James and Janice Prochaska's picture Submitted by James and Janic... April 25, 2018 - 4:43pm

Four behaviors account for more than 70% of all chronic diseases, disabilities, and premature deaths. They are smoking, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet, and inadequate exercise.

Why are these Big Four behaviors so crucial to our health and well-being? They involve four fundamental processes of life: 1. Breathing; 2. Drinking; 3. Eating; and 4. Moving. If we are breathing toxins, drinking or eating toxins, and not moving enough to remove toxins, we are damaging our body and our brains.

A fifth behavior triggers much of the Big Four behaviors and leads to relapse when trying to recover from them. Stress and distress, that are not managed effectively, drive us back to the Big Four. Feeling stressed is a fundamental process of life that has a big impact on how we are behaving.

The bad news is that more than 90% of adult Americans have two or more of these five dysfunctional behaviors. The majority of individuals who abuse alcohol (and other drugs) have all five. Individuals suffering from substance abuse or serious mental illness die from the same behaviors as most of us. But they often die ten years sooner.

No wonder the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Agency (SAMSHA) has identified Holistic Recovery as the best practice for the populations they serve. The problem is that most substance abuse and mental health counselors and therapists do not know how to effectively and efficiently change these most damaging, multiple behaviors.

We deliver presentations, to professionals and the public, across the country. By far the most frequent of these presentations has been on the topic of Holistic Recovery. For this reason, we are pleased to announce the publication of our new book, Changing to Thrive.

This book includes chapters, formatted like mini-guides, that can guide professionals and the public through the stages of change for each of the Big Five behaviors. We also include guides for helping individuals progress from suffering or struggling to thriving in their lives.

For Holistic Health, special emphasis is on the simple strategies that we discovered in recent years. These strategies can help professionals and the public simultaneously change two or more of the Big Five behaviors with less time and effort, but with greater success.

Besides reducing multiple negative behaviors, one can simultaneously increase multiple domains of well-being. Enhanced physical well-being, emotional well-being, social well-being, and work well-being can be additional prizes and surprises that can accompany changing more than one of the Big Five behaviors.