitment and have faith in our Higher Power, we can commence with Step Three. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous gives us a prayer that we can use as a guide for taking this step:
God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!
While it is not necessary for these words to be exact, it is important that whatever we say is believed without reservation and with total conviction. The words we choose must be said humbly and honestly, asking our Higher Power to guide us on this journey. If we are able to do this and place our faith in a Power greater than ourselves, we are ready to take the first step of action in our recovery.
What is my biggest piece of advice to those struggling with Step Two? Think about what you really have to lose at this point because chances are you have nothing left.
Step two started the first time I tried to get sober. When I was going into treatment, I was agnostic because I really didn’t believe in a higher power or anything – I didn’t care. My mother had been going to church and found her faith. She became a strong Christian and we had conversations about God, but I tuned it out. I remember noticing one thing very different about her from other parents, and that was her lack of worrying. Her 20-year-old daughter was an addict who wouldn’t call or come home for weeks at a time, but she stayed strong in her faith and believed that I was going to be okay. I could see her trusting God and see the positive impact it had on her life because everything was better – her marriage, her happiness, and overall quality of life.
I saw the word “God” during my first time in treatment and wanted nothing to do with it, which is common for many addicts trying to work the 12 Steps. That avoidance lasted for about three days because I was in so much emotional, mental, and physical pain.
I remember being in bed and crying out, “if there is anything out there bigger than me, please help – I can’t do this anymore.”
As corny and cliché as it sounds, I woke up the next day feeling different. I was more serene and wasn’t in as much pain, which leads me to start believing there is a power greater than myself.
I carried that with me through my first stay in treatment and again when I relapsed. Despite being in active addiction, I still went to church and the relationship with my mother grew. I wouldn’t call myself a Christian, but I still acknowledge and believe there was a Higher Power. I have friends who are Buddhist and others who practice their own interpretation of other religions, which is why I respect all beliefs and appreciate believing this is something bigger than us all whether it’s the universe as a whole or fate in general – whatever works for anyone to know they aren’t going through life alone.
I credit the second time I got sober to my faith, and that made it easier for me. I learned and accepted Step One, so my newfound faith helped me trust the process and trust the Higher Power would take care of me no matter what happened during my time at Stepping Stone Center for Recovery. It was difficult because I wasn’t on speaking terms with my stepfather and my little brother was angry with me, but I was oddly at peace with it because I had my faith tells me it would be okay. It made treatment and life a lot easier to go with the flow.
After treatment, I went to sober living. Things that would stress anyone out like who I would meet, how I was going to pay for it, or when I would eat again didn’t have an influence on me because I just knew I would be ok – I’m still ok because I’ve been sober for three years and still carry that faith with me.
This Will Not Be One of Those “I Then Came to Believe” Stories
When I first came into the 12-step room and read steps two and three, I froze. Back then I was a “recovering Catholic” of 21 years and identified as an atheist, so seeing those words frightened me. I panicked, but my current state of unmanageability and the emotional pain I was feeling trumped my avid atheism. I felt uncomfortable, but the willingness I held to move forward with these steps, despite my stout disbelief, allowed me to continue. With the help of a sponsor, who was a Christian, I began working through these steps.
I decided I would pick up the religious undertones that so many in the groups I attended and my sponsor held. I agreed to do everything my sponsor suggested, like praying on my knees every morning, meditating, and most importantly believe in a Higher Power. I somehow convinced my sponsor (and myself) that I had step two down and could move onto step three. My sponsor instructed me to say the Third Step Prayer every morning:
God, I offer myself to Thee – To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
I bristled when I said the words, but I had the willingness to do so due to remembering the pain of where I came from in active addiction. I kept saying the words every day for the first six months of my sobriety. It still felt uncomfortable and unnatural, but I had convinced myself that I believed in this “god fellow” everyone talked about so much. I “acted as if” I believed for about the first year of my sobriety. I remember sharing in early recovery that I was an atheist and I would get responses from the group like: “just believe that I believe,” “just be willing, keep praying, and you will be contacted,” or “it doesn’t matter if you believe in Him, He believes in you.”
I’m sorry to inform the readers that this will not be one of those “I then came to believe” stories that are all too common in 12-step programs. I am now more than six years sober, and consider myself agnostic. I do not believe in any theistic religions. I still worked a 12-step program successfully. After my first year in recovery, I realized that I was only doing two of the three components that are needed: open-mindedness, willingness, and honesty. I had been open-minded, so much so that I almost convinced myself I believed what others seemingly wanted me to believe. I was willing, I did exactly what my sponsor asked me to do for a long enough time for it to be considered a habit. However, I lacked honesty.
Around a year sober, I started being honest with my sponsor and everyone in the meetings I attended. I said that I was an agnostic, I didn’t know what I believed, but I knew what I did not believe. I didn’t like the words god, creator, etc. My sponsor laughed and told me that I didn’t have to agree with her concept of a Higher Power, or anyone else’s, and that I could have my own. At that moment, I had a weight lifted and I began to realize that my Higher Power was the 12-step group, their experiences that I learned from and could still learn from, and the collective consciousness of all of us in recovery.
Living in Jacksonville, Florida (also known as the “Bible Belt of the South”), I get some pushback when I share that I’m an agnostic even today. I jokingly share that “I’m still waiting to be contacted like everyone said I would be,” and get responses like, “you already have been contacted, you just weren’t listening,” to which I can laugh. Who knows, maybe one day I will be contacted or listening appropriately. I’m open to any of that!
Around three years sober, I found a group called We Agnostics and Free Thinkers. I couldn’t believe that there was a group where people believed differently as I did, still attended traditional 12-step groups, and could openly discuss their differences without pushback. In this group we have Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, Seekers, etc. and we all discuss our individual journey with our common goal: to live each day sober. Prior to finding this group, I always felt like I fit in, but that I didn’t belong. I finally felt like I belonged, like this group was made for me, and it was.
This group introduced me to literature that refreshed and revamped my recovery. They had a little book of 12-steps with all different kinds of vernacular in it. They had an “agnostic daily musings” book, which is essentially the Daily Reflections, but behavior-based rather than spirituality-based. I love my 12-step program, all of the people in it, and all of the experiences they share with me. Those groups and those people helped me when I had no idea what direction to go in. Since finding my perfect-fit home-group, I have a newfound appreciation for the traditional meetings, too. There is truly a place for everyone in 12-step programs, sometimes it just takes some open-mindedness, willingness, and holding on until you find your perfect fit – your TRUE NORTH.
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD oil, has become an accepted natural alternative for a variety of health-related issues. Its use as a substitute for over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs has been rapidly growing over the last few years. Unlike most supplements, it can be used for a broad range of issues such as lowering high blood pressure to providing relief for the side-effects associated with cancer treatments. However, one of the least understood benefits of CBD oil is its possible effectiveness in treating some symptoms associated with alcohol and drug addiction.
What is CBD Oil and How Does It Work?
Cannabidiol is one of the naturally occurring non-psychoactive elements found in the cannabis sativa plant. It is also found in certain strains of hemp which is the tough fibrous part of the cannabis herb. CBD oil is made by extracting resin from the stalks of hemp or cannabis flowers and then diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil. Most of the CBD oil used for medicinal purposes comes from hemp.
Both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence reveal that CBD oil is helpful in reducing the symptoms of a wide variety of ailments. Although some of the health issues may differ, recent studies have shown that the body’s endocannabinoid system is the common thread. Named after the cannabis plant, the endocannabinoid system consists of receptors & molecules that inhabit the brain, organs, glands, and cells within the human body.
The endocannabinoid system performs different jobs in various parts of the central nervous system with the overarching goal of creating a stable equilibrium throughout the human body. The balance that the endocannabinoid system maintains between tissues, organs, and cells enables the body’s systems to perform at peak performance. Since endocannabinoid receptors have such a big job, they are viewed by scientists as the key to health and fitness. These hard-working receptors are responsible for regulating the following bodily functions:
Nerve and brain tissue
Appetite and hunger
Cannabinoids have a profound effect on the endocannabinoid system by acting directly and indirectly on the body’s receptors. If the endocannabinoid system is weak, cannabinoids can help the receptors function at an optimum level. CBD helps cells connect with the central nervous system and organs to create a perfect balance between the body and mind.
How does CBD differ from Marijuana?
Marijuana is the dried leaves of cannabis sativa. Cannabis contains both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. THC is the component in cannabis that causes the feeling of euphoria by interacting with CB1 receptors in the brain. These receptors affect coordination, mood, thinking, and appetite. THC’s interaction with these receptors induces the result typically connected with the use of marijuana that’s associated with the sensation of “getting high.” Unlike THC, cannabinoids are non-psychoactive, and their interaction with the CB1 receptors does not alter impressions, awareness or judgment. Although CBD oil does not modify perception, it does create changes in the body that are essential to maintaining good health and wellness. Overall, CBD oil pulls out the useful compounds found in cannabis without the psychoactive chemicals that produce the effects associated with inhaling marijuana.
CBD Oil Benefits List
CBD oil has become quite popular for individuals looking for relief from pain and other ailments but don’t feel comfortable using pharmaceutical drugs. Because of the way cannabinoids interact with the body, CBD oil has a variety of uses. Here are some of the common ailments that CBD oil has shown success in treating.
Alleviating chronic pain
Reducing cancer-related symptoms
Improving heart health
Treating acne and other skin conditions
Reducing childhood epileptic seizures
Neutralizing free radicals
The CBD oil benefits list addresses a wide-range of health issues that many people deal with daily. But research has shown that cannabinoids may be effective in treating the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.
CBD Oil for Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are recurrent mental health issues that have a debilitating impact on the quality of life. Both ailments are typically treated with prescribed drugs, which can have unpleasant side-effects such as sexual dysfunction and insomnia. In addition, some pharmaceutical drugs can be addictive and lead to substance abuse.
CBD helps to regulate the internal functions within the body but also regulates the mind’s external responses to the environment. Several studies have shown that CBD oil may be a feasible treatment for depression and anxiety. This has encouraged many people living with mental health issues to seek CBD oil as an alternative treatment. CBD binds to the body’s serotonin receptors causing a decrease in feelings of anxiety and depression
There is no miracle cure for anxiety and depression. However, several case studies and clinical trials have shown that cannabinoids do help in regulating mood and emotions. This is why CBD oil is becoming a useful option for the ongoing management of some mental health disorders. More research is needed to truly gauge the efficacy of its uses for treating anxiety and depression. Anyone considering using CBD oil to treat mental health disorders should always consult with their doctor first.
CBD Oil for Addiction Recovery
Compelling scientific evidence has revealed that CBD oil may be an effective method for treating some substance abuse related symptoms. As with most chronic illnesses, addiction is a disease that may have episodes of relapse and remission. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that in 2014, 21.5 million Americans were in need of therapeutic treatment for addiction. Because CBD is not addictive and non-psychoactive, it may serve as the panacea for reducing the cravings and anxiety experienced by individuals suffering from addiction. CBD’s capacity to regulate the body’s dopamine receptors is the key to providing relief for the following withdrawal symptoms:
Disorientation and mental confusion
Agitation and mood swings
Cold and sweaty outbreaks
A recent study with animals by the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego discovered that the brain’s serotonin receptors are ignited by CBD. This was found to be directly related to a reduction in drug-seeking behavior. In this study, CBD oil was administered to rats after they were given alcohol and cocaine. The results indicated that even five months after CBD had left their systems, the rats did not engage in drug-seeking behaviors.
CBD oil has also proven effective in breaking the smoking habit. The University of London conducted a study that found a relationship between cannabinoids and the addiction to nicotine. In this study, habitual smokers were given an inhaler filled with CBD and a placebo. The participants who used the CBD inhaler showed a radical reduction in tobacco consumption, and their craving for nicotine decreased.
Is CBD Oil Safe?
Due to its association with marijuana, many ask the question, “Is CBD oil safe?” Although uncommon, some people have reported minor side-effects from using CBD oil. These include dry mouth, low blood pressure, feeling sleepy and light-headed. Although CBD is not toxic, always consult a healthcare professional before consuming the oil to treat chronic health conditions. This is essential for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any prescribed medication.
Administering CBD Oil
Even though many states have made the use of marijuana legal, most doctors are wary of prescribing CBD. This is due to the absence of an established guideline for recommended dosages. In fact, scientists have just recently started developing guidelines for administering medical marijuana. Therefore, determining the proper dosage of CBD oil depends on a variety of factors. Every individual is genetically unique, so a serving size of CBD oil will be different for each person. Again, it is recommended that you talk to a healthcare professional when considering dosage amounts for CBD.
CBD oil is usually taken orally in the form of drops or a paste. It is dispensed and held under the tongue until fully absorbed. It has a distinct flavor that some find unappealing, so drinking juice while ingesting the oil may be necessary. Other forms of oral administration include capsules, edible chocolate bars, and oral sprays. The diverse methods in which CBD oil can be consumed make it an appealing natural supplement that can be tailored for each individual’s specific needs.
Due to the manner in which CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system, there are many significant benefits from using it as a natural supplement. Recent studies have shown promising results in the efficacy of cannabinoids as a therapeutic treatment for many ailments. Scientific and anecdotal evidence has revealed that CBD oil is a safe and non-toxic alternative to some prescription drugs. This non-psychoactive supplement has proven to be a viable option for reducing the symptoms of an assortment of chronic ailments and diseases.
If you are interested in learning more about CBD oil and whether it could useful for you, speak with a medical professional. They will help you determine if it is appropriate, how to use it and the proper dosage.
Addiction for me, began at a young age. Drugs and alcohol were a way fit in. I grew up in a good home with a loving mother and a step-father that came into our lives and treated me as if I was his own. My biological father was in and out of my life over the years and more often than not a source of disappointment. This, I would realize later, was a big issue I would have to deal with. My step-dad joined the military shortly after he and my mom got married and we spent the next nine years moving from base to base. When my step-dad got out of the military we settled in Denver Colorado and I had no idea that it would be here that a 20 year battle with addiction would get its start.
All through high school I used drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in. It was right after high school that I began to see the glimpse of the damage my use was causing in my life. I failed out of my first semester of college and was forced to move back in with my parents. I had a taste of freedom at this point so it was a struggle to adjust to their rules. I did everything I could to get back on my feet and get out on my own as quick as possible. I found a job making good money and within a few months moved out with a friend of mine. The thing was I had no idea how to be responsible for myself. Not even six months later, my car had been repossessed and my roommate had kicked me out. Bottom number two!
I decided it was time for a change. I packed what little I had left to my name and with a bus ticket that my parents bought I moved to Florida with my biological father. The next twelve years were an absolute blur. From the outside looking in, it would appear that I had things under control for the most part. I held a long term job, kept my bills paid, and loved to have a good time. I met my wife during this time and two years after we met we were married. For the first three years of our marriage I was able to balance my dual life. The life of the addict, and the life of the loving husband. Bottom number three came shortly before our third anniversary when I got a DUI. It was at this point that things began to unwind.
I thought, as did my wife, that this would be the wakeup call I needed. It worked for about a month and I was right back to my old ways. Again, from the outside looking in I had it all under control again, but at this point I was falling apart inside. A year after my DUI my wife found out that she was pregnant. I was overcome with so many emotions. I felt relieved, because I just knew this new life was going to be exactly what I needed to clean up my act. I was scared, because I was struggling to take care of myself, how could I, possibly take care of a baby. I was worried that I would end up like my biological father and leave my baby. My son came into the world seven months prior to me finding recovery.
I would love to say that his entrance to the world was enough to save me, but it wasn’t. As much as I wanted it, I still hadn’t reached that point of complete surrender. As the months progressed after his birth I found myself more and more depressed. I was engrossed in the fear that I was going to turn out just like my father. I still couldn’t bring myself to ask for help. Without realizing it, I had begun leaving things around the house that I would normally have bent over backwards to ensure wouldn’t be found. My wife was at the end of her tolerance for the things I was doing and I was reaching a breaking point. My wife found some pill bottles that I had failed to hide and called me at work. Usually I would have done everything I could to try and lie, or make excuses for what she had found. Not that night, that night I knew my run was over and I needed help.
After a long discussion, my wife went to bed and I was left sitting up and wondering how I had gotten to this point and how I was going to ever get back to the husband and father that I truly wanted to be. The next morning I called Lakeview. I was greeted on the other end by a person I can only describe as my guardian angel. Tarshi, my intake specialist took the time to talk with me and work with me. She guided me through the process and checked in with me multiple times a day until I arrived at Lakeview for treatment.
When I got to treatment, as I stated earlier, my biggest fear was, am I destined to turn out just like my biological father. I worked extensively with my therapists during my stay to overcome this. I just couldn’t understand why my dad didn’t want to be a part of my life. I wanted answers that I was never going to get. I spent my first father’s day in treatment and at that time it was extremely difficult. I spent the next day talking with my therapist about how tough my father’s day visitation was and it was at this time that things really shifted. He told me that I could spend the rest of my life trying to find the answers I was looking for, or I could look inside myself and find the answer I needed. I gave this a lot of thought over the next few days and began to realize that my dad probably doesn’t even know himself, why he was unable to be there for me. I realized that in all actuality his not being there was probably the greatest gift he could have ever given me. His absence made space for my amazing step-father to come into my life and teach me how to be a man, it also showed me exactly what I don’t want to be as a father.
Rex and his son
As I left treatment, I had a much better feeling about being a father and my ability to be there for my son. Sitting here now three years later I realize that first father’s day in treatment will probably be the best gift I will ever receive. That father’s day I received the gift of a second chance! I am now able to be there for my son, had I not went to treatment I can’t say that would be true today. I now know the father that I want to be and that is the greatest gift my biological father ever gave me. I wasn’t able to get sober because of my son, I had to do that for myself, but today he is the reason that I stay sober so I can be there for him always!