Pros and Cons of Using Holistic Treatment for Addiction

In addition to traditional therapies, many addiction treatment facilities are now integrating holistic healing practices into their provision of services. You may be wondering: what does “holistic” mean, exactly? The term is still unfamiliar to many people, because the medical profession in the United States has generally avoided recommending holistic treatment methods — until recently.

What Does Holistic Mean? A Closer Look

Rather than directly addressing the illness, holistic treatment methods promote comprehensive physical, emotional and psychological wellness as the most natural and effective remedy to poor health and its underlying causes. Holistic practices aim for long-term success and are designed to create permanent (and positive) changes in lifestyle, outlook and attitude. When holistic methods are used to treat addiction, the mind, body and spirit are all engaged in the recovery process, tapping into the hidden capacities for healing that we all possess. Some of the most popular holistic modalities used in addiction treatment include:

  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Tai chi
  • Nutritional therapy (dietary changes plus supplements)
  • Spa/sauna therapy

Patients in rehab are usually given the opportunity to sample various holistic methods to find out which ones work the best.

The Advantages of Holistic Healing Methods

When used for addiction treatment, holistic healing practices have a number of selling points:

  1. Long-term sustainability. Recovering addicts who leave rehab don’t take their therapists home with them. However, they can continue using holistic healing practices forever and these can remain a part of their daily lives moving forward.
  2. Stress reduction. Holistic practices are highly effective at reducing stress and anxiety, which helps eliminate the triggers that so often provoke a relapse in recovering addicts and alcoholics.
  3. Personalized attention is guaranteed. Mind-body therapists are trained to see each client as a unique individual with a specific personal history that must be assessed and acknowledged before treatment can begin.
  4. Total wellness is always the focus. Holistic healing practices transcend the concerns of the moment, making them ideal for the preservation of long-term wellness. They act as a form of preventive medicine in the long term.
  5. Holistic healing is evidence-based. Skeptics don’t like to admit it, but there have been a number of studies performed that prove holistic treatments really work. Much more study is needed, but the results obtained to date are very promising.

The Limitations of Holistic Healing Practices

While people struggling with addiction can undoubtedly benefit from holistic healing, it should never be viewed as a replacement for medically supervised detox, individual and group therapy, medication and after-care counseling. Addicts who try to defeat addiction on their own through the use of acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or other holistic methods will not necessarily treat their addiction. These therapies should only be used to complement traditional substance abuse treatment methods: too many people have unrealistic expectations about the breadth and scope of holistic healing methods and those expectations can lead them into trouble. Holistic treatment regimens can make an impact in the fight against addiction, but to do so they must be integrated into a more comprehensive recovery plan supervised by trained addiction treatment specialists.   Source: Alternative Medicine Pros and Cons  

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