A Lesson from Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has years of proven success helping people lose weight, but could their programme actually provide some benefit to recovering addicts as well?

Addiction is a worldwide problem, with up to 16% of people in some countries struggling with alcoholism, and up to 3% having some form of substance abuse disorder. In the search for effective treatments, it makes sense to turn to another addictive behaviour that is difficult to treat: overeating. With the latest estimates of the world population having 35% of adults overweight and 10% of men and 14% of women obese, overeating is even more pervasive than substance abuse.

While there are many treatments available for those who are overweight or obese, oftentimes they are not successful. One that has gained recognition for helping many people reach their weight loss goals is Weight Watchers. The programme has even received recognition from the prestigious US News and World Report.

What can we learn from this programme that can help those in their recovery from substance or alcohol addiction?

1. Do What Works

Weight Watchers recognises that not all people will benefit from the same strategies for weight loss. There are many mental and behavioural techniques that people can use to meet their goals, and the programme emphasises doing what works.

Those in recovery face a similar range of strategies designed to support their sobriety. Recovery programmes are best when they are tailored to an individual’s personal history, circumstances, and treatment goals.

2. Understand Addiction

Rather than merely changing behaviours, Weight Watchers also incorporates education about the way food and fitness influence weight. By providing this understanding, participants are able to formulate a new relationship with food and their body based on knowledge, not guesswork.

Addiction treatment should also incorporate knowledge about how addiction and substances affect the body and mind. Those in recovery benefit from understanding addiction from multiple perspectives, whether neurological, psychological, or other research-based knowledge.

3. Focus on Lifestyle

What draws people to Weight Watchers is usually a desire to lose weight. However, the programme focuses on a balanced approach to healthy eating and lifestyle. So, what keeps people going is not the goal of losing weight, but the goal of living a healthy life.

The same can be said of effective recovery programmes. While sobriety is essential for recovery, so too is leading a meaningful and fulfilled life. For many addicts, finding purpose and happiness greatly supports sobriety.

4. Accept Support

Peer support is important in the Weight Watchers programme. No one is an island, but many approach weight loss as an individual burden to bear, whether out of shame or not having a supportive person in their lives. This is addressed by providing a peer support network both in person and online.

Those in recovery can also benefit by seeking support. The process of recovery is greatly aided by having peer support, as sobriety takes persistent effort. Having a supportive friend can mean the difference between relapse and staying clean.

The Cabin Chiang Mai offers world-class treatment for addiction with a dedicated aftercare support programme. Contact one of our professional staff if you or a loved one needs help with a substance or process addiction.

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