Addiction is a very personal illness that affects people in different ways and so it makes sense that there are several treatment approaches. It is important that an addiction treatment program resonates with a person’s lifestyle and belief system in order to apply what is learned in rehab to their lives in recovery. In recent years, there has been an emerging trend in addiction treatment that has a focus on holistic or complementary therapies. This has introduced a whole range of holistic drug rehab centers offering an alternative approach to treating addiction which we shall explore further in this article.
The benefits of holistic recovery centers in an addiction treatment context are well documented, particularly as an alternative approach to traditional 12-Step. This is largely because of the fact that 12-Step enforces a one-size-fits-all route to sobriety whereas holistic rehab centers offer a personalized focus on the individual’s emotional, physical and psychological needs. Another downside of 12-Step is that it reinforces the stereotype of an addict as someone lacking moral fiber, which is in stark contrast to holistic recovery centers which promote self-awareness and acceptance.
What Is Involved In Holistic Substance Abuse Treatment?
The word “holistic” refers to a person as a whole in terms of mind, body, and spirit. Substance abuse has widespread effects on brain and motor function while also threatening physical and psychological health. Holistic rehab centers seek to get to the root cause of an individual’s addiction to encourage and motivate them to make healthy changes in their lifestyle. Holistic recovery centers contrast to other more structured approaches in that the range of therapies used can vary significantly from person to person.
Here, we take a closer look at some holistic treatments used in holistic drug rehab centers today:
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is all about learning how to “be in the moment.” This is based on the theory that we are all distracted by past anxieties and future concerns to the extent that we forget to deal with the present. When someone has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is not uncommon for them to have started drinking or taking drugs in response to a traumatic experience, stress, relationship or financial difficulties or a mental health condition like depression.
The common denominator for all these types of situations, conditions and experiences is that they generally lead to people becoming preoccupied and focused on negativity. The natural response to this kind of emotional overload is to reach out to something that can “make everything go away”, which is many cases is alcohol or drugs. Mindfulness unravels internal confusion through peaceful practices such as meditation, where individuals are actively encouraged to clear their minds by focusing on breathing and their bodies.
It takes practice to be able to achieve a meditative state but the advantages for recovering addicts are significant. Having the ability to reach a totally relaxed state in the face of stressors or triggers for substance abuse enables recovering addicts to silence negative thought processes and protect their sobriety. Holistic drug rehab centers generally focus on guided meditation initially so that patients learn the right technique that works for them when they meditate alone in recovery.
For addiction treatment to be successful, it has to be balanced so that psychological, emotional and physical health issues are addressed at the same time, which is how holistic treatments work. Along with mindfulness practices, it is important to address physical fitness and encourage individuals to incorporate an exercise regimen into their daily lives.
Engaging in physical exercise has tremendous benefits for people in rehab as it not only strengthens the body and improves flexibility, but also boosts self-confidence and a sense of achievement. The endorphins produced when exercising work on the same principle as many mind-altering drugs but are entirely natural. However, the pleasant buzzing sensation exercise produces offers a much healthier alternative.
It is quite true to say that “we are what we eat” and many people with substance abuse issues are likely to have sustained a poor diet over a prolonged period of time. The damage that can be done to an individual’s health as a result of poor nutrition can be significant which is why holistic drug rehab centers generally offer nutritional advice as a treatment component. For example, someone who has not eaten enough foods containing iron can go on to develop immunity problems which will further impact their addiction issues.
The type of food-related behaviors that people with addiction exhibit include:
- Not eating: When someone is abusing substances they often have a suppressed appetite making them likely to “forget” to eat.
- Eating poorly: Active addicts spend as much as they can on drugs or alcohol which leaves them little to spend on healthy eating.
- Binge eating: When an individual is coming down from a high they often suddenly regain their appetite and eat insatiably, even after they are full.
As a person in a holistic rehab center begins to heal from the inside out and their nutrition improves under the guidance of a nutritionist, it has the following positive benefits:
- A more positive outlook and improved moods
- Increased energy
- Better memory
- Strengthened immune system and reduced risk of disease
These are just three of the holistic approaches to substance abuse treatment to provide an illustration of how they work. There are many more types of holistic therapies including massage therapy, art & music therapy, aromatherapy, deep breathing, yoga, and experiential treatments. Although the holistic approach to substance abuse treatment is relatively new in the field of addiction, the majority of therapies have been used to treat illness since ancient times and for many, their efficacy is undeniable.