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Does Holistic Addiction Treatment Really Work?

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Far Eastern medicine has been present in therapy for decades. Holistic treatment has become a focal point in therapy nationwide and can treat a wide range of ailments. Substance abuse and addiction treatment are no exception, and there are various holistic techniques implemented in rehabilitation centers throughout the country. If you’re not familiar with the method, continue reading to learn more.

What Is Holistic Treatment?

The term “holistic” refers to a whole person approach during health care interventions. It focuses on both the mind and body so that someone can heal completely. Most treatment centers view holistic approaches as an opportunity for clients to visit both their physical and psychological needs. With various holistic methods, such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy, clients will see improvements in their rehabilitation, as well as other parts of their lives. 

What Takes Place In a Holistic Treatment Program?

Most rehabilitation programs aim to incorporate holistic techniques, and they carefully consider an integrated mental, physical, and spiritual model for a more comprehensive treatment regimen to help individuals overcome a substance use disorder (SUD). There are many of these techniques that can be categorized as either complementary or alternative treatments, some that are based on practices stemming from cultural traditions. Some examples of this include:

  • Nutritional therapy
  • Massage
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Reiki and other forms of energy work
  • Acupuncture and acupressure
  • Biofeedback and neurofeedback
  • Herbal medicines

These are a small list of the treatments termed as holistic. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health estimates that nearly four out of ten adults in the United States use a form of complementary and alternative medicine. Fortunately, it is a trend that continues to expand. 

One of the main features that run through these techniques is that they are intended to treat a person as a whole while improving their well-being instead of targeting one element of someone’s behaviors or symptoms. Holistic approaches aim to address a broad set of factors that cause the development of addiction.

Incorporating Holistic Therapy into Addiction Treatment

You may notice in some cases that holistic approaches are used to augment specific aspects of a more standard recovery effort; however, other approaches may help with:

  • Withdrawal symptoms (massage or acupuncture for muscle aches and pains)
  • Unhealthy eating habits that result in malnutrition caused by chronic substance use
  • No spiritual grounding
  • Emotional issues or stress that may have caused addiction to thrive

Other techniques known as Reiki aim to correct an energetic imbalance through manipulating body-energy. Although these methods have been proven successful, it’s recommended to use these holistic therapies in conjunction with standard treatment efforts, and not use these as a replacement of evidence-based approaches.

Does Holistic Addiction Treatment Really Work?

Although there is not much research on the topic, and some that do exist is inconclusive, it’s hard to answer the question if holistic addiction treatment works. It is a topic that is widely argued, but in some cases, holistic treatment may attract someone who may otherwise overlook conventional treatment. 

The prospect of holistic medicine could make them more willing to try research-based treatments in conjunction with holistic medicine. Fortunately, it can help someone find long-term recovery when they never considered it before. These practices are a positive complement to evidence-based treatment. 

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/science-drug-use-addiction-basics

The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. (2017, September 24). from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm#hed1

Substance Use and Mental Health. (n.d.). from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health/index.shtml

Meditation. (2017, September 24). from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation

Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What's In a Name? (2019, April 2). from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

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