There is a great deal of scientific research that supports the use of holistic therapies in the treatment of addiction – not only during the initial treatment period in the first months of recovery but also for the long-term. Though they should not be used alone, they can be a hugely beneficial addition to a comprehensive treatment program, often helping someone to swiftly and safely stop using substances, and cope with emotional and underlying mental health issues without drugs and alcohol.
Benefits of holistic treatment for addiction issues include:
Accessibility: It is not difficult to find holistic treatment options in most communities. Drug addiction treatment centers, community centers, religious organizations, and more often offer these options throughout the week.
Transferability: When in treatment, many clients find value in experimenting with different holistic treatment options to find what suits them best. When it is time to transition into independent living, people can transfer holistic treatments with them, continuing the path they are on in recovery.
Cost: Many holistic treatments are completely free of charge. Unless you would prefer to opt for high-end, personal holistic therapy sessions, in many cases, you can practice on your own or in groups at a sliding scale rate.
Enjoyment: Therapy often requires some serious emotional work to address longstanding and unprocessed trauma as well as other experiences that preceded addiction and cropped up during active drug use. By contrast, holistic therapies are often enjoyable, providing a “break” in the day during active treatment and stability in independent living. They can feel like a respite, providing rejuvenation in recovery.
The practice of yoga can deeply impact your ability to avoid relapse in recovery. Not only does it promote stress relief through breathing and stretching postures, it can also promote physical strength, improve the ability to get quality sleep, and provide positive connections with others who practice regularly – all of which can help to make triggers for relapse less frequent and more manageable.
As an added bonus, there are a number of different types of yoga to choose from. This means that every individual can find a form of practice that is meaningful to them. Some emphasize stillness and meditation while others promote strength-building. Certain practices pay very close attention to the breath; others are practiced in hot temperatures; and some incorporate flowing postures – choose what interests you.
Meditation is an excellent tool in recovery and can be practiced in a group setting with guidance from a practitioner or alone. Some prefer guided meditations where the individual sits with eyes closed and focuses on the visualizations and guidance of the speaker while others prefer total silence. Though you may choose to sit in the quiet of your room and meditate, you may also find value in a walking meditation that allows you to notice the sounds of the outside world and allow them – and your thoughts – to pass as you let go of expectations, competition, and outward influence.
Practicing mindfulness can be instrumental in managing the urge to drink or use drugs in recovery. Essentially, it is the practice of being present in the moment, focused on the feelings and events that are occurring right here and now, and addressing those things as needed to adjust anything off balance and return to a state of balance. For Americans who often thrive on multitasking, and people in addiction recovery who often feel scattered or overwhelmed by the notion of living life without the numbing effects of substance use, mindfulness often translates into slowing down, taking one thing at a time, and allowing it to be what it is without judgment.
The value of acupuncture for addiction treatment is largely dependent upon user experience. Some report great results from regular sessions, while others find little difference in terms of their ability to manage emotion or relapse.
Acupuncture is based on the idea that life force energy, or qi, flows through the body, and that when that flow is blocked, specific problems develop. There are points in the body that are believed to be connected to the experience of certain issues. Those who are struggling are advised to have long thin needles inserted painlessly into the top layers of skin at the points that correspond to their particular issue. The goal is to unblock qi at these points and thus alleviate the problem.
Acupuncture sessions may be provided on an individual basis or in a group setting at a drug rehab program. Many community-based organizations offer a sliding pricing scale for those in need.
5. Bodywork and Massage
Engaging in bodywork and massage therapeutically as part of addiction recovery can have benefits from the first session. Not only does it promote relaxation, which in turn lowers stress and makes daily stressors more manageable, it can also promote physical healing and release of tension. This can improve sleep quality and mood, and decrease chronic pain, which can be a trigger for relapse in those who live daily with the issue.
Which holistic treatment options sound most interesting to you? Try out a few different options while you are in treatment and have access to providers who understand the nature of substance abuse treatment.