Holistic Therapy: Alternative Addiction Treatments to Help Get Your Life Back
No two people are exactly alike. What may be an effective recovery program for a middle-aged smoker won’t necessarily work for an opioid-dependent athlete. Out of the many treatment options available, the one that will work best is the one tailored to you and your unique issues.
Traditionally, the gold standard for addiction treatment has been centered on evidence-based therapies such as individual counseling, behavioral therapy, and medication. It is only in the last few decades that alternative or complementary treatments have been considered of value in recovery programs.
This trend is reflected in the growing number of Americans using complementary medicine. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), over 30 percent of adults currently use complementary or alternative medicine.
Where alternative treatments can help
According to the surgeon general, “Well-supported scientific evidence shows that addiction to alcohol or drugs is a chronic brain disease that has potential for recurrence and recovery.” And like many chronic diseases, recovery from substance abuse and addiction can benefit greatly from using alternative and complementary treatments as part of an integrated addiction recovery plan.
These alternative approaches, when used in conjunction with conventional modalities, can boost patient engagement with a program, leading to better outcomes. Holistic treatments are intended to effectively treat the whole person using nontraditional therapies to enhance physical, spiritual, and mental well-being.
Both residential treatment and outpatient programs offer complementary therapies along with conventional treatments to deal with the hidden causes of addiction. The principles of effective treatment tell us:
- No single treatment is right for everyone.
- Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.
- Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
- Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
- Treatment should address other possible mental disorders
By incorporating alternative and complementary therapies into a recovery program, treatment can be tailored for each individual’s needs. For example, the complementary therapies of yoga and meditation have been found to aid addiction recovery by dealing with stress, emotions, and behavioral urges like cravings.
Alternative methods as tools in addiction recovery
Complementary treatments, used alongside traditional therapies, are additional tools that can help support people in recovery. Holistic therapies have been proven to augment addiction programs by boosting recovery results.
Integrative therapies often used in conjunction with addiction treatment are acupuncture, art therapy, neurofeedback, massage therapy, and exercise.
Music therapy—specifically drumming—is just one example of an effective alternative treatment when incorporated into a drug addiction plan. The research shows that, “Drumming alleviates self-centeredness, isolation, and alienation, creating a sense of connectedness with self and others.”
As alternative therapies gain ground, studies have found that meditation, acupuncture, and neurofeedback have significant impact on addiction treatment successes.
Holistic therapy can’t replace conventional treatment
While holistic therapy has much to offer when utilized alongside traditional treatment programs, it can never be used as a stand-alone solution. Because addiction is a chronic illness, it should always be treated with traditional addiction treatment approaches such as:
- Medically supervised detox
- Individual and group therapy
- Aftercare counseling
Incorporating holistic treatments into a complete recovery plan directed by qualified addiction specialists can make significant inroads in the fight against addiction. But for addicts attempting to beat addiction without traditional support, the value of alternative treatments as stand-alone therapies is doubtful.
The future of holistic therapy
Conventional therapies won’t always “click” for every person. Holistic treatments can lead to a change in perception enabling patients to be more open and receptive. For example, a massage session can relieve stress and anxiety allowing the person to process issues more productively.
The general viewpoint is that complementary and alternative treatments are safe when used under the guidance of qualified professionals. However, research on the efficacy of holistic therapies is increasing as more Americans suffering from chronic illness turn to alternative and complementary modalities.
Alternative therapies have shown positive results in stress reduction and anxiety management. They can reduce depression, aid sleep, alleviate pain, and aid concentration. Any holistic therapy that can help you get your life back on track has a place in an addiction recovery treatment program.
Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.