Holistic care is definitely becoming more popular because they address multiple aspects of a very complicated problem. Participants receive treatment for their mind, body, and spirit. As each of these areas is healed, the chance of positive outcomes in recovery increases.

One of the ways that holistic addiction treatment differentiates itself from more traditional programs is by offering alternative therapies. These may not yet be approached with a strong background of evidence based results, but they nonetheless have provided benefits to people recovering from addiction.

What Does Holistic Addiction Treatment Look Like?

An article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs described a model outpatient treatment plan. It was designed to be holistic and included the following in addition to traditional features:

  • Psychiatric and Physical Health Care
  • Dance / Movement Therapy
  • Tai Chi
  • Art Therapy
  • Spiritual Growth and Development
  • Leisure and Recreational Skills
  • Cultural Awareness and Appreciation
  • Vocational Services

The goal in including all of these options was to help develop a stronger sense of self-confidence and identity.

Another model of holistic treatment is the therapeutic community, which views the “community as the key agent of change and emphasizing mutual self-help, behavioral consequences, and shared values for a healthy lifestyle.”

These approaches don’t sound like the same thing and that may be one of the difficulties with finding a holistic treatment center. They should all offer the traditional underpinnings of treatment, but each approached integrative care in different ways. It will take a little bit of researching to full figure out what a program will look like. But, most of them include:

  • Organic, all natural meal plans to improve overall health.
  • Alternative forms of therapy, like art therapy and music therapy.
  • Physical activities, like hiking and horseback riding.
  • Mindfulness exercises, like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.

Are They All in the Same Setting?

Holistic programs are offered inpatient and outpatient and locally and at a distance. People considering them have many options.

The inpatient centers tend to be set in nature because a connection to the nature around you is important in holistic healing. Expect for the facility to be set in the mountain or by the ocean. An idyllic setting helps promote healing.

Why Would Someone Go to Holistic Addiction Treatment?

One addiction is very different from another addiction. Some people drink because they are escaping their feelings. Others may need to drink in order to overcome social anxiety. Still others might suffer from physical pain and use alcohol to numb it. A narrow focus wouldn’t necessarily address these varied causes for treatment. But, an approach that covered the whole body would.

Furthermore, each system (mind, body, spirit) is linked with the others. When one is treated and changes, the others compensate for that change. By healing all three, a person can achieve balance.

This also allows recovering addicts to identify problems in the early stages of development. By the end of holistic treatment, they will be aware of the relationships between these areas and a change in one will signal changes in the others, calling attention to a problem.

Does It Work?

There hasn’t been a ton of research into the efficacy of holistic programs, probably because they all look somewhat different than one another. However, there has been research into yoga and that is often a component of holistic care.

A holistic yoga practice will not focus on yoga as a form of exercise alone. It will involve meditation, exercise and spiritual teaching.

At its roots, yoga is part of the Buddhist philosophy, which believes that addiction starts in the mind. By practicing mindfulness, addicts come to accept the transience of human understanding and develop a disconnected awareness of thoughts. This attitude shift leads to more respect, care, and love of their own bodies, which helps people decrease substance use.

Studies show that yoga reduces stress levels, as well, which leads to better coping skills and less chance of relapse.

Who Can Benefit?

Holistic addiction treatment has benefits for everybody.

No one is forced to attend. However, people who find concepts like yoga and art therapy incompatible with their beliefs of medicine will not enjoy holistic treatment, even if it offers them assistance. Participants have to remain open to the offerings.