Recovery Contest Winner #7: How Nutrition and Spirituality Keep Me Sober


In honor of Recovery Month, we asked you to send us your stories about the impact community, nutrition or environment has had on your life since you put down substances and picked up life. Winners are not only receiving copies of our book, The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery, but are also being published here on the site.

This week we have Kristine Pappone.

The question I always get is: How did you do it?

After 10 years of a serious daily diet of opioids how did you get off without treatment or 12-step program and not relapse? My response goes something like this: I focused on and constantly fed my want and I wanted my freedom. I told myself, “It’s not an option to do my drugs.” Even if it meant crying all day and letting the pain bleed out of me, it was not an option to reach for drugs.

The foundation of my recovery is my Buddhist practice of chanting one to two hours a day. Having a way to access my true self beyond the conscious mind is a true gift. And given I have little patience, chanting works quickly. Each day I am engaged in helping others do their human revolution through Buddhist practice and supporting our community dedicated to peace through individual happiness.

Nutrition played a key role in both my getting off and staying off opioids. Because I’ve been in the holistic health field for over 30 years, I had the knowledge on how to detox and eat healthy. For the first year, I focused on building my brain through high protein and good fats. I also rebuilt my biochemistry through high doses of vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids. Foods and supplements continue to be an integral element of my recovery. I often suggest to those in recovery, “If you do nothing else, drink a ton of good water with either sea salt or lemon.” Hydration is not an option. Simple drink. Clean water.

My practice of kundalini yoga and being an active part of the yoga community is also crucial to my recovery. Even if I only have 15 minutes a day, I make sure to breathe deeply. It will calm my nervous system without me having to think about it.  Love it. A highlight of my recovery has been weekly EMDR sessions with a rock star therapist for the past few years. Healing the pain through EMDR has contributed to my human revolution and provided a peace within that I treasure.

I do my part of recovery with Buddhist practice, nutrition, yoga and EMDR. However, nothing is solo. My life mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, encourages me daily through his writings. And I owe each day of recovery to Dr. Gabor Mate. His wisdom and words have inspired me for the past eight years. As I come upon seven years of celebrating my freedom from opioids, I do so with a heart of abundant appreciation for all those who contribute to my recovery. And to repay my debt of gratitude through serving others.

How Addictive is Fentanyl and Why it is so Dangerous?

Fentanyl comes from the same family of drug that contain heroine, but—if you can imagine—it’s actually much worse. It’s about 100 times more potent than morphine. Until recently, few people had heard of how dangerous it is. But now the media has begun to pay attention to the rising death toll from its use. After all, it’s the painkiller responsible for killing the much beloved rock star, Prince.

For recreational users, even just a couple of milligrams of this opioid can be fatal. There are many illegal versions of it circulating in the streets, mixed with various substances that interact in dangerous ways. Called non-pharmaceutical fentanyl (NPF), this drug is produced in makeshift labs and is often cut with cocaine or heroin. Sometimes an addict understands the high risks involved with Fentanyl and buys what they think is heroine, instead. However, what they might have been getting is mixed with fentanyl. Even the tiniest amount can result in death. Recently, law enforcement and medical professionals begun finding traces of Fentanyl in pills.

Even with prescription use, fentanyl can cause seizures, respiratory failure, coma, and death. One of the major reasons that Fentanyl deaths are rising is because of how quickly users die from it, well before most emergency medical personnel can administer successful treatment, often an injection of naloxone. The effect that Fentanyl has on the muscles of the abdomen and chest often makes it difficult for first responders to administer CPR.

Why is Fentanyl so Dangerous?

How Addictive is FentanylFentanyl kills users quickly because it works faster than other opioids. This is one of the reasons addicts seek it out. While something like morphine has to circulate in the blood for a while before it reaches the brain, other opioids work faster. Fentanyl bonds more quickly to the brain’s receptors than heroine, for instance, and gives the user almost an instant high. It is so potent, that medical professional measure it in micrograms. Fentanyl is an alternative for patients with an established high tolerance of other opioids. These patients need something stronger to deal with their pain such as cancer patients. Because of this initial application, drug makers did not consider how addictive Fentanyl would be or how easily it could kill someone using it without a prescription.

The death toll from Fentanyl will probably rise before people begin to understand just how deadly it is. While any addict should seek help for his or her narcotics use, someone who is addicted to Fentanyl or other opioids needs special care. First, before they can enter a recovery program, these addicts must go through a special detox program that tapers them down off the drug under medical supervision.