Holistic therapy uses alternative forms of treatment that address the person as a whole, including the mind, body, and spirit. Its purpose is to promote healing, positive social relationships, and healthy emotional expression, in addition to many other favorable benefits. Although there’s limited research as to the effectiveness of holistic therapies for the treatment and recovery of alcohol and/or drug addiction, it has gained popularity as part of a comprehensive treatment plan at many rehab centers across the country.
|Generic Treatment Name||Holistic Therapy|
|Other Names||Holism, Naturopathic Treatment, Fringe Therapy, Alternative Therapy, Complementary Medicine|
|Conditions Commonly Treated||Alcohol addiction withdrawal and recovery, substance addiction withdrawal and recovery, pain, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, mood disorders|
|Availability||Some types of holistic therapy require a referral from a doctor and must be administered by a certified practitioner. Trained therapists may also administer specific types of holistic therapy at rehab centers or individual locations.|
|Common Types of Holistic Treatment||Acupuncture, art therapy, equine therapy, massage therapy, meditation, music therapy, Reiki, tai chi, and yoga|
|Benefits||Vary based on holistic therapy administered, but benefits of common options include anxiety, pain, or stress relief; relaxation, and improved mood and overall health|
|Drawbacks||Limited research exists on the use of holistic therapy in substance abuse treatment. Many counselors and treatment programs rely heavily on evidence-based practices; due to lack of evidence on effectiveness, alternative therapies are rarely covered by insurance and are often costly.|
|Potential Side Effects||Vary based on the type of holistic therapy being administered, but all types are generally considered safe when administered correctly|
There is a long history of holistic methods used in the treatment of various conditions. Yoga has a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy, and acupuncture has been practiced in Asian countries for thousands of years. Other therapies, such as art therapy, have only been around since the 1950s. Hundreds of different types of holistic practices are available, with new therapies emerging all the time. In modern addiction treatment, many rehab programs have already recognized the importance of offering alternative therapies to complement traditional medical and clinical treatments.
Research is slowly revealing the potential therapeutic benefits of what were previously considered fringe therapies for people with substance use disorders. Therefore, more rehab centers may consider adding holistic therapies to provide a more diverse, comprehensive treatment program. In a 2009 survey of 139 substance abuse treatment centers, 58% of centers used meditation as one component of treatment and 33% of centers used some form of self-designated holistic therapy.
Holistic therapy has been used to treat various ailments, but the focus of this guide is using it for the treatment of alcohol and/or drug addiction. This includes issues with anxiety, depression, and pain that may arise due to withdrawal and recovery from substance abuse. Because there are many different types of holistic therapies, how they work varies, but the overall holistic concept is to treat all aspects of the person to increase success in treatment and in positively altering his or her lifestyle.
During the various stages of recovery, you experience physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that require a variety of treatment approaches. The holistic approach addresses these changes and any co-occurring mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, that may accompany your detoxification and recovery process. Holistic therapy focuses on all aspects of the person, including physical, emotional, and social well-being, to increase the chances of continued recovery and decrease the likelihood of relapse.
There are varying aspects covered in holistic therapies, including creativity, meditation, relaxation, yoga, spirituality, acupuncture, nutrition, and exercise. Yoga works by regulating stress hormones, providing a natural remedy for anxiety and stress, and improving your mood and brain chemistry. Meditation works by helping you achieve emotional stability and mental clarity while improving brain health. Art therapy lets you express feelings and thoughts you can’t put into words, which may help you manage stress and anxiety, develop coping skills, and strengthen your sense of self. Massage therapy works by relieving pain, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and easing anxiety and depression, which can be especially important in the early stages of withdrawal.
An integrated, holistic approach tailors your treatment plan to help you resist destructive behaviors and often uses a combination of therapies to fully address underlying issues, prevent relapse, and help you transition to a healthier lifestyle. Holistic therapy isn’t intended to be a substitute for conventional treatment but should combine all aspects of recovery, including traditional treatment methods, psychotherapy, self-help groups, and alternative treatments, to maximize your chance of long-term sobriety.
Holistic therapy comes in many forms, so how it is administered varies based on the type of treatment you receive. Rehab centers may offer a variety of options, and you may choose to add one or more of these options to your overall treatment plan. Holistic therapies generally aren’t stand-alone programs. They’re commonly combined with more traditional medical and clinical therapies. Some of the more mainstream holistic treatment options are listed below.
The cost of holistic therapy can be high, especially through high-end outpatient programs. Rates for massage therapy can range from $150 to $165 per hour, and acupuncture can cost $100 to $110 per hour. However, some treatment programs don’t charge separate fees for holistic therapies, bundling them with the overall cost of the program.
Using only holistic therapy instead of combining it with conventional methods of withdrawal treatment may pose serious risks. When used in conjunction with traditional treatments, the risks of holistic therapy vary depending on which form of treatment you’re using. While it’s impossible to be certain about the safety of any treatment, most holistic therapies are generally considered safe. There are rare reports that meditation has made symptoms worse in people with anxiety and depression. Yoga should be guided by a well-trained instructor, and though serious yoga injuries are rare, beginners should avoid extreme poses, difficult techniques, and forceful breathing.
Counselors and facilitators of treatment programs tend to stick to more evidence-based practices. However, many individuals have endorsed holistic therapies as essential to helping them in their quest to recover from substance abuse. Lack of research on the effectiveness of holistic therapy in substance abuse treatment may limit its usage in various treatment settings. Therapists who do provide holistic therapy may find it difficult to bill insurance companies for the same reason. Satisfaction with holistic therapy results is typically confirmed when individuals stay in treatment and successfully complete the recovery process.
Holistic therapy may not work in the same way or with the same results for each person. One type of treatment won’t fit everyone’s needs, so you may need to explore several options to discover which one(s) work best for you.
Note: The information contained in this guide is for informational purposes and only intended to educate the public on how this therapy is used. It is not recommending a specific treatment or giving medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified medical, mental health, and addiction professionals before beginning any type of treatment.