Ramadan is a time that many Muslims look forward to. However, the prospect of fasting for a month can also be frightening for some – especially those with addictions.
For many people, the prospect of lasting an entire day without food or drink can seem daunting, but possible.
However, for people with addictions the thought of going through more than a few hours of the day without being able to feed their craving may seem impossible or even terrifying.
Many people associate the word “addiction” with alcohol and drugs. However, the word “addiction” is simply defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.”
Alcohol and drugs are the most common of these substances. However, coffee, tea, sugar, sodas, candies, chocolate, and even food itself can become addicting.
In fact, coffee has a long history of being banned in various cultures because of its stimulant and addictive properties.
It was banned in 1611 in Germany, and in 1511 by the governor of Mecca. It was also banned in Russia where the Czarist police considered it the cause of insanity. (Talk About Coffee, The Fabulous World of Coffee)
The stress of fasting and overcoming an addiction at the same time can be overwhelming.
However, some of the following tips and ideas can help a person get through Ramadan if they are also struggling with an addiction:
Consider Ramadan a “Stepping Stone”
Many people who struggle with addiction often know they are addicted and even know what they need to do to break the pattern.
However, it is often that initial first step that prevents people from doing what they know they need to do.
This is why you might often see people trying to break an addiction for the sake of someone they love.
Love is a strong motivating factor for people who seek to break their addictions. Fear is also a strong motivating factor.
People who have stopped smoking often say they were finally motivated to stop when they met someone whose health had been affected by cigarettes.
During Ramadan a person is confronted with a high degree of love and fear.
Ramadan represents a time for many to express their love of Allah and their sisters and brothers in Islam.
There is also the fear many people have in Ramadan of what may happen if they don’t fast as they are required to. These two emotions can provide a powerful motivation to “kick the habit”.
Additionally, going without one’s addiction for an entire day can also help prevent other blocks to overcoming addiction.
By avoiding the addiction for an entire day a person is able to reset the triggers to the addiction (social circumstances, times of day, certain foods or meals) and build up a resistance to the substance by resisting the urges they have for the substance during the day.
Herbs can help balance the body and prevent the triggers that lead to addiction. To choose the best herb a person must first identify the source of their addiction.
Are they addicted to coffee because they need to wake up in the morning? If so, then Passionflower or Skullcap might be a good herb for them.
These herbs can help relax them and enable them to sleep more deeply at night so they wake up feeling more refreshed. Is a person smoking because it “relaxes them”? If so then relaxing herbs like chamomile, hops or peppermint might help during the day.
Other traditional herbs used for addictions are valerian, which helps slow brain cell damage that results from excessive alcohol consumption; schisandra which helps the body maintain a physical and emotional balance; calamus root which helps curb the urge to smoke and chaparral herb that helps detoxify the body from impurities, thus eliminating the addictive substance in the body and preventing urges.
There are many additional herbs that can be used to control addiction. The appropriate herb depends on the addiction as well as the person.
Natural therapies like reflexology, acupuncture and acupressure have been shown to have great effects on people with addictions.
In fact, acupuncture has been shown to have results superior to those of using addiction recovery programs and medications alone.
Acupuncture has been used to heal addictions since 1974 when the first acupuncture clinic for addictions opened at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York City.
Today acupuncture is being used to heal everything from drug and alcohol addiction to nicotine and food addiction. (Phillips)
Although highly successful, not everyone has access to an acupuncture clinic.
For these people, reflexology at home can be a good solution.
In her book, Feet First, Laura Norman says, “Breaking a habit can be like breaking a lock. It just needs the right combination.” (Norman)
The stimulation of the right reflexology points can be that right combination. Even without focusing on specific points, reflexology provides many benefits. It’s relaxing, balancing and can take the place of an addictive activity.
To target addictions more specifically one can stimulate the organ points on the foot or hands that have been most affected by the addiction.
For smokers a person could stimulate the lungs; for users of alcohol, the liver. One can find reflexology charts online.
Make Dietary and Nutritional Changes
Diet and nutrition have more to do with addiction than people realize. Eating the wrong foods can actually make a person more prone to addiction.
A diet that is balancing to a person’s temperament and dietary needs can create a sense of calm and peace physically, emotionally and spiritually.
A diet that causes imbalance can leave “needy” holes in a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual life that they then try to fill with addictive substances.
Each person has their own unique dietary needs. However, one substance that causes imbalance for people of all temperaments is sugar. (Hobbs)
Eating too much sugar causes blood sugar levels in the body to become imbalanced. Consuming sugar makes hunger pangs go away.
However, when a person takes in too much sugar, they don’t feel the need to eat food that contains more of the important nutrients that the body needs, such as vitamins, iron, calcium and magnesium.
This causes the body to feel imbalanced and needy. When a person eats too much sugar, they go on a sugar high because of the energy boost they get from the sugar consumption.
But this sugar high is only temporary; energy levels take a plunge afterwards. This often causes the urge to consume caffeine or other addictive substances to help a person “perk up” again.
Sugary sweets are a big part of Ramadan in many countries. However, a person struggling with an addiction should limit these sweets to one per day and only after a full meal.
Sugar “substitutes” will have the same or similar effects on the body so those should also be avoided or limited. Sugar substitutes include glucose, sorbitol, corn syrup, splenda, honey and others.
- History of Coffee: All about Coffee History. Accessed 20 July 2009. History of Coffee: The Fabulous World of Coffee. Accessed 25 July 2009.
- Losing Addictions Naturally. Accessed 25 July 2009.
- Norman, Laura. Feet First: A Guide to Foot Reflexology. Fireside, 1988.
- Phillips, Steve L. Acupuncture and Addiction Acupuncture Healing Arts, 2008. Accessed 25 July 2009.
Its last day of publication: 15 June 2016, and it’s now re-highlighted for its importance and relevance.