Dr. Aaron's Blog

Holistic approaches to Addiction.

July 7, 2015 Addiction, Naturopathic Medicine, Nutrition, Recovery coaching, Vitamin Therapy by Aaron Van Gaver

When living in Vancouver the concept of substance abuse and drug addiction is not new – especially if you have ever been down East Hastings.   In a CBC article Dr. Carl Hart discusses how the drugs themselves are not the problem when it comes to addiction. He suggests shifting the focus from the drugs and focus on education and preventing addiction. People need to be given better information as to the side effects – don’t exaggerate, as well as teach drug safety.  Dr. Hart mentions the importance of discussing the behavior and addressing an individual’s motivation for using drugs.  Above all he emphasizes how vital it is that doctors and support workers treat the root cause for addiction – music to my ears! Instead of blaming the substance, it is crucial that public policy look to bettering mental health services and address the core reason for addiction. This is completely in line with the principles of naturopathic medicine and my approach to working alongside patients with addiction.  

His opinion is very much in line with my philosophy as a naturopathic physician.  With a focus on addiction, my practice is very holistic and addresses the root cause of addiction as opposed to mitigating the harm of the substance being abused (though this is important).    Often there is a coexisting psychiatric condition. While I am often only one of a team of support for my patients, my training gives me multiple tools to draw from and my approach looks to treat the root cause.  By treating the root cause, patients are less likely to relapse and with additional tools at my disposal I am able to effectively manage the symptoms associated with recovering from an addiction.  Addiction is a multifaceted issue and must be approached from multiple angles with the goal of treatment being addressing the real reason for addiction. Naturopathic medicine is a fitting approach because I have the ability to manage symptoms with IV therapies and diet, as well as alleviate emotional stress with modalities such as acupuncture, and ultimately be a support person through recovery coaching to guide and work alongside my patients on their healing journey.  Above all, as a naturopathic physician I address not only the root cause, but take a holistic approach to addiction – seeking to bring balance to body and mind.

Project StarLight is one of my programs this year to address and work with patients struggling with addiction.  The goal of this program is to address the deeper issue that needs to be balanced in order to overcome addictive and compulsive habits.  In line with my professional philosophy, I am looking to address the core issue that perpetuates addiction. When this is resolved the need for addiction no longer exists.

Reading interviews like that with Dr. Hart is encouraging and gives me hope that it won’t be long before we see some of these changes manifest.