11 Benefits of Treating Addiction Holistically
There is no right or wrong way to experience recovery from addiction. With so many different treatment options available today, there is truly a recovery programme for everyone. In today’s world, more and more people seek ways of treating addiction holistically.
When combined with traditional treatments for initial detox and rehabilitation, holistic methods can prove to be an invaluable asset.
With a focus on treating the whole being, and not just a set of symptoms, holistic treatments can act as a powerful gateway towards long-lasting recovery.
What does holistic mean?
The term “holistic” is used to describe treating the whole person. This means treating someone not only in the physical aspect, but also in the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects as well.
Holistic treatment is often referred to as an alternative or complementary form of treatment.
These forms of treatment are best used alongside more conventional practises for treating addiction, such as detox and cognitive behavioural therapy.
Holistic treatments focus on treating all aspects of a person rather than a single aspect. The belief behind these practices is that each element of a person is interconnected. With the mind-body connection, all facets of a being are intertwined.
For instance, a person’s spiritual wellness can be directly linked to their emotional understanding of themselves. Struggling emotionally can impact someone’s body, causing them to develop physical health issues as a result. Suffering in one area internally can impact other areas as well. Pursuing a holistic path of treatment allows a person to work on restoring each part of themselves.
This is especially important in the recovery from addiction when all aspects of a being become distorted by the all-encompassing nature of the disease.
Holistic treatment in recovery
Addiction treatment isn't just about treating one thing and then expecting to achieve sobriety. For instance, addiction isn’t solely a physical disease, so it isn’t enough to just treat a person’s body, or just their physical symptoms.
Many elements will have contributed to the development of an addiction in the first place, and addiction itself is a symptom of an underlying issue. Treating addiction holistically allows people to get to the root causes of their pain. Recovery requires healing on every level, within all areas of a person’s life and being.
Holistic treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, and meditation, for example, treat more than just a symptom. They offer a deeper layer of healing that extends into personal growth. These treatments can allow someone to see the ripple effects of their healing in all areas of their life.
The most common methods for treating addiction holistically
There are a variety of healing methods used for treating addiction holistically. Below are just some of the many options that offer comprehensive treatment of the mind, body, and soul:
- Animal Therapy
- Reiki and energy healing
- Music Therapy
- Art therapy
- Shamanic healing
- Ayurvedic medicine
- Nutrition therapy
Now that you know a little more about what holistic treatment looks like, read on to learn the purpose of these alternative methods of healing and how they may help along your journey through recovery.
What is the goal of holistic treatment?
Holistic treatments are geared towards treating the whole person, rather than just a set of symptoms. Since everyone is different, holistic treatments are tailored to a person’s unique needs, experiences, and circumstances.
They focus on fostering mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, with an aim to increase a person's overall wellbeing.
Below are some of the goals of treating addiction holistically in recovery:
- Identify root causes of cravings
- Treat the underlying cause of the addiction
- Promote comfort and ease
- Develop resistance to cravings
- Increase self-esteem
- Promote emotional regulation and groundedness
- Increase physical health
- Decrease stress
- Increase sense of productivity
- Decrease the desire to engage in substance use
While focusing on achieving these goals, the effects of holistic treatments result in many benefits for someone in recovery from addiction.
The benefits of treating addiction holistically
Incorporating holistic treatments into an addiction recovery programme can offer a myriad of benefits for overall well-being.
These benefits of treating addiction holistically extend well beyond healing from the effects of substance use. They offer deeper insights into oneself in order to facilitate and foster growth in all areas of life.
Uses natural methods
Holistic treatment options use natural methods of healing and are generally non-invasive. This is especially helpful in early recovery, as the body is reeling from the many physical effects of long-term substance use.
Treats the whole person
The recovery journey is really about healing all aspects of the self – mind, body, and spirit. It is an ever-growing journey inward. Holistic treatments really focus on treating the whole being, which is an important component of the recovery journey itself.
Is tailored to each person based on their needs, desires, and interests
Rather than a cookie-cutter conventional treatment programme that may not resonate as deeply, holistic treatment programmes are tailored to a person’s unique needs, desires, and interests. Providers take the whole person into account, learning more about who they are, rather than treating a checklist of symptoms. In treatment, it's so important to resonate with the programme in order to get the most out of it.
Foster's emotional regulation and balance
Many holistic treatments, such as meditation and yoga, allow individuals to foster healthy emotional regulation and internal balance. Feeling emotionally turbulent end chaotic inside is what can lead to substance use to begin with. It can also perpetuate ongoing use if it is not managed. Therefore, it is incredibly important to learn how to accept and navigate challenging emotions. Treating addiction holistically offers a path towards doing just that.
Helps someone feel good about themselves
During active addiction, there isn’t any room for hobbies as obtaining and using substances becomes the main priority. In recovery, a person has the opportunity to get back to doing things that feel good for them. If they don't know what they enjoy, recovery offers an exciting chance to explore what activities resonate deeply. Individuals can engage in music therapy or art therapy, exercising, or being around animals in animal-assisted therapy. Recovery is all about creating true peace in one’s life, and part of that happens when a person takes time to do the things that bring them joy.
Helps someone feel more at ease with treatment
Some holistic treatment practices allow people to feel safe and relaxed. The idea of entering a rehab or treatment program can be incredibly scary, intimidating, and overwhelming. Holistic approaches that help foster relaxation can put a person at ease whilst pursuing more conventional treatment options.
Helps someone feel more productive in treatment
More conventional forms of treatment, such as detox and talk therapy, can feel more passive to someone who is actively in treatment. It becomes difficult to see the tangible results of these treatments, even though they are highly effective. Holistic treatment options, such as music therapy, yoga, or exercise, can help someone feel more productive while they are in treatment. They can help someone feel like they are an active participant in their healing, allowing them to see their tangible growth in front of them.
Can increase self-esteem and confidence
In early recovery, it is common for someone to struggle with guilt, shame, and low self-confidence. During active addiction, they may have made many decisions that they were not proud of. Holistic treatments offer a means of building self-esteem. They help a person to get in touch with the things that make them feel good. They give an outlet to do activities, such as exercise, art therapy, and writing. If somebody engages in an activity and discovers they are naturally good at it, or they enjoy doing it, this helps to increase their sense of self-esteem. Having strong self-esteem is incredibly important during addiction recovery since this dictates the way an individual views themselves and how they relate to the world, as well as their ability to heal.
Helps the person feel grounded and centred
Many holistic treatments allow people to relax. They allow people to gradually silence the chaos of their thoughts. When someone gets out of their head, it allows them to feel more centered and grounded. This is incredibly important whilst someone is navigating talk therapy. When a person is more centred, it is easier for them to observe and reflect upon their current and previous circumstances with perspective, curiosity, patience, and open-mindedness. When someone is not feeling grounded and centred, they may view their previous and current circumstances through a lens of anxiety, self-deprecation, and shame. Treating addiction holistically offers someone an opportunity to get their minds in a state where they can engage in talk therapy and really get the most out of it.
Helps a person get through detox
Holistic treatments can also provide comfort and a level of ease to someone who is going through the process of medical detox. Detox can be an uncomfortable time as the body and mind are plagued with difficult withdrawal symptoms. Utilising holistic treatments such as massage and acupuncture while going through the detox process helps to make it much more bearable.
Helps overcome malnutrition
In early recovery, it is common to face malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies due to a number of reasons. One reason for this is that nutrition and food choices aren't prioritised during active addiction. Another reason is that substances have significant effects on the body's ability to process nutrients, causing damage to internal systems and organs. Holistic treatments such as nutritional therapy, ayurvedic medicine, and herbal remedies can help to restore nutrients within the body. A healthy body is an important part of fostering a healthy mind and spirit.
Who benefits from treating addiction holistically?
Anyone seeking initial treatment for addiction can benefit from a holistic treatment approach. Likewise, those in ongoing recovery can also benefit from these alternative forms of treatment.
Since holistic approaches treat all aspects of a person’s being and encourage them to foster a deeper sense of connection to themselves, they truly benefit anyone who is willing to have an open mind and explore new ways of healing.
Holistic treatment approaches are beneficial for both men and women, regardless of age or race. Because this type of treatment is really centred around who people are as a whole person, and not just one element or one symptom within them, they can really be tailored towards anyone who wants to foster healing and growth.
Holistic vs. conventional approaches to treatment
It’s important to note that holistic and conventional approaches to treatment are best to use alongside one another.
Holistic approaches are best used in conjunction with treatment options such as individual mental health treatment, medically assisted detox programmes, or medical care.
Additionally, holistic treatments can be used alongside community support in the form of group therapy, self-help groups, and peer support groups such as NA or SMART Recovery.
Holistic approaches are a wonderful option on the journey through recovery as they allow a person to experience healing that transcends addiction.
If you’re interested in adding holistic treatment to your recovery journey, the Wellness Hub here at Recoverlution offers a wealth of resources on a wide range of holistic healing approaches. From exercise and meditations to yoga and breathwork, the Wellness Hub offers everything you need to get started on your holistic healing journey today.
Author - Thurga