As we continue to learn more about addiction and how to treat it, we begin to see that there is no one treatment that works for everyone, and we also realize that drugs and alcohol are but a symptom of the disease.
With this knowledge, it becomes clearer that treatment needs to take a more multi-faceted approach that takes into account the whole person. Physical, mental and spiritual health must be addressed in order for true recovery to take place. This is why, in recent years, more and more treatment centers are offering holistic treatments and therapies in their recovery programs.
How Holistic Therapies Help Addicts
Holistic means “whole”, and as it applies to medicine, refers to the whole person. But what does that mean for addiction treatment? Well, when a person who has been struggling with addiction enters treatment, he or she is depleted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Some people enter treatment on the verge of malnutrition. People who have been abusing alcohol or drugs for many years are often suffering from cognitive deficits, short-term memory loss and other neurological issues. In addition, newly recovering addicts are often struggling with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Trauma and PTSD are common among addicts. These issues may be long standing issues from childhood, and there are often more recent traumas as well.
Some of these issues can make treating addiction difficult. Emotional problems, trauma, poor health and mental health issues can slow or even halt the process of treatment if they are not addressed.
Holistic treatments help by healing the body, the mind and the spirit. By giving attention to these three areas, other forms of treatment, such as individual therapy, group counseling and 12 step integration become even more effective. Let’s take a look at five holistic treatments that help addicts in recovery:
- Yoga. The practice of yoga relaxes the body, increases flexibility and circulation, eases aches and pains and promotes balance and self-discipline. Although it has been practiced in the far east for over two thousand years, it has only taken off in the west in recent years. Once considered “new agey” and alternative, research backs up what has been known by practitioners for years. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga eases stress, anxiety and depression. Brain scans show differences in people who practice yoga versus those who don’t.
- Nutrition Therapy. When the body is depleted, then the brain is, too. Nutrition therapy helps to restore the body’s health so that it can begin healing and functioning optimally. Nutrition therapy can improve sleep, energy levels, ability to focus and retain information, restore lost muscle tone and achieve a healthy weight. Nutrition therapy may also include vitamin and supplement therapy. Targeted nutrition and supplementation can greatly increase the rate at which the brain heals itself. Drugs and alcohol, even when used for a short period of time, damage cognitive function. The brain can take up to five years to heal, and may never fully heal in some cases. This type of holistic therapy can help the brain and body heal much faster.
- Animal-Assisted Therapy. The healing relationships between animals and humans have long been documented. The very presence of an animal, such as a dog or a horse, in the therapeutic setting, can make a huge difference and can help things progress. Equine therapy sessions can help newly recovering addicts build trust, compassion, leadership skills, self-discipline and self-esteem.
- Meditation. Studies show that people who meditate, even for a few minutes a day, have increased brain activity, lower stress and blood pressure, increased impulse control, greater control over difficult emotions and report feeling happier and more satisfied with life. The skill of meditation is something that once learned can be applied throughout life.
- EMDR. Many addicts come into recovery having experienced major traumas in their lives. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming is an effective treatment for those who are suffering from PTSD and the depression, anxiety and insomnia that often goes with it.
These are just a few of the holistic therapies that today’s treatment centers are offering their clients to help in the recovery process. When newly recovering addicts are participating in activities that promote their health and well-being, they get much more out of the other activities that are common in treatment, such as group counseling sessions, 12 step meetings, individual therapy sessions, psychoeducational group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, a drug treatment center can help. If you would like to learn more about treatment and the services that are offered, call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352 to get detailed information about treatment centers in your area.