Table of Contents

The Basics of Holistic Rehab

Holistic Treatment Options

In rehab, holistic and alternative practices include a wide variety of behaviors aimed to align the mind, body, and spirit towards the end goal of total rehabilitation. Some of the most common approaches include:

  • Nutrition: Holistic treatment is often centered around organic, whole-food based dishes that promote overall health, as well as target any nutritional deficiencies that have resulted from the substance abuse.
  • Massage Therapy: According to studies done on the chemical response to massages, serotonin and dopamine increased by 28% and 31% respectively, which may help combat the dopamine drop that’s experienced in withdrawal.
  • Physical Exercise: Regular exercise has numerous health benefits and can also help improve the patient’s mood, making it a critical part of holistic care.
  • Yoga: Exercise that includes stretching, breathing exercises, and guided relaxation. According to the 2012 NCCIH survey, more than 85% of adults who practiced yoga perceived reduced stress levels, making it a natural choice for high-stress situations like detoxification.
  • Meditation and Prayer: Quiet time seeking mental clarity or connecting with a higher power can be helpful in maintaining focus and hope throughout the rehab process.
  • Herbal Therapy: Herbs and supplements are commonplace in holistic care. For example, ginseng has been claimed to lower drug dependence and valerian has been used to ease the pains of withdrawal.
  • Acupuncture: Auricular acupuncture focuses on inserting needles on the external skin of the ear in specific spots, and is used to supposedly calm corresponding areas on the body. Some have claimed that it reduces symptoms during detox and withdrawal, and may help prevent relapse triggers.

Approaches to Holistic Rehab

You can use holistic treatment methods on their own or alongside traditional programs

There are two basic approaches to holistic rehab: you can attend holistic rehab facilities as an alternative to traditional rehabilitation, or you can utilize holistic practices alongside evidence-based treatment methods.

Holistic treatment alone isn’t proven to work and presents challenges to recovery

While there are benefits to using holistic treatment practices alongside evidence-based rehabilitation methods, using holistic treatments as a substitute for traditional rehab hasn’t been proven to work (evidence cited is often anecdotal). Additionally, patients exclusively seeking holistic care have to overcome the following challenges:

  • Medication-Free Recovery: A truly holistic approach cleanses the body of all new chemicals, including prescribed medication. While this may be healthy for an average person, patients coming off of a serious drug or alcohol addiction may find it challenging to quit without any prescribed medication to assist with the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Finding Quality Care Providers: Unlike psychiatrists and addiction specialists, many holistic practitioners operate on a private basis and do not fall under any federal scrutiny. Finding quality care from a holistic facility requires extensive research.
  • Cost: Since rehabs that exclusively provide holistic treatment aren’t often recognized by the state and federal government, many insurance companies may choose not to cover those services.

In short, using holistic treatment on its own isn’t recommended for anyone but those with very mild addictions. Given that, the rest of this guide will focus on holistic treatment methods as a supplement to the traditional rehabilitation process.

Holistic treatment can increase the likelihood of successfully completing rehabilitation

A study published in the Psychiatric Studies journal confirms the correlation of satisfaction in treatment and overall success in rehabilitation. Holistic treatments like yoga and acupuncture can boost the morale and comfort for some patients, making their successful rehabilitation more likely.

If you are considering outpatient rehab (where you attend therapy for several hours during the day and go home at night) you can either schedule activities like yoga and meditation on your own, or consult with your therapist to add holistic treatment methods into your overall treatment plan.

If you are checking into a residential inpatient facility you will need to find a facility that offers holistic-style treatments in addition to traditional rehabilitation methods. For more on finding a facility that offers holistic treatment, read our section below on choosing the best care.

Should I Choose Holistic Rehab?

Getting a Professional Assessment

The first step in deciding on a treatment plan should always be to get a professional assessment. Working according to the ASAM Criteria, an addiction specialist will determine whether or not an individual has:

  • A history or evidence of substance abuse
  • Signs of a psychiatric disorder
  • Is a threat or danger to either themselves or others around them
  • Has a present support system in the event of rehab
  • Is willing to undergo rehabilitation

After determining your level of addiction and other factors that impact your path to recovery, you can work with your therapist to determine which holistic treatment methods will suit you the best. While you can still seek out holistic treatment on your own, building a plan with an addiction professional is the best way to design a treatment plan that will most effectively integrate holistic and traditional treatment methods.

For a more thorough guide to addiction assessments, read our guide to choosing the right rehab

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Holistic Treatment

The benefits of holistic treatment are:

  • Stress Relief: The process of rehabilitation can be stressful. Engaging in positive holistic practices such as massage therapy and yoga can reduce stress in patients and make them more likely to have a successful rehabilitation.
  • Low-Cost Options: Positive activities such as a nutritional diet, regular exercise, meditation, and yoga can all be done at no extra charge.
  • Long-Lasting Benefits: Holistic habits and practices you learn in rehab (such as healthy eating and exercise) can increase your overall happiness for the rest of your life, which may help reduce the chance of returning to substance abuse for some.

The drawbacks of holistic treatment are:

  • Some Treatments Are Expensive: Although there are some free holistic treatment options, services like massage therapy and acupuncture can quickly get expensive. Most insurance companies don’t cover them, so you’ll likely have to pay out of pocket for those services. If you’re interested in a highly integrated holistic facility, the cost may be significantly higher than a traditional rehab facility due to the extra services offered.
  • Inpatient Facilities Are Harder to Find: Inpatient rehab facilities that offer integrated holistic treatments are not as common as traditional rehabs. Additionally, if you are looking for a facility that offers specific types of holistic care, you will likely need to spend quite a bit of time researching different facilities.

Finding the Best Care

What to Consider when Choosing a Facility

Those considering outpatient rehabs have more freedom in choosing a facility since they can obtain holistic treatment from independent sources.

Aside from the normal considerations that come into play when choosing a rehab (such as trained and certified professionals and a large selection of evidence-based therapy options), choosing an inpatient rehab facility that offers holistic treatment requires individuals to research exactly what type of holistic treatments are available. However, those who are pursuing outpatient treatment won’t need to be concerned with extra considerations since they will be obtaining their holistic treatments from third-party providers.

Many luxury rehab facilities that offer holistic approaches are in scenic and tranquil locations that assist in the whole-body healing experience. While not every patient will need a completely peaceful environment to engage in holistic care, some may find it beneficial.

The Cost of Holistic Rehab

The cost of holistic treatment can vary based on what you are looking for in a rehab experience. For instance, inpatient, higher-end luxury facilities can cost between $30,000 and $100,000 per month, while outpatient facilities may cost between $3,000 and $10,000 for 90 days, with an added cost for separate holistic treatment.

Overall, facilities that offer holistic care are typically more expensive than their counterparts and are often considered “luxury rehab facilities.” Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not recognize holistic care as essential to rehabilitation, meaning that costly alternative medicine procedures like acupuncture may have to come out of pocket.

For more on the cost of rehab, read our guide on the subject

Finding a Facility

To start the search for the right holistic facility for you, use our directory to find rehab centers in your area that fit the needs of your situation. Once you’ve found a few potential centers, you’ll need to do some research and inquiries to determine which centers offer holistic rehab options.

Aftercare and Staying Clean

Holistic practices aren’t just for rehabilitation – they’re for aftercare as well. Continuing to engage in positive habits like eating well, regularly exercising, doing yoga, and meditation can help you to stay encouraged and focused on maintaining sobriety. Along with continuing your positive practices, it’s helpful to follow traditional aftercare activities to prevent a relapse, including:

  • Group therapy, 12-step programs, other sobriety programs
  • Regular visits with a psychiatric specialist
  • Overnight or weekend stay at your rehab center
  • Scheduled drug testing
  • Regular and frequent individual therapy sessions

If the traditional and holistic aftercare steps aren’t enough to prevent a relapse, transferring to a sober-living facility is an excellent option to get back on track without the environmental triggers you face in the real world every day.

Take Action

There’s no “one way” to go about rehabilitation. For some, the traditional process accompanied with a 12-step system alone is enough for a successful recovery. For others, a more natural and holistic approach is needed to facilitate a healthy rehabilitation. In making your decision, it’s wise to consider scientifically-proven methods, as well as what works for you. While holistic rehab isn’t best for most people on its own, when used in tandem with evidence-based therapy, it can be the extra help you need on your road to recovery.

Disclaimer: The information contained on is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any medical or diagnostic purpose. The information on should not be used for the treatment of any condition or symptom. None of the material or information provided on is not intended to serve as a substitute for consultation, diagnosis, and/or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.