Published on June 15th, 2018
As our understanding of addiction as an illness has increased in recent years; so has the number of options for treatment.
Whereas in the 1930s, when the 12-steps were conceptualized, there were limited treatment options available for people with substance use disorder, these days there are plenty of choices.
Among the choices of therapies available to treat addiction, alternative or complementary techniques are becoming increasingly popular and there are now holistic recovery centers across the country offering those services.
Holistic rehab is generally considered an alternative approach as it is a departure from the traditional addiction treatment model.
Although there still remains some division among addiction specialists as to the efficacy of holistic treatments on their own, it has been found that when used in combination with traditional medical approaches they can be very effective in promoting long-term recovery.
The types of activities, practices, and techniques classified as holistic therapy include:
- Nutritional therapy to introduce organic eating plans and improve overall wellbeing
- Physical activities like swimming, hiking, cycling or climbing
- Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga or acupuncture
- Holistic massage, aromatherapy, Reiki and other complementary therapies
- Alternative or experiential therapies such as art, music or working with horses
1. How Holistic Therapies Work
The word “holistic” refers to the treatment of the person as a whole, in mind, body, and spirit. The way it works within a rehab context is by increasing a patient’s self-awareness.
By finding ways of communicating with their inner selves through achieving a completely relaxed state, patients can identify the thoughts and feelings that lead to them abusing substances.
Holistic therapies also introduce patients to new ways of enjoying life without the influence of drink or drugs and provide them with vital coping skills when leaving a holistic recovery center.
Patients who have experienced holistic therapies will learn how to control their negative behaviors and replace them with positive actions for a healthier life in recovery.
People are attracted to using alcohol or drugs for wildly varying reasons, although addiction is typically characterized by symptoms of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Holistic recovery centers can be significant in empowering patients to relieve their own symptoms with safe and natural techniques rather than resorting to using drugs or alcohol.
In this respect, holistic therapy in addiction treatment has been shown to be particularly successful in preventing relapse in recovery.
2. Holistic Therapies Offer Alternatives In Complex Cases Of Addiction
Addiction is a complicated illness in itself and yet many people with substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health condition.
In these cases, which are known as dual diagnosis, patients have significant challenges ahead of them in treatment.
This is because there is a complicated relationship between addiction and other mental illnesses and they can interact with each other to exacerbate symptoms further.
Dual diagnosis patients receiving holistic treatment while in rehab can benefit hugely from the coping mechanisms they learn.
For example, someone with panic disorder, as well as addiction, can learn how to reduce stress levels when they are confronted with a difficult situation so that they don’t resort to using to relieve them.
Another example is a patient who has a chronic pain condition that they have been prescribed drugs for and they have gone on to become dependent over time.
Holistic therapies such as massage can offer patients alternatives to pain management that eliminate the need to take prescription drugs at all.