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Updated on August 9, 2022

Holistic Addiction Treatment

What is Holistic Addiction Treatment?

Holistic treatment is tailored to each person. It uses natural methods to focus on all aspects of health.

This treatment method focuses on identifying and working on the problems that led to an addiction, rather than just treating the symptoms.

Traditional drug abuse treatment programs focus on:

Holistic programs complement these approaches and help patients focus on understanding and improving their well-being. 

12 Holistic Therapies for Addiction

There are many different holistic treatment methods used to treat substance use disorders.

Here are some of the most common:

1. Meditation

Meditation is a mindfulness practice that focuses on relaxing the mind and body. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleeping problems.

Many people in recovery suffer from these problems, which makes meditation a useful aid.

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2. Art Therapy

Some treatment facilities utilize art therapy to encourage self-expression through painting, drawing, and other creative exercises.

Art therapy helps people:

  • Confront emotional conflict
  • Practice behavior management
  • Increase awareness
  • Gain social skills
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Boost self-esteem

3. Music Therapy

Music therapists will have patients listen to, dance to, sing, or write their own music. The types of activities and song selections will be based on the person or group.

Music therapy can reduce muscle tension and anxiety. It helps encourage openness in personal relationships.

For some people who have trouble expressing themselves, music can act as a translator.

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4. Animal Therapy

Animal therapy involves interacting with animals.

Equine therapy is a popular form where patients learn to ride, take care of, and "communicate" with horses. Volunteering at animal shelters is also common.

Research shows that this can improve patients' willingness to participate and open up and share their past. It's a popular treatment for anxiety and PTSD.

5. Horticulture Therapy 

Horticulture therapy uses plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health. It has been shown to improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, and social skills. 

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6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine practice from China. It involves placing thin needles at various points in the body to stimulate healing.

This may be especially useful during detox, as it can soften withdrawal symptoms and decrease cravings.

7. Yoga

Yoga is a popular therapy because it combines mindfulness with physical activity.

Yoga uses breathing techniques, body postures, and meditation to improve your health. It can relieve stress and anxiety and helps patients practice coping mechanisms.

8. Nutrition Therapy

Nutrition therapy is used in many treatment programs.

Maintaining a healthy diet can improve both your mental and physical health. It's especially important during and following detox.

9. Massage Therapy

The path to recovery involves major changes in your mind and body.

Many people experience high levels of stress and pain. Massage therapy can help relieve this.

10. Prayer

Some holistic treatment programs will utilize prayer to augment addiction recovery. Prayer can increase self-awareness, decrease stress, and contribute a sense of optimism.

11. Fitness and Health

Exercise can help relieve depression and anxiety symptoms, which sometimes lead to substance abuse issues.

Physical activity can work as a relapse prevention tool by increasing feel-good chemicals in the brain. These chemicals can decrease when you abuse drugs or alcohol.

Exercise also adds structure to your life, which is beneficial during early recovery.

12. Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment that enables a computer to read your brainwaves.

These signals can help you understand areas of disorder or distress. The treatment can help ease symptoms of addiction, trauma, and mental health.

Benefits of Holistic Addiction Treatment

There are several reasons people may benefit from holistic treatment plans, including:

  • Traditional substance abuse treatment didn’t work before
  • They are nervous or scared by traditional procedures
  • Holistic treatment attempts to uncover the reason for their addiction
  • They will develop skills and resources needed to maintain their recovery
  • They will become more mindful and healthy in all areas of their life

Is Holistic Treatment Effective?

Research shows that holistic therapies can increase the likelihood of recovery when combined with traditional methods. But there is little conclusive evidence for this available at this time.

More research is needed to prove the effectiveness of the holistic approach to addiction treatment.

However, it has been shown that these alternative treatments can enhance an addiction center’s programs and increase a person's chances of recovery.

Is Holistic Addiction Treatment Right for You?

Holistic drug rehabs and traditional programs use both individual or group therapies.

Therapy helps you understand and assess the underlying problems that led to drug abuse. This is essential to long-term recovery.

Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focus on shifting negative thought patterns and behaviors. CBT is available in both traditional and holistic drug rehab treatments.

The key difference is that holistic recovery approaches also involve alternative treatments. These treatments can help you approach your substance issues from other angles.

Alternative therapies can also help you heal from the physical and spiritual effects of addiction.

Holistic recovery treatments can be an effective complement to the work you're doing in traditional addiction treatment programs.

How to Find a Holistic Treatment Center

Many facilities offer holistic treatment options.

To find out if a rehab center utilizes holistic therapies, contact their admissions department. They will provide information on their treatment approach and all the complementary therapies offered.

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Resources

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  1. Aletraris, Lydia et al. “The use of art and music therapy in substance abuse treatment programs.” Journal of addictions nursing vol. 25,4 : 190-6.
  2. Breslin, Kathy T et al. “An holistic approach to substance abuse treatment.” Journal of psychoactive drugs vol. 35,2 : 247-51.
  3. Carim-Todd, Laura et al. “Mind-body practices: an alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature.” Drug and alcohol dependence vol. 132,3 : 399-410.
  4. Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EMS, et al. "Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174:357–368.
  5. Kuppili, Pooja Patnaik et al. “Role of Yoga in Management of Substance-use Disorders: A Narrative Review.” Journal of neurosciences in rural practice vol. 9,1 : 117-122. doi:10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_243_17.
  6. Motlagh, Farid Esmaeili et al. “Acupuncture therapy for drug addiction.” Chinese medicine vol. 11 16. 5 Apr. 2016.

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