Recovering from substance abuse and addiction is a personal path filled with twists and turns that are unique to each person’s journey. But for most, healing from addiction requires that they achieve a state of well-being and practice resolve to leave drugs and alcohol alone for good. Fortunately, there are several ways to achieve sobriety. If traditional methods aren’t creating the results desired, then alternative methods can point the way to freedom.
Holistic medicine and therapies have long been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including addiction. The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine defines holistic medicine as “the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.” According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 30 percent of adults report using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices.
Some drug and alcohol rehab centers have incorporated CAM principles and practices into traditional inpatient, residential, and outpatient treatment to help heal the whole person—mind, body, and soul—not just the disease.
Popular holistic addiction therapies include:
- Acupuncture, acupressure
- Art therapy
- Massage therapy
- Meditation/mindfulness therapy
- Music therapy
- Nutritional therapy
- Physical therapy
- Reiki (a Japanese technique in which energy levels are manipulated)
- Relationship counseling
- Spiritual counseling
- Tai chi
These therapies and many others can help you align the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of yourself as you manage your recovery. Alternative therapies can help you understand the root of your addiction, stay focused and committed to sober living, and prevent relapse.
How Can Holistic Medicine Help Recovery, and Does It Work?
Holistic addiction therapies can help recovering substance users:
- Manage or end cravings for addictive substances
- Manage alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms
- Reduce tension and stress
- Ease insomnia, depression, and anxiety
- Improve eating habits, behavior
- Focus on their health and well-being, making it a priority
- Build a foundation for spiritual health and well-being that can guide them through their recovery
While holistic therapy has its supporters, it is common to ask if therapies like acupuncture or yoga actually work. The answer to that questions depends on who you ask.
According to a Psychology Today article written by Anne M. Fletcher M.S., R.D., some experts say that, in general, there is no evidence that holistic approaches benefit addiction recovery. One argument is that alternative therapies aren’t evidence-based treatment. As the Mayo Clinic notes on the topic, conventional doctors are cautious about making recommendations for CAM because they have not been trained in integrative medicine or they realize scientific evidence doesn’t exist for some CAM therapies.
Those in favor of holistic therapies say alternative methods can make recovering users open to receiving addiction treatment and that those methods can and do support traditional psychotherapies that are evidence-based.
There’s also the perspective that alternative methods keep some people engaged in the recovery process and committed to seeing it through. Incorporating different elements from different approaches can also help create a recovery program that is tailored to a client’s specific needs.
Considering Holistic Addiction Therapy? Read This First
If you or a loved one is interested in using alternative holistic therapies in addiction treatment, here are some things to ask before you commit.
Is the therapy I am considering part of a science-based or evidence-based rehab program?
Integrated treatment that combines evidence-based therapy models and experiential therapies has been effective for many in recovery. For example, a person who is in cognitive-behavioral therapy to learn how to change problematic behaviors and negative thinking may also be in art therapy or music therapy to help them work through their emotions. If you are unsure about a therapy, run it by your personal physician or mental health care professional to make sure the therapy is appropriate and beneficial for your addiction recovery treatment. “Even if your doctor can’t recommend a specific practitioner, he or she can help you understand possible risks and benefits before you try a treatment,” writes the Mayo Clinic.
What are the credentials of the providers of the holistic therapy I am considering?
Take the time to research the therapy or therapies you are interested in. Adam Brooks, Ph.D., of the Treatment Research Center in Philadelphia told Psychology Today that clients are usually not well-informed about the approach they are considering or how the facility assures the quality of care they will receive. “Handling alternative treatments should be within this context—clients have a right to know, ‘How well does what we do work and what are the risks?’” Brooks said.
Will my health insurance pay for holistic addiction therapies?
Alternative treatments do not come cheap. Some insurance carriers may not cover complementary or alternative medicine practices, but some do. The best course of action is to call your insurance company to see what its policy is. US News & World Report advises you ask questions such as:
- Am I covered for this treatment?
- Do I need a referral or prescription from my general practitioner?
- Will I have to meet a deductible or pay a copay?
- Am I limited to a certain number of visits?
It is also advised to ask the company or your treatment provider about additional costs. Knowing about those in advance can help you plan for payment arrangements or seek out another therapy.
Find Quality Addiction Treatment at CHAT
California Highlands Addiction Treatment offers clients a safe and comforting place to live as they recover from substance abuse. We also offer customized treatment plans that can include holistic health therapies that treat the whole person. If you are in need of addiction treatment, call California Highlands Addiction Treatment at 888-969-8755 today to learn more about your options.