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Holistic Therapy in Addiction Treatment

The addiction recovery process is a journey with many different outcomes and courses. The best road to recovery varies by individual. Clinical programs often generate the most success, but what makes them successful are the forms of treatment they incorporate. Holistic addiction treatment is beneficial for a variety of people. Treatment centers may use a holistic approach in different ways, but the principles and methodology are similar.

The term holistic has gained traction over the past few years. Holistic medicine refers to the treatment of a person as a whole instead of separate parts. Holistic therapies regard all aspects of an individual’s life as crucial for mental health.

What is Holistic Therapy?

Holistic therapy is a form of treatment that focuses on the mind and body. This type of addiction treatment uses these principles to untangle the complexities of conditions like anxiety, depression, addiction, and more. Holistic therapies are not intended to target and cure symptoms. Addiction usually has several contributing factors. Holistic therapy aims to find the root causes and break them down. 

People often turn to holistic therapies if traditional medicine fails them. This is often the case if someone feels their treatment focuses only on obvious symptoms instead of digging at the source of their issues. Holistic therapy was not popularized until the 1970s, so some do not consider it as “proven” as other therapeutic methods.  

How Holistic Therapy Works

Holistic therapy encourages an individual to gain awareness of the connections between the mind, body, and spirit. The concept of mindfulness is present in many therapy types, but it’s especially relevant in holistic therapies.

Those who find success in holistic addiction treatment develop a new understanding of themself. This understanding leads to improved self-awareness and self-esteem. For example, an individual may visit a holistic practitioner with the hopes of easing their chronic pain. The holistic therapist may find this individual is dealing with severe stress and anxiety. Thus, dealing with the emotional trauma causing this person stress and anxiety may affect their physical pain. 

Holistic addiction treatment does not entirely forgo Western medicine. Some contemporary techniques prove beneficial in combination with holistic techniques. Holistic treatment plans often include treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or other psychological therapies.

What Are the Principles of Holistic Medicine?

Holistic therapy is based on the belief that each person is responsible for their health and well-being. Support and unconditional love is a huge factor in well-being as well as treatment and recovery.

holistic addiction treatment

Common principles of holistic medicine include:

  • All people can heal and recover.
  • Treatment involves targeting the cause of the condition, not just the symptoms.
  • A patient is a person rather than a disease that needs fixing.
  • Healing and recovery sometimes take an entire team. A team approach including medical doctors and therapists supports the patient’s goal of maintaining sobriety.
  • It is essential to address all aspects of the patient’s life using multiple therapeutic approaches. 

Types of Holistic Therapies in Treatment

There are a variety of treatments and exercises associated with holistic therapy. Holistic providers may even blend proven forms of treatment to get the best results. Leading holistic therapies include:

Nutritional Therapy

Holistic therapy is based on a principle that proposes the body, mind, and spirit should be treated as one whole. Therefore, a healthy body is an essential part of recovery and healing. During holistic addiction treatment, individuals focus on proper nutrition. Once the body has the nutrition it needs to function at its highest capacity, overcoming addiction may be more comfortable. 

Exercise and Recreational Therapy

Daily exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Holistic approaches utilize exercise and recreational therapy for physical and emotional benefits. Each center varies with the type of therapy used, but some common activities are rock climbing, horseback riding, and hiking. Daily exercise is imperative when it comes to recovery. Just the simple act of having a daily routine is valuable in addiction treatment. 


Guided meditation helps individuals sift through their emotions and trauma. Overcoming addiction is a daunting task. A clear

mind is essential in holistic addiction treatment. Meditation may offer participants access to feelings that could assist in increasing their clarity and focus. Many treatment centers offer yoga or other forms of meditation exercises.  

Massage and Acupuncture 

Massage and acupuncture are often used in holistic addiction treatment. This approach is mostly focused on the body. Many individuals in treatment are not internally healthy following long-term substance abuse. To physically relieve stress on the body, most recovery programs offer programs like massage and acupuncture. 

Holistic and Traditional Methods Combined

Effective recovery programs may use a combination of holistic and traditional methods of therapy. Though many find holistic addiction treatment superior, some aspects of traditional therapy are vital. Some methods often combined with holistic therapy are:

Medical detox

When committing to addiction treatment, medical detox is necessary. Medical detox is one of the most important and impactful

stages of recovery. A proper detox builds a foundation for a lifetime of recovery and sobriety. Depending on the drug, withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. Most treatment centers offer a detox program that will ease the patient into sobriety. Detox is uncomfortable, so most treatment centers have a medical professional present to guide the process. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Many holistic addiction treatments utilize aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT encourages the patient to explore their thought patterns and break down how it affects them and the people around them. This approach works well with

holistic therapy since it’s based on mindfulness and understanding. 

Cognitive behavioral therapists help patients find the root of their addiction. CBT sessions typically take place in a serene environment. Some benefits of CBT paired with holistic therapies are:

  • Allocating time to build positive and constructive thoughts while abandoning negative habits
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Building communication and social skills
  • Practicing habits to prevent relapse 

What Should Someone Expect in a Holistic Therapy Session?

Holistic addiction treatment varies widely from facility to facility. There are common activities that one can expect when seeking holistic therapy in general or for addiction. Out of the vast range of holistic therapies, one can expect:holistic addiction treatment

  • CBT exercises: As mentioned above, CBT is an excellent way to correct unhealthy cognitive behavior and negative self-talk.
  • Meditation and mindfulness exercises: Depending on the therapist, holistic therapy can include various meditative practices.
  • Breathwork: Holistic therapy commonly uses breathwork to help patients be in the moment. Keeping breathing as a main focus allows for present-minded thinking. 
  • Acupuncture: Mentioned above, acupuncture works on the patient’s energetic fields in correspondence to their body. 
  • Massage: Holistic therapists often use massage as part of their treatment. Other hands-on bodywork is also common in holistic therapy.
  • Sound therapy: Some treatment centers may offer sound therapy or other sensory activities in treatment. 
  • Reiki: Reiki is classified as a form of energy work. The practitioner uses techniques to alter the body’s energy field without touching the patient.

Benefits of a Holistic Approach

Holistic therapy is controversial in the scientific community. However, a common misconception regarding holistic therapies is that it replaces all other therapies. In most treatment centers, this is not the case.

Holistic Therapy as a Complement, Not a Replacement

It’s better to view holistic therapy as a complement to other proven therapies, not a replacement. When used in conjunction with other therapies, a holistic approach has shown positive results in many individuals. Most treatment centers find ways to incorporate holistic methods within a traditional approach. When choosing a treatment center, keep in mind all of the details provided on their websites.  

A holistic approach’s general benefits are mindfulness, increased self-awareness, increased objectivity, enhanced cognitive ability, and stress reduction. Addiction is challenging to deal with; holistic therapies grant individuals coping mechanisms to maintain and sustain sobriety. 

Natural Solutions

Medical treatment within mental illnesses and addiction is an important part of most individual’s recovery process. There is controversy, though, surrounding prescription medication and certain illnesses. Holistic therapies sometimes offer an alternative to medication. 

Medication is necessary for many circumstances. Holistic therapy is a technique to fill in the gaps between clinical and medical treatments. In some cases, a pill will not cure or target the root cause of an issue. Instead of using ‘bandaids’ to cover a significant problem, holistic addiction treatment may be a viable option. 

Holistic therapy encourages patients to find fulfillment within themselves. Instead of defaulting to medication, a holistic approach may move the patient to symptomatic relief through self-work. 

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More patients and rehabilitation centers are recognizing the value of a holistic approach in treatment. Addiction Intervention aims to Contact us today.