Holistic Addiction Treatment

People are always exploring new ways of treating ailments and illnesses, and the field of substance abuse treatment is no exception. In particular, people who are interested in a whole-body treatment modality often seek out addiction treatment programs that provide holistic methods of managing various elements of the treatment process.

There are varied opinions about the effectiveness of holistic treatments; however, many treatment programs incorporate alternative or complementary elements into evidence-based treatment programs to enhance their offerings.

Read on for more information about holistic treatments for drug or alcohol addiction, including effectiveness and what to consider when choosing a program.

What Is Holistic Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Holistic medicine is a treatment modality that considers the whole person and typically incorporates different therapies for the body, mind, emotions, spirit, and even environment.

The goals of holistic treatment are to provide a complete picture of an individual’s health, harness the body’s innate healing capabilities, and restore its natural balance.

When treating substance use disorders, holistic therapies can help create personal lifestyle and environmental changes that support long-term recovery.

Alternative vs. Complementary Addiction Treatment

Holistic treatment is sometimes referred to as “alternative” or “complementary” medicine. While these words are often used interchangeably, they actually mean different things.

According to the National Institutes of Health, both terms refer to treatments used outside the norm of conventional medicine.

Alternative medicine is when these non-conventional methods are used on their own or in place of any other conventional medicine.

Complementary is when non-conventional methods are used alongside or in addition to conventional methods. Many modern addiction treatment programs offer complementary therapies, meaning they provide a combination of alternative and evidence-based treatments.

Common Types of Holistic Addiction Treatments

There is a wide variety of treatment types used in holistic treatment. According to the American Holistic Health Association, these include:

  • Meditation and yoga.
  • Nutrition.
  • Eastern medicine techniques, such as acupuncture.
  • Brain wave biofeedback.
  • Herbal therapies and aromatherapy.
  • Hypnosis.
  • Massage therapy.

The belief is these practices can help calm the mind, heal the body, soothe emotions, and strengthen the spirit—together creating an environment that can better help a person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction to manage triggering situations and decrease cravings.

How Effective Is Holistic Treatment for Addiction?

The effectiveness of holistic and alternative therapies for addiction treatment remains largely unstudied. As a result, how well they actually do what they are said to do isn’t known yet.

While some, like meditation and yoga, do seem to provide benefits for measurable reasons—such as lowering stress levels, which can help manage triggers—others do not have a lot of empirical support. Some therapies might help simply by making the individual more willing to enter treatment, while others may have no effect at all.

Because of this, it is important for anyone seeking these elements in a treatment program to research both the practice and the facility providing the care. By weighing pros and cons of the treatments and the practitioners, an individual entering drug treatment can be more assured of whether or not the alternative therapy will actually help.

Pros of Holistic Addiction Treatments

A major area in which holistic treatment can help addiction treatment, as described in a chapter from Meditation – Neuroscientific Approaches and Philosophical Implications, is through stress reduction, as well as effects on the dopamine system.

Meditation, yoga, prayer, and other holistic practices have been shown to benefit the dopamine system, which is implicated in the development of addiction when drugs throw it out of balance. Stress relief can also help eliminate some of the triggers that might otherwise lead to relapse.

In addition, nutrition and exercise programs can help the body’s neurochemistry by providing needed nutrients, and boosting hormones and neurochemicals that provide natural pleasure, decreasing the likelihood of drug or alcohol cravings.

Other pros of holistic treatments include:

  • Comfort with the treatment process.
  • Increased motivation to continue other, research-based elements of treatment.
  • A sense of control over the types of treatment used, increasing self-confidence.
  • Additional tools for managing triggers and cravings.

Cons of Holistic Addiction Treatments

There are a number of reasons that some people might not prefer holistic treatments. These include:

  • Limited research on the effectiveness of these modalities.
  • High cost of treatment using these methods.
  • Fear of certain practices, such as acupuncture or hypnotism.
  • Lack of confidence in the treatment type.
  • Lack of coverage by health insurers.

Some addiction treatment professionals and researchers caution that until more is known about these alternative treatment methods, it cannot be known whether some of them are potentially dangerous. A person who decides to pursue holistic treatment should be aware of this possibility before entering a holistic program.

How to Find Effective Treatment

When looking for a treatment center, aim to find one that offers research-based therapies to ensure treatment is as effective as possible. Centers that offer holistic therapies are more likely to have a positive effect when those methods are combined with traditional therapies and practices that have proven successful.

Common evidence-based treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy and counseling.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • 12-Step facilitation.
  • Treatment medications (as needed).
  • And other therapies based on the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s recommended practices and placement criteria.

Combining these traditional elements with holistic methods can provide a well-rounded treatment approach that meets the specific needs of an individual, enhancing the chances of sustained sobriety and recovery.

According to a survey from Pastoral Psychology, 33% of addiction treatment centers provide some form of “holistic” therapy. These practices generally fall into four categories:

  • Wellness therapies like exercise, nutrition, and relaxation therapy
  • Adventure and recreational activities
  • Spiritual practices like yoga or meditation
  • Specific physical and mental therapies, like acupuncture

Meditation and prayer are commonly used at treatment centers, and are seen to be beneficial because of the scientific evidence behind their effects on stress levels and brain chemistry. The availability of other therapies depends on the treatment center.

At Desert Hope detox and alcohol rehab in Las Vegas, we offer a range of evidence-based and alternative therapies to support people battling addiction.

To learn more about our quality programs, how to pay for rehab, or how to use insurance to pay for rehab, contact at today. Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to answer any questions and start the admissions process.

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Addiction can be devastating. If you or someone you love has lost control of their substance use, we are here to help.

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Desert Hope is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is easily accessible from most locations in the Southwest. We offer a full continuum of care that spans from inpatient medical detox and rehab to outpatient services and sober living. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Vegas or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.