Dr. Paul Epstein
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Addictions? Stop Chasing the Drug - Look at ACEs
July 2017

In past newsletters I've shared about the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study -- the Largest Public Health Study You Never Heard Of (Huffington Post) and the impact of early childhood trauma on health and disease. This really is "a hidden epidemic" and it is vitally important that we integrate this research and knowledge into our approach to healthcare.  For doctors and health care practitioners, it needs to inform our everyday clinical practice and for all of us, we should be aware of this important connection as we address our own health challenges.
In June, I was honored to be the keynote presenter for the National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) homecoming program for Naturopaths. One of the topics I covered, in-depth, in this powerful weekend presentation was the very important topic of the role of ACEs in health and disease.
As a naturopathic physician, I seek to follow the core principles and philosophy of naturopathy, which involves treating the whole as well as the part, treating the person as well as the disease and addressing the underlying cause as well as the symptom.
Sadly, we are becoming more and more aware of the opioid abuse and addiction epidemic in our society and its tragic consequences for the individual, family and communities that are touched by this growing health problem.
I recently came across a fantastic article on this topic by substance abuse expert, Dr. Daniel Sumrok, director of the Center for Addiction Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Medicine.  Substance-abuse doc says: Stop chasing the drug! Focus on ACEs. - ACEs Connection
In his work, he advocates that an important part of the solution to substance abuse and addiction needs to involve actively addressing a person's adverse childhood experiences. 
In his view, addiction shouldn't even really be called "addiction." Instead, it should be called "ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking".
He says: "Ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking (what traditionalists call addiction) is a normal response to the adversity experienced in childhood, just like bleeding is a normal response to being stabbed.  

T he solution to changing the illegal or unhealthy ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking behavior of opioid addiction is to address a person's adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) individually and in group therapy; treat people with respect; provide medication assistance in the form of buprenorphine, an opioid used to treat opioid addiction; and help them find a ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking behavior that won't kill them or put them in jail.  Whatever approaches and therapies one may do to individualize and treat the opiod addiction (or any addiction) it is important to address the issue of ACE's and their role as an underlying cause and importance in the healing."
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His definition of addiction as "ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking" reminds us that what we attempt to use to avoid pain (be it physical, mental, emotional, psychological, existential) can actually end up causing us even more pain (be it physical, mental, emotional, psychological, existential) if we do not address what is fueling the drive to escape pain.  Similar to the repetition compulsion is the popular definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  This is never successful and creates new problems and pain, in addition to what we were trying to avoid in the first place.
We can't take enough opioids to be free from the underlying pain. The comfort and short-term relief is fleeting.  To escape the pain, the compulsion keeps reinforcing itself, until one hits bottom, stops the behavior and feels the feeling, according to Dr. John Bradshaw.  We need to take step 1 in the 12 step recovery process - to admit that we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable - in other words we must begin facing the painful truth of our suffering. Alice Miller refers to this constructive process as "the liberating experience of facing painful truth."

To summarize, I refer to the idea expressed by Buddhist monk, Ajahn Chah,"There are two kinds of suffering, one is the suffering that leads to more suffering, (neuroses, addiction and compulsive ritualized comfort seeking) and the other is the suffering (legitimate as termed by Jung) that leads to the end of suffering."
The choice is ours.  
Make sure and check my event calendar regularly for details on all my upcoming classes, lectures, workshops and Webinars.
Paul Epstein, ND
Mindful Healing: Mind-Body Integrative Medicine
(203) 226-3923
Patient Appointments Available via Skype

In addition to my local, private practice in Westport, CT, I also see patients from all over the world via Skype.

Distance and time zone differences don't need to be a barrier to getting the help you need to facilitate your healing journey!

Take the first step towards your optimum health and healing: Call today to set up a Skype appointment!
Mentoring Sessions Available via Skype

An important part of my work is to Mentor health care practitioners, students and physicians to become more fully Integrative in their approach to caring for their patients and clients. 

Skype is a wonderful way to hold these sessions - convenient and easy!

If you are interested in learning life changing Mind-Body Therapies to add to your practice, call today to discuss a mentoring session, or mentoring program!

Serenity is not freedom from the storm,
but peace amidst the storm...

About Dr. Paul Epstein
Paul Epstein, ND is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), specializing in Mindful Healing and Mind-Body Integrative Medicine.

He has more than 30 years experience in private practice successfully treating patients with powerful, life changing therapies.


Dr. Epstein is currently accepting new patients into his practice. He also works with healing professionals as a Professional Mentor to teach practitioners how to work in a truly integrative fashion in their own practice.

He is a pioneer and leading voice in Mind-Body Integrative Medicine lecturing internationally to both general and professional audiences.  

Dr. Epstein is an extraordinary teacher who presents compelling topics that inform, educate, motivate and inspire. His work is helping create a much needed paradigm shift in the practice of medicine and the healing arts.

Don't ever miss the opportunity to experience Dr. Epstein!

42 Richmondville Ave
Westport, CT 06880