Participants: Agatha Thrash (Host), Don Miller, Rhonda Clark
Series Code: HYTH
Program Code: HYTH000226
00:01 Hello! We're studying habits
00:04 and addictions today, and I hope you will join us for these.
00:08 We'll be talking about some habits that are easy to make
00:11 and some addictions that are very difficult to break.
00:14 We hope you will be with us.
00:36 Welcome to Help Yourself to Health
00:38 with Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute,
00:41 and now here is your host Dr. Thrash.
00:45 Everybody talks about habits, everybody thinks they have
00:52 good ones, most people know that they also have some
00:55 that are not so good.
00:56 What can we do to make all of our habits good,
01:00 and if we have bad habits or we have addictions,
01:04 true addictions that we do not immediately
01:08 know how to break.
01:10 Are there things that we can do that can help us
01:13 to break these bad habits or to break addictions.
01:16 Now I would like to ask you to join me, we will work on
01:21 this matter of the study of habits, and how they come about
01:26 and how they can be broken.
01:28 I'd like to mention a couple of things on how we form habits
01:33 neurologically with a nerve we have the possibility
01:39 of sending a nerve impulse over a channel so frequently
01:45 that we develop a habit.
01:46 Let me show you on the white board just how this kind of
01:50 thing can happen, it's easy for me to show you, but as anybody
01:55 knows who has tried to form a good habit after having
02:00 been in bad habits, or to break a bad habit,
02:03 when they have it firmly ingrained, they will know
02:06 it isn't as easy to do as is it as easy to talk about.
02:09 Let us say that this represents a nerve cell,
02:13 over here are the axons, this is the nucleus of the cell,
02:20 and here we have the dendrites, nerve information is sent
02:25 in this direction, we gather information for the nerve
02:29 from this direction, so that the dendrites pick up the
02:33 information and send it along the nerve cell,
02:36 send it out along the axons to the next cell which is
02:43 over there, this being the nucleus and here are the
02:46 dendrites for the next nerve cell, down that way,
02:50 and so in this way we send a nerve impulse
02:54 across a nerve channel.
03:00 a hundred that went along this direction, multiple times,
03:06 just hundreds of times, we have had this same nerve
03:14 transaction to occur.
03:15 Then when something actually happens physically to the nerve
03:21 itself, we begin here at the synapse, which is the junction
03:26 between two nerves, we begin to build up additional substance
03:32 on these axons, so that they actually have more substance
03:39 than they had, before the nerve transition occurred,
03:44 also down here, we have additional material to build up
03:53 on the nerve cell in this way.
03:55 In studies done of nervous tissue, we find that after
04:02 training a nerve channel, many times the substance
04:08 in the brain in that area is actually greater than it is
04:13 in other areas that have not been what we might call trained,
04:17 that is having these nerve impulses go down a single chain
04:23 over and over and over again.
04:25 So as we study these things we realize that there is a
04:28 substantial change that occurs in nerve cells,
04:32 while with a good habit we're very happy that this substance
04:39 is there, because it makes it even years later,
04:42 so that if we've ever learned to ride a bicycle, years later
04:46 we still have that ability to ride the bicycle.
04:50 If we have played a piano, decades after we learned,
04:54 we may still have those same habit patterns,
04:57 may still be able to play a piece that we had learned
05:00 when we were in grade school.
05:03 Now with habits of that kind we can be very happy,
05:09 but let's say we have an addiction to something
05:11 and we can have addictions to almost anything.
05:14 To eating, to drinking alcoholic drinks, to taking drugs,
05:18 we can have addictions to sexual situations.
05:22 We can have addictions to the television or to reading books,
05:26 many different kinds of addictions can occur
05:30 so that they are true compulsions, and they have
05:33 not only a Neurologic, but a physiologic and a biochemical
05:38 change that has occurred in the person's very tissue cells.
05:44 Now I have with me today Rhonda Clark who is one of my
05:49 colleagues at Uchee Pines, welcome to the show.
05:52 - Thank you!
05:53 - And we're happy that you are here, have you had experience
05:55 with addiction, with dealing with addictions as a nurse.
06:01 - I have, you know as a nurse you have opportunity to work
06:04 with people in all kinds of manners,
06:05 and while most of my experience has been in issues relating to
06:10 trauma or injuries, or surgery always within there people
06:16 have..., some folks do struggle with addiction.
06:18 In fact a lot of people who have addictions come into a
06:21 hospital or into an Emergency Room as a result of something
06:26 stemming from their addiction, such as an accident.
06:30 - Certainly, many accidents, gunshot wounds,
06:32 begin with illicit behavior that stems from an addiction.
06:36 - How would you like to instruct us today on addictions?
06:42 What would you like to talk about?
06:43 - I would like to share a little of what I have learned
06:45 on how addictions develop.
06:47 A substance or activity begins to give us pleasure,
06:52 and so of course since that makes us feel good,
06:55 or it helps relieve stress, or ease pain, or give us more
06:59 energy, we begin doing that more frequently.
07:03 Over time we notice that we began us a tolerance building
07:07 to this activity or substance, where now it takes a little
07:10 more than it used to, to give the same relief,
07:13 or give the same amount of energy.
07:14 We also are slowly beginning to develop psychological
07:19 components of this that reinforce the addiction
07:22 and we begin having cravings for this substance.
07:25 It doesn't take long before this substance or activity
07:29 begins to rule us, it becomes our obsession,
07:33 the thing that we begin spending our time attention and
07:37 resources on, above other things that are even very
07:43 - Yes, but it does seem as if there are some times when
07:47 people do successfully break an addiction.
07:51 Is there a way that we can decide who can break an
07:56 addiction, and who cannot, or who will, or who will not?
07:59 Or is it something that we have to wait and see?
08:03 - You know, I think a person who has an addiction should
08:07 always feel hope that this is not something they have to be
08:11 stuck with the rest of their life.
08:13 Some people with types of addictions are told this is a
08:16 disease and you will have this the rest of your life.
08:18 It may very well be, because of the channels that Dr. Thrash
08:22 was mentioning that have been developed in the nerve tissue,
08:25 that this is something that can be difficult to overcome,
08:28 and may be something that needs to be guarded
08:30 against the lifetime, but begin with that hope
08:33 that this is something that can truly be overcome.
08:36 I wanted to share just a simple process that many people
08:42 who have success in overcoming addictions have put
08:45 into practice, and maybe it will be a benefit to you.
08:49 The very first step in becoming successful in overcoming
08:56 an addiction or a bad habit is to recognize that
08:58 you have a need.
08:59 In the early years of smoking some people think well,
09:03 you know maybe there are some health issues but they keep
09:05 that removed from themselves, they're really not thinking
09:08 about making a change, they are not acknowledging that
09:11 this is something to make a change with.
09:14 But once you begin to recognize that I do have a need to make a
09:19 change, something isn't right here, then comes the next step
09:23 which is starting to think about it.
09:24 One beneficial step in this is to actually with pen and paper
09:29 write out a cost and benefit analysis.
09:33 - You mean how much is this costing me on this side
09:36 do I have to pay, what is it doing to me, and are there
09:41 benefits that I receive from doing this addiction.
09:44 - Yes, and to do this honestly you need to look honestly
09:48 at the benefits that you get of keeping the addiction,
09:50 don't overlook the fact that yes you may get pleasure out of
09:54 this, but be equally as honest about the ways that this is
09:57 hurting you and what it is costing you.
09:59 The next step then comes to specific planning,
10:03 tell your family and friends that you're going to be stopping
10:06 this addiction, this habit.
10:08 Start making specific plans on how that is going to happen
10:11 a list that help and support and pick your day, your start day
10:16 when you will stop this activity or behavior and just stop!
10:20 Some people feel Dr. Thrash that changes should be made
10:24 in little increments and small changes, but it's surprising
10:28 how most people who have been successful in stopping
10:30 have really made big changes, they just stopped,
10:34 they did it altogether.
10:36 - So if a person comes to the place where they say from now on
10:42 there's going to be none of this or that in this house.
10:45 - Yes!
10:46 - And they clear that out, they may do that weeks before
10:50 they start telling everybody, "I'm quitting!",
10:53 "I'm a changed person", so it's not just that all of a sudden
10:59 their co-workers say oh! have you seen the change,
11:03 he just told me today he is quitting, isn't that wonderful.
11:05 Today, what's today's date, and they make a big to do out of
11:10 that day, but actually the person's addiction has been
11:15 proceeding through a stepwise process.
11:18 - Yes it has, a lot of work goes into stopping and addiction
11:21 before everybody else seems to even know
11:23 that you have made this decision to stop.
11:25 At that first day of beginning you may have a lot of energy
11:29 and motivation going behind you, this is the day,
11:32 you have been gearing up for it, everything is set for it,
11:34 you don't have it in your house, your family is on your side,
11:37 people are praying for you.
11:40 Then you begin to enter what's known as a maintenance phase,
11:42 where now maybe it's a couple of weeks and you don't have
11:46 as much of that enthusiasm and energy and you have a bad day
11:49 and boy that addiction is really calling your name.
11:52 This is a long hard haul in overcoming an addiction
11:56 this maintenance phase, and it's this phase where people
11:59 most often slip up, and one thing I would really like to
12:02 encourage you about is, if you slip up, don't throw this
12:06 whole process away.
12:08 - Does it help if they have a support group,
12:12 or maybe a physician?
12:13 - You know it does for some people, and what is surprising
12:17 is that in a large study of individuals who have
12:20 successfully overcome addictions most of them did this
12:23 on their own.
12:24 They didn't follow a particular program, they didn't follow
12:27 a guiding from a physician or a psychiatrist.
12:29 They came up with a plan for themselves, they incorporated
12:32 their family and friends for help and support,
12:34 and one of the ways that family and friends can help
12:37 is to keep that encouragement going, and not to sabotage
12:41 the person.
12:43 For example if they are working on their weight,
12:44 it is so helpful if the family doesn't bring home those
12:47 tempting items of food that their loved one is trying
12:50 so hard to keep out of their diet.
12:51 - Or beer in the refrigerator for the alcoholic who is...
12:55 - Absolutely!
12:56 - Or inviting friends that are also friends of person
12:59 who is trying to clear an addiction from themselves
13:03 and inviting friends that they know are going to be smoking
13:06 marijuana or doing their drugs.
13:08 - And this is where the maintenance phase can be
13:11 difficult, because now comes the holidays, now comes
13:15 those times when you are having to really commit yourself
13:19 again and again, and again, I am no longer doing this
13:22 Ultimately success can happen and it's been shown that those
13:26 who do their own plan have greater long term success
13:31 than individuals who rely on a group, or rely on a
13:34 physician to help them through.
13:36 So I just want to encourage you do your own plan making,
13:40 let your plans be very detailed and specific,
13:42 think of all of the things that can get in your way
13:45 and how you will help overcome them.
13:48 I do have in closing Dr. Thrash just a really beautiful quote,
13:51 it's from a book called My Life Today,
13:54 it is a wonderful encouraging devotional book,
13:57 and here's what this says for those who are struggling
13:59 with temptation and addiction: In Christ there is perfect and
14:04 complete help for every tempted soul, dangers beset every path
14:08 the whole universe of heaven is standing on guard that
14:11 none may be tempted above that which he is able to bear.
14:14 Some have strong traits of character that will need to be
14:18 constantly repressed, but if kept under the control of the
14:21 Spirit of God, these traits will be a blessing, but if not
14:25 they will prove a curse.
14:26 If we give ourselves unselfishly to the work of overcoming
14:30 the Lord will throw about us the everlasting arms
14:33 and will prove a mighty helper, He will never fail us.
14:37 Isn't that beautiful? Encouraging!
14:39 - That's a beautiful quote, thank you!
14:42 - You are welcome!
14:43 - And I appreciate the things that you have brought today
14:45 they are very helpful.
14:46 The addicted person may look at these things and say,
14:51 yes those are very easy, but it is so difficult for me.
14:55 That is true, and that's why a support group and
14:58 certain rules that you have put for yourself,
15:01 that these are in place and that you keep them inviolate.
15:05 Try to have someone in whom you can be responsible,
15:09 some person that you must be accountable to,
15:12 that is also very helpful.
15:15 Now I've asked Dr. Donald Miller to join me also,
15:19 Dr. Miller welcome to our program.
15:21 - Thank you very much.
15:22 - Now I know you have had a lot of experience in working
15:23 with this thing of addictions, you've been to countries where
15:26 so many people are addicted to alcohol, to tobacco,
15:30 a lot of people overweight, and with all sorts of addictions.
15:35 - Absolutely!
15:36 - What can you tell us about addictions and how we can be
15:39 helped by what you can tell us?
15:41 - Let me ask you a question first,
15:43 you started off this segment by saying that if you learned to
15:45 ride a bicycle years ago you can still ride it today.
15:49 - Yes!
15:50 - Ok, you and I share something very much in common.
15:51 - Yes!
15:53 - VFR single engine land. - Oh yes!
15:56 - Ok, we're both pilots. - Dr. Thrash- I would like to
15:58 have a little practice. - Dr. Miller-That's it!
16:00 That's the point, you and I are both pilots,
16:03 but I would feel very uncomfortable today to go out
16:06 and get into an airplane and push the throttle forward
16:09 and take off, I still think about it, but it's no longer
16:13 one of those things, let's go back to those many years ago
16:16 when we both flew.
16:17 When you thought you were going to fly, how did you feel inside?
16:20 - Oh, I enjoyed it, no anxiety, I've done it hundreds of times
16:23 go there do the run up and check, and push the throttle in
16:27 and take off. - Dr. Miller-The thrill of it.
16:29 - And I would take off run. - Dr. Miller-Yes just pulling
16:32 back and just taking off, we were in our comfort zones.
16:36 Right now today, we would be way outside of our
16:39 comfort zones.
16:40 Addictions are about comfort zones, and we comfortable
16:44 with certain things in our lifestyles and those are where
16:47 we're sort of riveted to that comfort thing,
16:49 whether it's the cigarette, it's the tobacco,
16:51 that's what the cigarette is, alcohol, eating,
16:54 many, many addictions, I'm going to call them habits
16:59 instead of addictions.
17:00 Because there are good habits, and there are bad habits,
17:03 whatever our comfort zone is.
17:05 Now let me see, I'm looking out there, let me see if I can
17:08 point out some of your bad habits ok.
17:11 How many of you are sitting up straight?
17:13 You are sitting there in a chair, sit up straight,
17:16 notice that you weren't sitting up straight, ok, you four were
17:19 but the rest of you were sort of hunched over,
17:21 and that's a bad habit, we get used to that habit,
17:24 it's in our comfort zone.
17:26 Now I want you to try an experiment for the rest of this
17:28 program, I want you to throw your shoulders back,
17:31 just work them back a few times, let them stay back there,
17:35 and sit up straight in your chair, don't lean back in that
17:37 thing that's made for worms sit up like a human being,
17:40 and sit there, and see if you can hold that posture
17:44 for the rest of the meeting.
17:45 I suspect what is going to happen is, before long,
17:48 you are going to start getting a little bit tired,
17:50 and maybe even a little bit sore, because your muscles are
17:54 outside of their comfort zone.
17:56 You have learned to be stoop shouldered, bent over,
17:59 and that's not healthy, so what we have to do is strengthen
18:02 those things which will make us strong in the right direction.
18:06 When I think about addictions the first thing,
18:09 and I really appreciated Rhonda's steps there, but to me
18:13 the one most important one is, you make up your mind
18:17 you are going to do this thing, you make a choice,
18:19 say I am going to quit smoking, I am going to quit drinking,
18:23 I'm going to quit these problems.
18:25 And you have to continue to repeat that thought in your mind
18:30 and out loud, matter of fact doing it out loud strengthens
18:34 your resolve to do that thing.
18:36 - Now let me ask you, let's say you make that decision,
18:39 I am not going to, I am not going to, and yet your
18:44 resolutions are like ropes of sand, are you all lost?
18:49 No you are not lost, as a matter of fact this is a very important
18:51 point, you have to understand that falling is not failure,
18:54 being tempted is not failure, you've got to keep on
18:58 the course, If at first you don't succeed try try again.
19:01 I find that when trying to overcome things and helping
19:05 other people overcome things, working a lot in Eastern Europe
19:08 and other parts of the world, where we are now sending
19:10 all of our cigaretts, there are many many addictions over there.
19:13 The most important thing is to get them linked up with the
19:16 power, now we have will power but of ourselves,
19:22 like Dr. Thrash you just said ropes of sand,
19:25 but we have some power in the Bible, Philippians 4:13,
19:28 I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me
19:34 to overcome these things which are pulling me down.
19:37 If we could step back and see what they are doing to my life
19:40 now make a confession, I used to smoke, and I remember
19:45 every morning when I smoked I would have a sore throat,
19:49 and I got tired of the sore throat, now I didn't
19:51 quit smoking for the right reasons, and sometimes we quit
19:54 smoking or quit a bad habit for the wrong reason,
19:57 and have to come back later and find out what
19:59 the right reason was.
20:00 My wrong reason, although I am still thankful that I quit,
20:04 I was a sergeant in the Marine Corp,
20:06 I had applied for the enlisted commissioning program,
20:08 got accepted, April 1, 1973, and on that date, I quit smoking
20:14 because they said OCS is ten times worse than Boot Camp.
20:18 I thought Oh ho, ho, ho! Boot Camp!
20:20 That's tough stuff, I just quit right there,
20:23 It was after I came back into the church a few years later
20:26 that I realized that I needed to quit this thing,
20:28 because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
20:31 and the Holy Spirit does not want to live in a smoke house,
20:34 nor bar, nor a meat locker, or anything else that defiles
20:39 the mind, the body, or the spirit.
20:41 - So it's a pure body that the Holy Spirit wants to occupy.
20:46 - Absolutely!
20:47 - Yes, so it's a spiritual matter it's not just a
20:50 physiologic one it's also spiritual.
20:53 - We wrestle not against flesh and blood.
20:54 - That's for sure.
20:55 - And Satan would love to see us embroiled into these habits
20:59 that drag us down.
21:01 - Now can you break these habits better if you clear up a
21:05 number of things in your body, or in your habits, like diet.
21:11 - Yes! Because everything that we do our diet affects our
21:14 frontal lobe, this is where our will power is,
21:16 what we eat and drink, what we view on the television,
21:19 what we listen to, what goes into our senses, these things
21:23 all have a profound effect upon the frontal lobe.
21:25 If we are eating something that dulls the frontal lobe, like
21:29 refined carbohydrates, lots of meat we're told makes our
21:34 bodies less willing, or what we're eating we become,
21:39 and so as we clean up our lifestyles,
21:42 it does make it easier.
21:43 - And if we start adding things that we know can be building to
21:46 the body like lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains
21:50 and avoiding refined grains, lots of sugar, lots of refined
21:56 fats, all of which dull the mind, it's going to be very
22:00 helpful in breaking an addiction.
22:01 - And I think if many people think about when you've had
22:04 some of your biggest falls, your biggest falls have
22:07 many times have come late at night.
22:10 So this late night business is when you should be in bed
22:13 asleep, not out there doing whatever you do.
22:15 We go to bed early, and it's going to be a whole lot better,
22:18 so we have to protect the mind, make sure that this mind
22:21 has all the senses, we have to guard the portals to the soul,
22:26 our ears, our eyes and even our taste, our noses sometimes,
22:30 smells are very intoxicating,
22:32 we have to be careful with these things.
22:34 - Now you mentioned that temptation is not failure
22:37 can you elaborate a bit on that, how does a person who is really
22:43 struggling, they get up in the morning they are thinking
22:45 of their addiction, all day long they are thinking of their
22:48 addiction, what can you say for them?
22:50 This is the key, don't think about your addiction,
22:53 there is a law called the law of reciprocal influence
22:57 as you speak a word, or the Bible says as a man thinketh
23:04 in his heart, so is he.
23:05 If you could get up in the morning and say thank you Lord
23:08 for this victory, thank you Lord that I've got the victory,
23:10 the next five minutes if you have to, but you think about the
23:13 victory not the failure.
23:15 As we focus on failure, you will become what you are beholding
23:18 so we've got to all day long keep this in our mind,
23:22 that I am getting the victory, and if you do fall, get back up
23:25 and go forward, Satan loves to get us down by saying Ha! Ha!
23:29 you failed, but don't listen to him, you should say
23:32 I might have fallen down but I'm going to get back up,
23:35 and go forward, and I think that is one of the real keys.
23:38 - Yes! I quite agree with you, thank you so much Dr. Miller,
23:42 you got another point. Certainly!
23:44 - This is not so much a point but it's a saying,
23:46 to try is to risk failure.
23:49 - To try!
23:51 - To try anything is to risk failure,
23:53 Not to try is to guarantee it.
23:56 So if you have an addiction, matter of fact let me have a
23:59 test are you still sitting up straight out there?
24:02 You know if you are not sitting up straight,
24:04 you see you've got a bad habit, start working on this,
24:06 say I'm going to sit up straight for the next
24:08 five minutes, and as we realize that our habits are deep grained
24:13 one last example, I worked many years ago with a man
24:17 who was a body paint man in an auto shop, and he had not smoked
24:22 for twenty years and he told me this story one day,
24:25 he had been working on this boat in his yard for months,
24:28 and maybe a couple of years, and just try to get it ready
24:30 to get it out on the Ohio River because I'm from Cincinnati
24:34 and one day he got it done, it was completely done,
24:38 he had polished the last piece of brass, and done whatever
24:40 he had to do, he said he took a step back and he reached
24:44 for a cigarette, had not smoked for twenty years.
24:48 There is a neuromuscular part of the habit pattern,
24:52 and that's not failure, it's just one of these things
24:55 that we have to recognize that it's best not to form
24:58 the bad habit just like we talked about,
24:59 it's best not to get a disease.
25:01 But if we do don't worry about the things that sit there
25:04 and you remember, and say oh that would taste good,
25:06 put it out of your mind and go on with your life.
25:09 I'm one of those kind that say if you have a habit stop it
25:13 right now, they don't cut a Rottweiler tail off
25:17 an inch at a time, they just clump that thing off
25:20 all at one time, and let him get on with scooting around
25:24 and it's over with.
25:25 - Best way to do it.
25:26 Thank you so much. - My pleasure.
25:28 - I really appreciate it.
25:29 Now I have a lot of people who have addictions who want to come
25:35 to Uchee Pines for us to help them, we can usually help them
25:40 if they follow exactly what they say, and here is the routine:
25:43 You may come to Uchee Pines and we'll be happy to try to
25:47 help you, we will kneel with you and pray with you,
25:50 but there are certain things we require or we do not take
25:54 the person who is addicted.
25:56 One thing is they cannot come with an automobile,
25:59 if they do come with an automobile, then they surrender
26:00 the keys when they arrive.
26:05 Another thing is they cannot go to town by themselves
26:09 they always have to go with somebody, another thing is
26:13 they have to accept what work assignment we give them,
26:16 and it is usually hard labor, we describe that ahead of time,
26:20 it's going to be hard labor.
26:21 The last thing is, we will not take your case unless you agree
26:25 to stay for a year, usually it's a year, sometimes we will take
26:29 a lesser period of time, pending on what it is.
26:33 If it's an addiction to food, we need a minimum of three weeks
26:38 we may need a whole year for them as well,
26:41 it depends on just how deeply engrained the habit is,
26:45 if it's an addiction to serious drugs, then it may be a year
26:49 maybe two, if fact we may explain to the person that
26:53 there may never come a time when the can expect to be an
26:57 over comer on certain really addictive drugs,
27:01 unless they put themselves in some kind of controlled
27:06 or regimented type of atmosphere, such as on a
27:11 college campus where they have certain commitments that they
27:14 have to do, such as being a guard or a watchman,
27:18 or taking care of the parking lots or whatever it may be that
27:22 requires a regularity of what they do and a repitition of
27:26 of what they do, and they can live in a sort of protected
27:30 and regimented type of environment all the time,
27:35 having someone to whom they can give their sense of
27:41 accountability to on a regular basis, we can certainly say this
27:46 the tempted ones say I am powerless from the snare to go,
27:51 keep me with you do not let me out of your sight
27:53 until I am strong enough to stand alone.