Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a medical condition.  Gone are the days when addiction was considered a problem of willpower that could be overcome with a little more resolve and a stiff upper lip.  The medical community has recognized for some time that addiction is a disease that causes very real changes in the brain and body. Recovery from addiction requires reversing these changes and re-training the brain and body to function normally without the presence of drugs or alcohol.  But recovery from addiction is not like recovery from an infection, which might clear up after the administration of a single medication. Because addiction affects so many areas of a person’s life, from the physical to the emotional to the social, a multifaceted treatment approach that addresses all of these areas works best.  More and more drug rehab centers are including holistic therapy approaches to address addiction. These complementary therapies help individuals struggling with addiction to achieve a full recovery that they can maintain over many years.

What Are Holistic Therapies?

Holistic therapies are non-traditional therapies that address the needs of the client as a whole person: body, mind, and soul.  A holistic approach recognizes that while addiction is a medical problem, it impacts the entire life of the person with addiction.  In addition to the impact on a person’s physical health, addiction affects their social and emotional lives. People with addiction often become alienated and isolated from their friends and families.  Those lost connections can leave a person feeling unwanted and unloved. In addition, people with addiction frequently damage their careers, either academic or professional. These many failures can leave them with low self-confidence and low-self-esteem.  People struggling with addiction also need to contend with the issues that drove them to substance abuse in the first place, such as childhood abuse, feelings of inadequacy, or a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety and depression. Holistic approaches address all of these areas.  Examples of holistic therapies used to treat addiction include yoga, reiki, meditation, therapeutic massage, art therapy, music therapy, spa therapy, and exercise.

How Do Holistic Therapies Work?

Holistic therapies work by healing not just the physical damage incurred by addiction, but by healing the invisible wounds inflicted by addiction as well.  Holistic therapies can also prepare people to face the stress of life with new, healthier coping mechanisms so that they stop turning to drugs and alcohol. For example, many people struggling with addiction have poor impulse control and low tolerance for discomfort.  They may feel that they cannot possible cope with the cravings for drugs or alcohol and quickly give in to relieve those feelings. One holistic approach to curb those cravings and increase impulse control is yoga. Yoga teaches people to gain control of their minds and that they have the ability to endure short-term discomfort.  This skills gained by yoga practice can easily translate to resisting the urge to engage in substance abuse and maintaining sobriety even in difficult times. Similarly, mindfulness training has shown true benefits to people in recovery. One study out of the University of Washington found that only 8% of people using a mindfulness-based approach relapsed within the first year of recovery as compared to 20% using either a traditional twelve step or a cognitive-behavioral based approach.

Recovery is not just about preventing relapse.  Many people with a substance abuse disorder also have an underlying condition such as depression or anxiety.  Holistic therapies can treat these co-occurring mental health conditions without medication. Many studies have found that yoga and exercise are as effective in treating anxiety and depression as traditional medical therapies but with no side effects.  Art and music therapy allow people to explore emotional issues through art or sound that they might not be comfortable discussing verbally.

Spa therapy or therapeutic massage can be used for both physical and emotional recovery.  Detox and withdrawal are physically uncomfortable processes, with discomfort caused as the toxins of drugs and alcohol leave the body.  Massage can help remove this waste from the body and ease the associated discomfort. For people with a history of physical or sexual abuse, massage therapy may allow them to create new brain pathways associating physical touch with healing instead of pain.  These are just a few ways holistic therapies can aid in recovery.

If you or someone you love is searching for a holistic rehab therapy program to treat substance abuse, call Blu By The Sea today.  Our holistic approach includes art and spa therapy, yoga, exercise, as well as a full medical staff and trained counselors.  Our specialists can help you heal your body, mind, and soul in preparation for a lifetime of living in recovery.