Holistic treatment programs are grounded in a mind-body-spirit approach. This model enables treatment practitioners to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ramifications of addiction. Holistic treatments are also referred to as integrative therapies or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
More and more Americans are turning to holistic therapies in their day-to-day lives. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, roughly two out of five adult Americans use some form of CAM. For a person facing recovery from drugs or alcohol, holistic treatment could provide an alternative to a conventional inpatient drug rehabilitation program.
The Goals Of Holistic Addiction Treatment Programs
Complementary and alternative medicines seek to strengthen the connection between the body and mind. Instead of treating only one ailing body part, system, symptom, or behavior, they focus on treating the person as a whole.
In addiction treatment, holistic therapies are used to achieve the following goals:
- easing the physical symptoms of withdrawal
- flushing toxins out of the body
- balancing emotional states
- healing the body and creating better health
- undoing poor nutritional and eating habits
- spiritual grounding
Holistic treatments used for these purposes include bodywork, mind-body therapies, diet and herbal approaches, energy therapy, and sensory-based therapies.
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About Holistic Treatment
Holistic programs use alternative treatment methods, because of this, many don’t adhere to the traditional 12-step model. Some programs rely on these therapies almost exclusively to treat addiction, while others use them to support evidenced-based treatments, like a medical detox and behavioral therapies.
Like a more traditional or evidenced-based program, the best holistic programs offer individualized treatment plans. A treatment plan may use any combination of the following complementary and alternative medicines:
- art, dance, and music
- electromagnetic therapy
- guided imagery and visualization
- tai chi
In place of, or in addition to allopathic medicine, or the medicine most Americans are familiar with, holistic treatment programs frequently employ alternative medicines. These include Chinese or Oriental, chiropractic, functional, herbal, homeopathic, naturopathic, or osteopathic medicines.
Alternative psychotherapies may also be used to help bring equilibrium to a person’s mental and emotional states. These include art, music, or animal-assisted therapies, such as equine or pet therapies.
Other balancing treatments may also be offered, including biofeedback or neurofeedback. These sessions help a person to better regulate brain function and physiological responses to stress, pain, or other triggers which could aggravate substance abuse.
To further support the body and mind in healing, many holistic programs integrate exercise, nutrition, and vitamin and nutritional supplements. Others may offer soothing recreational activities to clients like gardening, cooking, or outdoor excursions. A growing number of programs offer organic and special meal preparations.
Holistic Treatments For Stress Management
Stress is one of the biggest precursors and aggravators of addiction. Learning how to manage stress is one of the most effective skills in relapse prevention. Holistic therapies can be an excellent tool for developing and maintaining these skills.
Stress, to some extent, is part of everyday life. For a person newly in recovery, these everyday moments may seem daunting, tempting them to turn to drugs or alcohol to decompress. Managing these moments in a healthy and productive way is key to a balanced recovery.
Stress management skills can vary person to person, however, many of the holistic therapies employed during rehab may be carried into recovery. Some, like massage and reiki, typically require the assistance of a trained therapist, while others, like meditation or yoga, may be practiced alone. In addition to the aforementioned therapies, breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation aid in stress relief and relaxation.
Mindfulness Practices In Holistic Drug Rehabs
Mindfulness can help a newly recovered person maintain balance and healthful living habits. These practices teach a person not to become too overwhelmed or reactive to their life. This can aid a person in better managing triggers for relapse and maintain a more focused calm.
Mindfulness-based interventions are rooted in Buddhist theory. These principles encourage a person to be present at the moment while practicing nonjudgemental acceptance and self-regulation. A mindful person grants a purposeful attention to their body, thoughts, emotions, and their experiences in the world around them.
Mindfulness practices help to calm the dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and behaviors which fuel addictive behaviors. They’re also very useful in managing stress. Meditation is a cornerstone method used in the pursuit of mindfulness.
Five frequently-utilized mindfulness meditation-based interventions include:
- acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
- spiritual self-schema therapy (3-S)
- Vipassana meditation
One scientific review found that the impact of mindfulness meditation can be long-lasting, a fact which makes it particularly useful in recovery. Specifically, “after a meditation course, 60–90% of subjects still meditated up to 4 years later, and reported that the course “had lasting value” and was highly important.”
Mindfulness meditation-based interventions have shown success in treatments for anxiety, depression, stress, avoidance coping, and emotion dysregulation, making it a useful therapy for the treatment of mental health disorders.
Holistic Treatments For Dual Diagnosis Care
A variety of holistic treatments may help an individual to reduce or alleviate symptoms of certain mental illness. This may make holistic treatments beneficial for individuals facing both a mental health and substance use disorder, otherwise termed a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.
Anxiety, depression, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others, have all shown benefits when treated with complementary and alternative medicines.
Stress and emotion dysregulation can cause and worsen a variety of mental illnesses. Additionally, many mental illnesses cause physical symptoms which compound the effects of the mental and emotional effects. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, massage, and many other holistic treatments may reduce certain symptoms of mental illness. By decreasing these symptoms, a person faces fewer triggers for relapse.
Despite these potential benefits, certain individuals may still require medications. Many mental illnesses can become quite serious, surpassing the bounds of what therapy and alternative treatments alone can address.
For this reason, holistic treatments are often best utilized in conjunction with medical support. Without this medical intervention and medications, some individuals may find that their mental health worsens, even to the point of jeopardizing their safety.
Are Holistic Programs Effective?
Currently, research is still mixed on the effectiveness of holistic treatments for substance use disorders. While it is clear that many of these methods help to increase treatment retention rates and reduce triggers for relapse, the measure of their long-term benefits is yet to be determined.
Tentative findings suggest that many of these therapies offer great benefits both in treatment and after, however, without supportive, evidence-based treatments, a person may be vulnerable to complications and relapse.
Certain drugs form strong physical dependencies, to the extent that a person’s body reacts very harshly when the drug is removed. Without medical intervention, these symptoms may become painful, uncomfortable, and, in the case of alcohol and benzodiazepines, deadly. In these instances, holistic treatments may not provide enough support for a person to safely detox.
To protect a person from these risks, medication-assisted treatments are frequently administered. Various medications work to reduce and alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings so that a person’s body can begin to heal. During this time, various holistic treatments may help a person to remain calmer and centered through the detox.
Preliminary research shows that acupuncture may help to decrease opioid withdrawal symptoms, including pain. Further, in 1996, the World Health Organization included acupuncture as a suitable treatment for drug abuse.
Once a person progresses to rehabilitation, holistic therapies may be beneficial for improving a person’s mental and emotional health. But even here, evidenced-based treatments have a valuable role.
Researched-based psychotherapies can help a person to remove dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors from their life. Used in concert with complementary and alternative medicines, these sessions can help a person learn how to moderate stress and cope with the demands of a sober life.
Good habits of self-care is a primary goal of a healthy recovery. Many holistic treatments, such as yoga, tai chi, and Ayurveda, can help a person to renew both their body and mind.
Finding A Holistic Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment Program
Whether you’re looking for an inpatient drug rehab program which offers only holistic treatments, or one which pairs complementary and alternative medicines with evidenced-based medical practices, we strongly suggest you consider all your options before making a decision.
The best treatments are customized to fit a person’s life. Our staff can help you to build a treatment plant based on your or your loved one’s unique circumstances.
Contact InpatientDrugRehab.org to learn more about holistic drug rehab programs.