This article is for informational purposes only. We do not provide holistic therapies at California Highlands Addiction Treatment.

Everyone’s experience with addiction is personal and unique to them, and as such, their path through the recovery process is as well.

No one method of treatment is guaranteed to work for everyone, and what might be helpful for one person’s rehab could be harmful to another person’s.

Traditional addiction recovery programs are not necessarily going to be the answer for everyone who seeks out treatment, which is why more and more addiction rehab facilities are making it a point to integrate holistic and alternative methods of addiction treatment into their overall programs.

There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation when it comes to holistic addiction treatment, but at its core, the idea is to focus not just on someone’s addiction but on the whole person and how addiction has affected them not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Holistic addiction treatment works to help people’s minds, bodies, and spirits recover naturally from substance abuse.

While medication can be useful and sometimes essential in treatment, many people who have struggled with addiction have previously cycled through different medications and standard treatments and found them to be ineffective. This can lead to feelings of discouragement that can keep them from continuing to try to stay sober.

Holistic addiction treatment can provide a potential alternative method that could end up being more useful than traditional addiction treatment and provide the path to long-term sobriety that someone has been searching for.

What Is Holistic Addiction Treatment?

Holistic therapy is a set of less conventional therapeutic methods that are meant to focus on rebuilding the connections between mind, body, and spirit, which have been thrown out of balance by addiction. Holistic medicine and therapies have been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including addiction, for hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of years.

Many holistic rehab facilities do not view addiction as a disease so much as a chemical imbalance stemming from different situations, including emotional imbalances, past traumas, and negative events, and irrational or untrue beliefs. The goal of holistic therapy is to go beyond a person’s issues with physical dependence and look at how addiction has affected every area of their lives.

Another major difference between the traditional and holistic approach to addiction treatment is that many holistic-centered rehabs prefer to clear the body of drugs, alcohol, and other toxins and harmful substances through natural means, including diet, herbal medicines, and massage and acupuncture treatments.

In the wake of the current drug crisis in the United States, more people with substance use disorders are becoming open to the idea of holistic, natural therapy and do not want to rely as much on medications.

Holistic therapy places a significant amount of emphasis on keeping people engaged in their recovery through the use of active therapies which can help them stay committed to treatment through to the end. Learn more about addiction treatment.

What Are Common Holistic Treatment Therapies?

Not every addiction treatment center is going to offer holistic treatment as part of their rehabilitation plan, although more and more are incorporating alternative therapies such as meditation and nutritional therapy into their treatment program options.

For addiction recovery programs that provide holistic addiction treatment options, the following holistic therapies are some of the most commonly utilized:


A form of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves the stimulation of different points on the body. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), acupuncture has proven to be medically useful in helping treat back, neck, and knee pain as well as migraines.


Certain essential oils, including lavender, rosemary, and lemon oil, among others, have been shown to promote calm and lower stress levels. Aromatherapy can be a helpful part of meditation exercises as well.

Art Therapy

Many people may have a hard time engaging in talk therapy, especially early in the recovery process. Art therapy provides a healthy, nonverbal outlet for overwhelming thoughts and emotions they may be feeling.


Even minimal amounts of low-impact physical exercise has been medically proven to help relieve stress and retrain the body’s ability to regulate brain chemistry and mood levels naturally.


Hypnotherapy is a form of alternative psychological medicine that is meant to help relax the mind and improve focus. Some claim it can be used to provide insight into potential underlying mental health issues.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help ease some of the discomfort caused by common withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain. Massages can reduce stress and tension while naturally releasing the “feel good” brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin.

Medication And Mindfulness

Mindfulness therapy is incredibly useful for mental health treatment in general, helping to block stress and improve focus, helping people to stay grounded, remain in the moment and not allow their emotions to spiral out of control.

Music Therapy

Another example of a nonverbal mode of self-expression, music therapy can help people reconnect with their emotions and also provide a hobby that can help boost self-esteem and self-image.

Nutritional Therapy

Despite being labeled as an “alternative” form of therapy, nutritional education helps promote healthy eating and ensures the body gets all the essential nutrients it needs, which many people will neglect when struggling with addiction.

Outdoor/Wilderness Therapy

If a treatment center happens to be near a park or natural area, or even has a small garden, spending time outside can help promote feelings of calm and relaxation, provide an outlet for exercise, and boost Vitamin D intake.

Relationship Counseling

Not every addiction treatment center will offer family and relationship counseling despite the effects someone’s addiction can have on their relationships. Relationship counseling helps provide closure, build healthy methods of communications, and mend relationships that have been fractured by addiction.

Spiritual Counseling

For many, recovery is already an experience that is deeply rooted in spiritual growth, especially in the context of 12-step programs. Spiritual counseling provides a space for someone to reexamine their beliefs and build a spiritual foundation they can draw strength from to avoid relapse.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is an internal martial art that is practiced worldwide. Often described as “meditation in motion,” Tai chi’s slow, deliberate movements can be performed by people with chronic medical conditions, making it a beneficial low-impact exercise for someone in recovery. Tai chi can help increase body strength as well as mental alertness while lowering stress.


Much like mindfulness therapy, yoga is becoming increasingly incorporated into addiction recovery programs because of how it promotes stress relief, increased self-awareness, mental and physical flexibility, and improves the connection between body and mind.

All of these holistic therapies aim to help people address the parts of themselves that they have neglected in the midst of their addiction.

Some of these therapies require people to open themselves up to new experiences, which may be difficult.

On the other hand, some people may be more receptive to holistic approaches like art therapy or spiritual counseling before becoming comfortable enough to engage in more traditional forms of addiction treatment methods.

What Are The Benefits Of Holistic Addiction Treatment?

While holistic and alternative therapies often are under scrutiny as to whether they offer definitive, provable positive results, there actually are many benefits to using holistic therapies in addiction treatment, especially when they are used to complement standard treatment practices.

Some benefits of choosing an addiction recovery program that uses complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include:

More Customizable Option

When an addiction recovery treatment center offers a variety of alternative and holistic treatments, it gives people more options to explore and integrate into their treatment plan, which makes it even more likely to be effective and lead to a successful recovery. It also provides more opportunities for people to have a say in their treatment and feel like they are playing an active role in their recovery.

More Interest In Recovery

As previously mentioned, some people entering addiction recovery may be less interested in or unwilling to try traditional modes of addiction treatment. Holistic treatments may appeal more to people as well as make them feel more encouraged to remain in treatment and open up to more established forms of counseling and treatment.

More Hands-On Participation

Many holistic therapies, including art, music, exercise, and yoga are activities in their own right and allow people in treatment to remain engaged in their recovery through active participation. These therapies occupy both the body and mind and can be used as healthy coping mechanisms and emotional outlets that help people avoid relapse after treatment.

Specialized Help In Dual Diagnosis Treatment

People in addiction treatment will often have a co-occurring mental health disorder along with a substance use disorder. Both conditions need to be addressed concurrently for treatment to be effective, which is what dual diagnosis treatment is meant to do. For many people with co-occurring mental health issues, integrating holistic therapies like mindfulness therapy can prove to be beneficial to their progress.

Questions To Ask When Considering Holistic Treatment

While there are many potential benefits to incorporating holistic therapies into your addiction recovery treatment plan, it is still important to make sure you do some research ahead of time to see which holistic therapies are most compatible with your short and long-term recovery goals and will be most effective in helping you avoid relapse.

Ask questions about the holistic therapies that you are most interested in exploring and learning more about. In many cases, people are not well-informed about the holistic therapy they want to try, and, therefore, cannot ensure they are going to receive quality care. You should always be sure to ask how well a particular therapy has been shown to work and what the potential risks of trying it could be.

Another question you will want to ask before committing to alternative holistic addiction treatment is if the therapy is part of a science or evidence-based rehabilitation program. Integrated treatment programs can provide the best of both schools of thought when it comes to treating addiction.

Art and music therapy, nutritional therapy, and regular physical activity can be beneficial supplements to cognitive-behavioral therapy, addiction education workshops, and relapse prevention planning. But you will definitely want to carefully check the credentials of the holistic treatment provider and ensure they use evidence-backed treatments with proven scientific benefits as well.

Finally, some health insurance policies may not cover alternative or holistic therapies and medicines, so you should speak to your insurance company to get a better idea of your policy’s limits. Some recommended questions to ask include:

  • Does my policy cover this treatment?
  • Will I have to pay a copay or meet a deductible?
  • Do I need a referral from my medical doctor?
  • Is there a limit on the number of visits or treatments I can have?
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